Friday, August 1, 2014

Q & A with Paula Margulies. What Makes Her Pocahontas Story Special?

Please welcome Ms. Margulies today as she answers a few questions and shares with us her novel about a fascinating historical woman...Pocahontas. Find out what makes her book different from the others.

Tara: First of all, Why did you write this book? Why Pocahontas?

Paula: I’ve always been fascinated with the story of Pocahontas, and since so much of her history has been told to us by English explorers like John Smith, I decided that retelling her story, from her perspective, might make for an interesting read.

Tara: What makes this book about Pocahontas different from the others that exist?

Paula: There are a number of differing versions of the history of that time, and much of what we know about Pocahontas comes from the writing of John Smith and the other colonists, who reported on what they found in the new land when they returned to England. Favorite Daughter, Part One is based on my research on works about her by Native Americans, many of whom tell a darker tale than the English history. Also, there aren’t many fictional works about that time from a Native American perspective, and the majority of those that do exist are written for young adults. Favorite Daughter, Part One is written for adults and focuses on Pocahontas’s coming of age into womanhood and becoming a wife and mother, in addition to her work as a representative of her tribe and, eventually, as a celebrity in England (that part of her story will be covered in Part Two).

Tara: Are you of Native American heritage?

Paula: No, both of my parents are of Italian descent. But my father, Douglas Roccaforte, loved Native American history and was a collector of American Indian artifacts, so I grew up with a deep appreciation of Native American culture and history.

Tara: What writers inspire/have influenced you?

Paula: So many authors inspire me that it’s hard to choose! I’ve always been a huge fan of the Southern gothic – William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor are my all-time favorite writers. As a graduate student in English Literature, I studied Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bellow, Doctorow, Didion, Heller, and Pynchon. Recent authors whose stories have haunted me, stunned me, or made me weep: Sherman Alexie, Ha Jin, Vikram Seth, David Mitchell, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, Jane Smiley, Jane Hamilton, Sena Jeter Naslund, Anna Quindlen, and Elizabeth Berg.

Tara: When you're not writing, what kinds of activities do you enjoy?

Paula: When I’m not working on my publicity business or teaching classes, I enjoy yoga, meditation, reading, and writing. In the summer, I try to go to as many local Native American pow wows as I can (there are quite a few here in the San Diego area), and I’ve been known to enjoy an Indian taco (or two) on occasion.

Tara: What are the words you live by?

Paula: Less is more (except when we’re talking about Indian tacos).

Favorite Daughter, Part One
Set in the time of the Jamestown settlement and the English explorer John Smith, Favorite Daughter, Part One recounts the story of Chief Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, as she prepares to take her place as one of our nation's earliest leading women. Pocahontas invites readers to experience her native world when strangers appear on the shores near her village. From forging a relationship with the charismatic Smith, to experiencing love for the first time and creating a role for herself in her father’s plans for peace, this young girl takes us on a poignant and harrowing journey through the turbulent events of her life. Eventually betrayed by all of the men she loves, Pocahontas matures into a heroine of tremendous nobility, courage, and heart.

Told in first person, in a voice brimming with compassion and wisdom, Favorite Daughter, Part One provides a compelling look at the early days of one of the most remarkable legends in American history.

Editor’s Choice Award Winner, 21st Annual San Diego State University Writers’ Conference.


Paula Margulies is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. She has received numerous awards for her essays and works of fiction, including her historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One, her first novel, Coyote Heart, and her short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories. She has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Centrum. Margulies resides in San Diego, California. For more information, please visit

For more information on the author or Favorite Daughter, Part One, please visit

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Young Girl Longs to Escape Polygamy and Abuse in #Yefon: The Red Necklace #Giveaway

A powerful, emotional tale of ambition and courage by Cameroonian-born Sahndra Fon Dufe, the Common Wealth of Nations recognized author of 'Dear momma'. (2004)

Yefon: The RedNecklace (YRN) is the first book of the YEFON trilogy series. It will have you wrapped up with emotions you didn’t know you had!

Young tribal girl, Yefon Labam, knows she’s different.

During the 1950s, in her Central African village, women are uneducated and are expected to either work on a farm or be one of many wives, but Yefon dares for more—she wants to learn how to read, even if looking at a book could mean her death. Although everyone thinks she’s an abomination, including her mother and sisters, her father knows she’s destined for greater things.

When he is murdered, Yefon clings to the gift he gave her for inspiration—a red necklace. She soon comes to realize that the necklace is no ordinary ornament, but a talisman crafted by the spirits. Yefon walks a dangerous path that could lead to her freedom…or her death.


5% from the sales of EACH copy of YEFON hardcover novel is going to one of the following charities:


***************MY REVIEW************

I liked this heroine very much and also appreciated the peek into another culture and their ways. There's polygamy, child abuse (though it's acceptable in this time and place, among these people), and lots of details about the tribe's cultures, customs, mannerisms, and clothing (or lack of it.) Born in 1940, Yefon guides us through the fifties from her childhood to womanhood and the period in her life when she began wanting more from life. Not content to be a man's first, second, or third wife, nor to stay at home where she's beaten for every imagined slight, Yefon dreams of going to the city, of making something of herself. She just doesn't know what.

One of the most interesting things to me was how her Albino sister was looked upon. Other villagers even wanted to sacrifice her. I love how Yefon is quick to come to the rescue, even though her sister never helps her. It goes to show that one can be a better person, despite what they are surrounded by.

There is one major downside though, and that is the narrative. I don't mind the first-person narrative, not at all. It is completely appropriate for this story, but it's all telling/no showing and at times I found myself drifting or getting bored.

Buy the book from.....

Actress/ Writer/ Producer/ Humanitarian/ CEO

Cameroonian-born author, actress, humanitarian and business mogul Sahndra Fon Dufe is the young CEO of African Pictures International, and the co-founder of Gifted Minds Africa Foundation.

She works at exposing the history, culture, and truth about Africa, women and the spirit within. The remarkable actress has been featured in numerous feature films, and commercials, and presently lives in Los Angeles with her hunk of a man, a closet full of shoes and too many vintage clothes.

Sahndra spends her spare time perfecting her craft and soul-searching, on a journey to regain wholeness and cure the spirit. She also hunts for Egyptian artifacts, pieces which have captivated her imagination since childhood.

Author's Website/ Book Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Goodreads/

The children's book is coming soon!


I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Manroot: A Novel of Rights and Wrongs

Manroot by Anne Steinberg is not a new work.  According to the About The Author notes, it was Steinberg's debut novel originally published with acclaim in the UK in 1994.  I am reviewing a 2014 edition of this novel.  I received it as a gift from the author in return for an honest review.


The cover has been praised as being atmospheric.  It is indeed, but if this cover had been the only thing I knew about Manroot before I read it , I would have assumed that the book took place in the vicinity of some haunted Louisiana bayou. I would have been wrong.  The events of Manroot take place in the Ozarks over the course of a thirty year period beginning in 1939.  Steinberg fast forwards from the 1940's to the 1960's which allows her to display social change and radical differences in values.  That's why I shelved it on Goodreads as historical fiction.  It isn't historical in the sense of dealing directly with major historical events, but it does describe the way people lived and thought in two distinct eras.

Others have shelved and reviewed this book as a romance.  When I look at the predominant content of Manroot, I don't have that impression.  There was a brief romantic interlude which reminded me very much of the similar interlude that took place between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the consequences were much worse for Manroot's protagonist Katherine  Sheahan.  She was a despised "half-breed" who was already stigmatized before she fell in love with a married man.

From the perspective of 21st century readers, it is difficult to understand how Katherine managed to pick herself up and go on with her life after the terrible events that transpire in the town where she had her short-lived romance.  We wonder why she isn't angry or paralyzed by trauma.  The answer is that both responses would have been luxuries in her situation, and Katherine was a survivor. Survival mattered more to her than justice.  She was also a gifted healer who was fully capable of healing herself. 

I agree with those reviewers who really liked the herbalism aspect, but it's not a source of high drama.  No one wanted to draw and quarter Katherine for providing an alternative to the treatments of medical doctors.  In fact, her skills in this area are the main reason why she was accepted.  I especially enjoyed seeing the increased interest in her herbalism in the 1960's.

The source of Katherine's herbal knowledge was her Navajo grandmother who isn't really shown in the novel, but she may have been like the Navajo herbalist elders of the Plant Watchers Society in the Aimee and David Thurlo mystery, Plant Them Deep.

 The trouble is that Katherine's behavior is contrary to the beliefs of traditional Navajos.  Those who have read Tony Hillerman and the Thurlos are aware that traditional Navajos avoid contact with the spirits of the dead who are called chindi.  Find out more by following the link I provided to the Wikipedia article on the subject.  Let's just say that avoidance isn't Katherine's strategy.  It seems likely that this could be offensive to some Navajo readers, but spirits provide the paranormal aspect of the novel.  The paranormal content doesn't become dominant until fairly late in Manroot.

Skeptics who are determined to find an alternative explanation for the resolution of this novel can probably find one.  Yet if we accept Katherine's version, then it raises a number of questions.  Should we judge actions by their consequences, or are there actions that are always wrong regardless of their context?  Could Katherine have deceived herself into thinking her actions were justified?  Are those who considered Katherine insane correct?  I leave these matters up to the individual reader.

This book is full of both darkness and light.  I found it absorbing, well-written and troubling.  I don't recommend Manroot to people who prefer comfortable reading that doesn't ask disturbing questions.  I do recommend it to people who like their fiction to be memorable.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours Book Blast: Lies Told In Silence by M.K. Tod #Giveaway

 photo 0739464c-670b-4fd2-87af-2b2ad8119519.png

Publication Date: June 29, 2014
Tod Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

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02_Lies Told in Silence CoverIn 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility.

With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front.

As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier.

The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.

Praise for Lies Told in Silence

‘Dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.’ - SHARON KAY PENMAN author of A King’s Ransom

'An intricate, well-researched novel of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age.’ - DONNA RUSSO MORIN author of The King’s Agent

‘M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre.’ - AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past

‘An absorbing and rewarding historical read .. depicting the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations.’ - MARGARET EVANS PORTER author of The Proposal

‘A compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.’ - RICHARD LEE founder of the Historical Novel Society

Buy the Book

03_M.K. TodAbout the Author

M.K. Tod has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise.

In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Her debut novel is UNRAVELLED: Two wars, Two affairs. One Marriage. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, her second novel, is set in WWI France and tells the story of Helene Noisette who featured in Unravelled. Mary has an active blog - - which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children.

Connect with M.K. Tod on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Lies Told in Silence Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, July 29
Review at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Book Babe
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Mel's Shelves

Wednesday, July 30
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 31
Book Blast at Royalty Free Fiction

Friday, August 1
Book Blast at Back Porchervations
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Saturday, August 2
Book Blast at Mythical Books

Monday, August 4
Review & Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, August 5
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Thursday, August 7
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Book Blast at Kinx's Book Nook

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at The Maiden's Court

Monday, August 11
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Bookworm

Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Writing Desk

Thursday, August 14
Book Blast at Words and Peace
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, August 15
Review at Lost in Books
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer

Sunday, August 17
Book Blast at Brooke Blogs

Monday, August 18
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook


To win a copy of M.K. Tod's Lies Told In Silence please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally!

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 19th and notified via email.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

A Young Woman Chases China But Finds Love & Truth in Chasing China by Kay Bratt

Chasing China; A Daughter's Quest for Truth I've read most of Ms. Bratt's books by now and I thought (quite mistakenly) that I couldn't possibly learn anything new about the Chinese adoption/child services. While her other stories def touch on the abuse of the system and the conditions of the orphanages, none of them really went into the details this story does. As the heroine travels to China to search for answers, readers learn about the orphanage systems: how they bathe the children, feed the children, how the sick doesn't get the healthcare they need, why they do some of the things they do that we may construe as abuse or neglect.

There's one scene in particular that really impacted me, in which we meet a young girl who was badly crippled on purpose for begging purposes. I'll never forget this. Ever.

Besides being educational, there's also an underlying feeling of suspense and at times, thrill. Mia's search for why she was abandoned as a baby leads to her hiding on a ledge six stories up while her room is ransacked and also takes her to a secret group called The Finders. I loved the mystery and the quest to get answers.

There's a romance, but it's very subtle, no "juicy" details. It's very clean and doesn't get very in depth.

And as normal with a Bratt novel, there's a moral, at least to me. Others may not read what I read. We all interpret things differently, but to me the moral was about how quick we are to assume the worst. For whatever reason, we may think we are not loved...and yet we couldn't be far from the truth. That's all I'll say about that.

Terrific read. Some minor irritations, such as change of tense/POV suddenly and just little things that I was a tad confused about at times.

I think this was a freebie on Amazon. I may have bought it. I don't remember. Sorry, FTC.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Duchess: A Movie That Shows Just How Badly Women Were Oppressed

I wanted to watch this movie because 1. It's from BBC. They rarely do wrong. 2. It's a period drama with amazing costumes. 3. It says on Amazon, "A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life."

I don't know how the heck she was involved in politics beyond promoting her lover and introducing him to crowds, to be quite frank. That's literally all we saw in this movie regarding her politics, beyond a few witty remarks about freedom during a dinner.

BBC missed the mark with this one, though I'll admit that this movie really showed us just how very oppressed women were in the late 1700s, early 1800s. We were merely chattels, baby-birthing machines. If the husband said, "I'm going to have my mistress live right here, under your very  nose, at your very dinner table, and if you don't like it and accept it, I'll just take our kids away from you," that was law. By law, according to this movie, it was a husband's right, even, to beat his wife with a stick, as long as it was no wider than his thumb.

"Thomas Gainsborough Lady Georgiana Cavendish"
by Thomas Gainsborough - Unknown. Licensed
under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
But in all honesty, I hated this movie. Was it eye-opening? Yes. But so very miserable and they didn't show me what made this woman remarkable at all. So if she wore a giant feather in her hair, everyone copied her. Whoopee doo.

The movie portrays her as a woman who merely rebelled against her husband just long enough to get knocked up and then lived the rest of her days under his thumb, with his stinking mistress right under her nose. Not a very remarkable woman at all, not unless you give  her points for being accepting of BS.

Frankly, I wouldn't have wasted my time making a movie about her. Or if I had, I would have actually focused on this supposed political career or whatever she had.

A miserable two hours.

I rented this on Amazon Prime.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Reading Radar 7/26/2014

Spotted whilst doing my monthly women in aviation search on Amazon, Navy Blue by J.M. Stenfors has hit the wishlist. It's about the WAVES.

Navy BlueIn 1943 the United States is engaged in a global, life-and-death struggle with Germany, Japan, and Italy. Widespread fighting draws American men into the armed services, leaving a shortage in the country's workforce. Women find themselves in roles normally reserved for males. WAVES-Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services-forms to integrate females into the Navy and to fill the workforce gap.

Navy Blue follows four young recruits as they leave their civilian lives behind and struggle to adapt to the regimented life in the U.S. Navy. Honing her skills for management as a protegee of an industrial genius, practical Lou Matteson finds herself the leader of a diverse crew of young women. Martha Jo Stuckey, the wild child of a poor ranching family, clowns her way through life. Her unfailing good humor makes the military bearable for her friends.

Wealthy Eleanor LaFrance leads the privileged life even as she rebels against it. A loner by nature, Eleanor finds she needs friends to survive in an environment that demands teamwork. Shy, naive Katherine Anderson faces disappointment and betrayal by the men in her life. Her mates, providing encouragement and kindness, stand by her side. Together they form a solid sisterhood allowing them to thrive in a man's world.

A tale of three unforgettable years in the lives of four young women, "Navy Blue" narrates the story of times when the world balanced between good and evil and speaks to the power of women and the endurance of the human spirit.


Spotted on NG and promises to be amusing...Dog Training the American Male by L.A. Knight.

Dog Training the American MaleMeet Dr. Nancy Beach, a relationship counselor who hosts a local radio show called Love s a Beach. One problem: The relationship guru can t seem to make her own relationships work, sending her credibility and ratings into the toilet. Meet Jacob Cope a walking thesaurus of phobias a Lehman Brothers casualty who s lost his job and swagger and now yearns to be a ventriloquist. When Nancy and Jacob are set up on a blind date and hit it off, their siblings, desperate to be rid of them, encourage the young couple to move in together. When the honeymoon stage abruptly ends, Jacob attempts to mend the fence by adopting a dog a big dog and Nancy flips out . . . until she realizes the dog trainer s techniques can be used to housebreak Jacob and save her radio career.