Category Archives: April

Review: Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice (The Austen Project #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld

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About Eligible

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

My Review

Sittenfeld delivers an incredibly edgy modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Borrowing certain aspects from the original, we are quickly ushered into current times. A few similarities blended with new twists and thoughts deliver an unforgettable plot along with characters.

Chip and Darcy both add a new flavor and perspective in this contemporary interpretation. I found Mr Bennett absolutely hilarious with his hysterical one liners leaving me impressed with the many writing facets of Sittenfeld proving she is a well-rounded writer with a knack for smart witt. The Bennett sisters were a motley crew, with the exception of Jane and Liz I didn’t care for the others brash and hardness, totally unpolished and coarse.

As much as I enjoyed this clever retelling I found it almost too modern for my taste preferring more of a middle of the road sample relying on a preferred mix leaning towards a hefty chunk of old vs. contemporary without going over the top. I do hold Sittenfeld’s vision in high regard, the plot and characters are somewhat intricate.

No doubt most will find this an entertaining read mostly due to the author and her depth of creativity.

About Curtis Sittenfeld6429

Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the new novel Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (due out April 2016) as well as the bestselling novels Sisterland, American Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Curtis’s writing has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Vanity Fair,Time, Slate, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she currently lives in St. Louis, MO.

Published April 19th 2016 by Random House

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Review

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Fulfillment Series by Erin Rhew

Today, I’m joined by one half of the Rhewination: Erin Rhew. For those that don’t know, Erin is a young adult fantasy author who is married to adult thriller author, Deek Rhew. Together, they are “the Rhews,” and their street team is the Rhewination!

Deek and Erin– Join the Rhewination! 😉

Last week, Deek went on blog tour to celebrate the release of his latest book, 122 Rules. And this week, Erin is on tour to promote her fantasy trilogy, The Fulfillment Series! PS. There’s a giveaway–a $50 Amazon gift card!!

So, here’s a little bit more about Erin, Deek, and The Fulfillment Series:

The Prophecy (Fulfillment Series Book 1)

Title: The Prophecy
Author: Erin Rhew
Publisher: BookFish Books
Cover Design: Anita at Race-Point
Available Now! Amazon Buy Link 
 
Synopsis: 

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He’s grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear…not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction–for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash’s secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.


The Outlanders (Fulfillment Series Book 2) 

 
Title: The Outlanders
Author: Erin Rhew
Publisher: BookFish Books
Cover Design: Anita at Race-Point
Available Now! Amazon Buy Link 

The Fulfillment (Fulfillment Series Book 3)

Title: The Fulfillment
Author: Erin Rhew
Publisher: BookFish Books
Cover Design: Anita at Race-Point
Available Now! Amazon Buy Link

About Erin Rhew

Erin Rhew

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side. 

Connect with Erin Online!

For the latest and greatest, visit her web page:

About Deek Rhew

 
Deek Rhew

Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords. He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town–with antique shops and bakeries–they call home.

Connect with Deek Online!

 

For the latest and greatest, visit his web page:

Find Deek’s Novels Online!

Random Fun With Deek and Erin

Always laughing together
Celebrating their anniversary in style! 😉
Enjoying every moment!
Their cat and literary assistant, Trinity–leader of Rhewination!
Sharing every secret and every facet of life with each other!

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Want a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card?

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Spotlight

Review: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

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About The Rivals of Versailles

And you thought sisters were a thing to fear! In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.

The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms.

All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.

Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour. Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time.

In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a kind, and her role in shaping a nation.

Told in Christie’s witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.

My Review

Impressed with Christie’s first novel in the trilogy The Sisters of Versailles, I couldn’t wait to read her interpretation of Madame de Pompadour. I was taken with Jeanne from the start, her determination piqued my interest, I knew her journey would be riveting. Jeanne possessed intelligence along with tenacity allowing her to remain two steps ahead of her rivals, never flinching, always calm and assured in retaining her place by her beloved King. Smatterings of humor and shrewd calculated plans created great interest on Jeanne’s part giving the narrative an anticipated jolt from time to time. I wasn’t a fan of King Louis XV in book one, and this book serves to fuel my distaste, the man is loathsome.

Christie’s detail of court life along with its machinations – power, politics, and sex as well as a glimpse into the bourgeois class along with praise and criticism of the King including an assassination attempt immerse the reader into the era without question.

A wonderful story delving into one of the most renowned women in history. Although this is book two in the trilogy, it reads fine as a standalone any biographical historical fiction fan with an appreciation of incredibly intelligent, savvy and strong women.

About Sally ChristieSC2-200x300

Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it.

Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment.

When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic.

Connect with SallyWebsite | Goodreads

Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Publisher: Atria Books (April 5, 2016)

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Review: The Summer of Me by Angela Benson

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About The Summer of Me

The national bestselling author of Delilah’s Daughters and The Amen Sisters returns with a moving story about a single mother who, in one unforgettable summer, discovers the woman she can become.

As a single mother, Destiny makes sacrifices for her children—including saying good-bye for the summer so they can spend time with their father and stepmother. Though she’ll miss them with all her heart, the time alone gives her an opportunity to address her own needs, like finishing her college degree. But Destiny’s friends think her summer should include some romance.

Destiny doesn’t want to be set up . . . until she meets Daniel. The handsome, warm, and charming pastor soon sweeps her off her feet. But is romance what she really wants? Or needs?

As the days pass, Destiny will make new discoveries—about herself, the man she’s fallen for, and the people around her. And she’ll face challenging choices too. But most of all, she’ll grow in ways she never imagined, learning unexpected lessons about trust, forgiveness, and the price of motherhood . . . and becoming the woman she truly wants to be.

My Review

I struggled with the main protagonist Destiny. I never warmed up to her although her growth as the story progresses was appealing. Loads of wonderful messages scattered throughout the plot. I enjoyed the religious and inspirational tone.

Despite the numerous uplifting messages, characters, plot and dialogue are emotionlessness, contrived, clumsy. The particular issue of money was repeated excessively to the point of annoyance, it dominated the plot causing suffocation. The narrative contained too many issues to contend with emitting an over dramatized feel, implausible, very predictable.

Great casual read when you’re seeking a saccharine escape.

Angela Benson APAbout Angela Benson

Angela Benson is a graduate of Spelman College and the author of fourteen novels, including the Christy Award–nominated Awakening Mercy, the Essence bestsellerThe Amen Sisters, Up Pops the Devil, and Sins of the Father. She is an associate professor at the University of Alabama and lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Find out more about Angela at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 19, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Review

Spotlight: 122 Rules (122 Rules Series) by Deek Rhew

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Rhew 2 Rhew Blog Tour ­ 122 Rules Book Blitz Extravaganza! How’s that for a catchy title? What a crazy adventure this has been FIVE years in the making, and it has finally arrive: 122 Rules has been born unto the world. The stories I could tell just so I could tell you this story…well, let’s just say it’s been an interesting, educational, and life ­altering adventure. 3811370

This has been a grand journey, filled with hardships, fun, learning, and growth. But of all the things that have happened on the writing road, meeting the love of my life is the most unlikely and easily the luckiest, most blessed things to have ever happened to me.

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Ahhhh, it’s cold out here!

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Do ya feel lucky punk? Well, do ya?

Erin Rhew and I started out as critique partners, became friends, and now she’s my bride. She’s my best friend and partner in all things. Even if I don’t sell a single copy of my writings, I’ll always be a smashing success because I met Erin.

Book Blitz

6439764_orig On this half of the Rhewination tour, I am visiting blogs all over the globe, from Australia to the farthest corners in Canada. Next week, on the second half of the tour, Erin will be gracing the pages of 50+ bloggers! In addition, we are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card! Prepare yourselves to win! Page 1 of 6
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122 Rules

1088662_orig Today, we are announcing my adult thriller novel, 122 Rules. 9371548_orig

Synopsis

In his black and white world, Sam Bradford­­former Marine turned government assassin­­ finally sees a speck of grey. He has always followed orders without question, but his latest assignment threatens to disrupt the precision of his universe and may either severe or redeem his last remaining sliver of humanity. Using his mastery of the 122 Rules of Psychology, Sam hunts down everyone The Agency sends him to find and eliminates them. Just as he has his rifle scope focused on his latest victim, Monica Sable, a SoCal girl entangled with the mob, his long­dormant conscience reappears for a final performance…one last ditch effort to save the sinking ship of Sam’s soul. He’s killed innocents before, but tarries on pulling the trigger this time. When Monica escapes his crosshairs and fumbles her way across the country in a pathetic attempt to elude capture, Sam gives chase. But he’s not the only one after her. Ruthless henchmen, hired by the mob, froth like bloodhounds and nip at Monica’s heels. Now Sam is faced with a choice: turn his back on the rules and jeopardize his way of life by helping her or join the pack and rip her to shreds. What are readers saying?

122 Rules is a fast­paced thrill­ride, filled with rich characters living in an expertly woven world of mystery and suspense. Deek Rhew’s debut novel will take readers by storm, and keep them coming back for sequels.

​~Michelle K. Pickett, Bestselling and award­winning author of PODs and Unspeakable.

The perfect, fast­paced novel for fans of kick­butt heroines, creepy killers, and getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. An absolute must­read!

~Meradeth Houston, author of Travelers, An Absence of Light, and the Sary Society Series

Visit the 122 Rules Web Page

 Visit Amazon and Goodreads!

While you’re on Deek’s site check out Birth of an American Gigolo.

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Synopsis

An old party girl shoehorned into domestic divaship, infuriated by her husband’s cheating and his holier­than­thou, tree­hugging, no­tits and no­hips girlfriend, inflicts her wrath by training a local boy in the fine art of seduction. She and her new boy toy turned love god start a gigolo business as a distraction for the neglected and mistreated housewives of Alabaster Cove.

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Take a selfie with your ebook or paper copy of Birth and post it on social media with the tag #BirthSelfie. We’ll post you on the Rhewination web site!

Deek Rhew

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Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords. He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town­­with antique shops and bakeries­­they call home.

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Review: 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

300 Days of Sun cover

About 300 Days of Sun

A mesmerizing novel that transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.

Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career; Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But Joanna soon realizes that behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline more than two decades ago.

Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically suggests she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro—where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.

My Review

Portugal was so richly described and Lawrenson’s writing an exquisite treat.

The narrative was elaborate and I was skeptical on how all the various threads would join together, good news they meshed very well as is discovered towards the end. Full of suspense, mystery, novel within a novel leaves no time for boredom. Historical facts enlightening, obvious Lawrenson spent extensive time researching Portugal, particularly during WWII.

It took an awfully long time for the plot to pick up speed. The pace was extremely slow. Alternating from present to past and the references to The Alliance seem to never end. Not until three quarters of the way through, when finally, the narrative accelerates until finished. Also, I wish more detail was provided on Nathan and Jo, too much telling and not enough showing who they are, what makes them tick. Their relationship dynamic isn’t really defined, it hangs in the air with ambiguity.

My patience paid off, the ending was fulfilling although not surprising. Overall good book albeit a bit frustrating and lethargic.

Photo credit Rebecca Eifion-Jones

Photo credit Rebecca Eifion-Jones

About Deborah Lawrenson

Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and in London. She is married with a daughter, and lives in Kent, England. Deborah’s previous novels include The Lantern and The Sea Garden.

Find out more about Deborah at her website, read more at her blog, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (April 12, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Review

Review: Ægir’s Curse by Leah Devlin

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About Ægir’s Curse

A thousand years ago, the Viking colony of Vinland was ravaged by a swift-moving plague … a curse inflicted the sea god Ægir. The last surviving Norseman set the encampment and his longboat ablaze to ensure that the disease would die with him and his brethren.

In present-day Norway, a distinguished professor is found murdered, his priceless map of Vinland missing. The ensuing investigation leads to the reclusive world of Lindsey Nolan, a Nobel Laureate-inventor and recovering alcoholic. Lindsey reluctantly agrees to help the Norwegian detective who’s hunting the murderer, but she has a bigger problem on her hands: a mysterious disease that’s spreading like wildfire through the population of Woods Hole. As she races against a rising body count to discover the source of the plague, disturbing events threaten her hard-won sobriety – and her life. Will Lindsey be the next victim of Ægir’s curse?

Amazon

My Review

Devlin created a fascinating mystery. So many components made this a pleasure to read, quite a solid page turner taking me by surprise.

I liked the feel of Woods Hole, charming seaside village. The intricate weaving of Nordic and Viking history was well done, enough to pique interest without taking over. The varied cast of characters were well drawn, plenty of intelligent, accomplished, strong female protagonists with their share of flaws and challenging backstory’s guaranteed to have you fully invested in their well-being throughout the book. The plot progressed nicely as the mystery builds, the ending – absolutely superb.

A very well written mystery full of intrigue and adventure, gripping, with wonderful characters.

About Leah DevlinSONY DSC

Leah Devlin is a marine biologist who grew up in the Washington DC area. She’s a left-handed, middle child of five siblings, which explains a lot. In addition to being a writer of novels, Leah is a biology professor with research specializations in biological exploration in the Arctic in the early nineteenth century and neuromuscular control in marine invertebrates.

The Bottom Dwellers, Ægir’s Curse and The Bends comprise a trilogy of mystery-thrillers centered on the scientific village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where Leah was a scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory for over ten summers. The novels center around the brilliant yet disturbed Nobel Laureate, Lindsey Nolan, her colleagues and family.

Leah’s second series of mystery-thrillers, the Chesapeake Tugboat Murders, are set in the fictional village of River Glen in the upper Chesapeake Bay. The first novel in this series, Vital Spark, a modern pyrate yarn, is scheduled for release in summer 2016. The second novel in this series, Spider, was just completed and should roll out in late 2016.

Leah enjoys outdoor adventures of all kinds: motorcycle journeys along winding back roads, boating, diving, rock-climbing, skiing, and long-distance trekking. When not traveling, she divides her time between Philadelphia and her boat on the Chesapeake.

Connect with Leah:  Website  |  Amazon  |  Penmore Press  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Review

Spotlight: Storm and Silence by Robert Thier

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About Storm and Silence

Freedom – that is what Lilly Linton wants most in life. Not marriage, not a brood of squalling brats, and certainly not love, thank you very much!

But freedom is a rare commodity in 19th-century London, where girls are expected to spend their lives sitting at home, fully occupied with looking pretty. Lilly is at her wits’ end – until a chance encounter with a dark, dangerous and powerful stranger changes her life forever…

Enter the world of Mr Rikkard Ambrose, where the only rule is: Knowledge is power is time is money!

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About Robert Thier6123144

Robert Thier is a German Historian and writer of Historical Fiction. His particular mix of history, romance and adventure, always with a good deal of humor thrown in, has gained him a diverse readership ranging from teenagers to retired grandmothers. For the way he manages to make history come alive, as if he himself had lived as a medieval knight, his fans all over the world have given him the nickname “Sir Rob”.

For him, Robert says, becoming a writer has followed naturally from his interest in history. “In Germany,” he says, “we use the same word for story and history. And I’ve always loved the one as much as the other. Becoming a storyteller, a writer, is what I’ve always wanted.”

Besides writing and researching in dusty old archives, on the lookout for a mystery to put into his next story, Robert enjoys classical music and long walks in the country. The helmet you see on the picture he does not wear because he is a cycling enthusiast, but to protect his literary skull in which a bone has been missing from birth. Robert lives in the south of Germany in a small village between the three Emperor’s Mountains.

Connect with Robert: Website | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter

Published March 19th 2016 by Robert Thier

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Guest Post: Andrea Lochen author of Imaginary Things

Raven Haired Girl is thrilled to welcome Andrea Lochen author of Imaginary Things

divider-transparentandrea-lochen-authorAndrea Lochen is the author of two novels. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Penguin 2013), was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “an engaging, satisfying read that explores friendship, love and who we really are when it truly matters.” A draft of the novel won the 2008 Hopwood Novel Award. The Repeat Year was also produced as an audiobook (Brilliance Audio) and translated into a German edition (Ullstein Buchverlage). The film option was sold to Ineffable Pictures. Andrea’s second novel, Imaginary Things, was published by Astor + Blue in 2015. Lori Nelson Spielman, bestselling author of The Life List, called it, “a beautiful book, filled with vivid scenes, unforgettable characters, and oodles of heart. With a page-turning plot and an utterly unique concept, Imaginary Things entertains, inspires, and provokes thought—a perfect book club pick.”

Andrea earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a Colby Fellow. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the Fiction Editor of The Madison Review, a nationally-distributed, student-run literary magazine. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and was recently awarded the UW Colleges Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Andrea currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband and daughter and is at work on her third novel.

Listen to an interview with Andrea on Milwaukee Public Radio’s “Lake Effect.”

Read an interview with Andrea about her writing process and her advice for aspiring writers.

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Guest Post

Ten Most Delicious Desserts Inspired by Novels
by Andrea Lochen

As an avid reader with a major sweet tooth, I love when authors include the recipes for the yummy desserts they’ve made me drool over throughout their book. It’s a marriage of two of my favorite activities—reading and baking! And if you’re a book club member, what better treat to bring to your meeting than a dessert straight out of the novel? Here are ten of my favorite book-inspired desserts!

1) Southern Caramel Cake from The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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Who hasn’t wanted to try a bite of the scrumptious-sounding caramel cake that Minny makes in The Help? (Maybe not so much her chocolate pie, however!) Though Stockett didn’t include the recipe in the back of her book, this food blog has the The Junior League of Memphis Cookbook recipe that supposedly inspired her.

Recipe

2) Coconut Cake from Amy E. Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

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The titular coconut cake in Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake earned its place on the cover of this heartwarming book. To the main character, Lou, baking her grandmother’s cake is the ultimate expression of love. In the book, those who get to eat it earned their slice, which certainly made me crave a piece all the more!

Recipe

3) Crème Caramel Flan from Anita Hughes’ Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story

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In Hughes’ newest novel set in Spain, she describes how Majorca’s restaurants serve a mouthwatering variety of delicious fresh fish and locally grown vegetables and how many diners like to end the meal with a dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth while not being heavy or cloying. This creme caramel flan recipe certainly does the trick!

Recipe

4) Lemon Cream Cake from Juliette Fay’s Shelter Me

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Fay introduces the concept of “pology cake” in her first novel, Shelter Me, as something you bake for someone you’ve wronged in the hopes of that person forgiving you. Though according to Fay, it doesn’t need to be a particular kind of cake, her recipe for lemon cream cake in the back of the book and on her author website sounds fabulous!

Recipe

5) Peanut butter bars from Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

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Though there are several delicious dishes described in Stradal’s debut novel about Midwestern foodie culture, it was the blue-prize winning peanut butter bars recipe from Lutheran church lady, Pat, that caught my eye. I made this for my book club and these chocolate-frosted bars are just as decadent as they sound!

Recipe

6) Thumbprint Cookies with Jam from Kelly Simmons’ One More Day

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Baking figures prominently in Kelly Simmons’ book because in One More Day, the main character, Carrie Morgan, bakes with her grandmother, as she did when she was a little girl. However, it’s not clear whether her grandmother is dead or alive! These thumbprint jam cookies look like just the thing to bake when you’re in a nostalgic mood (or simply in the mood for something buttery and sweet)!

Recipe

7) Mantecadas from Tina Ann Forkner’s Ruby Among Us

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In Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner, Kitty and her granddaughter Lucy spend a lot of time together talking over cookies and tea. Lucy even has a special tea cup that she drinks out of with her grandmother Kitty who is keeping a lot of secrets about Lucy’s past. Below is a link to Kitty’s secret recipe for Lucy’s favorite cookie, Mantecadas. Yum!

Recipe

8) Nanaimo Bars from Miracle Beach by Erin Celello

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Nanaimo Bars are served in the cafeterias of the ferry boats between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada. In Miracle Beach, when main characters Magda and Jack come to the Island, they fall in love with the sinfully sweet bars. Author Erin Celello testifies that they’re amazing!

Recipe

9) Damascus’ Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake from The River Witch by Kimberly Brock

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In The River Witch, a family feast brings an estranged southern family together. When ten-year-old Damascus Trezevant’s summer ends with a bounty of pumpkins, she sets out to heal deep wounds with a sweet, old recipe for Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake and faith in the magic of a mother’s love. You won’t be sorry you tried this recipe!

Recipe

10) The Best Chocolate Cake Ever from The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen

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What dessert list is complete without a delectable chocolate cake? In The Repeat Year, main character Olive is named after her maternal grandmother who passed away the week before she was born. In addition to her grandma’s name, Olive also inherited her recipe for the “best chocolate cake ever” which her mom bakes as a peace offering for their family in a time of major transition.

Recipe

What are your favorite recipes inspired by novels? Comment below!

Andrea Lochen is the author of two novels, Imaginary Things and The Repeat Year. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and her BA in English at the University of Wisconsin. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. When she isn’t teaching, reading, or baking, she is hard at work on her third novel. To learn more about her, visit her website.

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About Imaginary Things25106194

Watching children play and invent whimsical games of fantasy is one of life’s great joys. But what if you could actually see your child’s imagination as it unfolded? And what would you do if your child’s imagination suddenly became dark and threatening?

Burned-out and broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural home for the summer with her four-year-old son, David. The sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs forces Anna to admit that either she’s lost her mind or she can see her son’s active imagination. Frightened for David’s safety, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon and how best to protect him. But what she uncovers along the way is completely unexpected: revelations about what her son’s imaginary friends truly represent and dark secrets about her own childhood imaginary friend.

Living right next door is Jamie Presswood, Anna’s childhood friend who has grown much more handsome and hardened than the boy she once knew. Jamie reminds her of simpler times—Ferris wheels and sparklers, picnics by the river, and Neapolitan ice cream—but due to past regrets and the messy lives they’ve since led, rekindling their friendship proves easier said than done. Between the imaginary creatures stalking her son and her tumultuous relationship with David’s biological father, Anna doesn’t have any room left in her life or her heart for another man. But as David’s visions become more persistent and threatening, Anna must learn to differentiate between which dangers are real and which are imagined, and who she can truly trust.

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Guest Post

Review: Clarina Nichols by Diane Eickhoff

Clarina Nichols

About Clarina Nichols

In 1827, when Clarina was a teenager, she remembers, “I had a longing desire to do good.” But America wasn’t ready for an ambitious, intelligent young woman. Clarina was supposed to get married and start a family. But her husband turned out to be abusive and a deadbeat. The law was of little help. Her situation seemed hopeless.

This is the amazing true story of how Clarina Nichols turned tragedy into triumph—and went on to help fuel the movement that created a brighter future for women everywhere.

My Review

Diane Eickhoff gives an extensive glimpse into Clarina Nichols the woman as well as her trifecta quest for temperance, abolition and women’s rights. Comprehensive, this book will appeal to all ages. Providing Nichols’ backstory including personal and championing tribulations, the reader is privy to a woman passionate in her quest. Eickhoff crafts a broad and interesting overview of history in the quest for women’s rights while citing key females involved as well as the plethora of unsung heroines.

Nichols gift of writing and oration garnered her notice and paved the way for her voice to be heard. Her intelligence enabled her to comprehend and command legal language, thus aiding women in compromising positions greatly. Nichols was the first to promote and educate the need for economic rights for women, the necessity for wives to separate their property and income from their respected spouse’s control. Her sacrifices and tenacity kept this woman striving for more for others. Her efforts along with countless other women made leaps and bounds for women of today.

Listed are the familiar to few, unfamiliar, if not unknown to many, names of pioneering women fighting for rights, sadly, their names should be familiar –

“Other pioneers remain largely unknown. Frances Wright. Angelina and Sarah Grimké. Lucretia Mott. Jane Swisshelm. Lucy Stone. Ernestine Rose. Sojourner Truth. Antoinette Brown Blackwell.”

“Paulina Wright Davis. Abby Kelley Foster. Frances Dana Gage. Matilda Joslyn Gage. Clarina Nichols. These women were as important to the future of this country and to liberty as the Founding Fathers of the 18th century or the Civil War generals of the 19th.”

Diane Eickhoff’s research and homage to both history and females should be acknowledged, outstandingly well done. Looking forward to more from Eickhoff.

About Diane EickhoffDiane Eickhoff AP

Diane Eickhoff grew up on a farm in Minnesota, taught school in Appalachia and New York, and helped edit a newspaper for an anti-poverty program in Alabama. She has written widely for publications aimed at high school and younger readers. Her biography, Revolutionary Heart, from which this book is adapted, was named a Kansas Notable Book and the winner of ForeWord magazine’s Book of the Year competition in biography, among other honors. She lives with her husband, author Aaron Barnhart, in Kansas City.

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Publisher: Quindaro Press (March 1, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, April, Nonfiction, Review