Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester

Lillian on LifeMaybe I would have had sex with Dave after college back in Columbia, but the first time he hugged me, he squeezed me so hard I passed wind. 

Obviously I got a few laughs from this book. There's more to that scene up there than I've typed. In this book, Lillian, an old woman--would be seventies in this decade--narrates random bits and pieces of her life, mostly bits about her one-night stands, her married lovers, and her boyfriends all over the world. She also talks about her parents and their marriage. What she says makes me think she herself probably balks at marriage. Perhaps not having seen love in a marriage, she doesn't want that for herself.

I liked this book but I must confess in the end, except for chuckling at the windy hug and at Lillian's thoughts on KY gel and driving outfits, I don't see the point of it. I closed each chapter feeling like I was missing something, some great moral. In my eyes, the only moral is that men aren't going to buy the cow if you're giving the milk free. Then again, I also admired Lillian--or I almost did--for just being her own woman and doing as she pleases, society be darned. Though I think she consistently chose losers for her lovers and at times she smothered her own personality to please them. But that is also part of the story's appeal. The narrator is nothing if not honest.

I think, however, what really disappoints me about this book is that Lillian rarely talks about her work. She starts as a typist then moves to..journalist? It was never clear. I'd have preferred less about her lovers and more about her work and travels at some point in the story. And even though it takes place in the sixties and you would think this bed-hopping, free-loving female would be a bit of feminist, there's nothing about the women's rights movement.

Conclusion: Somewhat pointless, but well written and short and does provide a laugh or two.

I received this via Amazon Vine and though I received the upcoming American version, I like the UK cover better, so that's what's pictured.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Reading Radar 11/29/2014

Spotted on Edelweiss, Backlands by Victoria Shorr made the wishlist.

BacklandsBacklands tells the epic, historically based story of a group of indigenous, nomadic outlaws who rode through the backlands of Brazil from around 1922 until 1938. Led by the one-eyed bandit Lampiao and his lover Maria Bonita still folk heroes to this day the bandits marched across the vast, open reaches of their dry, desolate, starkly beautiful landscape, taking from the rich, entertaining the poor, controlling an area roughly the size of France, and fighting off all the police and soldiers the region could muster.

Lampiao had everything brains, money, power, charisma, and luck. Everything but love, until he met Maria Bonita. Together they would become the most wanted people in Brazil, maintaining their freedom through cunning. This vividly rendered work of historical fiction chronicles the reign and eventual betrayal of a band of romantic outlaws living a near-impossible existence."


Also an Edelweiss spotting: Orphan Number Eight by Kim Van Alkemade.

Orphan Number EightA stunning debut novel in the vein of Sarah Waters’ historical fiction and inspired by true events, it tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage.

In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had.

Though Rachel believes she’s shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveal to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person’s fate—to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals—is not always set in stone.

Lush in historical detail, rich in atmosphere and based on true events,Orphan #8 is a powerful, affecting novel of the unexpected choices we are compelled to make that can shape our destinies.


Learned about on Amazon Vine: Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway.

Sisters of Heart and SnowRachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but their lives have followed completely different paths.

Married to a wonderful man and is a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Haruki, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Haruki asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.


Spotted on NG and sure wish they'd allow American reviewers to have a go. Urgh. A War of Flowers by Jane Thynne.

A War of FlowersAugust, 1938. Paris is a city living on its nerves and the threat of war hangs heavy as a distant thunderstorm on a summer's day.
British actress, Clara Vine, is in Paris to film her latest movie, having left Berlin under a cloud. Joseph Goebbels has become increasingly suspicious that Clara has been mingling in Berlin society and passing snippets of information to her contacts in the British Embassy. It would have been absurd, if it hadn't also been true…
With war becoming increasingly likely, Clara is approached by an undercover British operative, Guy Hamilton, who asks her to perform a task for her country: to befriend Eva Braun, Hitler's girlfriend, and to pass on any information she can gather.

Clara knows that to undertake this task is to put herself back in danger. But she also knows that soon she may have to do everything in her power to protect her country…


Another mystery made the list when I saw it on GR Giveaways. Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy.

Second Street Station: A Mary Handley MysteryA historical mystery featuring the witty and wily Mary Handley, the first woman detective in Brooklyn, as she tries to prove herself in a man's world while solving a high profile murder.

Mary Handley is a not your typical late-nineteenth century lady. She's fiery, clever, daring—and she’s not about to conform to the gender norms of the day. Not long after being fired from her job at the hat factory for insubordinate behavior, Mary finds herself at the murder scene of Charles Goodrich, the brother of a prominent alderman and former bookkeeper of Thomas Edison. When Mary proves her acumen as a sleuth, she is hired by the Brooklyn police department—as the city’s first female policewoman—to solve the crime. The top brass of the department expect her to fail, but Mary has other plans. As she delves into the mystery, she finds herself questioning the likes of J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. Mary soon discovers the key to solving the case goes well beyond finding a murderer and depends on her ability to unearth the machinations of the city’s most prominent and respected public figures, men who will go to great lengths to protect their secrets.

Much like Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and Maisie Dobbs, Second Street Station presents a portrait of a world plunging into modernity through the eyes of a clever female sleuth. Mary Handley is an unforgettable protagonist whose wit, humor, and charm will delight readers from the very first page.


Caught my interest. Spotted on Edelweiss. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow BlyWhen seventeen-year-old Minnow stumbles out of the woods one winter morning, she is haunted and handless and covered in someone else’s blood. She has just escaped the strict religious commune run by a cruel man named the Prophet. In exchange for freedom, she leaves behind her family, her home, and Jude--an outsider boy who changed everything.

But the real world isn't the sanctuary Minnow imagined. Soon, she gets arrested and placed in juvenile detention. Now, Minnow is being questioned by an FBI psychiatrist about the night she escaped, the same night the Prophet was burned to death in his own home—a murder Minnow may be responsible for.

A modern retelling of the Grimm fairy tale, "The Handless Maiden," in which the Devil orders a girl's hands cut off, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is the story of a girl growing out of the wreckage of corrupted faith.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Tiger Queens: It Was WOMEN Who Carried Genghis Khan's Empire

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Publication Date: November 4, 2014 | NAL Trade | Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
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02_The Tiger QueensIn the late twelfth century on the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, following a violent feud between blood brothers, the victor Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself Genghis Khan. But behind one powerful man stand many strong women…

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, darkness looms over Borte’s life. She becomes an outcast among her clan and after seeking comfort in the arms of an aristocratic traveler, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man she was betrothed to years ago but who abandoned her long before they could marry. And he will only leave her behind again.

Temujin will make Borte his khatun, his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new empire. Their daughter, a fierce girl named Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, seeks revenge against the Mongol barbarians who destroyed her city and murdered her family, but in the end will sacrifice everything to protect the Golden Family. Demure widow to Genghis’ son, Sorkhokhtani positions her sons to inherit the Empire when it begins to fracture from within.

As Genghis Khan sets out to expand his conquests and the steppes run red with blood, Borte and the women of the clan will fight, love, scheme, and sacrifice, all for the good of their family and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls...


Absolutely superb writing. Perfect blend of description, detail, history, emotion. I love that Ms. Thornton reveals the bad as well as the good.

The first part of the story follows Genghis Khan's chief wife from her childhood by her parents' side to adulthood after she's given birth to her own children. I'd heard of Khan (great leader, founder of Mongul empire) before but never really knew who he was. I also knew absolutely nothing about these people or their way of life. This story was educational for me as well as entertaining.

We follow his wife as she debates marrying him, knowing her marriage will lead to a great war and a rift between brothers. Through her eyes we see men wrestle for sport, fight for blood, rape and pillage, eat horses, cast bones into fires to see the future. We see a completely different way of life. We see women experience hardships in between preparing meals, beating felt, and bearing children, hardships such as rape and watching their people be slaughtered.

Then we meet his young daughter as she also becomes a bride, but to a man who does not want her. Hers is an alliance doomed from the get-go and instead of enjoying her husband, the new bride fears for her life and falls for his son. While I felt no particular fondness for her character in the beginning, I appreciated her a lot toward the end of her tale and wished it were longer, that it didn't end with her giving birth to a son.

Then the book moves on to a Persian woman who loses her entire family and city to the Mogolians. And here is where I suddenly had a quibble. At this point in Genghis Khan's life, his grown sons are alcoholics and his empire is being ran and his wars apparently being fought by...ready for this...his daughter and daughters-in-laws. His youngest daughter, Al-Altun is running around with a pregnant belly ordering soldiers to slaughter entire cities. At her side is Toregene, a daughter in law. At some point, the women we met earlier in the story have gone from merely beating rugs and bearing babies to ordering and supervising wars and capturing slaves.

Women are literally taking over! His sons are worthless and all the women have taken over to ensure the survival of the empire. Whoo hoo! So what's my quibble?

I really, really, really wish this book had had the POV of Al-Altun, the warrior daughter. Or even Toregene. I'd have liked to have see how these women suddenly went from beating rugs and bearing babies to taking over their husbands' duties. To me, that's the good stuff.

But this was very well written, entertaining, and educational at the same time. I won't forget any of these women any time soon. I feel like I am friends with each and every one. Anytime I hear or see the name Genghis Khan, I shall think not of the bearded, horse-eating warrior, but of his wife, his daughters, and his daughters-in-laws, because while he created a fierce empire, without the women, it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did. The men of his family just ran around and died as a result of their greed. It was the women who were remarkable, in all they did and survived.

I received a digital galley through NetGalley.

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About the Author
03_Stephanie ThorntonStephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

"The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora" and "Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt" are available from NAL/Penguin. "The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan" will hit the shelves November 4, 2014, followed by "The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great" in November 2015.

For more information please visit Stephanie Thornton's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 1

Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Sunday, November 2
Review at Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 3
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 4
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, November 5
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, November 6
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, November 7
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, November 10
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, November 11
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, November 17
Review at Turning the Pages

Tuesday, November 18
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 19
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, November 20
Review at Layered Pages

Friday, November 21
Review at Just One More Chapter

Monday, November 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark

Tuesday, November 25
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Wednesday, November 26
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Friday, November 28
Review at Book Babe

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spotlight on The War Nurse

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Publication Date: January 14, 2014

BRY Publishing

Formats: eBook, Paperback

Pages: 382

Genre: Historical Fiction

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01_War Nurse eBook Cover LargeThis historical thriller begins on the eve of WWII in the Philippines. Katarina Stahl an American Red Cross nurse, is the happiest she’s ever been in her life. She’s making love and playing music with Jack Gallagher in an idyllic paradise. Their medical mission is over, the boat tickets to home are purchased, and all that remains is to fly a sick child to the hospital at Clark Air Field.

She never expected to witness bombs falling out of planes. In those terrifying first minutes, she frees a German doctor accused of spying and saves his life. She turns to nursing the injured, unaware she’s unleashed an obsession more dangerous to her and those she loves, than the war she’s trapped in.

Doctor von Wettin, the man she freed, finds Katarina pregnant and starving in a POW camp after the surrender. He begs her to nurse his bed-ridden wife. She knows other Americans will despise her, but wants her baby to live after surviving Bataan. Their uneasy alliance is destroyed when she discovers he exploited Red Cross diplomatic channels and contacts at the German embassy to wire money to her parents. His benevolent mask slips when he informs her that her brothers and parents are interned on Ellis Island.

When the Stahl family is swept up in the FBI’s dragnet, Josep Stahl believes it’s all a misunderstanding. He’s interrogated like a criminal at the city jail, a military camp, Ellis Island, and then the civilian internment camps in Texas. His anger and pride blind him. One by one in this painful family drama, his wife and sons join him behind barbed wire in. There they face ostracism, segregation, and, most frightening, repatriation.

Katarina begins an even more terrifying journey into depraved darkness as Manila descends into occupation and chaos. The doctor threatens everyone she loves: infant son, POW husband, and Filipino friends. She’ll do anything to protect them; she lies, steals, and smuggles. As the war turns against the Japanese, they withhold the doctor’s wife’s life-saving medications until he finds a hidden radio inside the civilian internment camp. If Katarina refuses to help him, her son pays the price.

Survival has corrupted Katarina; but she’s not about to become his camp rat. After years of hell, she’s earned her nickname, war nurse. Doctor von Wettin is about to find out what that means.

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02_RV Doon AuthorAbout the Author

R.V. Doon is a bookie! Seriously, she’s an avid reader who also loves to write. She writes across genres, but confesses she’s partial to historical fiction and medical thrillers. She’s addicted to black coffee, milk chocolate, and raspberries. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s learning to sail. Doon reports after a career of implementing doctor’s orders, she’s having trouble being a deck hand and following the captain’s orders. Doon lives in Mobile, Alabama, a haunted and historical city, with her husband and two dogs.

For more information please visit R.V. Doon's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Subscribe to R.V. Doon's Newsletter for news & updates.

The War Nurse Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 24

Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, November 25

Review at Unshelfish

Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, November 26

Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Thursday, November 27

Spotlight at Book Babe

Friday, November 28

Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Saturday, November 29

Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Sunday, November 30

Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, December 1

Review at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, December 2

Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, December 3

Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, December 4

Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Review at Svetlana Reads and Views

Friday, December 5

Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Sharp Hook of Love: Illuminating The Context of Heloise and Abelard

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Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Gallery Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
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01_The Sharp Hook of LoveThe first retelling of the passionate, twelfth-century love story since the discovery of 113 lost love letters between Heloise d’Argenteuil and Pierre Abelard—the original Romeo and Juliet.

"While I sleep you never leave me, and after I wake I see you, as soon as I open my eyes, even before the light of day itself." —Abelard to Heloise

Among the young women of twelfth-century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Notre-Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.


The story of the great love of Heloise and Abelard usually begins with Heloise living with the Canon Fulbert, her uncle.  She would have had parents, but I haven’t seen any previous account of this medieval woman scholar that included her parents until I read The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones.   

I expected this book to be different since I had read two previous novels by Sherry Jones about Mohammed’s wife A’isha, The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina.   They show that she deals with substantial themes and that she isn’t afraid to be controversial. I like that in a writer.   That’s why I entered a promotional giveaway of The Sharp Hook of Love on the author’s blog which was the source of my copy.  Then I agreed to review the book for this blog tour.  

There are questions that I have always had about the famous tragic romance that is the subject of this book.  Why was Heloise living with her uncle?  Were her parents dead? How did Heloise become so well educated?  Why would Fulbert hire Abelard to instruct his virginal niece and leave them alone without a chaperone?  Wouldn’t that have been considered inappropriate in that time period?    Sherry Jones seeks to answer these questions in order to give Heloise a believable background.

 She provides a history of Heloise’s parents that Heloise discovers herself over the course of the narrative. She opens the novel with Heloise in a convent where she spent her childhood receiving an exceptionally fine education.  She was intended to be a nun who would eventually be an educator of other nuns.  In addition, she would have qualified to work with books as a copyist, illuminator or librarian.  Nuns were the most educated women during the medieval period, and Heloise was a gifted student who impressed Abelard.  Abelard was considered one of the most eminent scholars of his day when Fulbert hired him.   Sherry Jones gives us a portrait of Fulbert as a man who sacrificed his happiness for the sake of ambition, and was willing to do anything to achieve advancement in the Church.  This Fulbert was full of anger, resentment and envy of those who were happier or more successful.  He was also abusive toward Heloise and his servants.   He was probably an alcoholic which may have been the cause of his violent episodes.  In our contemporary context, Heloise would definitely have been removed from his custody long before Abelard came into the picture. Yet in the medieval period no one questioned the authority of parents or guardians.

The Sharp Hook of Love is very compelling but I did have a problem with it.  It bothered me that Heloise didn’t notice that she was pregnant until it was so visible that a woman in the market pointed it out to her.    Yes, I’ve read about girls who didn’t notice they were pregnant until they suddenly gave birth, but I’d like to think that Heloise wouldn’t be that oblivious.

I also have one minor criticism.   Sherry Jones perpetuates a common error which I ordinarily don’t mention, but it particularly irritated me in the context where it appeared in this novel. This is the confusion of flout and flaunt.  Flaunt means to display proudly as in “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”.   Flout means to defy.  So Abelard flouted the Church’s rules.   He didn’t flaunt them.  In fact, I’d say that it was Abelard's bitter opponent, Bernard of Clairvaux, who flaunted the Church’s rules with his constant sermonizing about them. 

Although I was fascinated with the romance of Heloise and Abelard when I was a teenager, I’ve come to understand that it’s what happened afterward that redeems the tragedy.  As Sherry Jones shows us,  Heloise became a great teacher at a very unusual abbey.   That’s the part of her story that really interests me now.  A medieval mystery that portrays Heloise in that role which also deals centrally with the Heloise and Abelard romance is Death Comes As An Epiphany, the first in a series of mysteries by Sharan Newman.  This is the book that I would recommend to readers after they have read The Sharp Hook of Love.

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About the Author

02_Sherry Jones AuthorSherry Jones is the author of five biographical fiction books: The Sharp Hook of Love, about the famed 12th-century lovers Abelard and Heloise; The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina, international — and controversial — best sellers about the life of A’isha, who married the Muslim prophet Muhammad at age nine and went on to become the most famous and influential woman in Islam; Four Sisters, All Queens, a tale of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy, and White Heart, an e-novella about the famous French “White Queen” Blanche de Castille.

For more information please visit Sherry Jones's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Goodreads.

The Sharp Hook of Love Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 24

Tuesday, November 25

Wednesday, November 26

Review at Book Babe

Friday, November 28

Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Sunday, November 29

Spotlight & Excerpt at The Lusty Literate

Monday, December 1

Interview at Mina's Bookshelf

Wednesday, December 3

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 4

Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, December 5

Interview at To Read or Not to Read                                     

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ten Questions from Tara: An Interview with Karen J. Hicks

Welcome. You’re here to promote The Coming Woman, a historical fiction novel. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story? 

The Coming WomanReaders, here's a blurb for you:

"The Coming Woman" is a novel based on the life of feminist Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for U.S. President, 50 years before women could even vote!

Running for President wasn’t Victoria’s only first as a woman. She was also the first to own a successful Wall Street firm, the first to publish a successful national newspaper, and the first to head the two-million-member Spiritualist Association. She was the first woman to enter the Senate Judiciary Committee chambers to petition for woman's suffrage, her argument changing the entire focus of the suffragist movement by pointing out that the 14th and 15th Amendments already gave women the vote.

In her campaign for the Presidency, Victoria Woodhull boldly addressed many of the issues we still face today: equal pay for equal work; freedom in love; corporate greed and political corruption fueled by powerful lobbyists; and the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor, to name only a few. Her outspoken and common-sense ideas may shed a new perspective on the parallel conundrums of today’s world.

This bold, beautiful, and sexually progressive woman dared to take on society and religion. To make an example of the hypocrisy in what Mark Twain dubbed The Gilded Age, she exposed the extramarital affairs of the most popular religious figure of the day (Henry Ward Beecher). This led to her persecution and imprisonment and the longest, most infamous trial of the 19th century. But it did not stop her fight for equality.

Victoria’s epic story, set in the late 1800s, comes to life in a modern, fictional style, while staying true to the actual words and views of the many well-known characters.

Back in the late 1980s a friend of mine shared with me an essay she had written for a college class about Victoria. It was very short, but it fascinated me. So I began to research Victoria and the period in which she lived, and fascination soon turned to obsession.

We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong. 

Victoria Woodhull was not afraid to mix it up in the man’s world on Wall Street and never pulled any punches in the articles of her newspaper or on the lecture circuit, talking about topics that women were not supposed to even be aware of and certainly not talk about: business and economy, suffrage, divorce, sex, even politics and international affairs. She hated hypocrisy and inequality and railed boldly against both.

To quote the New York Herald: “Victoria C. Woodhull stepped to the front, and grasping the hostile weapons, concentrated them on herself and undertook to receive the full charge of ridicule, obloquy, and detestation in the hope that the cause of women might triumph.” Even after losing her businesses, homes, health, and freedom for some time, she continued her fight and managed to rise again to the destiny she sought.

Do you see any of yourself in her?

I hope so. I admire her greatly, although I am certainly not sure I could be as brave as she was.

Was there any particular part of this story that was the hardest for you to write? Tell me why.

Writing about the horrible injustices and gross inequalities for women and minorities and to Victoria personally really got my ire up.

What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search?

I spent well over a decade or so researching Victoria and all the historical characters who surrounded her. I read every book I could find and spent countless hours at libraries and University archives (this was before you could find the wealth of information we now have available on the internet!).

I still have files of charts I made to synthesize the material about Victoria and the other personalities by character, date, place, and keywords. Conversations in the book use the characters’ ideas and actual words garnered from books, letters they wrote, speeches they made, etc.

I was surprised at how the lives of so many of the historical characters crossed paths so many times and how their lives of so many of them were pretty mundane (with day jobs, etc.) at the time.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something about a particular subject/person, ponder a point?

I hope they will do all of the above. My purpose in writing the book as fiction was to make the information about Victoria, about woman’s fight for their rights, and about the period Mark Twain dubbed The Gilded Age more available to persons who might not be interested in reading or studying history. Researching the book brought history alive to me the way school never did.

Where does The Coming Woman take place? If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country?

While Victoria’s early days were spent in Ohio and the Midwest, the main part of the story takes place in New York City. We see the city before the Statue of Liberty stood in the harbor, before Ellis Island became the center for immigration influx it did. Victoria owned a brokerage firm on early Wall Street and ran a newspaper on “newspaper row.” And she frequently the famous restaurant Delmonico’s, to name one site still in business today. In her later years she moved to England and managed a huge estate outside of London.

Moving on to personal things...if you could time travel to absolute any time and place in history, where and when would you go and what is it that draws you to this time period? What would you do whilst there?

I think I like the time period I am living in now. I don’t think I would have fared well in Victoria’s time, although hopefully I would have fought for justice and equality as she did.

What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

Publishing this book has been my main goal since I first heard Victoria’s story. I would like to continue writing, and of course see my wonderful granddaughter grow up.

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets?

I do not have any pets at the moment but hope to rescue one before too long. I am definitely a dog person and had a wonderful furry daughter for several years until I lost her suddenly. I still feel her presence and miss her so much. Her name was Angel, and she sure was that.

What a gorgeous girl. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. My heart goes out to you. It sounds like Angel was very loved. Good luck with your book and thank you for joining us today.


Karen Hicks is retired and lives in Henderson, Nevada. She recently published her second novel, The Coming Woman, based on the life of the infamous feminist Victoria C. Woodhull, who was the first woman to run for U.S. President. Her first book was a self-help book titled The Tao of a Uncluttered Life. Karen served as in-house editor for author Steve Allen and has written several screenplays, as well as poetry, short stories, and essays.

Monday, November 24, 2014

New Release from Merry Farmer: Trail of Hope

Trail of Hope (Hot on the Trail #2) by historical romance author Merry Farmer is here!

Are you ready to ride the Oregon Trail? Available RIGHT NOW for only $3.99 on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords: 1-click your copy!


Callie Lewis is alone on the Oregon Trail. After her brother’s death, she has been left to fend for herself on a journey she never wanted to take. Her only hope for safety and a life at the end of the road is to become a trail bride and wed grieving widower John Rye. But John is harboring secrets that could end their hasty marriage before it has a chance to begin.

When a vicious tornado wakes John from the stupor the death of his wife left him in, he is ready to embrace Callie and the new life they could have together. But John is not the only one with designs on his new wife. Miles away from civilization, in a wagon train bristling with secrets and suspicion, John must catch a thief, fend off his rival, and reclaim his life to build the future Callie deserves.

In their darkest moments will they bring each other hope?

PLEASE BE ADVISED - Steam Level: Hot

Trail of Hope is available RIGHT NOW on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords
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About Merry Farmer

Merry FarmerMerry Farmer is an award-winning author of historical romance. She lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats and enough story ideas to keep her writing until she’s 132. Her second novel, The Faithful Heart, was a 2102 RONE Award finalist and her unpublished futuristic novel A Man’s World won first place in the Novel: Character category at the 2013 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. She is out to prove that you can make a living as a self-published author and to help others to do the same.

Find Merry on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Desperate Western Women Face Desperate Times in Sylvia McDaniel's Desperate

Desperate (Lipstick and Lead, #0.5)She didn't know how to flirt and bat her eyes at a man. She didn't know how to be coy and seductive. She didn't play cat and mouse games with anyone. She was a straight shooter. A woman who told you like it was, and if you didn't want to play, then get out of the way.

This is a prequel to a series, a short story that introcuces three sisters and apprises us of their situation. It's Texas in the wild west days; their father has just died, leaving these motherless sisters, ranging in age from 15 to 19, only 30 days to pay the outrageous mortgage on their farm.

Meg is the oldest and the one I like. She wears the pants, literally. She has the gumption to propose to the local sheriff. She even goes so far as to feed the man a stolen ham. I like how quick she is to stick up for herself and argue when she feels others are wrong.

But something bugged me. She wears pants and doesn't want to. She fancies herself a clothing designer and wants to wear pretty dresses but at the same time complains she can't work in clothes like that. Well, if you're such a great designer, design a dress you CAN work in. Hum. She complains about this a lot and in the light of the fact she at the same time claims she's a great designer, I lost sympathy.

The story didn't feel very historical either. Except for the fact they use outhouses and get around via horse and buggy and have a house of ill repute, it could very well have occurred nowadays. The diner scenes especially were too modern. The youngest sister annoyed the heck out of me. She's an insolent little brat and too much of the story is spent focusing on her and Annabelle's cat fight over a man. But even more off-putting for me was the fact this woman/child nearly has sex. She's only 15. This was disgusting to me. We're not reading about the middle ages or the Native tribes here.

It's also historically inaccurate. These gals carry around Baby Colt Dragoons and stand around shooting cans in anger. I counted eight shots (with no reloading) from Ruby alone and a Baby Colt Dragoon only carried 5 rounds. Regardless of whether my research is accurate or not, revolvers back then def didn't carry more than 6 shots. And they didn't have electric lights and I doubt they had lanterns in the closets, so how does Ruby see her employer's son in that dark closet?

And while I appreciated how the story showed us the different troubles women faced trying to work day jobs back then, especially with male employers, Ruby and the historical problems ruined the story for me. It should also be noted that they don't do any bounty hunting in this book. And though I really did like Meg despite the irritating clothing thing, I don't think I'll read the rest of the series.

I actually read this novella in the Wild Western Women anthology, but it's available on its own. I received it from a book publicity service.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

If Lucille Ball Had a Novel of Her Younger Days...It Just May Be Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Funny Girl: A Novel"The BBC is full of horse-racing and variety shows and pop groups who look and sound like cavemen. What will it look like in ten years' time? Fifty? You're already making jokes about lavatories and God knows what. How long before you people decide it's all right to show people taking a shit, so long as some hyena in the audience thinks it's hysterical?"

I've never read Nick Hornby before and had no idea what to expect from this novel. What even convinced me to read it was the fact that I'm a huge I Love Lucy fan and the idea of a young woman trying to be like Lucille Ball and make people laugh from the TV in the 60s really appealed to me.

I'm really glad I took a chance on this. It's incredibly funny. The humor, however, is at times really subtle and embedded in the dialogue. At other times, it's laugh-out-loud hilarious. I can think of two occasions as I read this when I laughed so hard that I had to read aloud, between tears of laughter, the words from this book that cracked me up so because my coworkers demanded to know what was so funny. And they laughed too.

And there's more going on here than just a girl trying to make it big in English television. There's romances among actors. The story makes me think that the actors get a bit confused and don't know when to draw the line between their fictional and their real characters. The desire to continue to please their audience, to continue to have an audience at all times, may often send them into their co-actor's arms. There's the touchy subject of homosexuality in the sixties' Britain. There are people trying to adjust to the changing times, to not be so "stuffy" anymore, to let go of the old and have fun with the new. There's the increasing divorce rate during this time period. I also appreciated the peek into what it was like to work behind the scenes of the BBC, the politics, the writing, all of it.

The variety of characters and the situations they are facing make for interesting reading. The book never gets dull. I also like this author's unique style. I think normally I would complain that I never got in Sophie's head, never felt like I was her, but in this book, it honestly worked. And though I never got "IN" her head, I understood her. Her character is honest and I liked reading her admit her own flaws, such as choosing her career over her ailing father's bedside. At least she's honest.

I imagine that if Lucy was portrayed in a novel of a young girl trying to make it in comedy, this would be it. Well done, Mr. Hornby. I could put this one down in the three days I read it. Great stuff.

I received this via Amazon Vine.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview with Lori Jones

Welcome. You’re here to promote The Beauty of a Second Chance, a Chick Lit. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

Readers, here's a blurb:
The Beauty of a Second Chance: The Sequel to Growing Up BeautifulSixteen years after their European adventure, ex-fashion models Star, Joanne and Casey reunite over lunch and realize they have a lot to talk about.

On Star’s wedding day, her mother-in-law drops a bomb that threatens her marriage and future security. Joanne becomes a reluctant volunteer out to protect a park against development while hesitant to lower her guard for love. Casey struggles to find a job while trying to be her daughter’s friend instead of enemy, and wonders how she can get her son’s Little League coach to play fair.

Now, older and wiser, will these three women use this second chance at friendship to help one another find success and happiness.

The inspiration behind The Beauty of a Second chance came from witnessing a child’s heartache, a teenager’s angst, and a community divided over conflicting values. Writing about situations that happen everywhere on a daily basis gave me the opportunity to place Star, Joanne and Casey right in the middle of the action and give them a second chance to overcome difficult obstacles and find happiness in life.

We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine(s) strong.

Star, Joanne and Casey are already strong women. Their difficulties stem from making decisions based on painful memories and fearful thoughts instead of from their heart. It is only when all three are faced with the loss of love that the swords are drawn and they take on risks that could end up in an all-or-nothing scenario.
Do you see any of yourself in her?

Yes. A little bit of my personality resides in all three. I have experienced the fierce love of a mother, the emotional pull of a dependent daughter seeking independence, and harsh judgment from others.

Was there any particular part of this story that was the hardest for you to write? Tell me why.

Writing is pure joy for me except for the love scenes. When I write at my local library, I find myself peeking over my shoulder to make sure no one is behind me, reading what I’m typing.

LOL. I've done that myself. 

What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search? 

One of the story lines deals with a wealthy individual that tried to build a private office on public parkland. My research came from throwing myself 100% into a similar real-life situation. Being an integral part of the action gave me more information than I could incorporate into the story. I added just enough information to let readers decide on which side of the debate they would stand on.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something about a particular subject/person, ponder a point?

The points to ponder in The Beauty of a Second Chance deal with youth sports, land conservancy, and the ‘dreaded’ mother-in-law. My man goal when I write is to entertain, however, if readers walk in the shoes of my characters and finish the story contemplating a different perspective; that is a bonus.

Your book takes place in Malibu. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country?

Stand anywhere on the beach and gaze out over the vast ocean and blue sky, listen to the crashing waves and call of seagulls. It is one of Mother Nature’s best shows.

Moving on to personal things...if you could time travel to absolute any time and place in history, where and when would you go and what is it that draws you to this time period? What would you do whilst there?

I would love to go back to Paris in the 1920’s and have a conversation with Degas, Dali, and Picasso and many of the other great artists before they were famous. As a writer I think it would be fascinating to know their personalities instead of just their artwork. I’d ask them how old they were when they first picked up a brush, and what career they would they fall back on if they didn’t make it painting.

What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?
I can’t think of anything except to keep on doing what I’ve been doing; loving my family, fighting for causes I believe in, volunteering in my community, traveling, and writing.

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

I currently have three cats. They make me laugh almost everyday, and keep me company when I write. What’s not to love about them!

Thanks, Lori, for joining us today and sharing your book, cats, and interests.


About Lori:

I wrote my first book in elementary school with a #2 pencil, graduated high school, fell in love a few times, debated college but ended up traveling abroad for six years, returned to America and went to college, had two amazing sons, accumulated a mountain of a journals along the way & now devote most of my time to writing about the adventures I lived, laughed and cried through.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Secrets of a Charmed Life: Powerfully Moving, Riveting, Thought-Evoking Historical Drama

Secrets of a Charmed LifeWhat good is remembering an event if you don't remember how it made you feel. How it impacted others. How it made them feel. You would learn nothing and neither would anyone else.

I love being shocked, being forced to think, and becoming completely engrossed in someone else's story. This book certainly didn't disappoint. I was sucked in by the engaging narrative. I was left in suspense as to the ending. I was forced to think hard on the issue it tackles: blame. Notably blaming oneself for things out of one's control.

And this was a good lesson for me right now.

The lowdown: It's London, WWII; the actual focus is what happens during the Blitz. Though the story delves into the before and after, it's about how the Blitz completely changed the course of people's lives: two sisters, their mother, an "aunt", and more. Hardly a single soul went unaffected. It's about family being torn apart and while you could point the finger at so-and-so for having done this and so-and-so for not having done that, in the end, the blame lies with war itself.

It's about blame, beating one self up, and there's a side story about being forced to grow up before one's time. Being forced to be a mother when one isn't. Taking on more responsibility than one is ready for. So many lessons wrapped up in these pages.

And there's a mystery too, one you can never possibly figure out till the very end. Yet we can make assumptions. It's like a guessing game. In the end I was blown away by how many people were involved and didn't even realize it.

Imagine living that way for real. What happened to her? Did she die? Did someone find her? Was it my fault? Imagine thinking that for twenty years, and you'll be in Emmy's shoes. I love the way this story came together; the brides dresses, the umbrellas, the names. I felt for both heroines. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. And because so much of this tale could be considered spoilers, I hesitate to write paragraphs explaining what happens. This is one you need to read for yourself. You won't regret it.  In the end, I was amazed at how so many people were involved, at who made errors in judgement and didn't realize what they were doing.

The writing is stellar and engrossing. Not too much of anything; not too little. The modern story is very minimal and you only need it to tie things together, but this didn't bother me at all. It worked well. There wasn't enough of it to distract me from the history and lesson and the story of mothers and daughters and sisters within the pages. And the final lesson (at least to me): the closest you get to a "charmed" life is allowing yourself to be happy.

I received this via Goodreads Firstreads.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Day of Fire: Various Authors Band Together to Tell the Fiery Tale of Pompeii

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Please join historical novelists Vicky Alvear Shecter, Sophie Perinot, Ben Kane, Kate Quinn, E. Knight, and Stephanie Dray as they tour the blogosphere for A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, from October 27-December 5 with HF Virtual Book Tours, and enter to win a copy!

01_A Day of Fire CoverPompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek resurrection and redemption as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?


The first story...I was afraid I would have to take Ms. Moran's advice in the foreword and skip to the next. The premise given on the back cover is a simple sentence. "A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets." And considering the story opens with a boy excited about visiting a tavern wench for some skin action, you can see why I was reluctant. Unless you're into erotica.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised and glad I didn't skip it. The author is a genius for making us think one thing and yet presenting us with another. Just who has the dirty minds, eh? Regardless, this story was very enjoyable, as see that what separates the men from the boys has nothing to do with tavern wenches or pleasures of the flesh. It's honor and integrity.

The second story follows a young girl dreading her upcoming marriage to a "boring", old man. There's a similar moral here about what makes a man a true man, a man worth desiring. It has nothing to do with looks or sweet words, but will he protect and respect you?

The third was just too much testosterone for me. But the fourth...the fourth was probably my favorite. It follows a depressed senator who sees this as his chance to die, but a fiery horsewoman comes to his rescue in more ways than one. I loved both characters and the story made me chuckle a few times despite the seriousness of their situation. This was absolutely superb writing from Kate Quinn. And the way the woman and the man team up to save each other...especially the determination of the woman just wowed me. I also loved how she wanted so badly to save someone. The moral in this...there's always something to live for.

The last two stories, I'm hard pressed to come up with a moral. Naturally, there were not really many survivors of Pompeii. An earthquake was followed by the raining of ash and the eruption of a volcano. (That's the extent of my knowledge.) Some got away, but many of them were buried alive or caught in the black river. Needless to say, there were some unhappy endings. The story about the pregnant woman was bittersweet and sad. Extremely well written. I was torn about this one. It is tragic, romantic, and something else I can't find the word for. I thought it crazy that the woman finally gets a say in her life and it's such a hard choice to make.

Pre-order/Buy the Book

About the Authors

Stephanie Dray
STEPHANIE DRAY is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical Nile series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt's ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Learn more at

Ben KaneBEN KANE worked as a veterinarian for sixteen years, but his love of ancient history and historical fiction drew him to write fast-paced novels about Roman soldiers, generals and gladiators. Irish by nationality but UK-based, he is the author of seven books, the last five of which have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers.Ben’s books have been translated into ten languages. In 2013, Ben walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall with two other authors, for charity; he did so in full Roman military kit, including hobnailed boots. He repeated the madness in 2014, over 130 miles in Italy. Over $50,000 has been raised with these two efforts. Learn more at

Eliza KnightE. KNIGHT is an award-winning, indie national best-selling author historical fiction. Under the name, Eliza Knight she writes historical romance and time-travel. Her debut historical fiction novel, MY LADY VIPER, has received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Historical Novel Society 2015 Annual Indie Award. She regularly presents on writing panels and was named Romance Writer’s of America’s 2013 PRO Mentor of the Year. Eliza lives in Maryland atop a small mountain with a knight, three princesses and a very naughty puppy. For more information, visit Eliza at

Sophie PerinotSOPHIE PERINOT is the author of the acclaimed debut, The Sister Queens, which weaves the story of medieval sisters Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence who became queens of France and England respectively. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. A long-time member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences, serving as a panelist at the most recent. When she is not visiting corners of the past, Sophie lives in Great Falls, VA. Learn more at

Kate QuinnKATE QUINN is the national bestselling author of the Empress of Rome novels, which have been variously translated into thirteen different languages. She first got hooked on Roman history while watching "I, Claudius" at the age of seven, and wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome. She and her husband now live in Maryland with an imperious black dog named Caesar. Learn more at

Vicky Alvear ShecterVICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the award-winning author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. The LA Times called Cleopatra’s Moon--set in Rome and Egypt--"magical" and "impressive." Publisher’s Weekly said it was "fascinating" and "highly memorable." Her young adult novel of Pompeii, Curses and Smoke (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic), released in June 2014. She has two other upcoming books for younger readers, Anubis Speaks! and Hades Speaks! Vicky is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. Learn more at


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