Grist by Linda Little & Giveaway (US/Canada)

April 21st, 2014

gristIn Grist by Linda Little we journey back to rural Nova Scotia in the late 1800′s. The novel vividly describes life as it would have been at this time in history with all the struggles and triumphs and it is so beautifully written.

Penelope McCabe is a schoolteacher in the 1800′s and is quite settled with being on her own until she meets her landlord’s brother Ewan MacLauglin. He sincerely seems interested in what she thinks and he is different from any man she’s been courted by before and she finds herself welcoming his attentions. Penelope is a plain girl having been described by her father once as ‘one horse of a girl’ so she’s a bit suspicious as to why he’d be interested in her as he’s a successful miller. When she questions him on this he makes it clear that he isn’t interested in flighty girls – he wants sensible and hard working. When he asks Penelope to marry him she agrees.

Upon arriving at Ewan’s home Penelope is touched by all he has done to make her comfortable and despite some misgivings she convinces herself that all will be well.  As the days pass though Penelope becomes increasingly worried that she may have made a mistake.  Ewan is not fond of communicating at all and prefers her to just be quiet.  He wants nothing to do with the neighbors and would rather Penelope do the same.  What he does want though is children, more to the point boys and heirs.  Penelope would love a family and feels quite sure this is one area she is sure to please her husband.  However it isn’t to be that easy and it isn’t long before their marriage is suffering.  As more time passes Penelope realizes with a sinking feeling that she really never knew the man she up and married.  Ewan is a domineering and often cruel man but still Penelope is determined to make the best of things.  When Ewan begins leaving her to run the mill on her own though as he travels to help others build mills tragedy strikes and Penelope knows she will never be able to forgive Ewan.

I really felt sorry for Penelope.  She existed at a time when women didn’t have a lot of options and her whole life hinged on her husband.  Without his support she would have nothing and so that also meant that she couldn’t just walk away from his cruelty.  I could feel her loneliness and uncertainty and her pain when things began to go horribly wrong in her life.  Ewan rubbed me wrong from the very beginning and he proved over and over again that he couldn’t be trusted.  Parts of the story were from his point of view but even with that I couldn’t warm to him.  It was Penelope I connected with and I admired her resilience and strength in a situation that could not have been easy for her.

Another aspect of this novel I found fascinating was all the information on building and running a mill.  It’s obvious that the author did a lot of research in that area and this reader appreciated it.  I would absolutely recommend Grist to historical fiction readers!  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on more of Linda Little’s work and as always I’m happy to promote a Canadian author whenever I can!


Other tour stops with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Linda’s website
Buy at: Fernwood Publishing



I have one paperback copy of Grist by Linda Little to share with my readers.  To enter…

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

Open to US and Canadian residents
Draw Date May 7/14


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

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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.

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!

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


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