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
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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

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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?
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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.
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AND THE BLOG CONTINUES…

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

 

The Kooky Kids Club Blog Tour @RobbieYates

I have been beside myself with anticipation for Robbie Yates’ new book for middle-schoolers and then, just when I was supposed to upload, Word Press went all kooky instead!! My tech guys, WP tech team and I have been working hard to get it back up and running on my end and, finally, I think we have it!!  So, welcome to my stop on The Kooky Kids Club blog tour!

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Growing up I was a bit of a nerdy girl, an only child who was a bit too bookish to fit in anywhere, so when I started reading The Kooky Kids Club, I immediately fell in love with darling Maxine, the heroine of the book. Maxine is very smart and a little bit quirky. Making friends isn’t something that comes easily for her. However, one day she receives a mysterious note:

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Finally a chance for Maxine to begin making friends with kids who are “kooky” like her. Suddenly, however, her teacher goes missing! Adults don’t seem to notice or care but Maxine enlists the help of the Kooky Kids Club and if anyone can find the teacher, it’s them!

Robbie Yates, simply told, is one of my favorite kids’ book authors. His writing is perfect for tweens who need a little excitement and whole lot of humor to keep their interest. This book does exactly that, with a few excellent moral implications thrown in for good measure. The bottom line is, we all have our quirks but generally they are assets, not detriments, and this is precisely the type of message we hope to send to our kids who muddling through the tween years of middle school. The Kooky Kids Club is perfect and would make one very excellent holiday gift for the tweens in your life – or a teacher or two. Thank you, Robbie, for another amazing book!

Hipster breakfast egg characters with mustache, beard, black bowler hat and glasses. Creative design holiday poster eggs cups. drawn gentleman faces vintage style. gray background.

Robbie Yates in an author from Melbourne, Australia. He likes cocoa, cheeky poetry, and eating all of the red jellybeans before anybody else can get to them.
In his free time, Robbie likes to read ridiculous and wacky kids’ fiction. He also likes practical jokes and terrible puns. I just love a guy who is so mysterious, don’t you?

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Thanks so much to Shalini @DigitalReadsBlogTours for allowing me to be part of this very kooky, quirky and FUN blog tour! You can read more, and most likely better, reviews this week at all of the wonderful blogs listed below.

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I Do Not Trust You #Blogtour #LauraJBurns #MelindaMetz

I am beyond excited to be a stop on this blog tour – it is my first! I’m quite sure that I will not do this properly so forgive me in advance if it is not like all of the others. The MAIN THING is that you know about this terrific new book and this fabulous writing team! 

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight.  Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. Together they criss-cross the globe from the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt in their search for elusive relic. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?
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I Do Not Trust You is an adventure tale that will conjure up comparisons to Lara Croft and Indiana Jones in their younger days. “M” and Ash are on a mission to find a secret Egyptian relic before a zealous group who believe the relic can bring about power for their cause. Both “M” and Ash have their own reasons for wanting the relic. M’s father, whom she has believed to be dead for over a year, is allegedly being held captive while he translates the ancient text on a hieroglyphic map. Ash, a member of the “Eye.” an Egyptian religious order sworn to protect the relic, must find it before the zealots. While this sounds a bit confusing, all is explained beautifully in I Do Not Trust You, along with some amazing historical, geographical and mythological facts.

The story is simply told and I was never quite sure if this book was meant for younger readers, young adult or adult. It was entertaining regardless of the intended audience. As a history and literature grad, this book was exactly what I enjoy reading. Unfortunately it is being sold as an “adventure” novel and there wasn’t quite enough action for that to ring true. It is, however, a great mystery based on some incredible Egyptian myths. I also felt that the character development is what drove the book, rather than the suspense. I say this because there are those who expect their “thriller” novels to be very tense with a lot of fast paced action. You won’t find that here. Instead, it is a great, steady read with conversational wit and humor. I truly enjoyed reading it. Four Mythological Stars for I Do Not Trust You.

The Two Headed Team:

I had the pleasure of getting to know the authors a little bit and to ask them a few questions. They are amazing women with an impressive combined CV that never ends!

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

  1. Writing generally is considered a solitary sport, how did the two of you come together and do you find there are challenges writing as a duo?

We consider ourselves lucky that we can write together, since it’s more fun to play doubles than a solitary sport! We first met when we were both editors at the same company. We each edited a different Fear Street series by R.L. Stine. Melinda worked on the middle grade books, Ghosts of Fear Street, and Laura worked on the YA Fear Street books. One of our jobs was to come up with plot ideas, and that’s a hard thing to do by yourself. Sitting alone in a room and thinking up concepts just doesn’t work as well as bouncing ideas back and forth. We quickly began coming up with all our plots together, even though we weren’t working on the same series. And we just kept doing it! We liked all the same books and movies and TV shows, which meant we had all the same pop-culture reference points, so we could use a sort of shorthand with each other.

In terms of challenges, we aren’t the best writing partners to ask, because we don’t really have any. We began writing together for television and moved on to doing books as a team. A lot of writers talk about how difficult it is to adapt to another writer’s style or to argue over plots. We don’t have that problem. We often joke that we share a brain because it’s so easy for us to write in the same voice.

2. When creating a character for your book, do you already know who they are or do they develop as you are writing the story?

We are planners (as opposed to pantsers) so we don’t write a thing until we know who the characters are and what the plot is. Character is generally our starting point, although sometimes we have a plot-driven idea and work out the characters second. We always figure out their backstories, their personalities and how they’re going to sound, and their goals. We decide on what the main characters need from one another and how their relationships are going to work. Of course, characters do develop a bit as we write. If one of us makes a discovery about them–say, a running conflict they have with one of their parents–we let the other know and it gets worked in as we both write.

3. I Do Not Trust You takes the young readers on a world-wide quest. Do you both travel extensively or did this require a huge amount of research?

We’ve both traveled some, but nothing like what our characters M and Ash do! Sadly, we don’t have M’s ability to speak several languages or Ash’s access to the cash his group has accumulated over centuries. So we researched our locations online and just wished we could be there in person. However, since there really aren’t ancient Egyptian artifacts buried at all of these sites (we assume), many details are imaginary as well!

Thank you to #LauraJBurns and #MelindaMetz for their insight and for this incredible book! My thanks also to Brittani at St. Martin’s Press for this opportunity and to #St.MartinsPress, a publishing company on whom you can trust for great reads.