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!!

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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.

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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
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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:

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The Poison Thread @laurapurcell

When I was a teenager I read Victorian gothic young adult books from sun up to sun down. I simply could not get enough of that genre. As I entered university, my tastes changed and I switched to more “grown up” British Literature but a part of me always yearned for the thrill of the gothic tale. Mary Shelley and Edgar Allen Poe are two of my favorite writers because of their dark, macabre imagination. It comes as no surprise, then, that I have fallen in love with Laura Purcell’s writing. Last year, The Silent Companions, took readers by a storm and now she has given us a new intriguing gothic noir tale, The Poison Thread.

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At first glance, this appeared to be an ordinary Victorian book about a young socialite, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman, with far too much time on her hands yet no interest in the usual coquetries of society. She was studying phrenology, a popular belief at the time that the skull could predict behavior and be re-shaped to alter such. Although we may sneer at this now, it was the precursor of modern behavioral science. As part of her “studies” and her desire for good works, also a very Victorian endeavor, she visits women in jail, listens to the woes of their crimes and examines their skulls. But one prisoner is unlike the rest: Ruth. This woman weaves a sinister tale about poison, and sewing and garments that can harm their owners. Is she mad? Does she belong is an institution or is she simply playing at being crazy in order to escape hanging? How can one know for sure.

Purcell alternates the chapters between the two women, the present and the past, and as she does so we, the reader, become as entwined into the threads of the story as the victims of Ruth’s garments became ensnared in hers. From the moment I began reading there was no stopping. I had to know how it ended and now, weeks after I finished, I cannot stop thinking about Ruth and her needles, her life and that of those around her. Purcell does an amazing job of bring to life Victorian England – the horrors, the poverty, the wretchedness of the poor, those in debt and, in contrast, those with money and their fineries. She also hints at the problems during this time between those who remained Catholic versus those who, of course, chose the Church of England. It was a strange and misguided time in England’s history – the age of coming knowledge combined with the ignorance of the darkness just left behind and Purcell does an commendable job of conveying all of that in The Poison Thread. This is gothic Victorian at its best and I highly recommend it for those who like this era, horror, magical realism, mystery and British literature. You will find all of that within this fabulous book.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #LauraPurcell and @PenguinPub for my copy of #ThePoisonThread

Park Avenue Summer by #ReneeRosen

Park Avenue Summer is a walk back in time to an era when women were just emerging from the sexual dark ages into a generation of power, opportunities and revolution.

park ave summerAlice Weiss has left her small, midwestern town in search of big dreams and opportunities in New York City. It’s the mid-60s and times are changing, particularly at Cosmopolitan, the failing magazine where Alice has landed a job. The new editor, Helen Gurley Brown has shocked everyone as the first female editor of the publication but more so with her shocking bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. Alice soon learns that it’s a man’s world as those in power try to draw her into a scheme to sabotage Brown’s work and ultimately lead to the failure of Cosmo. Alice learns, however, that in this new world a woman can make demands and have it all, succeed and come out on top!

Admittedly I’m a child of the 60s and 70s and remember well the days of both the sexual revolution and the feminist movement. Reading Park Avenue Summer was very much like a walk down memory lane for me. There was a very clear division in my life’s timeline: a before, when women were one way, and after, when things were very different. We have women like Helen Gurley Brown to thank for that. While Park Avenue Summer is the story of Alice’s time at the magazine, there is quite a bit of historical fact throughout the book. Much of what happened at Cosmopolitan and what transpired with Brown is documented. While we look back on her with our present sense of power and women’s rights, at the time so much of what she did and wrote about was considered scandalous. Churches across America were preaching against Brown and her magazine. Men wouldn’t allow their daughters or wives to flip through the pages of it at stores, much less buy it. The only place I ever saw it was at the hair dresser’s. We went there often. 😉  Through Alice’s eyes we see the world as it is changes; we see young women like Alice growing bolder and realizing their own power and strength. That is exactly what this period was about and Rosen captures that time, the feelings of empowerment beautifully. Park Avenue Summer is, in fact, the perfect 1960s historical fiction to illustrate the evolution of women from one era to the next.

“Filled with wit, heart and verve, Rosen’s novel dazzles and empowers” ~ Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana

Many thanks to @ReneeRosen1 and Elisha @BerkleyPub  Park Avenue Summer will be available April 30 at your favorite bookseller and at amazon

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Park Avenue Summer

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Each Wednesday many bloggers join Tressa at Wishful Endings to post a little preview about a book that we just cannot wait to read! This week I am beyond excited to share with you Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen.

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New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.

There already are some pretty terrific reviews out there and from what I’ve read of the book so far, it is amazing. I can’t wait to finish reading it and share my review with you. What about you? Have you read it yet? What did you think? What Can’t You Wait to read this Wednesday? Let me know!!

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

Tempation Rag #BlogTour brought to you by #HistoricalFictionVirtualBlogTours #ElizabethHutchisonBernard #Giveaway

I have been anxiously awaiting today so that I could share with you this incredible book, Temptation Rag. Of all of the historical fiction books that I recently have read, this one is right at the top of my favorites list! Of course, you already know by its title, that it is set in an era that I adore, but it revolves around my most beloved music in all of the world: Ragtime!

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When I was a little girl I was forced loved to play the piano, but dreaded really never came unto my own musically until my tutor decided, after she had lost all of her hair, to introduce me to Ragtime. At last!! There was something about the syncopated rhythm that found its way into my heart and suddenly, quite literally, overnight my fingers were flying all over the keyboard. Forget hymns, Bach, even Stravinsky, all I wanted was Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington and Tommy Turpin from morning until night. So, when I was given the opportunity to read a historical fictional account of “The Ragtime King of the World,” Mike Bernard, you better believe I jumped at the chance and squealed in delight at the prospect! Not only that, it is written by the wife of Bernard’s grandson. It’s like heaven right here in my ragtime era sitting room. Seriously, can you tell I’m excited yet?

Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late?

Temptation Rag is told from multiple viewpoints, including in May’s voice and from Mike’s second wife, Jessie. There are multiple timelines as well but the author deftly transitions from past to present, person to person in a way that makes it very clear and the reader never loses the flow of the story line throughout. What is fascinating about the story itself are the characters, many of whom are based on real-life people who were in the ragtime/vaudeville circuit with Bernard. The era is real, the music is real and the social conditions – racism, women’s rights, child labor – which are being discussed throughout, all are quite real. As I’ve mentioned before, this era was a time of great change, socialism was making a huge impact across America. People of both sexes, all races, young and old, were demanding fairness and equality and it was from this turmoil, growth and change from which all of this incredible art and music sprung forth. I’m not sure why we don’t have that now but it was a beautiful thing then. Within this context we have the on again/off again love story of May and Mike. Although the blurb makes it appear that the book is about May, I don’t think we get nearly enough of her story. I wish there had been more but that is my only, very tiny complaint. Despite that, it is a very well researched, incredibly well written, engaging and entertaining tale. I cannot recommend it highly enough regardless of which type of genre you enjoy.

Frederic Tulsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist says it best –

“Terrific historical research and deft writing provide a striking portrait of racial and gender inequality in the ragtime era. An unforgettable and deeply human story.”

And now,  since it’s Monday and I’m supposed to include MUSIC on MONDAYS I have a rare treat for you!! A very early recording from 1915, of Mike Bernard, The Ragtime King of the world playing the piano!!  No joke.

The Ragtime King of the World – Ragtime Two-Step

Pretty darn awesome, right?? You can purchase Temptation Rag at any of the fine retailers below:

AMAZON  BARNES AND NOBLE | CHAPTERS | INDIEBOUND

About the Author:

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of The Beauty Doctor, Finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2017 AZ Literary Awards, and a Medallion Honoree of the Book Readers Appreciation Group.

Her novel The Beauty Doctor is a suspenseful tale that takes place in the early days of cosmetic surgery—when the world of medicine was a bit like the Wild West and beauty doctors were the newest breed of outlaw. Temptation Rag: A Novel immerses readers in the bawdy atmosphere of vaudeville and early twentieth-century African American musical theater in a story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness.

Elizabeth currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their much-loved and very spoiled black Lab.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Please join us on the remainder of the BLOG TOUR:

Monday, February 18
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 19
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, February 20
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, February 22
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, February 23
Guest Post at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Reviews

Monday, February 25
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.

Tuesday, February 26
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, February 27
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 1
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Monday, March 4
YOU ARE HERE – > Review at Macsbooks

Wednesday, March 6
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 8
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, March 12
Review at Reader then Blogger

Friday, March 15
Review at Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away copies of Bernard’s other novel, The Beauty Doctor. One paperback and two eBooks are up for grabs. To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 15th. 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.

HERE IS A DIRECT LINK TO ENTER

Whew! Thank you for reading ALL of this and thank you to Amy at #HFVBTBlogTours @HFVBT and @ EHBernardAuthor  for my copy of this amazing book!

 

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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