#historical fiction, Blog Tours, Fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge

The Undertaker’s Assistant #AmandaSkenandore #HFVBTBlogTours

FINALLY – it is such a pleasure to be part of a blog tour today for such an amazing book – #TheUndertakersAssistant.  I have to say a HUGE thank you to Amy Bruno at #HFVBT Blog Tours for her kindness, understanding and patience with me while I was away. If ever there is a nomination for sainthood, my vote will be for Amy!!

fancy-lines-clip-art-1024x683

Set during Reconstruction-era New Orleans, and with an extraordinary and unforgettable heroine at its heart, The Undertaker’s Assistant is a powerful story of human resilience–and of the unlikely bonds that hold fast even in our darkest moments.

02_The Undertaker's Assistant[242]

There are few places on earth that I love more than New Orleans, Louisiana. There was a time when I spent every summer there and knew the nooks, crannies, hidden passage-ways, best jazz clubs and more as well as the back of my hand. Given an opportunity to read a book set there was an absolutely gift and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The fact that it also was historical fiction was like icing on the cake! The Undertaker’s Assistant is, indeed, a treat for the reader.

Effie is a freed slave who was raised in the north after being freed but now has returned to the southern US, specifically to New Orleans where she works as an embalmer. The story is set shortly after the Civil War has ended and racial tensions still are high with flare ups between the two sides becoming more frequent. Effie tries her best to keep to herself, but as she makes friends with a young Creole girl and a young state legislator, she finds herself more and more often involved in protests and the lure of the New Orleans social scene and culture.

I found myself totally immersed in Effie’s story from the moment I began reading. The writing itself flows so brilliantly that I found myself carried away from beginning to end without once stopping – it really is that good! Effie’s job is thoroughly described and I thought it was fascinating. I love books about forensics and knew this would be a draw for me – it was. More importantly, however, is the overall storyline of reconstruction in the new south, healing the wounds of war and dealing with the lingering racial tensions that southerners were forced to face now that African Americans were freed. The story was well documented and researched but never heavy handed as these types of books so often can be. Instead it was an enlightening and compelling story of one woman’s struggle to find her own way in this world. I found myself championing her cause and I suspect you will as well. The Undertaker’s Assistant is a terrific book – both as women’s fiction and historical fiction and I highly recommend it! It is on sale at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local bookseller on July 30, 2019.

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

About the Author
03_Amanda Skenandore[241]

Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Between Earth and Sky was her first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at www.amandaskenandore.com.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Thank you so much to @ARShenandoah @hfvbt @KensingtonBooks and @ABruno77 for my copy of this mesmerizing novel. You can read more about it on the additional Blog Stops HERE:

04_The Undertaker's Assistant Poster[243]

Advertisements
#historical fiction, Book Reviews, Fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge

A Stranger Here Below #CharlesFergus

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with reviews. I’ve read so many books and written so few reviews that my head is full, my blog has been sitting empty and Netgalley and Edelweiss are wondering what’s up. Please don’t hate me as I overload your feeds with extra reviews and too many comments on your blogs as I read and write my way through all that I’ve missed.

41Ri0iutn1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_amazonA Stranger Here Below is the first in what promises to be an intriguing historical mystery series set in early America. The series introduces us to Sheriff Gideon Stoltz, a man whose origins are Pennsylvania Dutch and who is still a bit of an outsider who speaks and acts differently from his fellow townsfolk. When the judge of the town commits suicide, Gideon cannot accept that any man would kill himself but especially not his friend, Judge Biddle. As Gideon discovers more about why the judge might have killed himself, his search for the truth becomes more dangerous to himself and those around him.

Fergus knows his history, has an incredible, intuitive feel for this region, the land and its people and it flows from each word in A Stranger Here Below. The prose is rich and atmospheric. Every detail, from the tools to the clothing, is impeccably accurate; I found myself immersed in the history of the tale and countryside. It took a bit of reading to get into the mystery itself. Perhaps it was because there was so much background needed to set to the proper stage for this era, rural Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. Perhaps it was the very simple writing as Gideon thought and spoke as any Pennsylvania Dutch would at the time. Regardless, I admit that I struggled with the slow pace in the beginning. As I grew accustomed to the writing, however, I liked the gentle flow of the words and the mystery itself began to build toward a rewarding conclusion.

This definitely is for a different type of reader, I won’t gloss over that. It’s not a thriller or suspense. It’s not a quick read or historical romance. My eighth-grade history teacher would have loved it and, most likely, she would have added it to an extra credit reading list – and I would have been the first one in line to sign up for it. If you’re a real American history fiend, then you will like this one, or, if you like slowly unfolding, atmospheric historical fiction you might enjoy it as well.

I received my copy from @Edelweiss and @SkyhorsePub

#historical fiction, Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge

A Guardian of Slaves #NaomiFinley #HFVBTPartner #BlogTour #Giveaway

04_A Guardian of Slaves_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL[731]I am so excited to be part of the fabulous blog tour for Naomi Finley’s A Guardian of Slaves.

We were first introduced to Willow Hendricks in book one of this saga, A Slave of the Shadows. Willow Hendricks is now the Lady of Livingston, a plantation she manages with her father and best friend Whitney Barry. The two women continue her parents’ secret abolitionist mission. They use the family’s ships and estates to transport escaped slaves along the channels to freedom. Willow’s love for Bowden Armstrong is as strong as ever, but she is not ready to marry and have a family because of her attention to these noble pursuits. Torn by her love for him, can their bond survive his reluctance to support her efforts with the Underground Railroad?
Meanwhile, whispers among the quarters sing praises of a mysterious man in the swamps helping slaves escape. He is called the Guardian. They believe he will save them from brutal slave catchers and deliver them to the promised land. Masked bandits roam the countryside, but the Guardian and the criminals evade capture. A series of accidents and mysterious disappearances raise alarm throughout the region. Who can Willow and Whitney trust? One false move or slip could endanger the lives of everyone they love and bring ruin to the Livingston Plantation.

A Guardian of Slaves is an interesting and entertaining historical fiction tale of an era when African Americans were treated at chattel. The slaves would do anything, including risking their lives, to escape from this human bondage and the physical and mental suffering that accompanied it. There were a few white people in the south, more in the north, who helped these slaves move through secret trails, houses, caves euphemistically called “the underground railroad.” In A Guardian of Slaves, Willow and her friend, Whitney, are helping to move the slaves using her family’s cargo ships at a peril to her own safety and the safety of business as well.

My university degree is in US history with an emphasis on the south so I tend to read these books differently than most people. A Guardian of Slaves is an enjoyable read, it’s very light on historical fact, heavy on the romantic ideas of the era and doesn’t lend a lot to anyone’s historical perspective about the time or place during this time period. That does not mean that it’s not a good book. If you like historical fiction that is more of a well written story set in a romanticized era rather than a historical novel that will give you a new perspective, then it will be perfect for you – and there are many people who do enjoy these types of books. It is a very nice, charming piece of fiction with a little lite romance thrown in as well.

A Guardian of Slaves is on sale now at AMAZON  BARNES AND NOBLE  and ITUNES

03_Naomi Finley[730]Naomi Finley lives in Alberta, Canada. Her love for travel means her suitcase always is on standby while she awaits her next plane ticket and adventure. Her love for history and the Deep South is driven by the several years she spent as a child living in a Tennessee plantation house. She comes from a family of six sisters. She married her high school sweetheart and has two teenage children and two dogs named Ginger and Snaps.
Creativity and passion are the focus of her life. Apart from writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, throwing lavish dinner parties, movies, health, and fitness.

JOIN EACH STOP ON THE BLOG TOUR:

Friday, February 15
Review at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, February 19
Feature at Maiden of the Pages
Wednesday, February 20
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Feature at Christine’s Book Corner
Thursday, February 21
Feature at Just One More Chapter
Friday, February 22
Excerpt at Random Things Through My Letterbox
Monday, February 25
Review at Macsbooks
Tuesday, February 26
Excerpt at Among the Reads
Wednesday, February 27
Feature at Cover To Cover Cafe
Thursday, February 28
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile
Monday, March 4
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Wednesday, March 6
Feature at Old Timey Books
Thursday, March 7
Feature at What Is That Book About
Friday, March 8
Review at Coffee and Ink

GIVEAWAY:

During the Blog Tour we will be giving a paperback copy of A Guardian of Slaves! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

ENTER HERE

Many thanks to Amy at @hfvbt and @FinleyAuthor for my copy of this delightful book.

#historical fiction, Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge

Innocence Lost #SherilynDecter #HFVBT #HFVBTBlogTours #BookGivaway

Innocence Lost is the first book in a thrilling new series, The Bootleggers’ Chronicles, a historical mystery set during the Prohibition Era when bootleggers and speakeasies were common and crime was everywhere you turned.

50094227_292740241593203_5348341448779497472_nIn a city of bootleggers and crime, one woman must rely on a long-dead lawman to hunt down justice…

Philadelphia, 1924. Maggie Barnes doesn’t have much left. After the death of her husband, she finds herself all alone to care for her young son and look after their rundown house. As if that weren’t bad enough, Prohibition has turned her neighborhood into a bootlegger’s playground. To keep the shoddy roof over their heads, she has no choice but to take on boarders with questionable ties…

When her son’s friend disappears, Maggie suspects the worst. And local politicians and police don’t seem to have any interest in an investigation. With a child’s life on the line, Maggie takes the case and risks angering the enemy living right under her nose. Maggie’s one advantage may be her new found friend: the ghost of a Victorian-era cop. With his help, can she find justice in a lawless city?

It’s no secret that this era is my favorite in history. The Roaring 20s, the gangsters and bootleggers who were romanticized more than feared, rum-running and moonshiners in the cities and the hills combine to create a magical backdrop to an ever-changing landscape. However, in reality all of those things we love most were highly illegal and it led to many streets and cities being quite dangerous. This is the life that our heroine, Maggie, finds herself living in after the “great war.” She’s trying to make a home for her son in a run-down house in a city that is filled with crime. When her son’s friend goes missing, it appears that the two of them are the only ones who are willing to search for the boy – along with one very unusual policeman.

Decter has created an intriguing mystery that combines the best of the historical mystery genre with the gothic eeriness of paranormal. Because of the time period, it doesn’t really seem all that strange that the copper who helps Maggie is, well, a ghost. It just fits. And while there are those who shy away from magical realism or paranormal, this book marries these genres together so seamlessly that the storyline never once falters. The believability remains present throughout. It takes a good writer to do that and Decter accomplishes that feat. Innocence Lost is a well written, entertaining historical read; one that I highly recommend.

Innocence Lost is Available Now at AMAZON
fancy-lines-clip-art-1024x683
03_Sherilyn Decter[718]Sherilyn Decter is a writer, researcher, and lover of historical fiction. Her work is set in the Roaring Twenties and if you like feisty and determined heroines, complex cover-ups, Prohibition stories about criminal underworlds, police and political corruption, then you’re going to love Sherilyn’s grand gangster tales.

For more information, please visit Sherilyn Decter’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Thank you to Amy at @HFVBT, @HFVBTPartner for my copy of #Innocence Lost and to @SheriDecter for this incredible book. Please be sure to enter the FABULOUS GIVEAWAY BELOW and check out all of the stops along the amazing BLOG TOUR!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two prize packs of a copy of the book, a set of Paper Dolls, and a Jazz Age Fashion Coloring Book! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

04_Innocence Lost Banner[719]

 

 

 

#historical fiction, #NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge, Tags and Challenges

The Familiars @Stacey_Halls

There are times when I get absolutely giddy over a book that I’ve just finished, so much so that I start babbling to my neighbors, call up family members, talk about it to strangers in stores despite their strange looks as though I’ve lost my mind. That is exactly what I have found myself doing with Stacey Halls new book, The Familiars.

39835415Are you familiar with familiars? Yes, I know. I’m part Scottish so these things are embedded into my DNA but for many, I now realize, they are not. A familiar is an animal that is close to a witch who does certain things for the witch. They can act as protectors, spies, a type of servant or, most often, a close companion. If you see one, you most often will see the other because they rarely are separated. 12187815_10153804022438755_392989809902135028_nYou know, kind of like this photo. 😉  Okay fine.

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is the 17 years old mistress at Gawthorpe Hall. The year is 1612, and she pregnant for the fourth time. The problem, however, is that she has yet to bring a child to term, something both she and her husband are concerned about, each for very different reasons. By chance, Fleetwood encounters a woman in the forest on her property. This woman, Alice Gray, claims to be a midwife and promises Fleetwood that she can help her give birth to a healthy child. They agree on terms and Alice is brought into Gawthorpe Hall where Fleetwood almost at once begins to feel better. There are problems, however. King James, as we all should know, is on a witch hunt and his minions who wish to stay in his favor will do whatever necessary to stay in the king’s good graces, including accusing innocent women of witchcraft. Fleetwood has the misfortune of living near Pendle Hill and one of her husband’s dearest friends and benefactor’s is just the sort of man to gather up innocents to appease the king – and that is exactly what he does – including Alice Gray.

I live in a town named Pendleton settled by men originally from Pendle Hill. We actually have a place called Pendle Hill in our tiny town so I have a strange, slightly bizarre fascination with the Pendle witches of Lancashire. When I first read about The Familiars, I was led to believe that it was a witch story and somewhat cutesy. That is far from the truth. This is a story of the women in the surrounding village who eventually were charged with murder and witchcraft at Pendle Hill, specifically, Alice Gray. It is the story of Alice’s friendship with Fleetwood and the extreme measures that Fleetwood took in order to save her friend. It is a beautifully told story of women, devotion, love, motherhood, history and so much more but it is very much rooted in historically accurate research. At the heart of the tale is Fleetwood and her desire to bring her child into the world safely and alive. In order to do so, she truly believes she must have Alice by her side. It isn’t about magic or witchcraft, it is about herbs and knowledge passed down from one generation of women to the next. As we learn, these women were being rounded up far too often because of men who merely wanted them gone for reasons of cheating, anger, because the women were more knowledgeable, not unlike what is happening today when intelligent women are mocked in the public arena. They were also being hanged because their religion no longer aligned with that of King James. Then, as now, religion was a source of war. Isn’t it amazing how absolutely nothing has changed after all of this time? How we have learned nothing from the past?

I absolutely loved the transformation of Fleetwood from silly, frivolous socialite to the mature woman willing to fight for her child and her friend. Women will do that when they have the right influences to guide them and it was beautiful to see how Alice, so quiet and unassuming, could give the much needed confidence to Fleetwood, not with magic but through friendship and care. In the end, this is a novel of historical fiction and it stays true to the story. Twelve women were charged with witchcraft, some were hanged, one landed in stocks for a fortnight and one is released. This is a wonderful imagining of their story, one that I highly recommend!

Thank you to #Netgalley, #Harlequin-Mira and #StacyHalls for my advanced copy of #TheFamiliars.

I’ve included this book toward the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge at Passages to the Past. Won’t you join us as we read our way through history?
2019 (1)

#historical fiction, Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge

Bittersweet Brooklyn @thelmadams @hfvbt #BlogTour

I have been anticipating this day for so long. I absolutely love blog tours and also get so nervous  excited that I think I’m going to be sick. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that I LOVE this book and I LOVE being part of this amazing tour!
02_Bittersweet Brooklyn[608]In turn-of-the century New York, a mobster rises—and his favorite sister struggles between loyalty and life itself. How far will she go when he commits murder? Flipping the familiar script of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Godfather, Bittersweet Brooklyn explores the shattering impact of mob violence on the women expected to mop up the mess. Winding its way over decades, this haunting family saga plunges readers into a dangerous past—revealed through the perspective of a forgotten yet vibrant woman.

Of all of the historical eras in US history, the turn of the century, 1880 to the pre-Depression time period, is far and above my favorite. There was so much growth, expansion, building, beauty, architecture, immigration from all over the world. People, ideas, morals, food, clothing all were changing so quickly that it was nearly impossible to keep up with it all. But, as with any time in history, the glamour often over shadows the truth and the truth is that this particular era also was a time of great pain – growing pains, if you will – that led to heartbreak, hunger, poverty, racism, bigotry, mobs, gangsters and worse.

Bittersweet Brooklyn is a dark story but a beautifully, poignant one. Its noir narrative portrays the lifestyle of so many who came to the US full of dreams and hopes only to find that life was as hard in the US as it was in the country they left. Many, however, had no choice except to flee their home country due to pogroms and death camps and war. It’s not too terribly different today, if at all. There are struggles to survive, struggles to fit in, to find one’s place and where there is no “welcome committee,” those holes will be filled with other means generally unsavory ones like the mob or gangs. That is what has happened in Bittersweet Brooklyn. These immigrants, like so many of that time, have familial issues, mental health issues and the mob has come in to “take care of them,” but at a cost. Generally, the men make a mess, and by mess I mean wreak murder and mayhem, and the women are left to sweep up the pieces. It tears at the fabric of their family cloth and at the essence of the women in their lives. This is how life was. For many it is how life still is. Adams has done an incredible job of painting a very vivid picture of what life was like, real life, real families, during this time period. That isn’t to say that the book is all doom and darkness because it is not, any more than Charles Dickens’ books are all dark. But Bittersweet Brooklyn does portray a truthful story and that is rare and greatly needed in historical fiction and I, for one, am appreciative.

Adams has, in fact, previously been been compared to a modern day Charles Dickens.

“Thelma Adams is our new Dickens in her effervescently vivid tale of Jewish hardscrabble living, gangsters, torn-apart families, and a young woman desperate for love, family, and a stable future. Set in a 1920s and 30s Brooklyn so rich, raw, and bristling with life that you can taste the brine on the deli pickles and see the flasks of whiskey hidden in a garter, this is the kind of novel that’s lived, rather than read.” — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

 I happen to agree with Leavitt. Just as Dickens gave a sober look at Victorian England with its orphanages and wealth disparity, so too has Adams lifted back the curtain on turn-of-the-century America and exposed the dark underbelly so rarely seen or examined. Well done, Thelma Adams, well done!

You can find this incredible book at the following locations:

AMAZON/ BARNESANDNOBLE

Thelma Adams, Author portraits.  Photo credit: Emily AssiranAbout the Author
Thelma Adams is the author of the best selling historical novel The Last Woman Standing and Playdate, which Oprah magazine described as “a witty debut novel.” In addition to her fiction work, Adams is a prominent American film critic and an outspoken voice in the Hollywood community. She has been the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and The New York Post, and has written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for Yahoo! Movies, The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. Adams studied history at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was valedictorian, and received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives in upstate New York with her family.
WEBSITEFACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

AND THE BLOG CONTINUES…

bittersweet-Brooklyn - Copy[611].jpg

Thank you so much to Amy at #HFVBTPartner, #ThelmaAdams and @LUauthors for my copy of this fascinating book!

 

#historical fiction, Passages to the Past Historical Challenge, Tags and Challenges

#PassagestothePast #HistoricalFictionChallenge

It’s been a few years since I’ve participated in a reading challenge but Passages to the Past has created a historical fiction challenge again for 2019. I’ll be joining and, if this is a genre that you enjoy, I invite you to join along as well.

Basically, you select a reading level, see below, for the challenge, post on Passages to the Past and link up your reviews throughout the year. Sounds simple enough, right? I’ll be doing this once a month and would love also to link up with you if you join us. The more the merrier!

The Levels
20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

Since this is my first challenge in a while, I’ll be going for the Renaissance Reader but hope to, at least, read one a month so my personal goal is 12 books. If you play along, please let me know. 🙂