Monday, April 30, 2018

[Timeless Tour] Q & A with Susanna Kearsley, author of BELLEWETHER


For today's Timeless Tour post I have a Q & A with Susanna Kearsley, author of BELLEWETHER!


Q & A

1. What draws you to writing historical fiction?

I was born into a family of amateur genealogists, so for as long as I can remember I’ve had this strong sense of connection to my ancestors. I grew up seeing their photographs and portraits, reading their wills and their letters, knowing details of their everyday lives and the work they did, and this made them very real people for me. So when I was studying the Napoleonic wars at school, I’d be thinking of my ancestor who’d claimed that as a boy he’d heard the cannons on the battlefield at Waterloo, and when I was studying the Industrial Revolution I’d be thinking about my ancestors who moved from mill town to mill town across the north of England to find work as weavers. And that’s something I still enjoy—putting a personal face on the past.

2. What is your writing process like? For example, do you listen to music, do you plan or just wing it when you write?

My writing process isn’t elaborate. I can write pretty much anywhere, as long as it’s quiet—no music, no talking—or I have white noise on my headphones. I don’t have an outline. I do a lot of research, but the storytelling part is very subconscious-driven. I let the characters loose on the page and they lead me where they want to go, so when I sit down each day I only have a very general sense of what I think might happen. I might think, “This is where she should go to New York and talk to her cousin.” But the characters might lead me somewhere entirely different that day, and I’ve learned that it’s best just to follow them.

3. How do you go about writing your characters into history? Do you start with the historical elements or the characters?

With most of my books, I’m dealing with a specific historical event or a short span of time, so I start with that, and as I’m doing my research and reading the primary documents—letters and journals and anything else I can find from the period—I start to look for the people that I might be able to use in the story. There will be real people whose voices come through particularly clearly for me, or who capture my interest for various reasons, and then there will be spaces I know I’ll want to fill with invented characters. But the history is the starting point.   


4. If you had to pick a song (or songs) that would make up a playlist for BELLEWETHER, what would you choose, and why?

It’s interesting that you should ask that because, even though I write in silence, I gather a playlist of songs on my iPod to play between sessions. Some songs, I’ve learned, set certain characters in motion in my mind, and while the music’s playing, it’s as though I’m watching a short film in my imagination. The playlist for BELLEWETHER ended up being fairly long, with some songs for the present and some for the past, but there were two songs that straddled both storylines with equal resonance—Human, by Christina Perri, which seemed to speak for both heroines and their situations, and Breathe, by Ryan Star, which gave a voice to both the heroes.

5. In one or two sentences, how would you pitch BELLEWETHER to someone who hasn’t heard of it before? 

I would probably tell them it’s the story of a young museum curator, trying to keep her balance and hold everyone together in the wake of a family tragedy, who finds a reflection of her own struggles in the story she uncovers of a woman living in the same historic house three hundred years earlier.




ABOUT BELLEWETHER:
Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.
About Susanna Kearsley

A former museum curator, Susanna Kearsley brings her passion for research and travel to her novels, weaving modern-day and historical intrigue. She won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Award for her novel Mariana, the 2010 Romantic Times Book Review’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction novel for The Winter Sea, was shortlisted for a 2012 RITA Award for The Rose Garden, and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada for Every Secret Thing. Visit her at SusannaKearsley.com or follow her on Twitter @SusannaKearsley.

Follow Susanna: Facebook | Twitter


Follow along with the Timeless Tour on the tour website, www.timelesstour.ca.



You can also find a tour schedule on my
[Timeless Tour] Kick Off Questions & Full Tour Schedule post.




What did you think of Susanna's answers?
Are you planning to add Bellewether to your to-read list?

Friday, April 27, 2018

[Timeless Tour] Review: BELLEWETHER by Susanna Kearsley


For my Timeless Tour post today I'm sharing my review for Susanna Kearsley's BELLEWETHER!

Scroll to read about BELLEWETHER and Susanna Kearsley, after that you'll find my review. ;)




 Source: Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada
to participate in the Timeless Tour and give an honest review.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Number of Pages: 414 (Paperback)

DESCRIPTION

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.
About Susanna Kearsley

A former museum curator, Susanna Kearsley brings her passion for research and travel to her novels, weaving modern-day and historical intrigue. She won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Award for her novel Mariana, the 2010 Romantic Times Book Review’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction novel for The Winter Sea, was shortlisted for a 2012 RITA Award for The Rose Garden, and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada for Every Secret Thing. Visit her at SusannaKearsley.com or follow her on Twitter @SusannaKearsley.

Follow Susanna: Facebook | Twitter

REVIEW

I've been reading historical fiction for a while now, but somehow this was my first time reading one of Susanna Kearsley's books...I can definitely say that it won't be my last though because I absolutely loved BELLEWETHER!

I've always been a fan of multi-POV stories, and I love split-timeline narratives, so I really loved how BELLEWETHER was organized. I loved that you got to see Charley's POV in the present time paralleled against Lydia and Jean-Philippe's POVs set in the past, and I really, really loved how the two stories interconnected. Susanna Kearlsey wove the two narratives together perfectly and I loved how when something would happen in one of the narratives, the following section would make it that much clearer in the present part of the story. It was extremely well done and a very thoughtful method of storytelling that kept me riveted to the page!

And the romance! Oh boy, did I ever love the romance in BELLEWETHER! I loved Lydia and Jean-Philippe, and I also loved the budding romance in Charley's storyline...I totally called that one and I was so glad that I was right! With Lydia and Jean-Philippe, I loved seeing how their relationship shifted as they got to know one another, and I loved getting to see glimpses of it through Charley's eyes in the present, too...it was like a little romantic mystery wrapped perfectly into the story and I loved it. I also loved being pulled into Lydia and Jean-Philippe's world. Their clothing, way of life, the setting, and everything going on around them were described impeccably and I really loved getting to experience the atmosphere of 19th century America. And I also loved everything about Charley's storyline, from her job to her coworkers to her family...everything! I loved getting excited over the Wilde family's history just as much as she did, and I thought that she was a wonderful character to view the story through.

Now...it's time for me to address the ghost in the description. ;) While I tend to stay away from scary things and haven't read many books involving ghosts, I really loved how the whole paranormal elements of the plot came into play in BELLEWETHER. The ghost definitely wasn't scary. Instead, it added an element of mystery and whimsy to the story that I didn't expect and I actually ended up loving the ghostly parts!

Overall, I thought that BELLEWETHER was absolutely wonderful! I loved the characters, and I adored how Susanna wove the story back-and-forth between the present and the past. It fit the stories together seamlessly and I loved both storylines so much! I'd recommend BELLEWETHER to historical fiction fans who like a little bit of mystery mixed in with some romance, and readers who love stories that fully immerse them in different times and places!



Follow along with the Timeless Tour on the tour website, www.timelesstour.ca.



You can also find a tour schedule on my
[Timeless Tour] Kick Off Questions & Full Tour Schedule post.




What do you think?
Does Bellewether sound like something you'd like to read?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

[Timeless Tour] Q & A with Kim Van Alkemade, author of BACHELOR GIRL


Today's Timeless Tour post is a Q & A with Kim van Alkemade, the author of BACHELOR GIRL!


Q & A

1. What draws you to writing historical fiction?

To me, learning about history is like reading a collection of fascinating true stories. My grandmother, who lived to be 98 years old, was born in Manhattan in 1918, so I feel especially connected to early twentieth-century New York. Although they take place in other times and places, historical events are, at heart, about the people who lived them. I love combining imagination and research to create historical worlds where my characters can tell their stories while readers learn something new about our common human experience.


2. What is your writing process like? For example, do you listen to music, do you plan or just wing it when you write?

I always have a plan before I start writing, but I stay open to the surprises that come along during the drafting process. I like a silent room while I write. When things are really flowing, I lose track of time and get immersed in the process. Drafting, for me, is the hardest part, so I set word-count goals every day until I have a complete draft. I really like the process of rewriting and revising, which is where the characters and the story begin to come alive for me. Editing is like the icing on the cake! I am so thrilled to get to the point where my biggest concern is which word to choose. 


3. How do you go about writing your characters into history? Do you start with the historical elements or the characters?

I like inserting fictional characters into a historical situation. By fictionalizing historical characters, it makes it seem as if the characters I invented really could have lived in a specific time and place. I am a huge fan of E. L. Doctorow’s approach to historical fiction—I read Ragtime every couple of years to keep it fresh in my mind—and I am so inspired by his audacity in creating a fictional version of the historical world. If I am successful, then my reader won’t quite be able to tell where the historical world ends and the fictional one begins.


4. If you had to pick a song (or songs) that would make up a playlist for BACHELOR GIRL, what would you choose, and why?

In Bachelor Girl, there is a scene in a black-and-tan club in Harlem where I imagined the band performing Bessie Smith numbers, and in Antonio’s, the Greenwich Village club I imagined where Albert would meet up with his friends, I evoked songs by Gladys Bentley, a blues singer famous as part of the Harlem Renaissance.


5. In one or two sentences, how would you pitch BACHELOR GIRL to someone who hasn’t heard of it before?

Bachelor Girl is the story of an actress in jazz Age New York City who finds the courage to pursue her profession—and her heart’s desire—after a surprise inheritance from the millionaire owner of the Yankees baseball team.



ABOUT BACHELOR GIRL:
NOW AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Bachelor Girl plunges the reader deep into life during the Jazz Age…and the revealing of other secrets and confessions will keep readers up all night looking for answers.” —Booklist, starred review

From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel in the vein of Lilac Girls and The Alice Network about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.

When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other.

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.
About Kim van Alkemade:

Kim van Alkemade is the author of the historical novels Orphan #8 and Bachelor Girl. Her creative nonfiction essays have appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, CutBank, and So To Speak. Born in New York City, she earned a BA in English and history from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a Professor in the English Department at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches writing.

Follow Kim: Facebook | Twitter


Follow along with the Timeless Tour on the tour website, www.timelesstour.ca.



You can also find a tour schedule on my
[Timeless Tour] Kick Off Questions & Full Tour Schedule post.




What did you think of Kim's answers?
Are you adding Bachelor Girl to your to-read list?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: VICIOUS (Sinners of Saint #1) by L.J. Shen

Source: Purchased kindle and paperback copies.
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Number of Pages: 328 (Kindle)

Description:

Emilia

They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true.
The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares.
He is a brilliant lawyer.
A skilled criminal.
A beautiful liar.
A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.
Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.

Vicious

She is a starving artist.
Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom.
Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down.
She paid the price.
Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate.
That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t.
So she hates me. Big fucking deal.
She better get used to me.


Well this review is a long, long time coming! :D

I first read VICIOUS in January 2017 and I've read it several times since then. That first time that I read it was just a few days into the New Year. I started it and couldn't stop reading until I'd finished! As soon as I put the book down, I knew that I'd read something special. Something that would stick with me for a very long time, and sure enough, by the end of 2017, it was still my top read all year. It's been over a year now, and I've since reread it multiple times--as an ebook, in paperback, and also as an audio. I've loved it in every format and I can honestly say that I think the audiobook is absolutely phenomenal, too!

I'm a huge romance reader, so the description for VICIOUS intrigued me right away, but I'd never really been one to read romances with heroes that aren't exactly nice guys, so I wasn't sure how I would feel about the main character, Emilia's love interest, Vicious. I started the book thinking that he was awful...but somehow, the more that I read, the more L. J. Shen managed to make me fall further and further in love with Vicious. He's dark, he's unapologetically rude...he is oh, so selfish, but he's 100% true to himself and when he does let someone in, he lets them in fully and he protects and supports them in a way that is simply irresistible. He's captivating, powerful, passionate...and he's really, really raw and dirty.

If any of that appeals to you...you seriously need to pick this book up. I'd recommend it in any format you can find. If you like ebooks, you'll love it. Paperbacks, you'll love it, too. Audiobooks...oh, yeah, you'll definitely love it! Highly, highly recommend! I also highly recommend all of L. J. Shen's other books--I've loved every single one of her books!



Have you read VICIOUS or one of L. J. Shen's other books yet?

If you have, thoughts???
If you haven't, why not???

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

[Timeless Tour] Review: COME FROM AWAY by Genevieve Graham


For my Timeless Tour post today I'm sharing my review for Genevieve Graham's COME FROM AWAY!

Scroll on down to read about COME FROM AWAY and Genevieve Graham, after that you'll find my review. ;)




 Source: Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada
to participate in the Timeless Tour and give an honest review.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Number of Pages: 256 (Paperback)

DESCRIPTION

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.

Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.

Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
About Genevieve Graham

Genevieve Graham is the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit her at GenevieveGraham.com or on Twitter @GenGrahamAuthor.

Follow Genevieve: Facebook | Twitter

REVIEW

I've been a fan of Genevieve Graham's for a while now, and ever since she began bringing Canadian history into historical fiction, I've loved her even more! I've eagerly awaited each of her books set around important events in Canadian history since the first one, TIDES OF HONOUR, which revolved around the Halifax Explosion. As soon as I heard about COME FROM AWAY and learned that it would be a follow-up to TIDES OF HONOUR, I was ecstatic! I couldn't wait to see what had happened to the Bakers and I was thoroughly excited to see where there were at...and let me tell you, COME FROM AWAY didn't disappoint! In fact, I'd actually say that COME FROM AWAY is my favourite out of all of Genevieve's books so far!

If you're a fan of TIDES OF HONOUR, or Genevieve's last book, PROMISES TO KEEP, then I think you'll love COME FROM AWAY, too! It still contains all of the wonderful aspects of her previous books that you surely love and as per her previous two books, she's pulled in interesting tidbits surrounding Canada's history, this time centred around World War II. I've loved her previous books, but COME FROM AWAY just pulled on my heartstrings sooooo much! I couldn't help loving it! To start with, I really loved how she developed both Grace and Rudi's characters! And I love, love, loved how their relationship developed! It had me sighing, swooning, and just grinning like crazy! :D

Along with the fabulous Grace and Rudi, I loved all of the other characters, too, especially Grace's family! It was so neat to see them all so many years after TIDES OF HONOUR, and I love how their lives were all intertwined! It made me feel as if I was part of the family, too. I also loved getting to see a completely different side of life during World War II through Grace and her family. I've always considered myself extremely fortunate to not know what it's like to experience war like so many of our ancestors have, so it was a very humbling experience to put myself in Grace's shoes. I love that Genevieve showed what life could have been like back home in Canada while the soldiers were fighting on (mostly) distant shores. It put so many things into perspective, and I really loved that COME FROM AWAY pushed me to think more critically while also making me swoon!

Overall, I thought that COME FROM AWAY was absolutely wonderful! Genevieve Graham has delivered a story that will leave you breathless. One that will make you think, and reconsider preconceived notions that you've had in the past, and one that will have make you—above all else—feel! COME FROM AWAY pulled me in from the very first page, and once I met Grace and Rudi, there was no turning back! I highly recommend COME FROM AWAY! It's perfect for readers who already love historical fiction, but it would also be a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to delve into the genre because it's approachable, compelling, and extremely well crafted!



Follow along with the Timeless Tour on the tour website, www.timelesstour.ca.



You can also find a tour schedule on my
[Timeless Tour] Kick Off Questions & Full Tour Schedule post.




What do you think?
Have you read any of Genevieve Graham's historical fiction books that are centred around Canadian history?
Does Come From Away sound like something you'd like to read?

Monday, April 23, 2018

[Timeless Tour] Written Piece from Kim Van Alkemade, author of BACHELOR GIRL


For today's Timeless Tour I have a written piece from Kim van Alkemade, author of BACHELOR GIRL!


WRITTEN PIECE

Setting the Stage/Using Historical New York as Inspiration 

New York City is a great source of inspiration for me. Me, my mom, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother were all born in Manhattan so I feel a strong connection to the place—my parents even met in the Empire State Building! There are so many traces still today of historical sites from the turn of the last century that I am able to actually go to the places I am writing about, and the abundance of museums and libraries and archives means I always have something new to discover about the history of the city and the people who live there.



ABOUT BACHELOR GIRL:
NOW AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Bachelor Girl plunges the reader deep into life during the Jazz Age…and the revealing of other secrets and confessions will keep readers up all night looking for answers.” —Booklist, starred review

From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel in the vein of Lilac Girls and The Alice Network about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.

When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other.

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.
About Kim van Alkemade:

Kim van Alkemade is the author of the historical novels Orphan #8 and Bachelor Girl. Her creative nonfiction essays have appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, CutBank, and So To Speak. Born in New York City, she earned a BA in English and history from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a Professor in the English Department at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches writing.

Follow Kim: Facebook | Twitter


Follow along with the Timeless Tour on the tour website, www.timelesstour.ca.



You can also find a tour schedule on my
[Timeless Tour] Kick Off Questions & Full Tour Schedule post.




What did you think of Kim's written piece?
Do you have any places that inspire you?