Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Author Spotlight: Jeanne Mackin's "The Beautiful American"

02_The Beautiful American

The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

Publication Date: June 3, 2014
NAL/Penguin Group
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio
352 Pages
 Genre: Historical Fiction
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 As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter's life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920's Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee's magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora's reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence? A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.



"Will transport you to expat Paris." - Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist "A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece" - Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women "Leaves its essence of love, loss, regret and hope long after the novel concludes." - Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty "Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing...her vividly drawn characters...come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies and triumphs" - Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France "From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship...an engaging and unforgettable novel" - Renee Rosen, author Doll Face


03_Jeanne Mackin

Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness. Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.



Monday, September 21 Spotlight at Let Them Read Books Tuesday, September 22 Interview at Please Pass the Books Wednesday, Spetember 23 Review at A Bookish Affair Review at History From a Woman's Perspective Spotlight at What Is That Book About Thursday, September 24 Review at History Undressed Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story Friday, September 25 Guest Post at A Bookish Affair Interview at History Undressed Spotlight at Book Nerd Sunday, September 27 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book Monday, September 28 Review at I'm Shelf-ish Guest Post at To Read, or Not to Read Tuesday, September 29 Review at Build a Bookshelf Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes Wednesday, September 30 Review at Queen of All She Reads Spotlight at View From the Birdhouse Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews Thursday, October 1 Review at Dive Under the Cover Interview at The Old Shelter Guest Post at Books and Benches Spotlight at The Lit Bitch Friday, October 2 Review at A Fold in the Spine Review & Interview at Singing Librarian Books Spotlight & Excerpt at A Literary Vacation


To enter to win a paperback copy of The Beautiful American, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. The Beautiful American

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: Duet for Three Hands by Tess Thompson

**Originally appeared in Historical Novel Review, Issue 73**

Duet for Three Hands is a new novel that explores the nature of love and race in the early 20th-century South. The story is focused on the Bellmont family, an Old South family that has been able to remake its fortune on the back of new enterprise. But beneath the glittering façade there is trouble. Patriarch Frank Bellmont is a brutish drunk, while his wife, Clare, though as kind and loving as she is beautiful, often suffers his wrath. Their children, Frances and Whitmore, are as different as night and day. Frances, a spoiled, deluded beauty who courts scandal at every turn, lures a brilliant concert pianist into marriage. Whitmore is a sensitive dreamer who must hide his growing feelings for Jeselle, his best friend and the family’s black servant girl.
Tess Thompson has created a masterwork of Southern literature. Told from various points of view, Duet for Three Hands is a little slow to start as the various characters are introduced. The addition of Nathanial Fye and Lydia, his eventual protégée, seems nonsensical in the beginning, but all the threads come together by the end. The setting, however, is brilliantly captured, and practically palpitates with the tension of a sultry afternoon. Thompson does not shy away from depicting the cruelty of some Southern whites, but she does not condemn them all as miserable bigots, which is refreshing. While great brutality is often present, it is juxtaposed against selfless acts of kindness and sacrifice, leaving the reader with a full picture of life during this turbulent time period. Lovers of Southern fiction and general historical fiction will find Duet for Three Hands a welcome respite to the glut of beach reads this summer. Highly recommended.
Available at Amazon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Author Spotlight: Andy Kutler and "The Other Side of Life"

December 1941, Pearl Harbor. A peaceful Sunday morning turns into a devastating attack on American soil. Naval officer Malcolm “Mac” Kelsey is severely wounded while defending his ship. A flawed man abandoned long ago by his alcoholic wife, Kelsey has been mired in despair and hopelessness following the accidental death of Lucy, the young daughter he considers the only redemptive aspect of his life. Near the point of death, Kelsey is brought to what he believes to be an afterlife where he is offered an opportunity to shed his past memories and embark upon an alternate path in another place and time. Eager to escape his torment and begin a more tranquil existence, Kelsey accepts, only to feel quickly betrayed as he soon finds himself back in the midst of battle, this time as a Union soldier at the dawn of the Civil War. Through Antietam, Gettysburg and four years of relentless fighting, Kelsey attempts to cast aside his painful past while trying to survive the horrors of combat. He crosses paths with compelling figures on both sides of the conflict determined to persevere and return to those they left behind. Each will endure unimaginable hardship and brutality that will forever reshape their core beliefs and values. Each will find their strength and resolve tested as they search for self-purpose, humanity, and reconciliation. Most of all, Mac Kelsey will discover the very essence of life and death, and whether the new beginning he has long coveted will bring him the inner peace he has so desperately sought.


“The Other Side of Life imaginatively mingles brutal scenes of Civil War battlefields with thought-provoking moral issues. It describes the conflicted loyalties and sufferings of that tragic era and the spiritual growth of the book’s hero—a naval officer wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack—and those he becomes close to when he is transported to the past. The swift-moving, compelling narrative grips the reader from first page to last.” -- Bernard Weisberger, historian and author of America Afire: Adams, Jefferson, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800 

“Andy Kutler has written a thoughtfully imaginative adventure across time, approaching the Civil War from a fresh perspective while creating memorable, compelling characters. The story flows beautifully and is consistently challenging.” -- Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, Now and Then Reader (nowandthenreader.com) 

"Andy Kutler's war scenes are gripping, his characters vulnerable and honest, and his story ultimately triumphant -- an exciting journey back into two levels of the past." -- David Hardin, author of Emblems of Woe: How the South Reacted to Lincoln's Murder 

“Employing some new twists on the novelist's technique of time travel, Andy Kutler sends a naval officer bombed at Pearl Harbor back to the Civil War. Among his comrades in a Union cavalry regiment he absorbs the enduring values of trust, loyalty, love, and selflessness during the chaos and tragedy of a war that took place a half century before he was born. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story and captivated by its principal characters.” -- James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom and The War That Forged a Nation 

“Profound, smart, and entertaining – the path through The Other Side of Life is an amazing journey through history.” -- Joe Weisberg, Creator and Executive Producer of FX’s The Americans and author of An Ordinary Spy


Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A.) and Georgetown University (M.A.), he has previously worked on the senior legislative staff of two United States Senators before serving as a senior policy officer with the U.S. Secret Service. He is working today as a consultant to the national security community. While Andy’s writings have appeared in The Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Other Side of Life is his first novel. Andy's interests include travel, military history, his Wisconsin sports teams, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and two children. You can learn more about the author at www.andykutler.com.


Title: The Other Side of Life 
Author: Andy Kutler Pages: 360 
Publisher: Neverland Publishing Company LLC 
ISBN-13: 978-0-9903148-9-9 
Category/Genre: Historical Fiction 
Publication date: August 2015 
Format: Trade paperback and Kindle 
Available at: Amazon.com, Ingram Books 
List Price: $16.95 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Author Spotlight: Bob Strother's "Burning Time"

ISBN: 978-0-9743410-8-8
Cover Price: $23.95


Louise Schmidt would sacrifice almost anything to protect and provide for her family—even her innocence…

Set in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the early 1900s, "Burning Time" portrays the life of Louise Schmidt, from early childhood to adulthood, as Louise, her mother, and younger brother fight to survive the abuse of Louise’s father, Will.
The largess of Will’s parents initially provides refuge from her father’s drunken exploits, but Louise learns too young that nothing lasts forever. Though previously ostracized from the family, the prodigal son returns at the behest of his ailing father, and brings along a new wife, Maude, who fans the flames of Will’s inherent avarice and disregard for his former wife and children.
At fifteen, Louise is forced from the only home she’s ever known and into marriage with a man ten years her senior.  Even as Louise comes to terms with her life and assumes the role of family matriarch, she still must face the consequences of her actions—including a death sentence for murder…
One part Southern Gothic, one part crime novel, one part coming-of-age story, Burning Time is a compelling read I couldn’t put down. It’s beautifully delivered in Strother’s clear, concise prose and authentic Southern voice.
—Susan M. Boyer, USA TODAY Bestselling Author of the Liz Talbot Mystery Series
A page-turner of historical fiction! Strother is a class act whose prose does not disappoint. He has mastered the art of rooting the reader in the time period and then supported that with a great coming of age tale.
—David Burnsworth, Author of the Brack Pelton Mystery Series

Monday, August 3, 2015

Author Spotlight: Rachel Demeter and "Finding Gabriel"

Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die.

After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon's army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger. 

FINDING GABRIEL - coverBut fate has a different plan. 

Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she's moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home. 

Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah – and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah's own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts – or will the cycle of history repeat again?  

Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James's Broken Wing, Finding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.

Available August 27, 2015 from Momentum (Pan Macmillan) and can be pre-ordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

Author bio

Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of eleven years. She enjoys writing dark, poignant romances that challenge the reader's emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel's passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.

Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.
Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.

Don't be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers: 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Sally Christie's "The Sisters of Versailles"

Hello dear readers!

Today I bring you a review of Sally Christie's upcoming novel, "The Sisters of Versailles". I was immediately excited upon sighting the novel on Netgalley and I was not disappointed. Christie explores the previously neglected reign of Louis XV and the result is nothing short of page turning.

This fascinating fictional (but still accurate) account takes on the lives of the notorious Mailly-Nesle. The five sisters--Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne were brought up in the shadow of Versailles and expected to marry well. Instead, four of them become royal mistresses. Louise is the first to go to Versailles and capture the heart of King Louis VX. Naive and pure of heart, Louise is Louis's first documented mistress, but her unaffected ways and sweet spirit are overthrown by the arrival of Pauline. Described in the novel as "a force of nature", Pauline is determined to seduce the king and make a name for herself. The two sisters co-exist in a strange menage trois until Pauline's death leaves a void. Then Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne arrive on the scene, but it is the youngest Mailly-Nesle sister who impacts the king in ways previously not seen. Marie-Anne is determined to use her position to live the good life, but there are always sacrifices and consequences.

Louis XV's fascination with the Mailly-Nesle sisters was certainly a unique situation and one that has been surprisingly unexplored in the past. Sally Christie brings all five sisters to life, alternating each chapter with a new voice and view. The fact that each sister's voice is distinct is clear evidence of Christie's talents as a writer. The reader in turns will find themselves laughing with, rolling their eyes at, or downright hating the sisters. This lovely novel is not to be missed! There were many nights that I stayed awake long past my bedtime because I didn't want to put it down. It hits bookshelves on September 1, 2015 and can be pre-ordered through Amazon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Marci Jefferson's "Enchantress of Paris"

"Enchantress of Paris" details the rise and fall of Marie Mancini, niece of the powerful Cardinal Mazarin and possible true love of Louis XIV. Destined for convent, the willful and clever Marie strikes out on her own after catching the eye of the young Louis. Her uncle seeks to use her to control the king, but Marie sees Louis as more than a pawn. Their love electrifies the court, but as time comes for Louis to wed, Marie must outwit her uncle in an attempt to forge her own destiny.

"Enchantress of Paris" is similar to Marci Jefferson's debut novel "Girl on the Golden Coin" in that it details the life of a king's mistress. Pitted against forces larger than herself, Marie is determined to outfox the horoscope cast by her astrologer father and live her life happily. She is bold and cunning, but not without heart. The love she has for the king forces her to do the wise thing but not without consequences to herself and those around her. She is ultimately defeated by her uncle--she loses the battle, but not perhaps not the war as she goes on to live a scandalous but full life.

The characters are well drawn; Marie sparkles with vibrancy while Louis is young and all too trusting--truly the man before he becomes the great Sun King. Cardinal Mazarin is perfectly wicked while a host of other characters manage to carry their own plot points. The pacing starts to lag towards the end as Marie and Louis struggle in vain to be together, but character investment at that point spurs the reader on.

Marci Jefferson brings 17th century France to life in "Enchantress of Paris"; lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this new novel.