Friday, June 24, 2016

Guest Post by Karen Harper

Hello, everyone! Today I am happy to welcome author Karen Harper to the blog. Karen is the author of the very newly released The Royal Nanny, which I will be reviewing as part of the TLC blog tour next Thursday, June 30, so do be sure to check back here for that post. In the meantime, however, and to whet your appetite before turning things over to Karen, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty....

So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—LaLa, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. LaLa knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.

But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love—the kind of love his parents won’t…or can’t…show him.


The Royal Nanny is based on a true story - one that I was aware of thanks to the Masterpiece Theater airing of The Lost Prince. That and a brief bit of delving into other such history connected with the royal family (the current queen had two nieces hidden away in a mental institution if I remember correctly) aside, however, I've done very little deep reading on the subject of Prince John. And so, you can imagine how intrigued and excited I have been about delving into Karen Harper's latest. Again, I'll be posting my own thoughts next week. 

But now, without further ado, I'll hand things over to the author herself:

I have been a rabid Anglophile from way back so, though I am a life-long Ohioan, many of my novels have been faction (yes, fact plus fiction) focusing on fascinating British royal women. But the focus of THE ROYAL NANNY is not only the royal family of the Victorian and Edwardian eras—think Downton Abbey—but on the lower class Cockney girl who became their royal nanny. Remember the BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs? The heroine of this novel is caught between those two very British worlds.

Charlotte Bill, whom the children she tended called “Lala,” observes the sins and secrets of the rich and royal ‘Buck House’ set of that day. Because their mother was quite hands off, and their father was overbearing and eccentric, the six royal children Lala reared relied on her for love and protection.

That truth about the royal, noble and wealthy astounded me: The movers and shakers of the British Empire allowed lower class nannies to raise their children. This sad reality was amazingly widespread. When Winston Churchill died, the only picture on his bedside table was not that of his wife or daughter but of his long-dead nanny.

Lala became the emotion mother to David, later King Edward VIII/The Duke of Windsor; Bertie, later King George VI (of the movie The King’s Speech); three others and an epileptic and autistic boy, John, sometimes called ‘The Lost Prince.’ John’s medical conditions were not well understood, and his parents King George V and Queen Mary, grandparents of the current queen, tried to hide the child.

The family cousins and their stories also appear in the novel: Willie, the infamous Kaiser Wilhelm and Nicky, the doomed Czar Nicolas. What a family, what an insider’s view Charlotte, alias ‘Lala,’ provides.

I loved doing research for this novel. Another trip back to England, this time to tour Buckingham Palace and to revisit the Victorian and Albert Museum. I’m now hard at work on another novel of the same era, this time focusing on two notorious sisters…so, I’d better get back to work and to the U.K. again!


About the author: NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Harper is a former university (Ohio State) and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. A rabid Anglophile, she likes nothing more than to research her novels on site in the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for DARK ANGEL, and her novel SHATTERED SECRETS was judged one of the Best Books of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. The author and her husband divide their time between Ohio and Florida. For more information please visit: www.karenharperauthor.com

Big, big thanks to Karen Harper for being on the blog today and to the folks at William Morrow for arranging the post. The Royal Nanny is out on shelves now!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Lucie Whitehouse's latest, Keep You Close.

It's been years since Rowan last saw Marianne, but she still knew her better than most. And so when Marianne falls to her death off a slippery roof everyone knew she frequented, Rowan questions the accident. 

Then Rowan learns that Marianne had been concerned about break ins at her home, claiming her sketches had started to go missing. While no evidence was ever discovered, the family does worry about leaving the home empty in the wake of Marianne's death. Which is how Rowan ends up living in her former friend's abode, a perfect opportunity to see if her suspicions about Marianne's death have any merit at all. 

Early this month I read and reviewed K.A. Tucker's He Will Be My Ruin, a thriller wherein a woman is called to clean out the apartment of her estranged friend in the wake of said friend's suicide. And of course the main character believes her friend would never have killed herself and becomes determined to find out the truth.

It's probably clear to frequent visitors of the blog that I do often choose books with similar themes. And while it's true that if you give ten authors the same topic or prompt, you'll end up with ten vastly different stories, it's sometimes not such a great thing to read too similar titles too close together.

Ugh. My fault.

Reading Keep You Close so closely on the heels of Tucker's title proved to be more than a little challenging for me at first. Fortunately, Tucker's and Whitehouse's stories and overall writing styles are actually quite different. In fact, Whitehouse is much more of a slow burn, drawing the reader in more gradually and laying out a tale that has twists you probably won't see coming.

Rowan, the narrator, split with Marianne ages ago and doesn't reveal why to the reader for quite some time. This disagreement fractured their friendship, leaving Rowan to find out the happenings of Marianne's life the way her fans did - through newspapers and such. And even though Rowan has kept up, nothing could have prepared her for the things she discovers after Marianne's death, least of all the fact that Marianne had apparently been ready to talk to Rowan after so many years of silence.

One of the reasons Rowan is suspicious about Marianne's death is due to the fact that Marianne, a famous artist whose career was still growing, suffered from terrible vertigo. Yes, she frequented the roof from which she fell, but Rowan knows she'd never have been close enough to the edge to fall.

By the end I was glad that I'd barreled through Keep You Close. It's the kind of ending that makes a book oh so worthwhile. The build to that end is, as mentioned though, a definite slower and more deliberate pace. Readers looking for a quick read will be disappointed but those willing to immerse themselves and take their time will be rewarded.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Lucie Whitehouse and her work you can like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gail Z. Martin's Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peak Blog Tour: Excerpt + a Giveaway

Morning, everyone! All around awesome author Gail Z. Martin has two new releases out and I'm lucky enough to be taking part in the blog tour to promote them today.

Here's more about the tour from Gail herself:

From June 21-June 30 I'll be doing my annual Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event blog tour, and I hope readers will stop over to my website, find out what all is going on and where to find the posts, giveaways, contests and fun events. And of course, please look for The Shadowed Path at your favorite bookseller!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 22 awesome partner sites around the globe. I'll also be hosting many of my Modern Magic co-authors guest posting on my DisquietingVisions.com blog during the tour. For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.


So today I have an excerpt of The Shadowed Path, a link to a second excerpt for you to check out, and a fantastic giveaway as well (be sure to read through to the end to enter). But before we dive into The Shadowed Path, which is part of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

These are the untold tales of Jonmarc Vahanian, hero of Gail Z. Martin’s best-selling Chronicles of the Necromancer series.

Jonmarc Vahanian was just a blacksmith’s son in a small fishing village before raiders killed his family. Wounded and left for dead in the attack, Jonmarc tries to rebuild his life. But when a dangerous bargain with a shadowy stranger goes wrong, Jonmarc finds himself on the run, with nothing ahead but vengeance, and nothing behind him but blood.

Soldier. Fight slave. Smuggler. Warrior. Brigand lord. If you’ve met Jonmarc Vahanian in the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings Cycle books, you don’t really know him until you walk in his footsteps. This is the first segment of his journey.


The Shadowed Path is out now from Solaris.


An Excerpt from Raider’s Curse, part of The Shadowed Path
By Gail Z. Martin

Jonmarc took off running. At fifteen, he was tall, just a bit over six feet. Years of working alongside his father in the forge had given him a strong back and muscular arms. A mop of chestnut-brown hair hung in his brown eyes, and he pushed it out of the way as he ran.

A worn path led to the open shed that was his father’s forge. Jonmarc could hear the steady pounding of his father’s hammer on the anvil. The sound echoed from the hills, steady as a heartbeat. He skidded to a stop just outside the doors.

Anselm Vahanian swung a heavy hammer in his right hand while his gloved left hand turned the piece of metal on the anvil. Sparks flew around him, landing on the long sleeves of his rough-woven shirt, his gloves, and his leather apron. The forge smelled of coal, iron, and sweat. To one side lay two swords Anselm had completed for a client in the village. On a table lay a variety of farm tools—iron pots and pans, and hoops for the cooper’s barrels. Jonmarc had helped to forge several of the pieces, though he longed to work on swords, like his father.

“Mother said to tell you to wash up for dinner,” Jonmarc shouted above the clanging.

Anselm stopped and looked at him. “I’ll eat supper later. You know I can’t stop in the middle of something when the iron is hot.”

Jonmarc nodded. “I know. I’ll tell her to put a plate aside for you.” He paused, and Anselm looked at him quizzically, waiting for the unspoken question.

“Have you talked to any of the fishermen lately?” Jonmarc tried to make the question sound off-handed, but Anselm frowned as if he caught the undercurrent of concern.

“You mean the talk about raiders,” Anselm replied, and struck the iron he was working.

“Do you think it’s more than just talk?”

Anselm didn’t answer until he put the iron bar back into the furnace to heat up. He was Jonmarc’s height, with a head of wiry dark hair and brown eyes that glinted with intelligence. A lifetime in the forge had given him broad shoulders and a powerful physique. His profession also showed in the small white burns that marked his hands and arms, scars too numerous to count. Jonmarc had gained a few of those burn scars too, but not nearly as many as his father. Not yet.

“Maybe,” Anselm replied. “The real people to talk to are the traders. Their ships go up and down the Northern Sea coast, stopping at all the villages. I always get news when I trade iron with them.”

“Have you heard anything?”

Anselm turned the iron rod in the furnace. “Some. One of the villages on the other side of the bay burned. Everyone was gone when the traders came. No way to know why or how. Eiderford, down the coast, did have a run-in with raiders a few months ago.” He eyed the iron, and turned it one more time.

“So there are raiders,” Jonmarc replied.

Anselm shrugged. “There are always raiders. But there’s less to attract them here in Lunsbetter than in Eiderford. We’re not a proper city, and we’re as like to barter as deal in coin, so there’s less to steal.”

Unless they want food, livestock, or women, Jonmarc thought. And there are enough people who trade with the ships that there’s probably more coin here than anyone wants to admit.

“There’s a garrison of the king’s soldiers beyond Ebbetshire,” Jonmarc replied. “Can’t they stop the raiders?”

Anselm shrugged. “They can’t guard every village along the coast,” he said. “And they’d have to know for certain when a raid was planned.” He shook his head. “No, we’re on our own.” He paused.

“Don’t worry yourself about it,” Anselm said, drawing the rod out of the furnace and placing it on the anvil. “We’ve doubled the patrols, and the fishermen are on alert.” He grinned. “And tomorrow, those swords are going down to the constable and the sheriff. We’ll be fine. Pump the bellows for me. The fire’s grown cold.”

Anselm stood in front of a large open furnace filled with glowing coals. Jonmarc pumped the bellows that were attached to the back of the furnace, and the coals flared brighter, flames licking across their surface. Anselm lifted his hammer to strike the iron. “Now get back up to the house. Your mother’s waiting. Just save some for me.”

“I’ll make sure of it,” Jonmarc replied. The clatter of the hammer drowned out anything else he might have asked. He stepped out into the cool night, and started back up the path to the house. His stomach rumbled and he fancied that he could smell the stew. But the worry he felt when he went to the forge had not lifted; if anything, his father’s comments increased Jonmarc’s concern than the warnings about raiders were not mere tales.

If father says the men are keeping their eye out for trouble, then that’s the end of it, he thought. Naught I can do. But he remembered his comment to Neil about keeping the axe sharpened, and on the way back to the house, he detoured into the barn. Thanks to his father’s craft, they were well-stocked with farm implements.

He walked over to the space his father used to butcher meat. Butchering wasn’t a pleasant job, but it was necessary, and a task with which Jonmarc was well acquainted. He had learned the craft from his father, practiced enough that it no longer made him lose his dinner to be awash in blood and entrails. His father had taught him to strike swiftly and cleanly, to block out the death cries of the terrified livestock, to go to a cold place inside himself until the job was done. He had even learned a few tricks of the trade, like how to hamstring a panicked animal that was likely to kick or buck. But nothing about how to fight men.

On the wall hung an impressive variety of knives. He selected a large butcher knife with a wicked blade as well as a smaller boning knife, and made his way around to the back door, hiding the knives among his mother’s herbs before going in for supper. Tonight, when everyone was in bed, he would come back for them—one for him, and one for Neil. Just in case the men were wrong.

If you want to see more stories about Jonmarc Vahanian, check out The Chronicles of the Necromancer series and The Fallen Kings Cycle books, as well as the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures on ebook.

©2016 Gail Z. Martin all rights reserved. No duplication or reprint without written permission.


As for Gail's second new release, she's part of a fantastic new collection: Modern Magic: Twelve Tales of Urban Fantasy edited by Christopher Golden. This is an ebook box set featuring twelve different authors, including Gail whose contribution is Trifles and Folly - 10 Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories collected together for the first time!

Here's a smidge about the collection from the Goodreads description:

12 complete book-length works by masters of dark urban fantasy … a walk on the wild side, into the shadows, where things go bump in the night and the hour of the wolf never ends. Featuring NY Times Best-Sellers, USA Today Best-Sellers, Bram Stoker Award Winners, Nominees, and Amazon Best-Sellers like Christopher Golden, Rick Gaultieri, Jennifer St. Giles, Julie Kenner and Gail Z. Martin! 

As promised, Gail has provided a link to an excerpt from Trifles and Folly, which you can find here.

About the Author: Gail Z. Martin is the author of The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books), Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books); and Iron and Blood a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Her work has appeared in over 30 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: Robots, The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

Find her at www.AscendantKingdoms.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin and free excerpts on Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

Now, as promised, there is a BIG giveaway here courtesy of Gail. I get to offer up two copies of The Shadowed Path and two copies of the Modern Magic collection today! So that means four winners total! 

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopters below before Monday, July 4. And yes, you can enter to win both titles. (Open US only.) Good luck!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Hazel Gaynor's latest, The Girl From the Savoy.

Dolly Lane longs for something great. Or maybe just something more. And even the failed auditions and open calls with no call backs haven't yet managed to wear her down. 

Her new job as a maid at the Savoy hotel promises to bring her one step closer to her greatest wish. But it's not until she stumbles upon an ad for a musician seeking a muse that the world she's always dreamed of finally opens up to her. With all she's ever wanted right at her fingertips, though, Dolly will be faced with a heartbreaking decision: leave behind the girl who was Dolly Lane or cling to a past that made her who she is.

Hazel Gaynor's The Girl From the Savoy is a lot of things. A story about the stage and theater in the early twenties, a glimpse inside the budding world of the "Bright Young Things," the beginnings of the Roaring Twenties... But it's also an apt look at the struggles of women (and men) post WWI. In particular the women, considering they'd launched themselves equally into the war effort, taking up jobs previously relegated to men, only to find themselves set aside again once the war was over. Many lost loved ones, lovers, and husbands. For others, their betrothed may have returned a different person than the one who'd left for battle. Every one of them, though, was undeniably affected and changed by the war.

Our two leading ladies, Dolly and Loretta, may come from vastly different circumstances but it doesn't take long to realize the parallels between them. Dolly is weighed down by her past and a secret she needs to keep buried. Loretta has a devastating secret of her own. Neither is married, both volunteered during the war, and both eventually become connected through Loretta's brother, the musician who placed the ad Dolly eventually answers.

There are more connections and more to the story, all of which I want you to discover on your own - because that's where the magic is!

And it is magic, indeed. Hazel Gaynor has a true talent for bringing her chosen setting and characters to life. This is, of course, a testament to her fabulous skills as a writer but also her attention to detail and research on the era in question. All three of these things combine to create a world and story that affects you emotionally and feels tangible and real. As if you could reach out and touch one of Loretta's fabulous gowns, down a gin fizz, and dance alongside Dolly and Clover!

Rating: 4/5

And now for the giveaway: I have one copy of The Girl From the Savoy up for grabs! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, July 4. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Hazel Gaynor and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Monday, June 20, 2016

Little is Left to Tell by Steven Hendricks

Happy Monday, everybody! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Little is Left to Tell by Steven Hendricks.

Readers, I rarely rely on the official copy for the synopsis part of my posts, preferring to build my own instead. Sometimes, however, I'm left, as was the case with this book, feeling as though the whole thing just flew right over my head. So to start, I defer to the official copy:

Little Is Left to Tell is the haunting novel by master fabulist Steven Hendricks. Enter a nocturnal world where the unreal is seen on a liminal horizon of fading memory, illuminated by partial understanding and lyrical fictions. Virginia the Wolf writes her last novel to lure her daughter home. A rabbit named Hart Crane must eat words to speak, while passing zeppelins drop bombs. Mr. Fin tries to read the past in marginalia and to rebuild his son from boat parts. A novel that bridges between dreamscape and reality, Little Is Left to Tell is entrancing and enthralling.

So yes, many of the characters in Hendricks's debut are animals. And at least a few of those animals are named after famous literary figures. Their stories, too, take inspiration from their namesakes. And yet, I'm not familiar enough with those figures to catch all of the references. Instead, it was the author's acknowledgements that lit that lightbulb for me. 

I'd thought this was a book that I would quite love but perhaps the above mentioned lack of literary clout in my past reading was in part to blame. Not that I think the author went about creating a book that wouldn't be accessible for those who hadn't read Woolf, Crane, and others. But I think it would certainly have made it more enjoyable for me. It would have made me "get" what I was reading. 

The animals do lend a bit of a fable feel to Little is Left to Tell, an element I did quite enjoy. It does, as the Kirkus review acknowledges, lighten what is in reality a much darker story. It won't be everyone's cup of tea but I think for the right reader Little is Left To Tell will be a quite moving tale.  As for me, it was a struggle but in the end I muddled through. Now it's on to the next thing.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Steven Hendricks and his work you can visit his website here.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Releases 6/21/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay

Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

Pressure by Brian Keene

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

Rise by Mira Grant

Since She Went Away by David Bell

Burn What Will Burn by C. B. McKenzie

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Born of Legend by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

The Bourne Enigma by Eric Van Lustbader

Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

Never Ever by Sara Saedi

New on DVD:
Midnight Special
Knight of Cups
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

This September marks the release of the first installment of what sounds like an amazing new series! J. Patrick Black's Ninth City Burning is already drawing crazy attention, including a recent feature on EW.com and a blurb from Patricia Briggs. It's also being touted as a great new read for fans of Red Rising and Ender's Game. That's some pretty big claims, as I'm sure you know, but I think maybe this one might be able to live up to the expectation.

Here's a bit about the book courtesy of the publisher:

Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut...

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.


What do you think? I think it's going on my "must have" list immediately! 

Now, I do have one more little taste of Ninth City Burning to share with you today - an excerpt from the publisher to whet your appetite:

The Valentine War, Earth 500 Years Ago

It starts with the world how it used to be, with countries and billions of people living everywhere. Back then there was no such thing as thelemity, and people built houses and machines sort of like they have in settlements today, but all of that changed when the Valentines came. 


The reason we call them the Valentines is that the day they first attacked, February 14 on the old Western Calendar, was called “Valentine’s Day”. We still don’t know what the Valentines call themselves, because we’ve never been able to talk to them. We don’t even know what they look like. People had all sorts of different names for them early in the war, but “Valentine” is the one that ended up being the most popular. It used to mean something totally different, but not many people remember that now.

We never saw them coming. All at once cities just started disappearing. A city would be there, everything totally normal, and then it would be gone, nothing but rubble and a cloud of dust. By the time we figured out we were under attack, half the cities in the world had already been destroyed. We tried to fight back, but the Valentines had thelemity, and our strongest weapons were next to useless. They probably would have killed every single person on the planet, except for one thing: It turned out we could use thelemity too.


Ninth City Burning hits shelves September 6, courtesy of Ace, and is now available for preorder everywhere.