Thursday, August 31, 2017

G885 Book Review of Casanova's Secret wife by Barbara Lynn Davis

Name of Book: Casanova's Secret Wife

Author: Barbara Lynn Davis

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1231-8

Publisher: Kensington

Type of book: 1774, 1756, Casanova, marriage, affair, relationships, taboo, scandal, nunnery, second chances, friendship, frenemy, pregnancy, growth

Year it was published: 2017


Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanova—here is a lush tale of desire and risk, offering a little known portrait of the writer as a young man.

Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the world’s most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever . . .

Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterina’s most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girl’s presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterina’s turbulent past. Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget . . .

Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one woman’s journey through love and loss to redemption.


Main characters include Caterina Capretta, a determined 14 year old girl who falls in love with Casanova and will do whatever she can for him. Casanova often describes Caterina as an angel, seemingly unaware that there are 'fallen angels' as well. Casanova here is in his 20s, someone is seeking the impossible and who is also extremely charming, adventurous, and wants what he cannot have. One cannot help but see Casanova's personality and legendary reputation form from encounters with Caterina and Marina. Marina is a nun and a "frenemy" of Caterina who seems to be the bored aristocratic daughter and loves to break rules and mores. There is also Caterina's older cousin who seems to follow the rules, and Leda, the border who is given by Marina to Caterina for purposes of her own.


In life, there are second chances and ways to pick up pieces


The story is written in first and third person point of view from Caterina's point of view. First person is when Caterina tells her tale to a recent lodger by name of Leda who is pregnant and this story takes place in 1753. Third person takes place in 1774 and is more of a "present day" story. While history is researched, I feel that in this case the story is more memories of a place rather than something historical, if it makes sense, but its still a memorable and an enjoyable read.

Author Information:
(From book)

Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from brtown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her PhD. in Renaissance art at Princeton University. She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.


This is a case of 'don't judge a book by its cover" because from the cover, I thought the story would be superficial, or else it will be a love story just like one can find it about anywhere. But I was proven delightfully wrong. While the story does deal with the famous Giacomo Casanova and Caterina Capretta, the story also deals with picking up pieces after a torrid love affair and trying to find happiness in unexpected places and in unexpected people, an important lesson for a generation who grew up reading Twilight and Fifty Shades and think that the first person they land will be their soulmate. While I do think that relationship between Caterina and Marina Orsini could be fleshed out more, (I'm still not sure how Marina is taking advantage of Caterina) I liked the relationship between Caterina and Casanova (I also will warn that this is a 14 year old girl in relationship with a man who is in his late 20s and that its 1753...)

This is for HFVBT

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, August 28, 2017

G897 Book Review of the Belle of two arbors by Paul Dimond

Name of Book: The Belle of Two Arbors

Author: Paul Dimond

ISBN: 978-1-943-29021-5

Publisher: Cedar Forge Press

Type of book: Poetry, Robert Frost, Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Ojibwe, 1913-1953, 1970s, slow, philosophical, slice of life, Ted Roethke, Emily Dickinson, Wystan Auden, friends, family, fear of fame, raising family, Marmie

Year it was published: 2017


Born at the turn of the twentieth century in Glen Arbor, near the dunes of Northern Michigan, young Belle is the first child of a gruff stove-works boss and a crippled mother who weaned Belle on the verse of Emily Dickinson. When a natural disaster results in her mother's death and nearly takes the life of her younger brother Pip, Belle creates a fierce, almost ecstatic farewell song. Thus begins her journey to compose a perfect Goodbye to Mama.

At 21, Belle ventures south to Ann Arbor for university, with teenaged Pip in tow. There, she befriends Robert Frost, Ted Roethke and Wystan Auden and finds that her poetry stands alongside theirs, and even with that of her hero, Dickinson. Her lyrics capture the sounds, sights, and rhythms of the changing seasons in the northern forests, amidst the rolling dunes by the shores of the Great Lake.

Despite the peace she finds, Belle also struggles in both homes. Up north, she battles her father who thinks a woman can't run the family business; and clashes against developers who would scar the natural landscape. In Ann Arbor, she challenges the status quo of academic pedants and chauvinists.

Belle's narrative brings these two places to life in their historic context: a growing Midwestern town driven by a public university, striving for greatness; and a rural peninsula seeking prosperity while preserving its natural heritage. Through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Post-War Boom, Belle's story is hard to put down. Her voice and songs will be even harder to forget.


There are a lot of characters in the story, but my favorite ones include Belle, Pip, David Ahgosa, Mirja and Rabbie along with Ted Roethke, Robert Frost and Auden. To me Belle is an amazing woman because she feels so human and real, tough and vulnerable and filled with contradictions. Belle's psychology isn't explained nor is it dwelled on in the story. Belle seems to accept herself as she is, warts and all. Belle is also both a businesswoman and a poet and although not a recluse, she seems to be wary and uncertain of fame and of having a husband, although she is provided multiple chances to go that route. Pip, Belle's younger brother, is an inventor and seems to seek out beginning of the universe. He is devoted and loyal to Belle, a genius and also seems to have issues with romantic commitment. (It's a bit hard to differentiate characters from the settings in this case for me.) The characters of Ruthie and Paul are not as well done as Belle and others, unfortunately, and some of the things Ruthie talked about in the last two chapters seemed so different from what Belle saw.


There is a lot to language and poetry


The story is written in first person narrative from Belle's point of view, and the last two chapters are written from Ruthie's point of view also in first person narrative. This is not a story to be rushed through but instead its a rare story to savor and enjoy and also a story that calls for multiple readings to truly understand it. This story is best saved up for long wintry evenings when the reader has plenty of time to indulge in poetry. While Belle and fictional and non-fictional characters are truly gems to savor and enjoy, I really feel that other characters such as Ruthie, Angel, Davey and Paul aren't as well drawn as I had hoped, and the last two chapters written from Ruthie's point of view, to me, seem to be unnecessary to the story. I also loved how the author demonstrated that a woman does not need a man to be happy; Belle is happy in her life and rarely expresses discontent that she is without someone special.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Paul Dimond grew up in Ann Arbor with one fott between Twon and Gown and the other in Glen Arbor exploring northern Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes. At Amherst College he majored in history researching original sources. He retunred to Michigan Law School where he began his study of the Civil War Amendments.

In 1970s Paul helped try several cases to secure the right to educations for all kids no matter how disabled and four landmark race cases taht challenged a divided Supreme Court. In the 1980s he continued to study the Fourteenth Amendment, the proper role of judicial review and the dynamics of metropolitan areas. All culminated in his service as Special Assistant to President Clinton for Economic Policy in the 1990s. Safely back in his two Arbors, he chaired a national real estate firm, practiced law and now serves as a trustee or advisor for many organizations to help Michigan reclaim its destiny at the heart of the Great Lakes and a thriving home for fresh water and fresh ideas.

Paul is the authro fo numerous articles and three books on policy, law and history., including Beyond Busing, winner of the Ralph J. BUnche Book fo the Year Award (1986) with a new afterword for a 20th anniversary reprinting in paperback. Dissatisfied with any of the endings, he turned to fiction. His first novel, North COast Almanac for young teens was published in 2012. Upcoming works inlcude a political thriller, Succession at the WHite House, and a journey love story, Widower's Song.

After nearly a decade of research and drafting, his historical novel, The Belle of Two Arbors 1913-1953, will be published in March 2017 for all to read.


One of my great literary loves is The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, which I often mention pretty much in a lot of book reviews, thus I hope I am doing the story an honor by comparing it to my favorite story. To me its interesting that in a lot of ways The Belle of Two Arbors and The Tale of Genji are quite different yet there are similarities as well. Both of the books have poetry; they both deal with multiple generations of the same family, for perhaps ninety eight percent of the story, neither character ventures far from home, and both stories deal with lifespans from childhood to death. Also, The Belle of Two Arbors seems to be deliberately different from Tale of Genji because while Genji concerned himself with romance and love and there was very little to no focus on career, Belle seems to take opposite approach and while Genji has left descendants, Belle didn't. I also want to commend the author for writing an amazing, beleivable and vulnerable heroine. I honestly can't wait to go back to The Belle of Two Arbors and savor the story again.

This is for Poetic Book Tours

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Svetlana's Dream Conference of Authors and Characters

All true bookworms have their dream list of authors they’d love to meet, but what if you could plan your perfect panel of authors (or even characters) you’d love to hear speak at a conference?

As my long-time readers (thanks everyone!) know, one isn't certain on what review they will find on my blog because one day I might post a contemporary women's fiction title; another day a historical romance, and yet few days later I might go with suspense. However what is consistent on my blog is my focus on historical fiction and a large focus on literature from around the world, in particular from East Asia, with few instances from Southeast Asia, thus my dream conference/panel will be a mix of historical fiction as well as East Asian authors.

One of the moderators for my dream conference will be Margaret George because she has written a variety of biographies that take place from Tudor Era to more obscure and ancient such as a biography of Helen of Troy and her more recent novel Confessions of Young Nero. As for the East Asian side, I imagine Pearl Buck will do the job because she has written a lot of fiction that takes place in East Asia and she understands the Asian thought well.

As I imagine, most of the guests for my dream conference/panel will be authors with a few characters mixed in (some of my invited characters are real but are written as fiction, although I would love to have real historical figures on my panel.)

Here are some of my invitees for my dream conference and topics they will discuss:

The first author I would love to invite is Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji. Tale of Genji is a story about a Japanese Emperor's son who is best described as dilettante and in the story Murasaki focuses a great deal on Genji's lost loves. There is a mystery about Tale of Genji as to how the story would have ultimately ended (it ends in cliffhanger)  and how many people authored Tale of Genji. For the topics, Murasaki Shikibu would have discussed that particular mystery and she also would have discussed how to use poetry on how to expand the story as well as seasons and colors and their significance in her story.

The second author I would love to invite is Margaret Mitchell of Gone with the Wind fame. In my dream conference, Margaret Mitchell would discuss researching the civil war as well as her inspiration on how she has created memorable female characters in Scarlet O'Hara and Melanie Wilkes. I also would love for her to address her feelings on the sequel (written by Alexandra Ripley) and why she has ended Gone with the Wind the way she did.

The third author(s) I would love to invite is/are those that wrote Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Chinese classics about two wealthy families and how intertwined they are as well as their rise and decline of wealth. In particular the story focuses on the women and the sacrifices they make and don't get acknowledged for. The story was written by men, but it was written very sympathetically towards women. The author(s) would address the research they have done of women and of what ultimately led to the fall of the two wealthy families. I also would like them to address as to what is real in their story and what is false and how magic has played a role.

The fourth author I would love to invite is the author of The Plum in the Golden Vase, the Chinese forbidden classic that is about a merchant named Ximen Qing and his six wives and how these wives attempted to scheme and position themselves as Ximen Qing's "favored" wife.One of the mysteries about this particular story is who the author might be and his intentions in writing this story. In my dream conference that issue will be addressed, but along with that, the author will also address the idea of using sex as a political tool.

The fifth author I would invite is Stephanie Thornton who wrote The Secret History, The Daughter of the Gods, The Tiger Queens and The Conqueror's Wife (I only read The Tiger Queens and The Conqueror's Wife) Stephanie Thornton will address the research she has done towards her books and of how historical women influenced the men in their lives.

The sixth author I would invite is Sally Christie who wrote the fabulous Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. One of the things I loved about Mistresses of Versailles trilogy are the dialogues between her characters as well as how real the women felt which is what the author will talk about; how she managed to to shape mere outlines into all too human personalities.

Some of my dream characters will include:

Scarlett O'Hara and possibly Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind

Cleopatra (I would love a real person)

Nero (I would love a real person)

Alexander the Great (I would love a real person)

Genghis Khan and the women surrounding him

Genji and Murasaki from Tale of Genji

Ximen Qing from The Plum in the Golden Vase

These characters and authors as well as moderators will be there to answer questions or else to give autographs to the readers or discuss the books they come from versus reality (at least for Nero and Cleopatra)

Want to plan a bookish event? click here: Online Event Registration

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

G893 Book Review of The Secrets of the Abbey by Kathleen C Perrin

Name of Book: The Secrets of the Abbey

Author: Kathleen C Perrin

ISBN: 9780692877975

Publisher: Langon House

Part of a Series: The Watchmen Saga

Type of book: 1500s, Wars of Religion in France, christian themes and messages, prayer, Mount Saint Michel, marriage, knowledge, ancenstry, time travel, protection, memory loss, amnesia, fame and fortune, making decisions

Year it was published: 2017


In the final book (III) of The Watchmen Saga, Katelyn Michaels is distraught when she finds herself back in the United States in modern times after unwillingly leaving a comatose Nicolas behind on Mont Saint Michel in 1429. When a series of remarkable events facilitates her return to the Mount and unveils why Katelyn was called as a Watchman, her fondest hope is to be reunited with Nicolas, regardless of the circumstances.

However, when Nicolas unexpectedly appears with a new mission for Katelyn to help him thwart yet another threat to the Mount, she is devastated to learn that his head injury has deprived him of any memories of their relationship. Nonetheless, she is determined to once again find a way to save the Mount—this time in sixteenth-century France amidst violent religious turmoil—and to rekindle Nicolas’s feelings for her during the course of their mission.

The couple’s love and loyalty are tested as Katelyn and Nicolas attempt to unmask the true source of the threat, their adversary Abdon, sort out their conflicting emotions, and deal with the consequences of the astounding age-old secret that is finally revealed.


Main characters include Katelynn Michaels who is best described as resourceful, creative and is often seen as extremely knowledgeable about quite a number of things. Katelynn is also a teenager which means I found her full of contradictions because in one moment she is talking about how grownup she is since she has witnessed her best friend being burned for being a witch or being chosen for a mission (it's right at the start of the book,) and in another moment she tends to self deprecate herself a bit because she is not as intelligent as her brother or why was she chosen instead of someone else ? So yes, both humble and grandiose. Nicolas is Katelynn's boyfriend/husband who is slightly older than she and apparently it wasn't love at first sight for these two as it took time for them to build chemistry and affections they had for one another. Nicolas has recently lost his memory, in particular the years she and he have known one another and they will have to start again so to speak. Other characters include Brother Thiebault, a monk who is well versed in healing and is apparently awkward around women as well; then there is Katelynn's mentor who holds many secrets and refuses to divulge the secret of the Mount Saint Michel to her for fear of an evil being taking advantage of her or of those she knows. Other characters include Katelynn's friends, employees and family.


There are more commonalities than differences


The story is told in first and and third person narratives; first from Katelynn's point of view and third from everyone else's point of view. Prior to reading this book, I hadn't read the previous two, and I did feel that I miss out quite a lot on Katelynn's previous adventures as a watchman. I also unexpectedly appreciated gaining some perspective into Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (that particular story takes place in 1580s around the same time this story does.) and for me 1500s France is a new era that I didn't learn about. While I appreciated the message as well as explanations on why Protestantism didn't take hold in France, I wonder if the author's messages are universal across all faiths and religions or only the dominant ones.

Author Information:
(From France Book Tours)

Kathleen C. Perrin
holds bachelor’s degrees in French and Humanities
from Brigham Young University
and is a certified French translator.
Besides being the author of The Watchmen Saga,
she has published several non-fiction articles, academic papers,
and a religious history about Tahiti.
Kathleen has lived in Utah, New York City, France, and French Polynesia.
She and her French husband have spent years
investigating the mysteries and beauties of his native country
—where they have a cottage—and have taken tourist groups to France.
The Perrins have three children and currently reside in Utah.

Visit her website.
See here gorgeous pictures related to the book
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter
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Buy the book  on Amazon
In advance I'd like to apologize for having a christian themed book on my blog. I consciously choose not to promote or read christian literature, and at the time I chose this book I was unaware that it was christian because it was being promoted as historical fiction. 

To be honest, minus certain elements that had to do with religion, I actually enjoyed reading the book and the story. It's also probably the first time travel book that I liked. (I'm not a fan of time travel books,) and at many points I was curious enough to want to read the previous two novels and to learn further adventures of Katelynn Michaels and her boyfriend/husband Nicolas. I did feel that although the story was written very well, it did not make a good stand-alone novel because the author does make one curious about Katelynn's previous adventures that are often eluded to. A lot of story elements are done well in the book, although I did find the main character, Katelynn, a bit annoying at times, but I could see the chemistry between her and Nicolas well.

This is for France Book Tours

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

G892 Book Review of a very French christmas; the Greatest French Holiday Stories of all time by various

Title of the book: a very French christmas; the Greatest French Holiday Stories of all time

Authors: Various

Publisher: New Vessel Press

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939931-50-4


A continuation of the very popular Very Christmas Series from New Vessel Press, this collection brings together the best French Christmas stories of all time in an elegant and vibrant collection featuring classics by Guy de Maupassant and Alphonse Daudet, plus stories by the esteemed twentieth century author Irène Némirovsky and contemporary writers Dominique Fabre and Jean-Philippe Blondel.

With a holiday spirit conveyed through sparkling Paris streets, opulent feasts, wandering orphans, kindly monks, homesick soldiers, oysters, crayfish, ham, bonbons, flickering desire, and more than a little wine, this collection encapsulates the holiday spirit and proves that the French have mastered Christmas. This is Christmas à la française—delicious, intense and unexpected, proving that nobody does Christmas like the French.

Author Info:

Alphonse Daudet, Guy de Maupassant, Anatole France
Irène Némirovsky, Jean-Philippe Blondel, Dominique Fabre,
Paul Arene, Francois Coppee, Antoine Gustave Droz, Anatole La Braz

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Buy the book: on Amazon

Table of contents
THE gift- Jean Phillipe Blondel

St. Anthony and his pig- Paul Arene

THE Louis D'Or- Francois Coppee

Christmas in algiers- Anatolia le braz

THE wooden shoes of little wolff-  Francois Coppee

Christmas eve- guy de maupassant

Christmas at the boarding school- Dominique Fabre

Salvette and bernadou- alphonse daudet

A miracle- guy de maupassant

I take supper with my wife- ANTOINE gustave droz

THE LOST child- Francois Coppee

THE juggler of Notre dame- Anatole France

Noel- Irene Nemirovsky

Personal Opinion:

I think I signed on to read and review the book as more of a curiosity because I wanted to know how French christmas was different than the stereotypical portrayal of American and Dickensian christmas. I also think I was curious how I would feel about the stories considering that I don't celebrate christmas (closest is New Years in Russian style which is similar to christmas style as I learned when I came to America.) What I found out is interesting: modern stories like the first one as well as one by Dominique Fabre and last one by Irene Nemirovsky for me they are far more enjoyable than the old stories by Alphonse Daudet and Francoise Coppee who apparently were hypocrites in their beliefs towards those who are not christians. Most of the 14 stories are dominated by Daudet and Coppee. I liked learning about the way French celebrate christmas and seeing something other than British or American, but I do wish that the stories would have been in more of a modern vein rather than the 1800s vein.

This is for France Book Tours


Tuesday, August 8
Review + Giveaway at The Fictional 100

Review + Giveaway at Reading for the Stars and Moon

Wednesday, August 9
Review + Giveaway at The French Village Diaries

Thursday, August 10
Review + Giveaway at Readerbuzz

Friday, August 11
Review + Giveaway at Reading To Unwind

Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

Monday, August 14
Review + Giveaway at Books Are Cool

Review + Giveaway at Locks, Hooks and Books

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cover reveal for MY DEAR HAMILTON: A NOVEL OF ELIZA SCHUYLER HAMILTON by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

We’re celebrating Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today and you get the gift! Don’t miss the beautiful cover below and a special giveaway, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy today!

About My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (Coming 4.3.2018):

Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest to Form a More Perfect Union

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife...

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

Pre-Order on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlayiBooks | Kobo

To celebrate Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today, we have a surprise for you! Share the cover of MY DEAR HAMILTON and fill out the Rafflecopter below to receive an Exclusive Excerpt!

New York Times bestselling author, Stephanie Dray is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

Stephanie’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her New York Times bestselling debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Laura’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up

Monday, August 7, 2017

G881 Book Review of Whirligig by Richard Buxton

Name of Book: Whirligig

Author: Richard Buxton

ISBN: 9780995769304

Publisher: Self published

Type of book: secrets, crush, promise, war, Civil War, England, parliament, union army vs rebel army, 1862-1864, Tennessee, plantation, whirligig

Year it was published: 2017


Shire leaves his home and his life in Victorian England for the sake of a childhood promise, a promise that pulls him into the bleeding heart of the American Civil War. Lost in the bloody battlefields of the West, he discovers a second home for his loyalty.

Clara believes she has escaped from a predictable future of obligation and privilege, but her new life in the Appalachian Hills of Tennessee is decaying around her. In the mansion of Comrie, long hidden secrets are being slowly exhumed by a war that creeps ever closer.

The first novel from multi-award winning short-story writer Richard Buxton, Whirligig is at once an outsider’s odyssey through the battle for Tennessee, a touching story of impossible love, and a portrait of America at war with itself. Self-interest and conflict, betrayal and passion, all fuse into a fateful climax.


Main characters in the book include Shire, an Englishman and a schoolmaster's son who seems to harbor a crush on Clara and who has made promise to her. He seems to elevate Clara's memories and will do whatever he can for her. Clara is Shire's crush and is in upper class. She moves to America and gets married to a distant cousin Taylor and tries her best to fit into the southern society. (Unfortunately she is not as well drawn as I hoped.) She also is resourceful and a quick learner. Taylor is Clara's husband and eventually becomes Shire's adversary. Taylor has had a tragic upbringing in terms of childhood and he is best described as extremely cruel and warped. Other secondary characters include Taylor's mother, then there is Shire's friend Tuck who had his own secrets and few other people in the army as well as Taylor's slaves.


War is a messy business


The story is in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, from Shire to Clara and so forth. I felt overwhelmed when it came to remembering characters because there are a lot of them in the book, and my lack of knowledge when it came to military aspects didn't help either, although the author has done his best with that.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

Richard lives with his family in the South Downs, Sussex, England. He completed an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University in 2014. He has an abiding relationship with America, having studied at Syracuse University, New York State, in the late eighties. His short stories have won the Exeter Story Prize, the Bedford International Writing Competition and the Nivalis Short Story Award. Whirligig is his first novel and the opening book of Shire’s Union trilogy. Current projects include the second book, The Copper Road, as well as preparing to publish a collection of short stories.

To learn more about Richard’s writing visit You can also follow Richard on Facebook and Twitter.


For some odd reason, I though that the book would be similar to Gone with the Wind, at least in terms of showing the civilian life of civil war. However, that wasn't the case. I also gathered that the focus would be a lot more on love story between Shire and Clara, and while that was some of the case, it was only a small part of the novel. Most of the novel was focused on battles and on daily life in the army whether it has ugly or beautiful moments. What I found myself liking about the book is that the American civil war is shown from a foreigner's point of view, and someone who has fought for the union rather than the south. I also liked a little on how it filled some blanks when it came to Gone with the Wind (in particular the discussion Scarlett and Rhett had about England and whether or not it will help the South.) I applaud the author for trying to create a messy and realistic picture of the war, and I do wish that I could have better understood the military terms and what was going on because the military aspects of the book really went over my head, unfortunately.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 11
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, July 12
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, July 14
Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, July 18
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, July 20
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, July 21
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, July 25
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, July 27
Review at Back Porchervations

Friday, July 28
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, August 3
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Monday, August 7
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 2017

True east- Raymond Ahrens
SR: August 10th, 2017
FR: August 28th, 2017
Traitors knot- Cryssa Bazos
SR: July 29th, 2017
FR: August 28th, 2017
Path of Lucas-Susan Bellefeuille
SR: August 27th, 2017
A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
Whirlgig- Richard Buxton
SR: July 10th, 2017
FR: August 1st, 2017
Blood moon- Ruth Hull Chatlien
SR: August 14th, 2017
Casanova's Secret wife- Barbara Lynn-Davis
SR: August 4th, 2017
FR: August 14th, 2017
The Belle of two arbors- Paul Dimond
SR: July 25th, 2017
FR: August 24th, 2017
The Republic of uzupis- halJi
SR: January 4th 2017
The luster of lost things- Sophie Chen Keller
SR: August 28th, 2017
The secret of the abbey- Kathleen c. Perrin
SR: July 23rd, 2017
FR: August 10th, 2017
The Comet Seekers Helen Sedgwick
SR: January 17th 2017
The Chesapeake Bride- Mariah Stewart
SR: August 24th, 2017
FR: August 31st, 2017
A gentleman in Moscow- amor Towles
SR: June 8th, 2017
A very french christmas-various
SR: August 1st, 2017
FR: August 4th, 2017

Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
Overwhelmed writer rescue- Colleen m story
SR: August 31st, 2017
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