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Review of Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples by Donna Russo Morin

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About Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples – Book One

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

My Review

One exciting story. Great indicator of a very promising series. I was easily swept away from the beginning unable to tear myself away, ‘just one more chapter’ was my silently uttered broken promise. Morin provides excellent dimensional characterization with exceptional development. I found myself wanting to be part of the esteemed female assemblage, rather I had the privilege of living vicariously via Morin’s outstanding writing. Loved the female strength, courage, intelligence, and talent of the ladies. The past comes to life, a historical event is revisited boldly and vividly providing stimulating visualization through well crafted words and descriptions. Morin no doubt spent extensive time researching, job well done on all avenues. I’m on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment. Noteworthy.

About the Author03_Donna-Russo-Morin

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.

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Publication Date: May 10, 2016 Diversion Books

Spotlight for Storm and Silence by Robert Thier

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About Storm and Silence

Freedom – that is what Lilly Linton wants most in life. Not marriage, not a brood of squalling brats, and certainly not love, thank you very much!

But freedom is a rare commodity in 19th-century London, where girls are expected to spend their lives sitting at home, fully occupied with looking pretty. Lilly is at her wits’ end – until a chance encounter with a dark, dangerous and powerful stranger changes her life forever…

Enter the world of Mr Rikkard Ambrose, where the only rule is: Knowledge is power is time is money!

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About Robert Thier6123144

Robert Thier is a German Historian and writer of Historical Fiction. His particular mix of history, romance and adventure, always with a good deal of humor thrown in, has gained him a diverse readership ranging from teenagers to retired grandmothers. For the way he manages to make history come alive, as if he himself had lived as a medieval knight, his fans all over the world have given him the nickname “Sir Rob”.

For him, Robert says, becoming a writer has followed naturally from his interest in history. “In Germany,” he says, “we use the same word for story and history. And I’ve always loved the one as much as the other. Becoming a storyteller, a writer, is what I’ve always wanted.”

Besides writing and researching in dusty old archives, on the lookout for a mystery to put into his next story, Robert enjoys classical music and long walks in the country. The helmet you see on the picture he does not wear because he is a cycling enthusiast, but to protect his literary skull in which a bone has been missing from birth. Robert lives in the south of Germany in a small village between the three Emperor’s Mountains.

Connect with Robert: Website | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter

Published March 19th 2016 by Robert Thier

Review: World’s End by Upton Sinclair

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About World’s End

The son of an American arms dealer and his mistress, Lanning “Lanny” Budd spends his first thirteen years in Europe, living at the center of his mother’s glamourous circle of friends on the French Riviera. In 1913, he enters a prestigious Swiss boarding school and befriends Rick, an English boy, and Kurt, a German. The three schoolmates are privileged, happy, and precocious—but their world is about to come to an abrupt and violent end.

When the gathering storm clouds of war finally burst, raining chaos and death over the continent, Lanny must put the innocence of youth behind him; his language skills and talent for decoding messages are in high demand. At his father’s side, he meets many important political and military figures, learns about the myriad causes of the conflict, and closely follows the First World War’s progress. When the bloody hostilities eventually conclude, Lanny joins the Paris Peace Conference as the assistant to a geographer asked by President Woodrow Wilson to redraw the map of Europe.

World’s End is the magnificent opening chapter of a monumental series that brings the first half of the twentieth century to vivid life. A thrilling mix of history, adventure, and romance, the Lanny Budd Novels are a testament to the breathtaking scope of Upton Sinclair’s vision and his singular talents as a storyteller.

My Review

Sinclair dishes out a huge chunk of history in this book, his layout is appealing and it describes more than any textbook. His vehicle to highlight events is the endearing protagonist Lanny Budd. Lanny is 14 years old in 1914 and as the story and events unfold Lanny becomes even more appealing as he enters adulthood through a trying time in history.

Lanny’s character is dramatized by his presence in nearly every major event or has the privilege meeting every notable figure of the time, however, this does not detract but rather creates a fascinating narrative with mystery, suspense, thrills. You can’t help but find yourself taken by Lanny.

If you’re interested in history but avoid nonfiction, you will completely enjoy Sinclair’s historical fiction masterpiece with the nonfiction well presented and researched. Not many know the real issue WWI was centered around – it was more than the assassination of Archduke Ferdindad, much more as traditional classroom textbooks fail to mention. Sinclair offers the opportunity to enjoy history in an easy to read manner through the eyes of impressive Lanny Budd. A wonderful prelude in an 11 book series.

Sinclair’s story is told from the Socialist perspective which adds an interesting spin creating an enthralling read.

About Upton Sinclair1450215048_upton_sinclair

Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, activist, and politician whose novel The Jungle (1906) led to the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Born into an impoverished family in Baltimore, Maryland, Sinclair entered City College of New York five days before his fourteenth birthday. He wrote dime novels and articles for pulp magazines to pay for his tuition, and continued his writing career as a graduate student at Columbia University. To research The Jungle, he spent seven weeks working undercover in Chicago’s meatpacking plants. The book received great critical and commercial success, and Sinclair used the proceeds to start a utopian community in New Jersey. In 1915, he moved to California, where he founded the state’s ACLU chapter and became an influential political figure, running for governor as the Democratic nominee in 1934. Sinclair wrote close to one hundred books during his lifetime, including Oil! (1927), the inspiration for the 2007 movie There Will Be Blood; Boston (1928), a documentary novel revolving around the Sacco and Vanzetti case; The Brass Check, a muckraking exposé of American journalism; and the eleven novels in the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lanny Budd series.

Published January 19th 2016 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1940)

Review: The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

02_The Secrets of Lizzie Borden

About The Secrets of Lizzie Borden

In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.

Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters.

Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes…

Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | KOBO

My Review

Obviously the Borden household had serious issues, our imagination runs wild with speculation.

Lizzie Borden came across as sad, lonely, oppressed and disturbed. Despite Purdy’s portrayal I felt no empathy towards this creature. Borden is so enigmatic any and all assumptions leave you wondering, nothing can be ruled out and we’ll never know what led up to the brutal murders. Purdy’s take on Borden was interesting and edgy.

Even though Borden was acquitted, she was found guilty by popular opinion. Her name forever associated with unthinkable violence and not in a kind way. No doubt her life was even more of a challenge post trial.

I was expecting something different in the depiction, needless to say Purdy’s version was a surprise. I would have preferred less of an erotic approach and delved deeper into Lizzie Borden, her low self-esteem, the abuse suffered from her father, her mental state. Also I felt Lizzie came across as immature and naive for her years, yes, she was a rather sheltered young lady with virtually no friends or understanding of life’s machinations especially given the time period when life was harsh for women. Her acute loneliness and quest for love, weighty pocketbook made her easy prey, never fully able to escape her haunting past.

Loved the ending, adds even more mystique to Lizzie and the murders.

Interesting read of one of the world’s most notorious, mysterious and enigmatic women, Lizzie Borden.

About Brandy Purdy

Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN), THE BOLEYN BRIDE, and THE RIPPER’S WIFE. An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at www.brandypurdy.com, you can also follow her on Facebook as Brandy Purdy aka Emily Purdy.

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Publication Date: January 26, 2016 Kensington Books

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Review: The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

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About The Forgotten Room

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

My Review

Very well done, no doubt the level of talent and expertise of these three creative authors unmistakably blended to create quite a story of three women during differing times with ease.

Each women’s story was compelling. Their individual stories meticulously described, the mystery element was woven in wonderfully. The sketches of the women portray them as strong, independent, fearless heroines in their own right. A few surprises stealing your breath.

I enjoyed all three women and their affecting tales, I will say I was drawn to Olive’s story the most, very pleased when all the details and clues were knitted together forming a pleasant conclusion.

Well crafted, I appreciated the leisurely pace, there was a distinct intimacy formed with the characters as their stories were methodically revealed. A sweeping story of joys and sorrows, a quasi epic three generation romance story beautifully penned. Impressive anthology.

The Forgotten Room Authors

Karen Whitekarenwhite-white

After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O’Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including the SIBA (Southeastern Booksellers Alliance) Fiction Book of the Year, and has twice won the National Readers’ Choice Award.

Karen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. Her nineteenth novel, The Sound of Glass, was published in May 2015 by New American Library, a division of PenguinRandomHouse Publishing Group.

Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. When not writing, she spends her time reading, scrapbooking, playing piano, and avoiding cooking. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children, and two spoiled Havanese dogs.

Beatriz-2Beatriz Williams

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons.

She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Lauren Williglauren_new

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her “Pink Carnation” series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

Expected publication: January 19th 2016 by NAL

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

02_The Lake HousePublication Date: October 20, 2015
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 512 Pages

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An intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

I’m reluctant with alternating narratives but Kate Morton masters the art of the past and the present, never disappointing in alternative narratives with one story dominating the other, both equal in appeal and presence.

The differing storylines were tied together perfectly, especially Sadie’s final outcome. Morton possesses skill in tying plots together with precision execution.

The thorough flashbacks prior to the story kicking into full gear laid the ground work for what was to come, also providing a glimpse into the characters and their back story.

On the seat of your pants suspense, the dark secrets slowly surfacing and the many cliffhangers will keep you enthralled. The plot is nothing less than clever, each bread crumb leaves you turning the pages with angst to discover the final outcome. I absolutely adored the ending, fabulous.

Morton fans will find themselves lost in this beautifully written, creative story of love, loss, loyalty, promises and deep secrets. Morton magically creates absorbing mysteries shrouded in dark secrets with alternating narratives like no other, her twists will entertain until the very end.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | GOOGLE PLAY | ITUNES | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’S

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Kate Morton

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary Gothic novels.

Kate Morton has sold over 7.5 million copies in 26 languages, across 38 countries. Her novels include The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and The Secret Keeper.

You can find more information about Kate Morton and her books at www.katemorton.com or www.facebook.com/KateMortonAuthor

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Review & Giveaway: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

02_Girl Waits With GunPublication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages:416

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

The best part of this book, the way Stewart provided the backstory of Constance’s accidental stumbling into position of deputy sheriff. Constance evolves and ferrets who she is in her self-discovering sojourn as we read of one inspiring woman tapping into her authentic self.

Constance, a maverick, fascinating, in short a remarkable woman. A woman refusing to fit into societal expectations, norms. Constance wanted to pursue a career, however, her mother disagreed with her desires, as well as the era proving difficult. Infrequent snippets of her past reveal threads weaving this woman into who she truly is today. The much younger version of Constance is a sharp contrast to the mature woman we are privy to, her attempt in navigating life leading to a few dicey situations on the precipice of ruin, fortunately her family serves by her side.

The reader will receive a crash course in the happenings of circa 1914, Stewart creates a vivid setting complete with detailed accouterments. The tension of females is felt as time warrants change as women demand and fight for more than their predecessors. Constance’s bravery and courage for nonconformity must have caused her peers to pause, perhaps they lacked the determination Constance possesses, once again she inspired even the ones remaining silence yet wishful.

The pace felt sluggish, also a lot of peripheral scenes distracted and dragged in certain portions, really serving no merit translating to padding as opposed to purpose.

Stewart provides a smart take on an incredibly new-fashioned woman.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’S

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.

Stewart has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines, and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and–just once–on TLC’s Cake Boss. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information visit Amy Stewart’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

GIVEAWAY

Enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Girl Waits with Gun, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 9/28/15
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Book Blast & Giveaway: Owen Archer Series by Candace Robb

The summer is heating up with the re-issue of Candace Robb’s Owen Archer historical crime series! Nine of the ten books were just released in eBook format, with all new, beautiful covers, and is now available to download for your eReader! At only $2.99 per eBook, it’s a FAB deal on a great series!

The Apothecary Rose (Small)

THE APOTHECARY ROSE (BOOK ONE)

“Suspenseful, historically accurate, and blessed with a wonderful cast of characters, THE APOTHECARY ROSE is an absolute delight from start to finish…” ó Charles de Lint, author of the Newford Series

In the year of our Lord 1363, two suspicious deaths in the infirmary of St. Maryís Abbey catch the attention of the powerful John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York. One victim is a pilgrim, while the second is Thoresbyís neíer-do-well ward, both apparently poisoned by a physic supplied by Master Apothecary Nicholas Wilton. In the wake of these deaths, the archbishop dispatches one-eyed spy Owen Archer to York to find the murderer.

Under the guise of a disillusioned soldier keen to make a fresh start, Owen insinuates himself into Wiltonís apothecary as an apprentice. But he finds Wilton bedridden, with the shop being run by his lovely, enigmatic young wife, Lucie. As Owen unravels a tangled history of scandal and tragedy, he discovers at its center a desperate, forbidden love twisted over time into obsession. And the woman he has come to love is his prime suspect.

Lovingly detailed, beautifully written, THE APOTHECARY ROSE is a captivating and suspenseful tale of life, love, and death in medieval England.

The Lady Chapel (Small) (2)

THE LADY CHAPEL (BOOK TWO)

ìA lovingly detailed background informs and animates the plot at every point.î óKIRKUS

Perfect for fans of both Ellis Peters and CJ Sansom, THE LADY CHAPEL is a vivid and immersive portrait of court intrigue and a testament to the power of the medieval guilds.

Summer in the year of our Lord 1365. On the night after the Corpus Christi procession, a man is brutally murdered on the steps of York Minster. The next morning his severed hand is found in a room at the York Tavernóa room hastily vacated by a fellow guild member who had quarreled with the victim.

Archbishop Thoresby calls on Owen Archer to investigate. As Owen tracks the fleeing merchant, he uncovers a conspiracy involving a powerful company of traders, but his only witness is a young boy who has gone into hiding, and his only suspect is a mysterious cloaked woman. When Owen discovers a link between the traders and a powerful coterie in the royal court, he brings his apothecary wife Lucie into the race to find the boy before he is silenced forever by the murderers.

The Nuns Tale (Small)

THE NUN’S TALE (BOOK THREE)

ì[An] engrossing taleÖimbued with the flavor of English medieval life, Robbís story melds true events with fiction to create a gripping historical mystery.îóPUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Based on an enigmatic entry in the records of Clementhorpe Nunnery, this authentic, gripping mystery conjures a 14th century ripe with forbidden passions and political intrigue.

When young nun Joanna Calverley dies of a fever in the town of Beverley in the summer of 1365 she is buried quickly for fear of the plague. But a year later, Archbishop Thoresby learns of a woman who has arrived in York claiming to be the resurrected nun, talking of relic-trading and miracles. And death seems to ride in her wake.

The archbishop sends Owen Archer to retrace the womanís journey, an investigation that leads him across the north from Leeds to Beverley to Scarborough. Along the way he encounters Geoffrey Chaucer, a spy for the king of England, who believes there is a connection between the nunís troubles, renegade mercenaries, and the powerful Percy family. Back in York, however, Owenís wife Lucie, pregnant with their first child, has won the confidence of the mysterious nun and realizes that there are secrets hidden in the womanís seemingly mad ramblings…

The Kings Bishop (Small)

THE KING’S BISHOP (BOOK FOUR)

ìRobb continues to adeptly blend politics with period detail and three-dimensioned characterizations in the Owen Archer tales.î óPUBLISHERS WEEKLY

From the marshy Thames to the misty Yorkshire moors, murder stalks Welsh soldier-sleuth Owen Archer and one of his oldest friends.

On a snowy morning in 1367, Sir William of Wyndesoreís page is found in the icy moat of Windsor Castle, and some whisper that the murderer was Ned Townleyóa former comrade-in-arms of Owen Archer. Burdened with a reputation as a notoriously jealous lover, Ned cannot hope to clear his name; even Mary, his ladylove, is unsure of the truth. Hoping to put Ned out of harmís way while solving the murder, Owen places his friend in charge of a mission to Rievaulx Abbey at the edge of the moors. But when the travelers receive news of Maryís drowning, Ned vanishes into the wild.

Riding out in search of his old friend, Owen does not know whether he will be Nedís savior or executioner. With his one good eye, Owen sees more than most, but now he must find a way to penetrate the curtains of power that surround the Church and Englandís royal court and discover the truth of Nedís innocence or guilt…

The Riddle of St (Small)

THE RIDDLE OF ST. LEONARD’S (BOOK FIVE)

ìGripping and believableÖyou can almost smell the streets of 14th-century York as you delve deeper into an engrossing plot.î óPRIMA

In the year of our Lord 1369 the much-loved Queen Philippa lies dying in Windsor Castle, the harvest has failed, and the pestilence has returned. In York, the atmosphere of fear and superstition is heightened by a series of thefts and violent deaths at St. Leonardís Hospital and rumors that these crimes are connected to the hospitalís dwindling funds. The Master of St. Leonardís, Sir Richard Ravenser, hurries north from the queenís deathbed to summon Owen Archer, soldier-spy, to investigate the scandal before it ruins him.

While Owenís wife Lucie faces the plague-panicked townsfolk at the apothecary, Owen encounters a seemingly random series of clues: a riddle posed by one of the victims at the hospital, a lay sister with a scandalous past, the kidnapping of a child from the hospital orphanage, and a case of arson. The answer to the riddle of St. Leonardís lies in the past, and as Owenís family is caught up in the sweep of the pestilence, he must abandon them to race across the countryside to save the next victim.

A Gift of Sanctuary (Small)

A GIFT OF SANCTUARY (BOOK SIX)

ìRobb deftly interweaves a complex story of love, passion and murder into the troubled and tangled fabric of Welsh history, fashioning a rich and satisfying novel.î óPUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Under the pretense of escorting his father-in-law and the archbishopís secretary on a pilgrimage to the sacred city of St. Davidís in Wales, Owen Archer and Geoffrey Chaucer are carrying out a mission for the Duke of Lancaster. England and France are at war, and the southern coast of Wales is vulnerable to invasionóOwen and Geoffrey are to recruit archers for the dukeís army and inspect his Welsh fortifications on the coast, while quietly investigating whether the dukeís steward at Cydweli Castle is involved in a French plot to incite rebellion in Wales.

But trouble precedes them in the cathedral city of St. Davidís. On Whitesands Beach beyond the city a young man is beaten and left for dead, then spirited away by a Welsh bard. Shortly afterward a corpse clothed in the livery of the Duke of Lancaster is left at the city gate, his shoes filled with white sand. And at Cydweli Castle a chain of events begun by the theft of money from the castleís exchequer ends in a violent death and the disappearance of the stewardís beautiful young wife. Owen and Geoffrey begin to see connections linking the troubles in city and castle, and see they must unravel the complex story of betrayed love and political ambition to prevent more deaths.

But in the course of his investigations in the land of his birth, Owen is haunted by doubts about his own loyalties…

A Spy for the Redeemer (Small)

A SPY FOR THE REDEEMER (BOOK SEVEN)

ìFascinatingÖcrisp, evocative writingÖ. The tapestry here is rich and varied.îóCLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

Late spring in the year of our Lord 1370, and Owen Archer is anxious to leave Wales for home. His mission for the Duke of Lancaster complete, he attempts to arrange safe passage on a ship sailing for England, but the hanging of a stonemason interrupts his plans. On the surface it appears the young man was driven to suicide by a broken heart, but to Owen the signs all point to murder. As his investigation stretches on, however, Owen finds himself drawn into the influence of the leader of a Welsh rebellion whose manifesto speaks to his heart, and a choice is offered to him: join or die.

At home in York, Owenís wife Lucie is troubled by rumors that her husbandís long absence is permanent, as well as threats by a customer who claims she was poisoned by a physic from the Wilton apothecary. Meanwhile, Lucie is tempted by the attentions of a friendís steward, even as she uncovers a shattering betrayal in her own household.

The Guilt of Innocents (Small)

THE GUILT OF INNOCENTS (BOOK NINE)

ìItísÖthe Machiavellian intrigue that makes this such an enjoyable read. When the iron curtain came down people said the spy-thriller genre was dead. They were wrong. This is as full of intrigue as a Deighton or a Le CarrÈ.î óTHE GUARDIAN

Winter in the year of our Lord 1372. A river pilot falls into the icy waters of the River Ouse during a skirmish between dockworkers and the boys of the minster school, which include Owen Archerís adopted son Jasper. But what began as a confrontation to return a boyís stolen scrip becomes a murder investigation as the rescuers find the pilot dying of wounds inflicted before his plunge into the river. When another body is fished from the river upstream and Owen discovers that the boy Jasper sought to help has disappeared, Owen Archer convinces the archbishop that he must go in search of the boy. His lost scrip seems to hold the key to the double tragedy, but his disappearance leaves troubling questions: did he flee in fear? Or was he abducted?

On the cusp of this new mystery, Owen accepts Jasperís offer to accompany him to the boyís home in the countryside, where they learn that a valuable cross has gone missing. A devastating fire and another drowning force Owen to make impossible choices, endangering not only himself, but the two innocents he fights to protect. The bond between fathers and sons proves strong, even between those not linked by blood.

A Vigil of Spies (Small)

A VIGIL OF SPIES (BOOK TEN)

ìAs always, Candace Robb writes a powerful story intertwined with genuine characters of the day.î óHISTORICAL NOVEL REVIEW

Archbishop Thoresby of York, the second most powerful cleric in England, lies dying in his bed. The end of his life is seen by the great families of the North as a chance to promote one of their own as his successor, and Thoresby himself announces he will leave the matter to the dean and chapter of York. On the eve of this decision, the dying archbishop agrees to a visit from Joan, Princess of Wales, wife of the Black Prince, heir to the throne of England, and Thoresbyís captain of the guard, Owen Archer, has no doubt that trouble will follow.

As soon as the company rides into the palace yard he is proved right: they arrive burdened with the body of one of their party, and Owen finds evidence that the manís death was no accident. Within days of this discover, a messenger carrying an urgent message for the Archbishop is found hanging in the woods. With guards surrounding the property, it is clear that the murderer walks among the palace guests. The powerful Percy and Neville families are well represented in the entourage, including a woman who remembers an afternoon tryst with Owen as much, much more. Even the princessí son is suspect. As Owen races to unmask the guilty and rid the palace of the royal party, his final wish for his lord is that he might die in peace.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR02_Candace Robb

Growing up, Candace Robb wanted to be a ballerina, tap dancer, folk singer, journalistóbut on the day that she walked into Liz Armstrongís undergraduate class on Chaucerís Troilus and Criseyde, that all changed. A gifted teacher, lively, witty, always laughing even when cringing at a lazy response, Dr. Armstrong launched into the opening stanzas, and within a few lines Candaceís ears adjusted to the middle Englishóand she was hooked. Chaucerís psychological study of the two lovers was a revelation to her. The next quarter was The Canterbury Tales. That clinched it. Candace went on to graduate work in medieval history and literature, and ever since sheís been engaged in bringing to life the rich culture of the period, from the arts to the politics. She is the internationally acclaimed author of thirteen crime novels featuring the sexy, brooding, clever Owen Archer, who solves crimes for John Thoresby, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of England, and the young Margaret Kerr, searching for her missing husband and her role in a Scotland overrun by English soldiers. Candace is currently under contract with Pegasus Books for a new crime series set in 15th century York, the Kate Clifford mysteries, which will debut in 2016.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published two historical novels about the women of the English court in the 14th century, A Triple Knot and The Kingís Mistress.

Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Candace grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she loves for its combination of culture, natural beauty, and brooding weather so like Yorkshire, Wales, and Scotland, which she visits as often as possible. She has taught the art of writing the crime novel in the University of Washingtonís certificate program, and offers workshops in writing the historical novel and in creating and plotting the crime series. Candace (and Emma) blog about writing and medieval topics at A Writerís Retreat, ecampion.wordpress.com.

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Unshelfish is proud to be included in the tour for Candace Robb’s Owen Archer Series. Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

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Review: Mayhem in Margaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Nöel Balen w/ Giveaway

Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Nöel BALEN

on Tour

May 6-15

with

Mayhem-in-MargauxMayhem in Margaux

(cozy mystery)

Release date: May 14, 2015
at Le French Book

153 pages

ISBN: 978-1939474384

Website | Goodreads

Having an intimate glimpse into the Cooker clan was wonderful. Peeling the many layers of Benjamin Cooker has been an adventure with every book, but seeing his tender fatherly side in this particular installment was a sweet surprise. A fabulous portrait of a family filled with love, Elizabeth and Margaux come to life as we finally become personable with both as opposed to snippets as in previous narratives. Cooker’s edges soften as we discover the family dynamics up close and personal.

Alaux and Balen provide another original mystery filled narrative. Every book in the series is inventive, never formulaic, never predictable, always keeping the reader engaged in true whodunnit tradition until the very end. The sensual descriptions of wine and food hook the reader further, a very welcomed treat, one this peruser appreciates.

Satisfying ending, the core and motivation of the mayhem understandable given the harshness unveiled.

Another clever and highly entertaining mystery by an incredibly creative writing duo, never disappointing, always marvelously atypical.

***

SYNOPSIS

Itís summer in Bordeaux. Thereís a heat wave, the vineyards are suffering, vintners are on edge, and wine expert Benjamin Cooker’s daughter is visiting. A tragic car accident draws the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile into a case where the stakes are very personal, and they uncover the dirty secrets hiding behind some of Bordeauxís finest grand cru classÈ wines from Margaux. [provided by the publisher]

***

An episode in a long successful French mysteries series
that is a hit television series now in its fourth season
and attracting an audience of over 4 million.
The series is a huge success in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Alaux-Balen

 

Jean-Pierre Alaux
and Nöel Balen,
wine lover and music lover respectively,
came up with the idea
for the Winemaker Detective series
while sharing a meal,
with a bottle of Ch‚teau Gaudou 1996,
a red wine from Cahors
with smooth tannins and a balanced nose.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado. She has translated several titles in this series.
***
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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
.

Entry-Form

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:
2 US residents will win a print copy of this book
3 residents of any country will receive a digital copy

***

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TO READ OTHER REVIEWS, GUEST-POST, EXCERPT

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Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan w/ Giveaway

Fiercombe Manor Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: Harper (February 17, 2015)

Time separates two women linked through similar challenges. Dark secrets revealed, a journal discovered. Richly atmospheric, enough of a mild gothic edge to add a chillingly eerie feel as the mystery is unraveled.

Riordan does an outstanding job providing details of the manor both inside and outside. The lush grounds, the vast interior of the manor all captured in the reader’s mind. As you travel alternately through the past and present you are aware of social propriety, the oppression women faced during these sexist times.

I found Alice and Elizabeth equally compelling, leaning towards Elizabeth more. Alice was so niaeve, easily impressionable, I felt for her predicament. Elizabeth’s story was heartbreaking, so tragic especially when it is fully disclosed. A few twists caught me off guard which I enjoyed.

The slow pace was welcoming, allowing for characters to become personable and intimate with the peruser, igniting your curiosity as to what happened to Elizabeth and what will become of Alice. Riordan presents a stark glimpse into the poor treatment of women, pregnancy, mental health, women under the controlling thumb of men, secrets, marriage, love.

Entertaining read, I only wish it possessed a stronger gothic presence. On the fence with the ending.

About Fiercombe Manor
A house as old as Fiercombe Manor holds many secrets within its walls. But which dark chapter of its history is haunting Alice, a young woman staying there during the course of a fateful summer?

In 1933, naive twenty-two-year-old Alice is pregnant, unmarried, and disgraced. She can no longer share her parents’ London home, so her desperate mother concocts a cover story and begs her old friend, Mrs. Jelphs, for help. The housekeeper at rural Fiercombe Manor, Mrs. Jelphs is moved by Alice’s “plight” as a new widow and agrees to watch over her in the secluded English countryside until the baby is born and given up for adoption. Because the manor house’s owners, Lord and Lady Stanton, no longer live there, Alice’s only company will be Mrs. Jelphs and her skeleton staff.

At first, Fiercombe Manor offers Alice a welcome relief from her mother’s disapproving gaze. But she begins to sense that all is not well in the picturesque Gloucestershire valley. After a chance encounter with Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice discovers that Fiercombe’s beauty is haunted by the clan’s tragic past. She is determined to exorcise the ghosts of the idyllic, isolated house.

Nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley?

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Kate RiordanAbout Kate Riordan

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.

Find out more about Kate at her website and connect with her on Twitter.

Giveaway
To enter to win a copy of Fiercombe Manor please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 3/14/15
ENTRY-FORM

Thrilled to be participating in the tour for Kate Riordan’s Fiercombe Manor, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here, it runs through 9 April. Thank you TLC!

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