The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram & Giveaway (Open Int’l)

April 17th, 2014

The-Towers-of-TuscanyOne of the reasons I enjoy participating in book tours is because quite often I run across a gem of a book I may not have otherwise. One of those books is The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram which blends fact with fiction to deliver a captivating tale set in medieval Italy.

Sofia lives in a time when women had no rights and either bent to the will of their fathers or husbands. Sofia however grew up with a father who trained her secretly as a painter and it is her passion. Wanting to get out on her own though her heart is taken by Georgio and despite her father’s misgivings he gives his permission for her to marry him. While things are good in the beginning of the marriage it isn’t long before her wonderful husband turns into a tyrant and Sofia is left with an ever angrier husband as more time goes by and she doesn’t produce him a son.

The only thing that keeps her going is secretly painting for her father. At a party given for the unveiling of one of his paintings her father is killed and Sofia is devastated. Desperate now she decides to set up a way to escape his clutches by dressing as a boy and leaving for a short trip while never intending to come back. She goes to Siena where her father had contacts and she gets work as a painter but also as a boy being the only way she can stay safe. As she paints she reflects back on all the lessons her father taught her over the years and she misses him even more. When instructed to paint a piece for an important nobleman she ends up being discovered for the woman she actually is. Will he turn her in and have her beaten in the streets? Will she end up back in the hands of her cruel husband? Or will he love her?

Vividly descriptive of the time and place and rich in historical detail this novel takes us back in time on a wonderful journey. I was fascinated with all the detail on the painting techniques of the time period but even more so by the story woven throughout. I raced through this novel and it is a fine example of what great historical fiction should be! Highly recommended!


Other tour stops with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Read an excerpt
Author Links: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
Buy at: Amazon, Amazon Canada, and B&N


GIVEAWAY DETAILS (International)

I have one paperback or ebook copy (Winner’s choice) of The Towers of Tuscany to share with my readers.  Even better it’s open internationally!  To enter…

  • Leave a comment for 1 entry to the giveaway.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.

Open Internationally
Draw Date May 3/14



Source:  Review copy provided by the publisher.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

more to share!

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien & Giveaway (US/Canada)

April 9th, 2014

The-Ambitious-Madame-BonaparteThe Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is the debut novel of Ruth Hull Chatlien and is based on the true story of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte who was known as Betsy Bonaparte. While most of us have heard of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte numerous times Betsy is the much less known American wife of Napoleon’s younger brother Jerome. Weaving fact with fiction Ruth Hull Chatlien brings this woman alive for us in a novel sure to please historical fiction fans.

Betsy Patterson longs for more out of life than she has so far experienced. She doesn’t want to follow the rules set out for women of her time and end up married to some merchant having countless babies. Most of all she does not want to live in Baltimore where she is bored silly with all the tedious things that make up her life. It has always been her dream to marry a man from Europe and live there.

When she meets Jerome Bonaparte she is quite sure her dream has come true especially when he asks for her hand in marriage. However his brother Napoleon is adamantly opposed to the marriage but the couple marries anyhow hoping for approval from Jerome’s mother instead. So begins the tumultuous journey from marriage to bearing a son and the great battle to have that son recognized as a Bonaparte.

This novel is one of those that reminds me of why I enjoy historical fiction. It is very well written and while rich in historical detail, the story behind it is captivating as well. The novel breezed by for me and at almost five hundred pages that alone says a lot. It was very interesting to learn about Betsy and I admired her for her determination to be more than what was expected of women at that time in history. I liked Betsy as a character and could feel her pain at the rejection she felt from her father on a regular basis and then having her heart broken. While she frustrated me at times with her headstrong determination in some cases she was still one of those characters who you find yourself rooting for.

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte captures this time in history perfectly. Well written, exciting, and educational – it doesn’t get any better than that! A must read for historical fiction fans!



 Other Tour Stops with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Connect with Ruth Hull Chatlien at her website or on Facebook.
Buy at: Amazon, Amazon Canada, and B&N



I have one copy of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien to share with my readers.  The book is available in paperback, mobi, or e-pub – winner’s choice.  To enter…

  • For 1 entry leave a comment entering the giveaway.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.

Open to US and Canadian residents (no PO boxes)
Draw Date April 26/14



Source:  Review copy provided by the publisher.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

The Eagle and the Swan by Carol Strickland & Giveaway (2 eBooks – open Int’l)

March 31st, 2014

eagleThe Eagle and the Swan by Carol Strickland takes us on a journey back to a time long forgotten. It is the tale of Theodora who rose from being a bear keeper’s daughter in the circus to Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Carol Strickland weaves fact and fiction as she tells of court intrigue, betrayals, and the ultimate power struggles.

Theodora didn’t come from riches but from a poor family and when her father dies she is forced into prostitution. Eventually she gives up that life knowing that she wants more for herself and her daughter – she knows that her prince charming is out there somewhere. Then she meets Justinian who becomes Emperor and knows this is the man. He wants and knows of her past but that isn’t Theodora’s life anymore and she refuses him unless he agrees to court her out in public. Theodora’s rise to Empress isn’t an easy one. She has to live as Justinian’s mistress until he is crowned Emperor. She now has all the wealth and jewels she could ever want but Justinian works obsessively and in some ways she still feels as lonely as she did when she had nothing. When the Empire falls will Justinian finally listen to Theodora?

Theodora was a woman before her time and used her power in any way she could. She believed that women should have a voice in the way things were done. Not only was she a leader but she was caring and generous with her wealth. She wanted to help the people who really needed it like the hungry and the prostitutes. So many of these were young girls just as she had been that had been forced into that life. Everybody has a story and Theodora was interested in hearing that story before passing judgment. Needless to say Justinian doesn’t at first heed Theodora’s warnings and because of that the Empire suffers.

I knew nothing about Theodora or the Byzantine Empire before picking up this novel which was one of the main reasons I wanted to read it. The novel is rich in historical detail and vividly brings to life this period in history. I came away from reading The Eagle and the Swan feeling as though I learned something and that to me is what makes historical fiction so great! For those who enjoy historical fiction and reading about a little known time in history The Eagle and the Swan is a great pick!


Other tour stops with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Carol’s Links: Website, Book Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
Buy at: Amazon, Amazon Canada


GIVEAWAY (International)

I have 2 eBook copies of The Eagle and the Swan by Carol Strickland to share with my readers and it’s open Internationally!  To enter…

  • Leave a comment for 1 entry to the giveaway.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.

This giveaway is open Internationally and I will draw for the winners on April 13/14.  Good luck!

eagle banner

Source:  Review copy provided by the publisher.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau US Paperback Release Book Blast & Rafflecopter Giveaway

March 20th, 2014

I’ve got a book blast today for the US paperback release of The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau! I had to take a minute though to say how much I loved this book when I read it last year.  It was one of my favorites of 2013!  So for your enjoyment today please enjoy the book blast and if you’re a lover of historical fiction you can’t go wrong with The Chalice!



The Chalice
by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Touchstone Publishing
Paperback; 496p
ISBN-10: 1476708665

Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery

The new novel The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau, sends readers on a page-turning historical quest. Set in Henry VIII’s England, the story is driven by plot twists, deceptions, spiritual searching and romantic tension. Readers fall in love with protagonist Joanna Stafford, a Catholic novice forced to leave her priory and find her answers. “She is strong and determined and very likable,” says one blogger. “Exhilarating,” says Good Housekeeping, and “The novel is riveting and provides fascinating insight into into the lives of displaced nuns and priests, with fully realized characters,” says RT Book Reviews. Launching in paperback on March 18 and available in ebook too.


About The Chalice

Between the crown and the cross stands one woman…

IN 1538, ENGLAND is in the midst of bloody power struggles that threaten to tear the country apart. Aristocrat-turned-novice Joanna Stafford knows what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment when she is caught up in an international plot targeting the king. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers.

Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII, as well as the future of Christendom, are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies…



Praise for The Chalice

“A brilliant and gripping page-turner…A fascinating blend of politics, religion, mysticism and personal turmoil. Well-researched and filled with sumptuous detail, it follows Joanna’s early life from Bilyeau’s début novel, The Crown, but this book easily stands on its own. Bilyeau fills in the blanks from her earlier work while leaving the reader both wanting to read the first book and eagerly awaiting the next. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction.” – Free Lance-Star

“English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau’s richly detailed sequel to The Crown.” – Parade

“The novel is riveting, and provides fascinating insight into the lives of displaced nuns and priests during the tumultuous Tudor period. Bilyeau creates fully realized characters, with complex actions and emotions, driving the machinations of these historic personages.” – RT Book Reviews, (Top Pick)

“The human and political battles of Henry VIII’s reformation are brought to exhilarating life in The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau.” – Good Housekeeping UK, April 2014

“Bilyeau sends her plucky former novice back into the intrigue-laden court of Henry VIII.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page . . . history and supernatural mysticism combine in this compelling thriller.” – Historical Novel Society

“Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse.” – S.J. Parris, author of ‘Heresy,’ ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Sacrilege’

“[A] layered book of historical suspense.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The Chalice is an engrossing mix of the complicated politics of the Reformation with the magical elements of the Dominican order, and Joanna–fiery, passionate, determined to honor what she thinks God wants her to do–is a fascinating character. Fans of historical mysteries, Tudor politics and supernatural fiction will all be pleased by the broad scope, quick-moving plot and historical integrity of Bilyeau’s second novel.” – Shelf Awareness


Watch the Book Trailer


Buy the Book

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Simon & Schuster


About the Author

Nancy-BilyeauNancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy’s ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough’s founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.


Author Links



Nancy Bilyeau Gives an Inside Peek Behind THE CHALICE


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, March 17
Bibliophilia, Please
Book-alicious Mama
HF Book Muse-News
Flashlight Commentary
Confessions of an Avid Reader
So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, March 18
A Book Geek
Kinx’s Book Nook
Passages to the Past
Book Lovers Paradise
To Read or Not to Read
Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, March 19
Closed the Cover
A Chick Who Reads
The True Book Addict
Caroline Wilson Writes
A Dream within a Dream
Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, March 20
CelticLady’s Reviews
Ageless Pages Reviews
She is Too Fond of Books
Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, March 21
A Bookish Affair
The Maiden’s Court
Let Them Read Books
Historical Fiction Connection



To enter to win one of 10 copies of The Chalice please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway will run from March 17-21. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on March 22 and notifiied via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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