Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: Murder in Real Time by Julie Anne Lindsey


SYNOPSIS

Book three of The Patience Price Mysteries

With the chaos of summer tourists and fall birders out of town, counselor Patience Price is looking forward to the quiet life she remembers. She longs for some peace. And an apple fritter. But the calm is cut short when a reality show sets up camp to film a special about ghosts on her little island. Now fans, reporters and crew have flocked to sleepy Chincoteague. Who knew ghost hunters had an entourage?

When two cast members are killed in a room at the local B&B—a room usually occupied by Patience’s FBI agent boyfriend, Sebastian—she finds herself on the case. Sebastian doesn’t want Patience ruffling any feathers but, as always, she can’t help herself.

Patience promises to let Sebastian handle the investigation—he is FBI, after all—but after a drive-by shooting, her wicked curiosity gets the best of her. And with the TV show forging ahead with filming, the list of suspects (and the line of food trucks) only grows. But has the shooter already flown the coop? And how do you find a killer when you don’t know who the target is?


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REVIEW

When I was in junior high school, I came across a book called "Misty of Chincoteague" and l.o.v.e.d. it.  I also read "Stormy, Misty's Foal".  So coming across "Murder in Real Time", also set on Chincoteague Island, was like revisiting a cherished vacation spot.

Granted, there wasn't a lot of murder or mayhem in "Misty", but then, it wasn't a mystery-thriller, and I don't think Patience was there and in counselor mode yet. ;)

Ms. Lindsey has a good hand with descriptive language and dialogue.  The romance felt real, not melodramatic or sappy, as they can sometimes get.  I felt like these were people that could be found in my life, or with whom I could associate.  (Like Patience, I am not the most patient person, and even less so as I get older.)

OK.  I did get a chuckle out of the 'reality tv' crew.  (Reality tv is a late entrant in my own personal list of 'four-letter words of all lengths'.  I'm not a big fan of that brand of entertainment.)  Most of it seems to be more structured than real life could ever hope to be.  But I digress.

I was hooked on the story from the moment Sebastian (Patience's boyfriend) came to her apartment after a rough day at work (FBI), agrees to let her ex (Adrian) stay at his place, and then receives a call saying that two dead bodies have been found in his (Sebastian's) bed!  (And I thought I'd had bad days! Sebastian's day was definitely worse ... but of course, the two dead folks had the worst of it.)

Now, I would be of the opinion that Ms. Lindsey looks too 'wholesome' to have written about such a grizzly occurrence, but I'm trying not to judge books by their covers (after being caught out twice in the last two weeks).  How I wish I had read books 1 and 2 prior to this, but that error will shortly be rectified.

This is a great read for anyone who would like to 'get away from it all', and discovers that to be impossible.  I can't wait to read my next Patience Price Mystery!

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AUTHOR INFORMATION



Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

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Normally, I link the logo to the tour of the book featured on the post, but as this is the last day, I've linked it to the page at Escape With Dollycas that features all the books currently on tour.  Go visit and find some superb reads!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours (Escape With Dollycas) in exchange for my unbiased review.)

Book Review/Giveaway: Handcuffs and High Heels by J.M. Edwards


SYNOPSIS

Meet Ruby Wisdom. Smart and sensible. Humorous and heroic. Tough and tender. As the only private investigator in tiny Wormwood, New York, Ruby handles a wide range of cases—everything from jewel heists and cheating husbands to stolen wedding gowns, kidnapped artwork and fraudulent heirs.

In HANDCUFFS & HIGH HEELS, Ruby is hired by the wife of a millionaire when the woman suspects her husband is having an affair. And he is—several of them. But when Ruby begins connecting the duplicitous dots, the deceitful spouse ends up in a much more difficult dilemma than being caught with his hands in Cookie’s jar. And that’s when the real investigation begins.

HANDCUFFS & HIGH HEELS is a cozy mystery loaded with humor, romance, memorable characters and a sleuth who knows her way around baked goods and sweet treats as well as crime scenes and tricky investigations.


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REVIEW

What can I say ... RUBY ROCKS!  She's not the youngest or the most fit female PI in town, but she solves any case thrown at her.  And anyone who can do all that and be all that and still loves her Little Debbies is ok by me.  Ruby is my model of a female PI, except for one thing.  Part of my fee would always include 'Cosmic Brownies' instead of 'Swiss Rolls'.

I suppose a few people would expect that Ruby be something of a lonely spinster type, due to the fact that she is both 'not thin' and unmarried.  Thank goodness, J.M. had the foresight to show us all, through a most entertaining story, that we don't lose our talents or our dreams or our usefulness once our 25th birthday rolls around.

I LOVED the twist surrounding the titular handcuffs and high heels, not to mention the blue wig.  Too many memorable moments really to list in one blog post.  But I can't help but let you in on a couple of the memorable characters:

1)  the car dealer who ruts without finesse for anything wearing a skirt,

2)  the man with the shady past who wears VapoRub as cologne because it reminds him of his childhood,

3)  the UPS guy with the smarts to fall for Ruby and help her out in many (and I mean m.a.n.y.) ways.

So lock me up, and throw away the key.  I am a fan of Ruby Wisdom, and hope to read more about her in the future.

~~~oOo~~~

AUTHOR INFORMATION



J.M. Edwards loves crime. But only when it’s fictional. A lifelong fan of mystery novels, police procedurals and thrillers, J.M. has worked as a copywriter, bartender, dog walker and newspaper reporter. When it comes to reading, she has a few favorites (Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Dashiell Hammett, Robert B. Parker, Lee Child), but always enjoys learning about new authors to add to the TBR pile. In addition to writing the new Ruby Wisdom cozy mystery series, J.M. spends time gardening, traveling, spoiling a small herd of cats and dogs, doing volunteer work and taking the occasional nap.

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Click the link above to visit more stops on the tour and get in on the reviews, interviews, guest posts !

GIVEAWAY!  -  Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of Handcuffs and High Heels, to be drawn on Monday, November 3!

(Disclosure:  I received an e-copy of this book from the author and publisher, via Great Escapes Virtual Blog Tours.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview/Giveaway: C.W. Gortner of The Spymaster Chronicles


Review of The Tudor Vendetta posted on this blog on October 22, 2014.



C. W. Gortner

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1.  What draws you to this period of history?

I’ve always been drawn to the 16th century and the Renaissance; it’s a time of great upheaval and astonishing accomplishment, when we began to question the rigid dictates of the medieval era and expand artistic boundaries. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Holbein – and so many others – can only be products of the Renaissance. That said, it’s also an era of unparalleled corruption, drama, intrigue, and astounding royal personalities. The Tudors’ relatively brief reign seethes with all these qualities; it’s not surprising that hundreds of years later, they continue to fascinate us. But they’ve also been quite well covered in fiction, so for the Spymaster Trilogy, I wanted to explore crevices in Tudor history, building my stories around isolated events that had significant impact on those who lived them. For The Tudor Vendetta, I depict the first troublesome and dangerous weeks of Elizabeth I’s reign, when she came to the throne to claim a realm plagued by religious and social discord, penurious and uncertain as to how she could hold onto the crown she’d fought so hard to achieve. A secret returns to haunt her, and her intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, must contend not only with the young queen’s betrayal, but also his own.

2.  How did you become involved with animal advocacy?

I’ve loved animals since I was a child growing up in southern Spain. At the time, Spain was still under Franco’s dictatorship, and many people were not kind to dogs and cats, as well as other animals. I began rescuing dogs that were abused and neglected; at one point, I had ten dogs living with us and ran around with a pack at my heels. There was no Advantage or other flea and tick preventives; I hand-groomed my dogs and bathed them. Many were in terrible shape; riddled with ticks, malnourished and anemic from flea infestations, but they responded to love; they were so eager to be cared for, to forgive – but they never forgot the injuries inflicted on them. It’s been a lifelong passion of mine to fight for animal rights because we share this planet with millions of species who have as much right as we do to exist, to have safe territories and not be subjected to our destruction. What we do to our fellow creatures appalls me. No animal demonstrates the callous savagery of man; we’re also at a crossroads in history. Either we change the way we live or we will destroy the only home we have. Recognizing that animals are sensitive, emotional beings is key to repairing the immense damage we’ve wrought upon our Mother Earth.

3.  Where have you visited to which you would most like to return?

I’d like to return to Poland. I was there on tour recently for The Queen’s Vow and I found the country incredibly beautiful, with a warm and generous people. I didn’t get the chance to see as much as I would have liked. Also, I always love visiting Rome. Something about the city entrances me; it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I could easily live there (I think .
4.  Which Renaissance Faires have you attended?

The Northern California Renaissance Faire when it was held at Blackpoint Forest was one of my favorites; I went every year as a teenager, dressed in appropriate garb, of course. I’ve also attended the South Lake Tahoe Faire on occasion, and it’s a lot of fun.

5.  If you lived in the time of the Tudors, what would you be doing?

Probably writing! But I’ve never wanted to live in the past except when I write about it. I enjoy visiting it, but I find it a very frightening and bewildering place. No washing machines or antibiotics, no civil rights: it’s not at all what we envision when we see movies and television depictions. The Tudor world was quite brutal; even the affluent suffered from common ailments, like gout, lice, and rancid food—things we rarely consider whenever we imagine it.

6.  If you get nervous speaking in public, how do you deal with that?

I pretend I’m speaking to close friends. I used to get very nervous during public engagements, but after six novels and countless appearances, I’m more comfortable. In Poland, I did several interviews and bookstore events with a translator; that was challenging, because I tend to be an impromptu speaker, and had to remember to talk slow, as he was translating everything I said.

7.  Describe your favorite meal.

Whole-wheat pasta with sautéed spinach and asparagus, and lots of sourdough bread. When I’m in the throes of writing a book, it’s my staple dinner. I live on it.

8.  What's next for you (as an author)?

My next novel is Mademoiselle Chanel, about the dramatic, intimate life of the iconic designer Coco Chanel; it will be released on March 17, 2015. It’s a dream come true for me; I began my professional career in fashion publicity and my thesis project while at college involved reinterpreting her designs, putting my spin on how I would market her in the current industry. She changed not only the way women dressed but also how they saw themselves; she influenced the world around her, one of the first entrepreneurial women to create a global empire that endures to this day. Her personal life was also quite tumultuous and controversial; she was complex, engaging, and demanding as a subject—and I reveled in her story. Also, it was refreshing to write a character who could actually call her friends on the telephone!

9.  What advice would you give young (school-age) writers?

Write what you love. We’re often told to write what we know, but when I first started, I knew very little; I research to acquire knowledge, but I always write about subjects I feel passionate about. Writing is how we interpret the world and answer the questions we all carry inside. To write well, we must be utterly committed to it—and to be committed, we must write about those things that we cannot forget, things that obsess us.

10.  Do you speak any of the 20 other languages in which your books are printed?  If so which?  If not, which would you most like to learn?

I’m fluent in Spanish and can defend myself somewhat in Italian and French. I’d like to learn more Italian; I always say, Spanish is the language of passion; French is the language to seduce; but Italian is the language of love. Everything sounds warmer in Italian.

Thank you for spending this time with me. I hope your readers enjoy The Tudor Vendetta. To learn more about me and my work, please visit me at www.cwgortner.com

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GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday 56:


"The Friday 56" is a link-up hosted at Freda's Voice.

Rules: 
*Grab a book, any book.
 *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you. 
*Post it. 
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

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She huffed and waved her hands in the air.  "That's not what I signed up for, Ruby, I did not become Mrs. Tripp Wolcott Sullivan to be thrown out like hog slop and left on the side of the road."

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So what do you think?  Did you like it?  Would you want to read the book?  Come back on Monday for my full review!

Also sharing with:


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guest Post: Eliza Knight of Highland Hunger

  

I am thrilled to have Eliza Knight on the Back Porch today as part of the blog tour for her new book Highland Hunger.

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The Draw of a Scottish Historical
By Eliza Knight

I read my very first Scottish romance as a teenager—and fell in love with not only the fabulously delicious, brogue-talking alpha hero in a kilt (or plaid), but also with the landscape, the conflict of the realm, the castles, horses, clothing, weapons, food. I think it’s safe to say, I fell in love with medieval Scotland right along with the hero. I wanted to be the fiery, independent, fierce heroines I was reading about. I wanted to wield a sword, fire off an arrow. I wanted to create these stories. I would write my own short Scottish romances and exchange with a friend, until years later, I finally decided to sit down and start writing in earnest.

I’ve posed the question of what draws readers of Scottish romances to the books and I get almost exactly the same answer I gave above. The kilts, the brogue, the sense of honor, the brazenness of their valor.

I’m lucky that I’ve been to Scotland a couple of times now—just got back last week. You feel the draw the moment you step off the plane. The richness of the history, the beauty of the land (your life flashing before your eyes as you acclimate to driving on the right-hand side of the car on the left side of the road…). There is something in the air. It’s fresher, crisper. I want to lie down on the ground and never get up. I love to explore the land and castles. To imagine myself in time long since passed.
There is something magical about Scotland, and I think that movies and television have really helped to draw readers into the genre. They fall in love with the stories/characters on screen and want it to continue—what better way than with a book?

Most recently, the television mini-series release of Diana Gabaldon’s book Outlander on Starz, has sucked more fans into the magical realm of historic Scotland. But even before the release of this awesome show (yes, I LOVE it!!) people were drawn to Scotland and its history from movies like Rob Roy and Braveheart. We were falling in love with Scottish actors like Sean Connory, Gerard Butler and now Sam Heughan. 

Scotland’s history is rich with drama, strife, treachery, romance, brutality, fights for freedom, honor. The majority of Scottish romances that I’ve read incorporate the history into them. And I do that with my own books. I use battles, historical figures, and places within Scotland to base my setting. Sometimes, I’ll base a setting on a real place, but because of the story, I need to fictionalize it. I’ve heard from a lot of my readers that they really love being immersed into the time frame. They love the escape I provide, the adventures and escapades, the love and passion.

In my latest novel, HIGHLAND HUNGER, I took an ancient story of King Olaf the Black and gave it a little twist. Highlanders used games a lot to prove strength. They were constantly at war for land, castles, power—not just with England, but within their own country as well. Taking the idea of King Olaf the Black’s history, the war games, Scottish culture and the setting, I decided to write a dark romance in which the hero and heroine have to literally fight to the death in order to win their crown. Each of them comes to the games with their own set of inner demons. Tortured souls, they are meant for each other. Find strength in each other. Use that strength, their love and desire to be together to win the games. The second book in the series is about their reign and struggle to keep it, and the third book sees them vanquishing the royal council and its hold over the realm and games.

Here’s the blurb for Highland Hunger:

An unclaimed land in the Scottish isles is ruled by the male and female victors in a series of war games every five years. Named Chief and Lady of the land, they rule the vast holding, and protect the people by divine right, until the next game begins.

After her brother’s death Ceana is named laird. The only way for her clan to survive the ravages of the Highlands is to join in the war games. Bastard son of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed in the games by his vengeful stepmother. He must survive for the ultimate retribution.

Ceana can’t stand the arrogant Highlander who seems to be following her, and yet she can’t seem to walk away. Macrath wants nothing more than to be rid of the troublesome need to protect the warrior lass. What starts out as a race to survive turns into passion to endure together.

Here’s a short excerpt of the first meeting between my hero and heroine…

Several wooden and steel barrels lined the front of one tent and most were occupied by men slurping from ladles. Ceana sucked in a breath, steeling her resolve. She was likely to run into more vulgarity, but thirst won out over her nerves.

Stepping up to a barrel, she grabbed up a ladle that was hooked over the side. She dipped it into the water, sipping with vigor before dipping in again and then pouring it over her head. The strands of hair that had already come free from her plait followed the path of the water and plastered to her forehead and cheeks. The chill air blew lightly against her wetted hair and skin making her shiver and raising gooseflesh along her skin.

“’Tis a good look for you.”

Ceana swiped the water off her face with her hands, smoothed her hair back into place and turned deliberately toward the man who’d spoken to her. She rubbed her free hand on her other arm, trying to soothe her chill. Expecting to see another grotesque brute wishing to invite her into his bed, she was surprised to see a rather handsome warrior. He had eyes such a dark blue, they could almost be onyx, unruly black hair framed his face, and though he didn’t have a beard, his shadowed jaw lent to the idea that he’d not shaven in days. Beneath the shadows were sculpted cheeks and a strong square jaw. A scar curved over the length of one of his eyebrows and another stroked along his jaw. His linen white shirt was untied at the top, falling open to reveal part of his tanned chest. Overtop his shirt, a plaid of blue, white and green, and much nicer than her own, was tossed over his shoulder. He looked, and smelled, cleaner than anyone else she’d run into.

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” he said. And then he smiled, showing mostly even white teeth, and a mouth that made her think of kissing.

Thoughts she’d not dwelled on in the past. A little shiver took her, and she realized that the warrior had spoken twice now without her responding. And she was still staring at his mouth. Ceana glanced away, her face heating with embarrassment.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“You do not need to apologize, lass. We’re all new here. Well, most of us.” He smiled again, and this time Ceana made certain not to fall into his darkened eyes.

“Most?”

“Aye. I’ve met a past Chief already. He sat on the Morrison seat ten years ago.”

“And he wants to sit there again?” Ceana asked.

The man nodded. “’Twould seem so, but I didn’t ask him why. Suppose I should have.”
“I’m Ceana.” She chose not to mention her title.

“Macrath.” He held out his arm, also curiously refraining from naming his clan. Leather bracers covered his forearms over his linen shirt. His hand was big, and welcoming.

Ceana stuck out her own arm and gripped his bracer. Macrath’s fingers wrapped around her flesh, absorbing her into his palm, making her feel small and delicate. She suppressed another shiver, but couldn’t help staring at his mouth again. If she were to die tomorrow, she would have liked to have a kiss from this man.

“What brings you to Sìtheil Castle?” Macrath asked.

“I heard they had a good cook,” Ceana said, surprised at her own response.

Macrath laughed. “And I heard they had a secret storeroom filled with chests of gold and jewels.”
Now it was Ceana’s turn to laugh. “Are we both to be disappointed then?”

“Nay, lass, we’ll both rejoice with sweetmeat pies in one hand and fat rubies in the other.”

“If only.” The thought made her suddenly sad. Macrath was the first person she’d seen and met at this place who made her feel safe—and she thought she could enjoy spending time with him. Wanted to spend more time with him, in fact.


I'm pleased to be part of this tour, brought together by Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours.  Please click the link above to visit the rest of the tour, featuring spotlights, reviews, giveaways, guest posts and interviews!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review/Giveaway: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner


SYNOPSIS

Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.


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REVIEW

The Tudor period in England is one of my favorites in history.  So when I saw this book up for review, my heart said, "I.  MUST. READ."  And having done so, my heart is saying, "I. LOVED. IT!"

Elizabeth I was one of three legitimate children of Henry VIII, all three of whom had a turn at being a monarch after their father's passing.  First was Edward, son of Henry and his third wife, Jane Seymour.  He got to go first.  But he died after a few years, still being rather young.  Then Lady Jane Grey, whom Protestant Edward nominated as successor to keep his Catholic Sister Mary (daughter of Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon) off the throne.  That worked for 9 days, before Mary's army overcame Jane's and had her sent to the Tower and later beheaded.  Mary made life very difficult for Protestants during her reign, which earned her the nickname "Bloody Mary".

But she eventually died too, and the throne went to her sister, Elizabeth (daughter of Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn).  Some say she was as ruthless, or more so, to the Catholics as her sister Mary had been to the Protestants.

I feel Mr. Gortner has captured the period well - the intrigue, the rivalries, the shifting loyalties and the differences between the experiences of the upper and lower classes.  Even people you considered your friends could turn on you if defending you meant a lessening of their station.  If I had lived at the court of the time, I'd either have played the game with the best of them, or shortly after arrival, start haunting the Tower.

At the start of The Tudor Vendetta, the MC Brendan is in Basel, Switzerland, in exile.  He is learning to be an 'intelligencer' in the service of the then-Princess Elizabeth.  When she becomes Queen, he and his mentor are recalled to court at Whitehall.  Much talk is dedicated to getting The Virgin Queen married and to produce an heir.  Mary, Queen of Scots would be next in line for the throne of England if Elizabeth failed to produce an heir, and Mary was Catholic.

I enjoyed the flow of the story and the language used - in my words, formal yet very readable.  (OK.  There were a couple of words starting with 'c', used to describe women, that I didn't care for, and that might offend some people.) Some people shy away from Shakespeare's plays because of the language and expressions.  The Tudor Vendetta could make the late Medieval and Renaissance years available to a wider audience and that is wonderful!

Even all those 'alphabet agencies' dealing with our national security with computers, satellites and other types of electronic surveillance would have trouble keeping up with the intrigue at and around a Tudor court.  Mr. Gortner has made it understandable and exciting for us in the comfort of our favorite reading environments.  Well done!

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AUTHOR INFORMATION



C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

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GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of "The Tudor Vendetta" from the author and publisher via Historial Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead


SYNOPSIS

From the author of the runaway bestseller A Train in Wintercomes the extraordinary story of a French village that helped save thousands, including many Jewish children, who were pursued by the Gestapo during World War II.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ardèche. Surrounded by pastures and thick forests of oak and pine, the plateau Vivarais lies in one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France, cut off for long stretches of the winter by snow.

During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the area saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, downed Allied airmen and above all Jews. Many of these were children and babies, whose parents had been deported to the death camps in Poland. After the war, Le Chambon became the only village to be listed in its entirety in Yad Vashem's Dictionary of the Just

Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying parishes came to save so many people has never been fully told. Acclaimed biographer and historian Caroline Moorehead brings to life a story of outstanding courage and determination, and of what could be done when even a small group of people came together to oppose German rule. It is an extraordinary tale of silence and complicity. In a country infamous throughout the four years of occupation for the number of denunciations to the Gestapo of Jews, resisters and escaping prisoners of war, not one single inhabitant of Le Chambon ever broke silence. The story of Le Chambon is one of a village, bound together by a code of honour, born of centuries of religious oppression. And, though it took a conspiracy of silence by the entire population, it happened because of a small number of heroic individuals, many of them women, for whom saving those hunted by the Nazis became more important than their own lives.


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REVIEW

The Village of Secrets is not a book that you can sit down and read in an afternoon.  It is a recounting of courage and hope in the face of danger and evil in one of the darkest periods of history

I am amazed at the amount of research that Ms. Moorehead had to do for this book.  Of course, the underlying story is interesting, but when it first breaks into widespread attention, fond memories have a tendency to color the truthfulness of reports.  I appreciate that Ms. Moorehead acknowledges this fact, and seeks to give us a fuller picture.

Certainly, an amazing enterprise was undertaken in Le Chambon during the years in question.  And I would not discount the individuals', or the village's contributions towards saving people fleeing Nazi terror.  But there were other villages in the area doing the same things, and Ms. Moorehead gives them props for their contributions to the resistance.

Anyone interested in this era in general, and in the persecution of the Jews in particular, needs (!) to read The Village of Secrets.  Ms. Moorehead's book would do quite well as assigned reading in college courses in history.

As a mother and a human being, the scenes depicting families torn apart, literally and figuratively, the descriptions of emaciated detainees, and children arriving at the plateau with barely the clothes on their backs were heart-rending.  My children have gotten many extra hugs while I was reading this book.

The Village of Secrets is at once a recounting of history and a call to action.  Get it.  Read it.  Do it.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION


From Wikipedia:

Caroline Moorehead, OBE (born 28 October 1944) is a human rights journalist and biographer.

Born in London, England, Moorehead received a BA from the University of London in 1965.

Moorehead has written six biographies, of Bertrand Russell, Heinrich Schliemann, Freya Stark, Iris Origo, Martha Gellhorn, and most recently, the life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin (the daughter in law of Jean-Frédéric de la Tour du Pin), who experienced the French Revolution and left a rich collection of letters as well as a memoir that cover the decades from the fall of the Ancien Regime up to the rise of Napoleon III.

Moorehead has also written a number of non-fiction pieces centered on human rights including a history of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Dunant's Dream, based on previously unseen archives in Geneva, Troublesome People, a book on pacifists, and a work on terrorism, Hostages to Fortune. Her most recent work in this category is on refugees in the modern world named Human Cargo, published in 2004. Moorehead has also published A Train in Winter, a book which focuses on 230 French women of the Resistance who were sent to Auschwitz, and of whom only forty-nine survived.

She has written many book reviews for assorted papers and reviews, including the TLS, Literary Review, Telegraph, Independent, Spectator, and New York Review of Books. She specialized in human rights as a journalist, contributing a column first to the Times and then the Independent, and co-producing and writing a series of programs on human rights for BBC television.

She is a trustee and director of Index on Censorship and a governor of the British Institute of Human Rights. She has served on the committees of the Royal Society of Literature, of which she is a Fellow; the Society of Authors; English PEN; and the London Library. She also helped start a legal advice centre for asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa in Cairo, where she helps run a number of educational projects.

She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1993. She was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to literature.
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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of "The Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France" from the author and publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)