Review: A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak

A Matter of Grave Concern

Bestselling author Brenda Novak unearths love in the darkest of places.

When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half-sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

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I had so much fun reading this story! I absolutely enjoyed the interaction between Max and Abigail. They have a meaningful connection in a particular way. They are both educated, intelligent, opinionated and strong. They complement each other very much which makes the story all the better. However, they come from two different words. I have to say that even the unsavory characters were entertaining to read and added much to the story. Jack in particular. One loves to really dislike him.

I have to say I haven’t quite read a premise like this one before and I found it to be creative and as I mentioned, fun reading. Raiding graveyards to sell corpse to medical colleges is something I did not know was done and I’m curious to find out if this really went on. It certainly does seem like it would. The title is perfect for this story, the story flows beautifully and the characters are lively. I will be on the lookout for more books by this author and highly recommend this story.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Spotlight: Nixon and Dovey by Jay W Curry

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Publication Date: November 14, 2014 Smashwords eBook: 369p ISBN: 978-1-3117280-3-6

Genre: Historical Fiction

Before he met Dovey, it was just a heated feud. Now, in the backdrop of southern antebellum slavery, it’s a deadly game of passion, murder, and revenge.

Facts: In 1818 Nixon Curry became entangled in one of the most sensationalized murder/love stories in early American history. As a result, Nixon Curry became arguably the most notorious and widely publicized criminal in America’s first half century. His fame derived not from the brutality or number of his crimes but from the determination of the Charlotte aristocracy to hang him. His remarkable talents, undying love for Dovey Caldwell, and the outright audacity of his exploits made him an early American legend.

Story: Set in the antebellum south of North Carolina, Nixon Curry, a talented son of poor Scot-Irish immigrants, accepts a job at a racing stable. Soon, his riding skills rival those of his mentor, Ben Wilson. The fierce rivalry becomes confrontational when Ben frames Nixon’s childhood, slave friend, Cyrus, for the Caldwell plantation fire. When both Nixon and Ben win invitations to the 1816 Race of Champions, the stage is set for an explosive faceoff. During prerace festivities, the dashing, young Nixon meets the beautiful Dovey Caldwell, daughter of the state’s wealthiest and most influential senator. Finding Nixon unworthy of Dovey’s affection, Senator Caldwell betroths his daughter to Nixon’s nemesis, Ben. The announcement sets in motion a clash of cultures, talents, and passions leading to murder, mayhem, and revenge.

How far will Nixon go to have his love? What price is he willing to pay and what will be the consequences?

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About the Author

Jay Curry Author Photo

Jay W Curry is a former Big-4 consulting partner, business coach, and award-winning author. When he is not coaching, fly-fishing or writing he facilitates a Vistage CEO roundtable in Houston. Jay has co-authored three internationally successful books and has won honors for both his short fiction and non-fiction work. When the heat of Texas summer arrives, Jay and his wife, Nancy, head to their Colorado home (http:/CurryBarn.com) or visit their three children and seven grandchildren. Nixon and Dovey is the first of a three-book passion to bring the 200-year-old story of Jay’s relative, Nixon Curry, back to light.

For more information, please visit Jay W. Curry’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Nixon and Dovey Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, December 5 Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, December 8 Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, December 9 Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Monday, December 15 Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Tuesday, December 16 Review at Flashlight Commentary Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, December 17 Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, December 18 Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, December 23 Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, December 26 Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Saturday, December 27 Spotlight at Layered Pages

Monday, December 29 Review at Forever Ashley

Tuesday, December 30 Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, December 31 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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Spotlight: The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

The Unquiet Bones book cover

Publication Date: November 27, 2014 Lion Fiction Paperback; 256p ISBN: 978-1-78264-030-1

Series: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton Genre: Historical Mystery

Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders. However, he feels no real calling-despite his lively faith-and he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris and then hanging his sign in Oxford. Soon after, a local lord asks Hugh de Singleton to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cesspool. Through his medical knowledge, Singleton identifies her as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith. The young man she loved-whom she had provoked very publicly-is quickly arrested and sentenced at Oxford. But this is just the beginning of the tale. The story of Singleton’s adventure unfolds with realistic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, romantic distractions, and a consistent underlying sense of Christian compassion.

Praise for The Unquiet Bones

“This skillfully woven story is a delight to read. The setting is exceptionally well crafted. Highly recommended.” —Davis Bunn, best-selling author

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About the Author

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Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

For more information please visit Mel Starr’s website.

The Unquiet Bones Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1 Review at Carpe Librum

Wednesday, December 10 Spotlight & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, December 18 Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, December 19 Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Saturday, December 20 Review at Book Nerd

Monday, December 22 Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, December 26 Spotlight at Layered Pages

Monday, December 29 Review at A Book Geek Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, December 30 Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 31 Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, January 2 Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

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My Guest Author Prue Batten

I would like to welcome Author Prue Batten to Layered Pages today to take part in my writer’s series. Today I have asked her three important questions about her writing. I would also like to mention that that Prue is a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Why do you write?

I write because I have to. Don’t get me wrong. No one forces me to. But like an artist must paint, a sculptor must sculpt or a gardener must garden, then so must I write. It’s a kind of compulsion that has been with me since I was in primary school.

I had a wonderful teacher in Grade 3 who would place pictures on the board and ask us to write a ‘composition’. The images were often illustrations from children’s’ books but I didn’t know that at the time. I only knew that as I wrote my little composition I wandered into a world and characters of my own creation and I felt immensely happy.

In high school, I loved creative writing and in fact wrote a short story about an English woman who fell in love with a German officer during WWII. It wasn’t a love story but an examination of a difficult relationship in worse times. I often wonder where that story is now…

In matriculation, creative writing got me into trouble during term English exams when I would get lost in the story-writing part of an examination paper. Time would drift by and I would look up at the clock to find I had an hour to answer the rest of the paper in a three-hour exam! But during that time, my writing won an award, a State story-writing prize. I do still have that story and hope that it will be the foundation for a new historical fiction in one or two books’ time.

I only dabbled in writing from university days till my children left home – time was chock-full of family activities. But once the children had left the nest, I really hit the keyboard. I wrote day and night like the Devil Possessed and loved every minute of it. Still do … it’s like a chocolate high and I would be lost without it.

How has writing impacted your life?

Hugely.

I took an enormous leap of faith when I wrote the first book in The Chronicles of Eirie (The Stumpwork Robe) and had it published in the UK.

Book 1

Book 1

Like most independent writers I had been submitting to the mainstream system for some time. The final straw was a close call with an agent in the UK, an agent who loved my work and wanted to take me on … but after a week of ‘umm-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’, decided my home of Tasmania was just too far away from the nuts and bolts of the publishing trade (wonder what she thinks of Richard Flanagan, a Tasmanian, winning this year’s Man-Booker Prize?). The fact she admitted to me that she would regret her decision was like an electric goad. In that same week, I received an email from a UK peer review site to which I belonged. They were funded by the UK Arts Council and were entering the POD publishing field and was I interested in publishing with them?

I thought about it for only one hour.

The leap of faith was done and I was on my way.

Since then, I have written a further six books and am writing my latest – that makes a total of eight novels to date. I have a bespoke publisher, Darlington Press. And I’ve met the most wonderful people you can imagine … readers! People who have taken the time to review me, to email me privately, even to send me things they think I would like. Generous to a fault.

Gisborne 1

The journey has led me to combine with others, in my endeavours. A book doesn’t reach the public without a team and mine is a strong one – an award winning Australian graphic designer for my covers and print formatting (Salt Studio), a published writer in Scotland who is my e-formatter (Danny Gillan), and two beta readers who give me the benefit of their objective wisdom. Most importantly, the most intuitive editor (and published writer – John Hudspith) that one could wish for. He is a man who knows exactly what i’s to dot and t’s to cross in order to maximize dramatic tension but he never interferes with the authorial voice. In addition, he has a wit that drags me right to the end of a book successfully. These five people, along with my publisher and business manager, have helped the books achieve recognition, winning me awards and notoriety. For example, every one of those books – all seven – have ranked in Amazon.co.uk’s e-book Top 100’s in various categories for over 15 months continuously!

And of course, I must mention the unique partnership with a miniature book press, Bopressminiaturebooks.com in the USA. I think we might have the most original pairing in the world. The press commissions me to write short stories and then illustrates, binds and publishes the result in miniature limited editions which are snapped up by voracious collectors. An international star of stage and screen even has one of our books!

Gisborne 2

So you see, a huge effect. In addition, I have become worldly – learning the trade, so to speak. I have had to refine my computer literacy and become unafraid of the online world. This has led to a plethora of friends that I will have forever. The most wonderful time of my life!

What advice would you give to beginner writers?

There is the old cliché – read, read, read and read some more. Soak it up like a sponge. See how writers achieve, see how what they write affects you, find out why you might like a book. Or not like it.

And then write. Write a lot. Hone it, de-bone it, re-build it. It really comes down to those very basic points. And NEVER publish the first story you write. There always has to be a first one that begins the journey and it must stay in your writing files on your computer forever. I have a trilogy that sits in a box and gathers dust, and there it will stay. Forever.

G3 Prue Batton

If you want your characters to be believable, experience what you want them to experience. Eat stale bread, ride a horse, draw a bow and loose an arrow, wear long gowns and cloaks in a fierce wind, use a sword, climb a mountain, dive into freezing water fully-clothed. Whatever it takes. And feel. Feel it through to your very marrow.

And then soon, if you write enough, you will have the story that deserves to be read widely. When you get to that point, send it to beta-readers, have it edited professionally, re-write it, have it read and edited again. And research the industry, both indie and mainstream because knowledge is power.

Eventually you will be ready and like me, you can take that leap of faith. One other thing I would say is never have expectations of the novel and the industry. Go into it with eyes wide open and be joyful about what might come your way.

Have fun and goodluck!

About Author

PrueBatten_ProfilePic

A former journalist from Australia who graduated with majors in history and politics, I’m now a cross genre writer who is also a farmer, dog owner, gardener and embroiderer.

I didn’t plan to be a writer in those early days, I was far more a reader. But like most writers, I’ve always written – seeing the world through the medium of the word. It was inevitable that I become an independent writer simply because I love being at the cutting edge of something and together with many other ‘indies’, being at the forefront of the New Age of Writing and Publishing is like being a sea captain in the Age of Exploration. And I’ve been fortunate – winning silver medals and honourable mentions for my work and to have them ranking unbroken in the UK for the last year.

I try to make time for other things in life. I love wine, chocolate and cooking delectable cakes and biscuits. I mess about in my gardens, dirt under the fingernails and a plant catalogue alongside a cup of tea. I stitch (I love needle and silks) – to wind down. I walk (a lot) with the Jack Russells, but more than anything I like being on beaches, boats or the water – being by the sea is implicit for my writing to sing.

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Friday Night Book Review: Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey

finding Rebecca

Nothing could keep Christopher and Rebecca apart: not her abusive parents, or even the fiancé she brought home after running away to England. But when World War II finally strikes the island of Jersey, the Nazi invaders ship Rebecca to Europe as part of Hitler’s Final Solution against the Jewish population.

After Christopher and his family are deported back to their native Germany, he volunteers for the Nazi SS, desperate to save the woman he loves. He is posted to Auschwitz and finds himself put in control of the money stolen from the victims of the gas chambers. As Christopher searches for Rebecca, he struggles to not only maintain his cover, but also the grip on his soul. Managing the river of tainted money flowing through the horrific world of Auschwitz may give him unexpected opportunities. But will it give him the strength to accept a brave new fate that could change his life—and others’ lives—forever?

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I have to say that I was moved to tears and anguish at the atrocities of the Nazi Camps that are described in this story. The authors does not hold back on the brutality and utter evil of the Nazi SS. This is probably the most profound, emotional historical fiction book on World War II that I have read in a long time. At first I had to take the story in small dosages. Not because it wasn’t written well. Quite the contrary. The story was told so well that as I said above, I was moved to tears…

Each character in the book played an important role in the story and Christopher’s courage and honor to find Rebecca is extraordinary. What he witnessed and had to endure in Auschwitz will be forever stamped on my soul.

One can tell when reading this story that the authors detail to the Nazi Camps are extremely well researched and I admire the authors attention to the history of how the Nazi’s fooled for a time or deceived-if you will- all for their evil gain. Even many of the Nazi were brainwashed and really thought what they were doing was right. There was much I have to admit I didn’t know about and it was brought to light in this book.

I will remember this story for a long time to come and I highly recommend it.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Interview with Author Deborah Lincoln

Agnes Cannons War

Publication Date: October 1, 2014 Blank Slate Press

Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback

Pages: 300

Genre: Historical Fiction

“I saw a woman hanged on my way to the Pittsburgh docks…”

Agnes Canon is tired of being a spectator in life, an invisible daughter among seven sisters, meat for the marriage market. The rivers of her Pennsylvania countryside flow west, and she yearns to flow with them, explore new lands, know the independence that is the usual sphere of men.

This is a story of a woman’s search for freedom, both social and intellectual, and her quest to understand what freedom means. She learns that freedom can be the scent and sound of unsettled prairies, the glimpse of a cougar, the call of a hawk. The struggle for freedom can test the chains of power, poverty, gender, or the legalized horror of slavery. And to her surprise, she discovers it can be found within a marriage, a relationship between a man and a woman who are equals in everything that matters.

It’s also the story of Jabez Robinson, a man who has traveled across the continent and seen the beauty of the country and the ghastliness of war, as he watches his nation barrel toward disaster. Faced with deep-seated social institutions and hard-headed intransigence, he finds himself helpless to intervene. Jabez’s story is an indictment of war in any century or country, and an admission that common sense and reasoned negotiation continue to fail us.

As Agnes and Jabez struggle to keep their community and their lives from crumbling about them, they must face the stark reality that whether it’s the freedom of an African from servitude, of the South from the North, or of a woman from the demands of social convention, the cost is measured in chaos and blood.

This eloquent work of historical fiction chronicles the building of a marriage against the background of a civilization growing – and dying – in the prelude to civil war.

Hello, Deborah! It is a pleasure chatting with you today and I would like to say that you have done an absolutely splendid job writing your story, Agnes Canon’s War. I finished reading it last week and I greatly admire your attention to the culture of the American nineteenth century. What first drew you to this period?

Thank you! I’m happy to be here and so glad you enjoyed ACW. I’ve had a fascination for the Civil War era ever since my visited Gettysburg when I was probably ten years old. So when a cousin compiled the basic facts about my great-great-grandparents, Agnes and Jabez Robinson, I was intrigued by their experiences during that war and wanted to know more about what they must have gone through.

I have to admit I haven’t read much about the Civil War era in the border state of Missouri. Why did you chose this setting for your story?

The main reason is that northwest Missouri is where my ancestors settled, and where their actual story played out. Agnes Canon’s War is based on fact, and I tried to keep the novel as true to the actual history as possible. The town of Lick Creek in the novel is actually the town of Oregon, Missouri, a delightful and very rural village north of St. Joseph, not far from the Missouri River. The bonus for me was that many people don’t know much about the Civil War west of the Mississippi, or how affected the people of Missouri were by fighting that disrupted their homes. It helps ACW stand out, I think, from most other novels about the Civil War.

What is one of the challenges Agnes faces while searching for the freedoms she longs for?

Margaret Fuller, America’s first feminist (she lived from 1810 to 1850) railed against all the challenges women in the nineteenth century faced. “Education,” she complains, “was not to prepare women for professions and public life but . . . that they may become better companions and mothers for men.” That kind of attitude was a huge stumbling block for any woman who hopes to determine her own future.

That’s a challenge we’re all familiar with. But I think one challenge that Agnes felt most keenly was the inability to travel alone. It simply wasn’t done for women to head off for the west the way Jabez did, to see and experience new places, unless she was accompanied by male relatives. That, to me, is a restriction that had to be suffocating for her.

Please tell your audience a little about Agnes and Jabez Robinson’s relationship in the beginning…

They were attracted, immediately, both of them. The encounter in Cincinnati was one of those jolts when you know there’s something there, something to fantasize about. Jabez, though he loved his first wife, had by then lost his passion for her, and Agnes’s strength and intelligence captivated him. I think in the early years, after his first wife’s death, they became friends. The idea that she would never marry had become a comfortable habit with Agnes; Jabez wasn’t sure he could convince her that independence and equality between a man and a woman can exist within a marriage. The depth of their friendship and love eventually overcame those impediments.

Besides the civil war what are some of the challenges happening during the nineteenth century? Like for example, education, how civilization is growing and so forth.

Ethnic upheavals may have been the most difficult challenge of those times. What to do with freed slaves, of course, was a gigantic challenge – many people, including Abraham Lincoln, hoped to relocate them to Africa or to Caribbean islands. But relations with Native Americans were also a challenge throughout the war. In 1862, thirty-eight Sioux warriors were hanged (on Lincoln’s orders), the largest mass execution in American history.

There were challenges in assimilating other groups, as well. The Irish were discriminated against, Catholics weren’t welcome in many neighborhoods or professions. California legally prohibited Chinese immigration while the railroads were recruiting Chinese workers. Rapid industrialization after the war only exacerbated the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

Please tell me a little about Agnes’s Father and his relationship with her.

Daniel Canon simply did not understand his daughter. For one thing, she wasn’t a boy. And he was devastated by the fact that there would be no sons for him, no one to carry his name and his bloodline. The most he could hope for was a grandson, and to his way of thinking, that’s the only thing daughters were good for. It became apparent that Agnes was his only hope, and she disappointed him. Submissiveness, piety, passivity – that’s what he wanted from her. And there was no way she was going to give him that.

What motivates Jabez to travel across the continent during the ghastliness of war and what are some of the social conditions he encounters?

Jabez was a wanderer, an adventurer – as Eliza (his first wife) said, a rogue. He was restless, wanted to see the world, experience the wild, test himself against hardship and test his medical skills against the vast variety of diseases and accidents. He would have encountered primitive living conditions, greed and discrimination and avarice among the gold seekers, but also the excitement of a growing and expanding country in its “teen” years – the sense that anything was possible. When he was drawn into the war against Mexico in the southwest he would have encountered cultures that would seem almost exotic to him – a variety of different native cultures and the centuries-old Spanish and Catholic mission cultures of southern California.

Was there a particular scene in your story difficult to write?

Several. One that I had trouble with, though, was the scene where the men from Lick Creek visited Missouri’s Senator David Rice Atchison. Atchison wanted them to join him in claiming Kansas for the southern interests. The scene was difficult because I wanted it to be realistic, so I used actual phrases that Atchison used in speeches, but I needed the dialog and interactions to be natural, not stiff. It was hard avoid turning some of the historical characters into caricatures.

Which character are you partial to and why?

I love Agnes. She’s smart and funny and sassy, and didn’t let tragedy destroy her. But I have a special afinity for a couple of the minor characters, particularly Dick and Rose McDonald, the African American couple who are quietly capable and determined. And I adore little James with his black arrowhead.

Will you be writing other stories that take place during this era?

I’m working on one that takes place in the 1864 to 1868 time period, mostly in Montana during its wild territory days. And I’m noodling around with the idea of a sequel to Agnes Canon’s War: Agnes’s life in the gilded years of the 1870s and 1880s.

Thank you, Deborah!

Thank you, so much, for hosting me.

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Deborah Lincoln grew up in the small town of Celina, among the cornfields of western Ohio. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan. She and her husband have three grown sons and live on the Oregon coast.

Of her passion for historical fiction, she says: “I’m fascinated by the way events—wars and cataclysms and upheavals, of course, but the everyday changes that wash over everyday lives—bring a poignancy to a person’s efforts to survive and prosper. I hate the idea that brave and intelligent people have been forgotten, that the hardships they underwent have dropped below the surface like a stone in a lake, with not a ripple left behind to mark the spot.”

Agnes Canon’s War is the story of her great great-grandparents, two remarkable people whose lives illustrate the joys and trials that marked America’s tumultuous nineteenth century.

For more information on Deborah Lincoln please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Praise for Agnes Canon’s War

“Impressively researched, it captures the brutality of the war in the West and the complicated, divided loyalties of the people who are caught up in it. Agnes Canon’s War will have readers anticipating the romance and dreading the battles in equal amounts.” -Steve Wiegenstein, author of Slant of Light and This Old World

“The characters are likeable, intelligent, humorous, spunky and passionate people whose zest for adventure is met and then some! Superb historical fiction this reviewer highly recommends.” – Historical Novel Society

“Agnes Canon’s War is brilliantly researched and written. Deborah Lincoln has successfully described the occurrences of the Civil War era in the border state of Missouri and the resultant emotions upon the inhabitants of the area. Many neighbors were bitterly opposed to one another, and severe heartache touched everyone. Lincoln’s writing places the reader in the midst of that turmoil. Her research is accurate and lends to a skillfully-designed background for Agnes Canon’s story. An example is her reference to Westport Landing. It is a little-known fact (even to most Missourians) that this original port on the Missouri River, located in the vicinity of today’s Grand and Main Streets, resulted in present-day Kansas City. This heartfelt book will likely impress even the most seasoned historians.” -William R. Reynolds, Jr. author of Andrew Pickens: South Carolina Patriot in the Revolutionary War and The Cherokee Struggle to Maintain Identity in the 17th and 18th Centuries

“Years ago in fiction workshop, this manuscript leaped out at me with the most memorable opening line I’d seen in forever: “I saw a woman hanged on my way to the Pittsburgh docks.”

On revisiting this story several years after my first beta-read of the whole novel, I was struck by how many details and scenes I remember. Historical fiction is not for the lazy writer. The tremendous amount of research that skilled writers weave into the narrative are simply amazing.

I’m afraid I’ll be guilty of plot spoilers if I mention some of my favorite scenes or the tragic events that really happened. I will say Jabez has a first wife, and Agnes befriends her to her dying day. That first wife has a fascination for what today would sound like New Age mysticism. Any reader who hates reading about war should keep going, because all sorts of intriguing historical issues and beliefs come to light in Agnes Canon’s world.

The prose is polished, the story spellbinding, the authenticity both inspiring and heartbreaking. Five stars!” -Carol Kean Blog, Book Reviews, Cosmic Rants

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Agnes Canon’s War Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 8 Review at Forever Ashley Review at Back Porchervations

Tuesday, December 9 Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Wednesday, December 10 Review at Too Fond

Friday, December 12 Review at Just One More Chapter Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Monday, December 15 Review at Luxury Reading

Wednesday, December 17 Review at Book Babe Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, December 18 Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Friday, December 19 Review at Boom Baby Reviews Interview at Layered Pages

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Book Blast: The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland

02_The Iris Fan Cover

Publication Date: December 9, 2014 Minotaur Books Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Series: Sano Ichiro Mystery Series (Book 18) Genre: Historical Mystery

Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichirō has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard. His relationship with his wife Reiko is in tatters, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano’s onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano’s dedication to the Way of the Warrior—the samurai code of honor—is undiminished.

Then a harrowing, almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. This is the most significant, and most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun’s heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death without waiting for the shogun’s permission, then worry about the consequences later. And Sano has enemies of his own, as well as unexpected allies. As the previously unimaginable death of the shogun seems ever more possible, Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself.

Riveting and richly imagined, with a magnificent sense of time and place, The Iris Fan is the triumphant conclusion to Laura Joh Rowland’s brilliant series of thrillers set in feudal Japan.

The Sano Ichiro Mystery Series Titles

Shinjū Bundori The Way of the Traitor The Concubine’s Tattoo The Samurai’s Wife Black Lotus The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria The Dragon King’s Palace The Perfumed Sleeve The Assassin’s Touch The Red Chrysanthemum The Snow Empress The Fire Kimono The Cloud Pavilion The Ronin’s Mistress The Incense Game The Shogun’s Daughter The Iris Fan

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About the Author

03_Laura Joh Rowland

Granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, Laura Joh Rowland grew up in Michigan and where she graduated with a B.S. in microbiology and a Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She is the author of sixteen previous Sano Ichiro thrillers set in feudal Japan. The Fire Kimono was named one of the Wall Street Journal’s “Five Best Historical Mystery Novels”; and The Snow Empress and The Cloud Pavilion were among Publishers Weekly’s Best Mysteries of the Year. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband. She has worked as a chemist, microbiologist, sanitary inspector and quality engineer.

For more information please visit Laura’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook.

The Iris Fan Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, December 9 Book Blast, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 10 Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Thursday, December 11 Review at Buried Under Books

Friday, December 12 Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Monday, December 15 Book Blast at Layered Pages

Tuesday, December 16 Review at Book Dilletante Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Wednesday, December 17 Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, December 19 Review at Unshelfish Book Blast at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Monday, December 22 Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, December 23 Review at Book Nerd

Monday, January 5 Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, January 7 Review at Book Babe Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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Book Review: The Seventh Link by Margaret Mayhew

The Seventh Link

The village of Frog End may be peaceful, but that doesn’t mean that the Colonel’s life there is quiet not with his friendly but nosy neighbour Naomi, desperate to know what he is keeping in his new shed; the curious Miss Butler, who tracks his every move with her German U-boat captain s binoculars; and the attentions of the local vicar, who’s keen to involve him in church affairs. That is not forgetting the demands of the aloof, imperious cat Thursday, who seems to have adopted the Colonel. So the Colonel is pleased when his old friend Geoffrey Cheetham invites him up to the village of Buckby for the weekend, to coincide with a RAF reunion event. After depositing an outraged Thursday at the Cat Heaven cattery, he drives up, and meets his fellow guests at the Cheethams B&B: including a Lancaster bomber crew, reunited for the first time. But everything is not as it seems, and the Colonel finds himself taking on the reluctant role of sleuth once more when tragedy strikes . . .”

I was so delighted to pick this up. I do love a good mystery and I enjoyed this one. This story is more of a mystery at a slower pace but not in any way does the book lose your attention. I was thoroughly engrossed and had many thoughts on the story-line and was into each character and their situation. Although there was a couple of things I would have liked to seen a bit tighter and expanded on. First, half way through the story you learn something about the Colonel. A situation that he tends to get himself in to-quite often it seems- that Naomi-a nosy yet caring lady- points out. I feel that should have been introduced closer to the beginning to the story to give it more depth. Secondly, the ending did not end as I would expect it to and I’m still undecided if it worked for me. I have to say it ends differently than how most mysteries end.

I really did enjoy the overall story and found the plot to be brilliant and how the title fitted in with the story was well executed. And I enjoyed the history of the Bomber Command that the author included in the story. That was a wonderful addition to the plot. The author’s rendition and attention to that particular detail was well written and intriguing. World War II enthusiasts would be interested in this aspect of the story. A good read.

Stephanie Moore Hopkins

Review: A New York Christmas by Anne Perry

New York Christmas by Anne Perry

Anne Perry’s new Christmas novel is an irresistible tale of love, betrayal, greed, murder, and selfless devotion. For the first time, Perry’s annual yuletide offering is set in New York City—a sparkling young metropolis bursting with life, promise, and subtle menace. The year is 1904. Twenty-three-year-old Jemima Pitt, the daughter of Thomas Pitt, head of the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police, is crossing the Atlantic as companion to Delphinia Cardew, who is to marry the aristocratic Brent Albright in a high-society New York wedding—a grand affair that will join together two fabulously wealthy families, titans of the international financial world. But Jemima senses a mysterious shadow darkening the occasion. Missing from the festivities is Delphinia’s mother, Maria, who is marked by disgrace. Nearly sixteen years ago, Maria abandoned young Delphinia and disappeared—and now the Albrights refuse to mention her name. But when Harley, the groom’s charismatic brother, asks Jemima to help him search for Maria and forestall the scandal that would surely follow if the prodigal parent turned up at the wedding, she agrees to assist him. From Hell’s Kitchen to Fifth Avenue, the Lower East Side to Central Park, Jemima trudges through strange, snowy streets, asking questions but getting few answers—and never suspecting that she is walking into mortal danger, from which not even a handsome young police officer named Patrick Flannery may be able to protect her. Once more, Anne Perry delivers a suspenseful, deeply moving novel that captures the essence of the holiday spirit.

 

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A New York Christmas is the first book I’ve read of Anne Perry and I’m am so thrilled with this story. I have several other of her books on my shelf that I have yet to get to but now I’m more than eager to do so having read this story! Perry is a very talented writer and tells a marvelous story.

First I’d like to say that I really admire Perry’s style of writing and found it refreshing for the period her story takes place in. I’ve read a few books that was set in the early 1900’s and found the writing awkward and not well plotted. The story line flows beautifully and I enjoyed reading the mystery aspects to it. Not only that I enjoyed the character development and their interaction with each other was entertaining. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story and when I was finished. I wanted more.

This is the perfect book to read for the season and I highly recommend you do! When you sit down to read, wrap yourself up in a warm blanket, have a nice fire perhaps and a hot cup of your favorite coffee or tea. Be prepared to not want to get up from your rest until you are done reading this exciting story.

Stephanie Moore Hopkins

My guest Marcia Coffey Turnquist

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My guest, Marcia Coffey Turnquist is visiting with me today to talk about her writing. She is an author and journalist, is currently writing her second novel, Skipping the Light. Before venturing into the world of fiction, she spent 12 years as a news broadcaster, working her way back to her hometown of Portland, Oregon and KOIN-TV. Marcia decided to retire from broadcasting to raise the son and daughter who ultimately inspired The God of Sno Cone Blue. Her two children are all but grown now, the youngest just off to college and the other currently studying abroad. Marcia lives with her husband Ed in the soggy-but-green suburbs of Portland.

Marcia, why do you write?

Why do I write… why do I write… such a deceptively simple, but important question. First and foremost, because I love to write. I love the freedom and creativity, the chance to say what I want to say, and the inherent gift of an empty page. I love weaving words together, the rhythm of language, the way it pulls your mind forward, and the order of thought. And I especially love when magic happens, when you’re writing along, you know, just minding your own business and—whoosh!—something incredible happens, something wonderful and perfect and even divine comes into your head and you know it was meant to be. You just know it.

On the other hand, there are horrible-terrible, aggravating aspects to writing too: like the first draft you thought was beautiful until you realize it’s crap; like the hours spent outlining when you pulled out more hair than words; like the days when you try so hard to string thoughts together and barely make it to a full paragraph.

Still, there’s so much to love. Writing gives you a voice and the chance at a few ions of immortality. It leaves a history of your musings and mind travels. It means an opportunity to influence thought or stir emotion, spur people to action or to new understandings. Writers offer their readers escape, entertainment or just plain fun.

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How has writing impacted your life?

My hope is by launching a second career! While I’m still working on that (with novel two underway) I can point to other ways writing has changed me. I’m probably smarter because of writing—I’m definitely smarter-mouthed! But seriously, the amount I’ve learned on several fronts in the past few years has been incredible: from self-publishing to marketing, from brainstorming to researching, from first draft to editing to absorbing feedback from my writers’ group. In spite of getting older—I’m now 54—my memory is better. I feel sharper than I did, say, a decade ago.

What advice would you give to beginner writers?

First, don’t give up. If you really desire to write, if you really love it and want to make something of it, be persistent, no matter how many rejections and disappointments, no matter how many hoops and obstacles, because it’s not easy, not in the least. Now, the biggest obstacle to writing may be income (or lack thereof), so that has to be a consideration. You may not earn money writing, especially at first. But if you can live with that (both literally and figuratively), then don’t let the other obstacles get in the way; don’t ever give up.

Second, be a wise listener. When you read, listen to the voice of the writer, and listen to your critics, whether they’re friends or professional editors. You’re bound to learn something. In other words, don’t be defensive, because we all have room for improvement. Hard as it is sometimes to take constructive criticism (I’m sometimes crushed for days) consider it a gift, not an insult. You’re not a hermit on an island—yay! You have friends (and professionals) willing to tell you what they think—yay! This doesn’t mean you have to agree with all of it, but give it thoughtful consideration. Chances are, you’ll find nuggets of truth that will do wonders for your work.

Third, write! And when you write, when you actually sit down and let your fingers fly, forget the editor in your head (or those pesky writer friends) and just write. Writing is like any skill: the more you do it, the better you get.

There’s an old story I like to tell that illustrates this point perfectly. I’ve known it so long I don’t remember where I first heard it, but here it goes: There was a research project involving a group of people and a bunch of clay. The researchers put half the people in one set and the other half in another.

To the first set of people they said: Each of you take some clay and a wheel and spin the best, most perfect clay pot you can spin. You have one month to reach your goal. At the end of that time, bring us your best, most perfect pot.

To the second group, they said: Here is a bunch of clay, each of you take a wheel and don’t worry about quality. Make as many pots as you can in one month. When the month is up, bring us your pots.

After one month, which group do you think made the best pots? Yes—the one that was told to make the most! There was no anxiety about making it their best, no sweating over perfection, only a chance to learn the skill.

So, the next time you’re writing, shaping those sentences like clay, and that pesky editor enters your head, throw the bum out! There’ll be time later on for your writer friends to crush you.

Marica’s Website