Thursday, 19 July 2018

#CoverCrush The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson

For new visitors do I want to explain that Cover Crush is something that my friend Erin over at Historical Fiction Reader came up with and I adopted the idea together with some other friends. And, now we try to put up a Cover Crush every week. You can check below my pick of the week for their choices this week!
The remarkable new account of an essential piece of American mythology—the trial of Lizzie Borden—based on twenty years of research and recently unearthed evidence.

The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?

The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.

Thoughts:

I think the cover speaks for itself. The woman in profile is obvious Lizzie Borden. Yet you can't really see her face because of the hat. You can see her, but not the whole of her. Like the story about Lizzie Borden, so well known, but what is really true? What is her true face? A coldblooded killer or a victim? 

Check out what my friends have picked for Cover Crush's this week:

Stephanie @ Layered Pages





Wednesday, 18 July 2018

#BookReview Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik @delreybooks @FreshFiction

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart and takes up his work in their village.

Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets her an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she’ll die. Yet if she triumphs, it may mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly spins a web which draws in the unhappy daughter of a lord.

Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar – he will pay any price to achieve this goal. However, the dashing tsar is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of mortals and winter alike.

Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power and love.

In this fairy tale-inspired novel, Naomi Novik weaves a rich, multi-layered tapestry that is a joy to read.

*********

Once upon a time, I read a book called UPROOTED and I found it to be a fabulous novel. So, I was thrilled to get the chance to read SPINNING SILVER, a new novel by Naomi Novik. Now this novel is a stand-alone fantasy novel that in some ways feels like a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BookReview Double Blind by Iris Johansen @StMartinsPress

Double Blind by Iris Johansen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kendra Michaels, formerly blind and now a hired gun for law enforcement agencies who relies on her razor-sharp powers of observation, is reluctant to help the FBI with the most recent case they’ve brought to her. But then she hears the details: the body was found just blocks away from Kendra’s condo. The young woman was carrying an envelope with Kendra’s name on it, and inside was an SD card with what appears to be an innocuous video of a wedding reception. The woman died trying to get the video to Kendra, but for what purpose? Before Kendra and the FBI can answer that question, the bride is abducted from her suburban home.

And so the hunt is on for a killer whose nightmarish plan is slowly becoming clear. A plan that involves a powerful law firm and a multi-billion dollar corporation. As the body count rises, Kendra joins forces with private investigator Jessie Mercado and agent-for-hire Adam Lynch to stop the plot as it grows ever closer to its terrifying conclusion.


In Double Blind, Iris and Roy Johansen deliver an emotional, gripping new entry in the bestselling Kendra Michaels series.


*********

It's just a couple of years ago that I read my first Iris Johansen book. It was an Eve Duncan book and I just loved it since then have I read several from that series and some from this the Kendra Michael series. 

Kendra Michaels was born blind, but she got her sight back as an adult and she has a keen sense for details that other miss which help a lot when FBI needs her help. Like this time when a woman is killed just a couple of blocks from Kendra's Condo. A woman carrying an envelope with Kendra's name on it.

The beginning of the book was intriguing. Kendra was given a video of a wedding and she has no clues as to why since she doesn't know who the woman who was killed. Nor does she recognize anyone at the wedding. So, first, must they figure out who the people at the wedding are.

Beside the case is Kendra dealing with her "relationship" with Adam Lynch. The attraction is there, but she has trouble giving in to him. Perhaps this case will bring them together. I love that private investigator Jessie Mercado has a part in this story. I would love to see her get her own book (or series) someday.

The case was the best when everything was still unknown. The reason for the death of the woman (and the later ones killed) was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for a more conspiratorial angle rather than the one that the book presented. Still, I liked the book and I'm looking forward to the next one!

I want to thank St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

#BookReview Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King @LaurieRKing @mary_russell @randomhouse @FreshFiction

Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A June summer's evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend's beloved aunt has failed to return following a supervised outing from Bedlam. After the previous few weeks--with a bloody murder, a terrible loss, and startling revelations about Holmes--Russell is feeling a bit unbalanced herself. The last thing she wants is to deal with the mad, and yet, she can't say no.

The Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, yet he seemed to be improving--or at least, finding a point of balance in her madness. So why did she disappear? Did she take the family's jewels with her, or did someone else? The Bedlam nurse, perhaps?

The trail leads Russell and Holmes through Bedlam's stony halls to the warm Venice lagoon, where ethereal beauty is jarred by Mussolini's Blackshirts, where the gilded Lido set may be tempting a madwoman, and where Cole Porter sits at a piano, playing with ideas...


**********

I have to admit that having Mary Russell's old friend Veronica Beaconsfield making an appearance in this book brought back a lot of fond memories from the earlier books. Yeah, I got nostalgic and all remembering Mary and Veronica's school days not to mention the religious sect "The New Temple of God" that Veronica was involved with that turned out to be quite an adventure for Mary.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BlogTour The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg @MrsLondonsLover @NEBookPromotion

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.


Guest Post: 


The Devil is in the Details 
By Rebecca Rosenberg

Devilish good details…Most writing workshops focus on writing interesting characters, or a riveting plot rife with conflict, or the structure… all very important in crafting a story. But perhaps for historical novel readers, it is the spicy details that change our experience from commonplace to a story that transports us to a time long ago.

How does the author come up with these bits of intrigue that bond us to the character? Traveling to the locale, antique stores, searching old maps, scanning odd books or the internet? Yes.

In THE SECRET OF MRS. LONDON, I used the Remington typewriter, the mimeograph, and the ediphone to illustrate the tools of the writing trade in the 1915-1917 period covered in the book. My characters, Charmian and Jack London actually used these apparatuses in their writing and they portray these characters and even what is happening in the story.

Charmian London typed on the Remington, as Jack London dictated his stories! She typed 100 words a minute. How is that even possible pushing those mechanical keys? The “prop” of the Remington, illustrates Charmian London’s education as a typist and working at Overland Journal. It characterizes her as an industrious, serious worker that pushes herself, not the norm of the day in 1915. But it occurs to me writing this blog, that the Remington typewriter also indicates a subservience to her husband Jack, because she it typing his words.

I was amazed to find out that Charmian actually copied Jack London’s manuscripts on an early mimeograph, invented by Edison in 1876. Each page had to be fed through and the ink dried. Within the manuscript, using the mimeograph showed the tedious, labor intensive process of creating a manuscript, which Charmian often did, since Jack London produced more than twenty novels in the fifteen years they worked together. Not to mention the articles and letters they wrote! Mountains of typing and mimeographing!

When the London’s bought an ediphone it marked a stark break in their togetherness. Jack could speak into the ediphone by himself, and later Charmian would type it up. Jack was no longer telling his stories to Charmian and watching her make them come alive on the page. And Charmian now had the freedom to spend time on her own writing. In fact, in later years, they hired a typist to transpose Jack’s ediphone recordings.

Other examples of how props are used to depict character traits and state of being, from my favorite authors:

From Kay Bratt, author of THE PALEST INK. The title comes from an old Chinese proverb that says 'The Palest Ink is better than the best memory'. She chose it because during the Cultural Revolution, people were not allowed to keep any sort of records or photos about what was really going on. Media was twisted to make those in power look good, and tragedies and truths were concealed. The most important object was Mao's Little Red Book. It is rumored to have landed in the hands of billions of people. During the Cultural Revolution in China, it was an unofficial requirement for every Chinese citizen to own, to read, and to carry it at all times. For their own safety, people memorized segments of it, to prove their loyalty and avoid persecution or death. Later, after the Cultural Revolution was shut down, Mao was exposed as a madman and the cause of millions of tragic deaths throughout China.

From Camille Di Maio, author of BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS. One of her characters, Della Lee Trujillo, is in a Texas women's prison in the 1940s, convicted for the murder of her sister. As she is being driven to the prison from the courthouse, she clings to a rosary that had been her mother's. Her mother deserted the family when she ran off with her lover, so Della begins to fear that it is tainted by her mother's sin. As she prays, the words "Forgive us our trespasses..." plays in her mind and she recalls all the events that led up to that moment.

So what objects can best describe your character, and what she is going through? The use of unique props is a great example of a writer’s mantra: Show. Don’t Tell.

Rebecca Rosenberg writes biographical historical fiction. The Secret Life of Mrs. London, published by Lake Union, is her debut novel, following her non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA She can be contacted on Facebook and Goodreads or on her website, www.rebecca-rosenberg.com https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Life-Mrs-London/dp/1542048737

About the Author:


California native Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where she and her husband founded the largest lavender product company in America, Sonoma Lavender. A long-time student of Jack London’s work and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian, Rosenberg is a graduate of the Stanford Writing Certificate Program. THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON is her first novel, following her non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA.

Rebecca Rosenberg’s next historical novel is GOLD DIGGER the story of BABY DOE TABOR.


Buy the Book:



Blog Tour Schedule:


July 9th- Book Review - Kate Braithwaite

July 10th – Book Excerpt – Just One More Chapter 

July 11th -Book Spotlight and Highlighted Reviews – before the second sleep

July 12th- Book Review -Book Babble

July 13th – Book Review - Strange & Random Happenstance

July 14th – Book Spotlight – Fictionophile

July 15th - Book Spotlight- Layered Pages

July 16th – Book Spotlight & Book Review – Svetabooks

July 17th- Book Spotlight – A Bookish Affair

July 18th – Guest Post – A Bookaholic Swede


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

#BookReview In the Vines by Shannon Kirk @amazonpub

In the Vines by Shannon Kirk
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Family ties so strong you can’t escape…

Mary Olivia Pentecost, known as Mop, was born into one of the wealthiest families in the country—and one of the most guarded. Now, two years after her mother’s mysterious death, Mop is seeking closure on the disquieting tragedy by returning to the New England seaside estate of her cloistered Aunty Liv—once her closest relative and confidante.

But behind the walls of the isolated estate, the shadows of the past are darker than Mop imagined. The puzzles of the family history are not to be shared, but unearthed. With each revelation comes a new, foreboding threat—and for Mop, the grave suspicion that to discover Aunty Liv’s secrets is to become a prisoner of them.

How well do we know the people we love? How well do we want to know them? The answers are as twisted as a tangle of vines in this throat-clutching novel of psychological suspense.

*********

Sometimes a book just doesn't work for me. I want to like it, but the story just doesn't rock my boat. Unfortunately, In the Vines is one of them. I was really looking forward to reading the book, however, from the start did I feel a bit confused when it came to the story, with the jumping between present and past.

We have the story from two years earlier with Mop's aunt having an affair with a married man. She's waiting for him to reveal this to his wife, but things go a bit wrong there. In the present story, we get Mop's situations as she is hiding from a crazy person with her "companion". These stories are interwoven until the end when Mop's situation is explained.

I think my problem was that the story just didn't live up to my expectations, I wanted a creepy family story, and this one was more puzzling. I wanted to know the truth, why is Mops hiding from someone that wants to kill her? But, her aunt's storyline failed to impress me. On the plus side was Mops storyline better, her arriving at her aunt's place for the first time in two years and finding out that her aunt is a bit ... odd...

In the Vines is a book that, if you are engrossed in the story will thrill you. The mystery is interesting. However, I admit that I speed read now and then towards the end. I liked the flashbacks to Mops growing up and I also found the beginning (the restaurant scene) pretty cool. I just wished I had like the story a bit more...

I want to thank Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

Monday, 16 July 2018

#BlogTour An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena @sharilapena @annecater #RandomThingsTours

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.


*********

I try to just do blog tours nowadays for books I really want to read. So, when I got the chance to be part of this blog tour did I jump at the chance. I read The Couple Next Door by the author some years ago and I loved the book. Also, this book's blurb about strangers being trapped in an inn without having a chance to get from the place, with a murderer? I was sold!

My only regret with this book is that I wanted to read the book in the middle of the winter, hopefully with a blizzard outside. Instead, I I read it in the middle of one of the hottest summer ever. Not that the outside climate affects the story of the book. It was just that I wanted to get in the mood...;)

My favorite kind of stories crime stories are where there are plenty of suspects and you try to figure out who's the killer. And, in An Unwanted Guest have we plenty of suspects to choose from. All of them seem to have secrets they try to keep hidden. I have not read Agatha Christie's books, but I have set plenty of the movies and TV series and this book felt like one of her stories. We even had our own "Poirot" trying to figure out who the killer is. Although we couldn't be sure that he was not the guilty one.

Shari Lapena has become a favorite author of mine. I have yet to read A Stranger in the House by her, but it's high on my list of books to read. An Unwanted Guest is an excellent whodunnit book that will keep you guessing right until the end!  

Saturday, 14 July 2018

#BookReview The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware @vintagebooks @RuthWareWriter @HarvillSecker

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

-- From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel.

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

********

Who doesn't dream about getting an unexpected inheritance? In this case is the letter Hal gets truly unexpected. Since she's not the right person. Although she desperately needs the money. So, why not try to impersonate the true Harriet, since no one seems to know anything about her? Great plan, until Hal realize that perhaps she has stepped into a nest of vipers. Although the family seems awfully nice at first. It's just that there seem to be something wrong that her arrival has turned the table...

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a thrilling suspense novel with an excellent nervewracking ending. I found the story to be refreshingly new. I read a lot of thrillers so I'm always glad when I get a book that keeps me on my toes and keeps surprising me. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a book that gives some clues here and there, and you have to together with Hal try to figure out the mystery at the house with her new "relatives". And, it's bloody hard to write anything without spoiling the book. So, I will just say that the book is compelling from the start and will keep the reader hooked until the end. 

I have previously read In a Dark, Dark Wood by the author, but I have still The Woman in Cabin 10 to read and I'm really looking forward to doing that!

I want to thank Harvill Secker for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!