Friday, September 30, 2011

Giveaway Time! Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

I am fortunate to have an extra copy of the lovely new release, Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman and I would love to share it with the wonderful followers of my blog!

To enter, you must be a follower of this blog (or become a follower) -- please leave a comment with contact information, and one lucky winner will receive a copy of Wildflower Hill. Open to U.S. residents only.

Here is the book synopsis:

Spanning three generations and half the world, Wildflower Hill is a sweeping, romantic, and compelling story of two women who share a legacy of secrets, heartbreak, courage, and love.

Emma, a prima ballerina in London, is at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. Forced to rest and take stock of her life, she finds that she's mistaken fame and achievement for love and fulfillment. Returning home to Australia, she learns of her grandmother Beatrice's death and a strange inheritance: a sheep station in isolated rural Australia. Certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden, Enma prepares to leave for Wildflower Hill to sell the estate.

Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success -- but only after folloiwng an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma's heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.

Wildflower Hill is a compelling, atmospheric, and romantic novel about taking risks, starting again, and believing in yourself. It's about finding out what you really want and discovering that the answer might be not at all what you'd expect.

***Winner will be randomly chosen and announced October 15, 2011. Good luck!***


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart

About the Anthology:

"My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy's heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen -- her novels, her life, her wit, her world. Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history's most cherished authors.(from the publisher)

My thoughts:

Can Austen fans ever get enough of quality Austen-inspired sequels, prequels, retellings, and story continuations? I don't think so! Actually, you don't have to be a Janeite to enjoy this creative collection of short stories as there is enough variety here to entertain a wide reading audience.

Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and the creator of the popular Austenprose blog, assembled her dream team of authors to create stories based on Austen's novels and her world. Challenging the authors to remain true to Austen's novels, spirit and philosophies of life and love, twenty-two stories with unique interpretations were created for the anthology and include contributions from top-notch authors such as Lauren Willig, Stephanie Barron, Syrie James, Adriana Trigiani, Monica Fairview, Amanda Grange, and Laurie Viera Rigler, just to name a few, and a contest-winning story from aspiring author Brenna Aubrey.

Here's a sampling of what readers can expect from this creative anthology:

In "Jane Austen's Nightmare" by Syrie James, Jane is plagued by a nightmare in which she encounters her characters while taking a walk, and they are not very happy about the way she has created them (with a few exceptions being the blissfully happily married couples from P&P.)

If you've ever watched an episode of Ghost Hunters on the SyFy channel, you'll get a kick out of Lauren Willig's spoof in "A Night at Northanger."

Fans of Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mystery series will enjoy another mini- installment of Austen-as-sleuth in "Jane and the Gentleman Rogue."

Adriana Trigiani's lovely creation, "Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane," is a beautiful story celebrating the art of letter writing with a modern-day Austen giving her soon-to-be-wed niece advice from the heart. Have a hankie will tug at your heart!

Laurie Viera Rigler imagines Mr. Darcy bringing charges against authors of Pride and Prejudice spin-offs in "Intolerable Stupidity," a courtroom drama with none other than the honorable judge, Lady Catherine de Bourgh presiding!

My advice.......set aside a quiet evening, curl up with a cup of tea or glass of wine, and settle in for a celebration of all things Austen in Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Available October 2011

**Thank you to Laurel Ann Nattress and Random House for sending me an advance copy for review. You can visit Austenprose and the blog Jane Austen Made Me Do It for more information about events and news.**

4.5/5 stars

Title: Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Editor: Laurel Ann Nattress
Random House
445 pages
genre: Anthology of Austen-inspired stories

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Queen's Gamble by Barbara Kyle

Book Synopsis:

Young Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears that once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.
Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—-Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.
Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…


My thoughts:

I'm always on the lookout for great historical fiction authors, and Barbara Kyle is a new-to-me author. When Cheryl @ Pump Up Your Book asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing The Queen's Gamble by Barbara Kyle, I jumped at the chance to discover someone new. Although The Queen's Gamble is part of the Tudor-era Thornleigh series and is the fourth installment, it was fine as a stand-alone novel.

Set during the rich and excting period in history when Queen Elizabeth I reigned and faced her first major crisis, The Queen's Gamble focuses on the story of Isabel Thornleigh and her husband, Carlos. It is an exciting tale filled with elements that create page-turning drama: danger and secrets plots, hostages, tested relationships and loyalty, Catholic and Protestant zeal....and many twists and surprises. Kyle's writing gives the reader an excellent sense of time and place and keeps the story going forward with a fast-moving plot. I will definitely be exploring her earlier titles in The Thornleigh series and highly recommend The Queen's Gamble.


Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series of novels, which have been published internationally: The Queen’s Captive, The Queen’s Lady, and The King’s Daughter, praised by Publishers Weekly as “a complex and fast-paced plot, mixing history with vibrant characters.” Her new novel, The Queen’s Gamble, was released in August, 2011.

Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’, including Beyond Recall (a Literary Guild Selection), After Shock and The Experiment. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold.

Barbara has taught courses for writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations.

Before becoming an author, Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.

Visit for more information about the author and her works.

To follow Barbara Kyle on her virtual tour, click here.

***I received an advance uncorrected proof in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Crime Through Time: Original Tales of Historical Mystery

"The Best in Mystery Take on History......

Today's best American and British mystery authors are featured in this outstanding collection of original historical mysteries. The stories in Crime Through Time span thousands of years -- from Steven Saylor's ancient Rome to Anne Perry's Victorian England -- and feature an amazing variety of detectives -- from Peter Lovesey's Prince Albert to Maan Meyer's Charles Dicken to Laurie King's Mrs. Hudson, housekeeper to Sherlock Holmes and a star sleuth in her own right.

This one-of-a-kind anthology will appeal to history buffs, mystery buffs, and anyone who loves a good story."

My thoughts:

I picked up this historical mystery collection for one reason: I'm a big fan of Regency mystery author Kate Ross and unfortunately this talented author had time to create only four wonderful novels and one (that I know of) published short story before her passing. This Crime Through Time anthology includes her short story featuring Regency dandy sleuth, Julian Kestrel, in The Lullaby Cheat.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a very nice mix of historical periods and enjoyed selections from Anne Perry, Laurie King, and other top historical mystery writers. Entries are arranged in chronological order based on the setting and include Ancient Thebes and Rome; twelfth-century Spain, Elizabethan England, seventeenth-century Salem, Regency and Victorian England, nineteenth-century Germany, America, and England; and World War II America.

Here's a sampling of some of the short stories:

Archimedes' Tomb by Steven Saylor

The Hangman's Apprentice by Leonard Tourney

Suffer a Witch by Miriam Monfredo

The Lullaby Cheat by Kate Ross

Mrs. Hudson's Case by Laurie King

3.5/5 stars

Title: Crime Through Time: Original Tales of Historical Mystery
Edited by Miriam Monfredo & Sharon Newman
373 pages
Berkley Mystery

Thursday, September 1, 2011

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

"For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890's, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game."
(from Goodreads)

my thoughts:

Mitchell's She Walks in Beauty is one of those delightful reads, one that is sure to please those who enjoy a charming love story.

Set against the glittering backdrop of banquets and balls during New York's Gilded Age, Clara's story is a real eye-opening experience of what the social season entailed for nineteenth century young ladies. Debutantes were strictly guided in the rules of the "game" for the coveted "prize". The rigid rules set by society forced uncomfortable and often painful lacing into tight corsets to achieve a tiny waist, and the slightest impropriety could likely cause a scandal. The prize, of course, was the proposal of marriage from the most eligible and wealthy bachelor.

Clara is forced by her father and overbearing aunt to do her best to attract the attention -- and a proprosal of marriage -- from Franklin De Vries, the wealthiest of all eligible bachelors. His younger brother Harry, however, is the one who captures Clara's attentions and she would like nothing more to have the freedom to make her own choices in life. If it were only possible, she would shun the endless rounds of parties and shopping and strict training for her role in society. When she expresses her fears to her aunt that marriage to the De Vries heir would not likely bring her happiness, her aunt's icy response was a reflection of the times:

"Marriage is not meant to be a paradise. It's an institution. One which
you are destined to enter."

Life becomes even more complicated for Clara when her dearest friend, Lizzy, becomes a competitor to catch Franklin De Vries. At every turn, Clara seems to have something to lose....her friendships, her freedom, her sense of self, her hope for a happy future....I felt so badly for her as she was a sacrificial lamb being brought to the slaughter for the sake of her ambitious father and aunt.

Family secrets add a bit of mystery to the main storyline...and a surprising turn of events finally provides Clara with an opportunity to take control of her own destiny. She Walks in Beauty is a truly heartwarming story with lessons for all girls and women without being preachy.


Title: She Walks in Beauty
Author: Siri Mitchell
Bethany House Publishers
400 pages
genre: historical romance; Christian historical romance

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »