Announcement! Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris

me-iiI have an interview with bestselling, award-winning author C.S Harris that will be posted on December 1st here at Layered Pages! We will be discussing her upcoming novel, Good Time Coming. This story is the most important works of fiction of the American Civil War I have read this year. Harris gets real about the complexities of the what southern women and children endured during the war. Mark your calendars! You won’t want to miss this!

****Be sure to check out my review of Good Time Coming below****

Writing is a time honored moment. When the writer breathes life into the characters and gives them a place in the reader’s heart. Characters capture us in their embrace and we take refuge in their lives in a world of uncertainties.

The art of writing a good review is to build a bridge between the book and the reader.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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good-time-coming-ii“A powerful tale of the survival of the women and children left behind during the American Civil War by the author of the Sebastian St Cyr mysteries.”

It’s the beginning of the American Civil War and the Union army is sailing down the Mississippi, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
The graceful river town of St. Francisville, Louisiana, has known little of the hardships, death, and destruction of the War. But with the fall of New Orleans, all changes. A Federal fleet appears on the Mississippi, and it isn’t long before the depredations and attacks begin.
For one Southern family the dark blue uniform of the Union army is not the only thing they fear. A young girl stops a vicious attack on her mother and the town must pull together to keep each other safe. But a cryptic message casts doubt amongst the town s folk. Is there a traitor in the town and can anybody be trusted?
Twelve-year-old Amrie and her family have never felt entirely accepted by their neighbors, due to their vocal abolitionist beliefs. But when Federal forces lay siege to the nearby strongholds of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the women and children of St. Francisville find themselves living in a no man s land between two warring armies. Realizing they must overcome their differences and work together to survive, they soon discover strengths and abilities they never knew they possessed, and forge unexpected friendships.

As the violence in the area intensifies, Amrie comes to terms with her own capacity for violence and realizes that the capacity for evil exists within all of us. And when the discovery of a closely guarded secret brings the wrath of the Federal army down on St. Francisville, the women of St. Francisville, with whom Amrie and her mother have shared the war years many deprivations and traumas, now unite and risk their own lives to save them.

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Good Time Coming constitutes far more than a work of fiction. It is not often talked about- the southern women’s struggle during the American Civil War. The shelling of towns, churches and homes, burning, destruction, plundering, murder, rape and sheer terror commented by the union soldiers against women of the south. Not only that but the starvation they experienced. It’s not a comfortable subject and most of the time no one wants to be honest and open about it, but it is a reality that needs to be told. Women and children (black and white), poor and rich were unprotected, brutalized, starved and often left homeless. More times than not, they received no mercy from the union army. That is a fact. The story, Good Time Coming focuses on many of these things and what a telling it is! Harris has meticulously researched for this story and has brought to life, the voices of the past.

I feel so connected to the characters and their life. This story has touched my soul and impacted me in such a way that has taken me to an era gone by. There were so many emotions running through me while reading this story.

Harris truly captures the diversity of people and social standing and shows different views of the war. Her prose is often times lyrical and she really brings you to the heart of these characters and their plight.

I want people to realize how important stories like this are and how we need to openly talk about what really went on.

An American novel of the war between the states everyone should read. This by far is the best book I have read this year and the best of C.S. Harris work.
Rated this book five stars.

c-s-harrisAbout C.S. Harris

Candice Proctor, aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham, is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen novels including the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series written under the name C.S. Harris, the new C.S. Graham thriller series co-written with Steven Harris, and seven historical romances. She is also the author of a nonfiction historical study of the French Revolution. Her books are available worldwide and have been translated into over twenty different languages.

Candice graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude with a degree in Classics before going on to earn an MA and Ph.D. in history. A former academic, she has taught at the University of Idaho and Midwestern State University in Texas. She also worked as an archaeologist on a variety of sites including a Hudson’s Bay Company Fort in San Juan Island, a Cherokee village in Tennessee, a prehistoric kill site in Victoria, Australia, and a Roman cemetery and medieval manor house in Winchester, England. Most recently, she spent many years as a partner in an international business consulting firm.

The daughter of a career Air Force officer and university professor, Proctor loves to travel and has spent much of her life abroad. She has lived in Spain, Greece, England, France, Jordan, and Australia. She now makes her home in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, retired Army officer Steve Harris, her two daughters, and an ever-expanding number of cats.

C.S. Harris Website

Book Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

the-tea-planters-wifeNineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . .

My thoughts:

When I read the description of the story, I was intrigued with the premise and it is not often I  have a chance to read fiction stories about tea plantations in the British colonies. This story’s setting takes place in Ceylon. My first thoughts were I hope the author blends in facts about tea production and the relations between the British and the natives. We know that history teaches us that the British mistreated the natives often and used them horribly.

I read this story as a buddy read with a few of my fellow book bloggers/reviewers. We had a great time discussing the book in detail. There were parts of the story we liked and parts of the story we were utterly frustrated with.

The story as a whole needed to be fleshed out better and a few times I found myself ready to abandon the book. For example, the mystery to the story. If the mystery was fully developed, the book could have had a better rating from me. Maybe.

While each character had an interesting story of their own, the telling seemed weak and I began to feel myself unsympathetic to their plight.

The story moved slowly-too slowly-and I felt dissatisfied with the results. I also felt the social situations of the story could have been stronger. Though the structure of a tea plantation was mildly interesting and the relations between the natives and the British were somewhat believable….to a point. It wasn’t enough to hold my complete attention.

Verity and Laurence-sister/brother- relationship was unbalanced to me and Gwen-Laurence wife-was uninteresting at best. The author wants you to feel the dysfunctionality of their household but the whole dynamic between them was contrived. I would like to say more about this but will leave it at that.

I am sorry to give it such a negative report. This story had great potential but it fell short.

I rated this story two and a half stars and obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Review: The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

the-house-between-tidesFollowing the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.

Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body.

My thoughts:

I love the idea of the Scottish Western Isles as the setting for this story. Imagine a house on a small island and the only way to get out to it is at low tide. Historically the land is reported to have prehistoric structures. Though the House Between the Tides is a modern story that blends with a story in the not too distant past.

Hetty inherits a house that was owned by her relative and painter Theo Bake. When she travels to the area she is immediately drawn into the houses past. This opens up much doubt if it is wise to renovate the house. The house is in ruins and is crumbling. Not only that human remains put a halt to her plans. Then begins the mystery of whose body it is and brings past secrets to life.

I was so intrigued with the premise and title. When I began to read the story, it did not disappoint me. I found the characters’ lives extraordinary and the family connections fascinating. The description of the small community, their surroundings, the Island are beautifully told and so mysterious!

I love these kind of stories and hope to see more like this from the author!

I rated this book four stars and have obtained a copy through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: The Guineveres by Sarah Domet

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the-guineveresTo four girls who have nothing, their friendship is everything: they are each other’s confidants, teachers, and family. The girls are all named Guinevere―Vere, Gwen, Ginny, and Win―and it is the surprise of finding another Guinevere in their midst that first brings them together. They come to The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration convent by different paths, delivered by their families, each with her own complicated, heartbreaking story that she safeguards. Gwen is all Hollywood glamour and swagger; Ginny is a budding artiste with a sentiment to match; Win’s tough bravado isn’t even skin deep; and Vere is the only one who seems to be a believer, trying to hold onto her faith that her mother will one-day return for her. However, the girls are more than the sum of their parts and together they form the all-powerful and confident The Guineveres, bound by the extraordinary coincidence of their names and girded against the indignities of their plain, sequestered lives.

The nuns who raise them teach the Guineveres that faith is about waiting: waiting for the mail, for weekly wash day, for a miracle, or for the day they turn eighteen and are allowed to leave the convent. But the Guineveres grow tired of waiting. And so when four comatose soldiers from the War looming outside arrive at the convent, the girls realize that these men may hold their ticket out.

In prose shot through with beauty, Sarah Domet weaves together the Guineveres’ past, present, and future, as well as the stories of the female saints they were raised on, to capture the wonder and tumult of girlhood and the magical thinking of young women as they cross over to adulthood.

My thoughts on the cover:

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and gladly admit I judge a book by its cover.

When I see the name, Guinevere, I think of the wife of the legendary King Arthur of Britain.Guinevere was known for her beauty and for being a Noble Queen though her life turned tragic. Anyhow, before I get carried away with her story and wanting to bring up her love affair….Let’s get back to the book cover. In pictures and movies that have portrayed Guinevere, she had beautiful long, thick braided hair. That is how this book cover first captured my attention.

Though The Guineveres by Sarah Domet does not take place during the medieval times and is not about a beautiful queen, I still find the premise fascinating and I love the cover!

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court-Coming soon

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books 

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!