Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway with M.K. Tod, Author of Time and Regret

Please join me in welcoming M.K. Tod back to Let Them Read Books! M.K. is touring the blogosphere with her new release, Time and Regret. (Check out her guest post when she was touring with her debut novel, Unravelled.) I had the honor of offering M.K. some early editorial assistance on this dual-timeline novel about a young officer in the Great War and the mystery he leaves behind for his granddaughter, and she's here today answering my questions about World War I, writing historical fiction, and where she draws inspiration. Read on and enter to win a copy of Time and Regret!

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.

Hi M.K.! Thank you so much for visiting Let Them Read Books!

All three of your novels have focused on World War I. What about that conflict inspires you to write about it?

Throughout my school days, I was never a student of history, and so I was startled to find researching WWI such a fascinating exercise. That fascination was soon followed by anger, sorrow, and bewilderment—anger at the incredible ineptitude of military and political leaders and sorrow for what soldiers and everyday citizens had to endure. My bewilderment centered on questions of humanity. Why did soldiers put up with unspeakable conditions for so long? How could leaders use such appalling measures as poison gas? How could parents bear the loss of more than one son? How could officers send their men "over the top" time after time when they knew death would greet so many? I shake my head even now. These novels are my tribute to those who fought, those who died, and those who endured.

In Time and Regret, Grace uses her grandfather's diaries to trace his journey and uncover family secrets. Did you have a real-life inspiration for her grandfather, Martin?

Although my own grandfather inspired the character Edward Jamieson in Unravelled and Lies Told in Silence, I had no particular individual in mind when crafting Martin Devlin. Instead, he was inspired by the letters and diaries I’ve read during my research—a sort of everyman soldier who leads men to the best of his efforts—and endures to the best of his ability. I think of him as consciously deciding to rebuild his life after the war has left him personally decimated. It takes much bravery to do so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Spotlight + Giveaway: Whitehall Episode 12


She who would be queen must win the love of a king—and a country.

Welcome to WHITEHALL, where the true history of Catherine of Braganza and her marriage to King Charles II of England is brought to life with all its sensual scandal and political intrigue. Venture back in time to a place where the games of royals affect the lives of all.

Unfolding across a season of 13 episodes, this serial of history and royal drama is presented by Serial Box Publishing and written by Liz Duffy Adams, Delia Sherman, Barbara Samuel, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sarah Smith, and Madeleine Robins. 

Read or listen to the first episode for free at SerialBox.com or in our iOS app!

This week brings the 12th installment of Whitehall with “More Harmony in Her Bright Eye,” written by Madeleine E. Robins. Recovering from her loss, Catherine seeks a rainbow after the rains. Flooded cellars at Whitehall have Charles wading in to fix more than just the masonry.

Episode 12 will be available for download in text or audio on Wednesday, August 24.

EXCERPT:

November 1663

Catherine had been strong enough that morning to go to her chapel to hear Mass. Now, making her way back to her apartments through the chilly hallways, that strength waned. Was she still so little recovered, or was it melancholy that made her feel so? Lady Chesterfield and Lady Castlemaine flanked her, ready to offer assistance should the queen require, but Catherine would not ask it.

She had done her best to give her attention to the Mass, but the roar of the rain that had been falling without relent had melded with the sound of Father Patrick’s voice. Catherine could barely remember a time when rain had not fallen, like the tears of God Himself. When the fever had ebbed and she had at last returned to herself there had only been the black emptiness of loss—her own and Charles’s, for he mourned the loss of their child too. But as the weeks went by and that pain became quieter, other fears had come to her, the worse because she could not bring herself to speak to anyone of them.

Except for the Virgin.

Kneeling in the dim chapel that had become dear to her, Catherine found herself praying silently, “Please, Holy Mother, don’t let them send me back to Portugal.” Was it a great selfishness to fear the humiliation of being returned, like a bit of flawed goods, so that all the world would know of her failure?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Spotlight: The Dragontail Buttonhole by Peter Curtis

The Dragontail Buttonhole
by Peter Curtis

March 16, 2016
Sordelet Ink
eBook & Paperback; 316 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction



Prague, 1939. Willy and Sophie Kohut own a prosperous business specializing in selling British fabrics for tailoring suits. When the Nazis occupy Czechoslovakia, Willy is arrested and accused of spying for Britain. After Sophie engineers his release, they decide to flee the country for the sake of their toddler, Pavel. Paying a small-time smuggler and using counterfeit Hungarian passports, they journey through Hungary and Germany itself, on an exodus full of unexpected twists that test their courage, and their love.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Praise:

“The Dragontail Buttonhole is a realistic, artful story of a family’s flight to safety. Courageously precise in its psychological analysis of friend and foe, the novel restores the reader’s confidence in an ordinary family’s fortitude, compassion and humanity.” – Peter Demetz, Author of Prague in Black and Gold and Prague in Danger

“The Dragontail Buttonhole is a fascinating, well-written read. The Kohut family takes life for granted….until the day the Nazis occupy Prague and Willy Kohut and his family become the target of the Gestapo. The book is an adventure story and a family story that will make you bite your nails and cry, and sometimes smile.” – Helen M. Szablya, Honorary Consul General of Hungary. Author of My Only Choice; 1942-1956 Hungary, The Fall of the Red Star; Hungary Remembered

“The Dragontail Buttonhole is at once a moving portrait of a marriage, a brilliant evocation of a frightening period of history and a spell-binding tale of survival.” – David Laskin, author of The Long Way Home, The Children’s Blizzard, Partisans and the 2014 Washington State Memoir Award: Family: A Journey into the Heart of the 20th Century

About the Author:

Peter Curtis was born in Kosiče in Eastern Slovakia. Later, as a child in England, he was enthralled by books like Treasure Island, King Solomon’s Mines, and The 39 Steps. He dreamed of writing tales of adventure.

As a young man, he trained at Guy’s Hospital, London, specializing in joint and back problems. But when he found that people’s lives were more interesting than inflammation, he turned to family doctoring in the English countryside and began writing about dramatic or amusing incidents in his practice. Some of his short stories were published. The years passed and he moved with his family to the University of North Carolina.

As his family elders and parents passed on, he inherited their photographs and documents and started piecing together the family’s Slovak history. They had been the enthusiastic citizens of a dynamic democratic country, Czechoslovakia, until it was swallowed by Germany during the great and tragic dislocation of WWII. What they went through moved Peter to finally write an adventure story close to his heart.

You can connect with Peter Curtis on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Dragontail Buttonhole is on a blog tour!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Rebel of Ross by Mary Lancaster

From the Back Cover:

Scotland, 1156 

Malcolm MacHeth, one time Earl of Ross, languishes a prisoner in Roxburgh Castle while his sons raise rebellion in his name. Optimistically, the King of Scots promises the earldom of Ross to landless Norman knight, Sir William de Lanson, if he can somehow defeat the infamous MacHeths. 

It wasn’t quite how William’s disgraced wife Christian dreamed of coming home. Capture by the strange and ferocious Adam MacHeth was hardly part of her plan either, although she and William quickly become pawns in his. 

Adam, warrior and seer, fights for his father’s freedom and for his family’s right to claim the kingdom of the Scots. Plagued by waking dreams which threaten his sanity and his life, he’s learned to use his prophecies to further his family’s goals. But when he abducts his enemy’s lady, his dreams and his desires are suddenly more personal. 

Surrounded by intrigue, ambition and betrayal, Christian must choose between loyalty and love in order to keep a fragile peace for her people and for the man she loves beyond all reason.

My Thoughts:

Traveling to Tirebeck, the holding her husband has just been awarded by the King of Scots, Christian de Lanson is looking forward to returning to the home she hasn't seen since she was three years old. She hopes her Scottish ancestry and ties to the land will aid her husband's task in bringing rebellion under control while giving her a renewed sense of purpose in a loveless marriage. But those hopes are quickly tested when she is abducted by one of the very men her husband is tasked with killing, Adam MacHeth, looking every inch the berserker and madman he is rumored to be. Determined not to be cowed, she stands her ground with Adam, who is surprisingly considerate and kind, though it seems even a madman reacts with the same revulsion upon seeing the half mask she wears to hide the disfigurement beneath it. When she is traded back to her husband in exchange for MacHeth's brother, she is relieved to have seen the last of him even if she can't stop thinking about him. But of course, she hasn't really seen the last of him . . .

Adam MacHeth has one goal: to free the imprisoned father he hasn't seen since he was a child and help him retake his earldom and the Scottish throne. The Norman knight taking up residence in Ross is an inconvenience, but his wife is something much more. Her ancestry and rapport with the Scottish residents of Tirebeck could be the key to uniting Ross, but it's her strength and beauty and her intrusion into his visions of the future that both excite and disconcert him. As alliances shift and Adam puts his plans for Ross in motion, circumstances bring he and Christian together time and time again. As his feelings for her grow, Adam's desire for his own future threatens the destiny he's worked so hard to bring about for his family and their legacy. When betrayal brings tensions in Scotland to the breaking point, Adam and Christian both will have to determine where their loyalties lie and what they are willing to risk and endure for love and a fleeting chance at happiness.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Please join me in welcoming author Phyllis Edgerly Ring to Let Them Read Books! Phyllis is touring the blogosphere with her historical fiction novel The Munich Girl, and I'm thrilled to have her here today with a guest post about how Eva Braun and the human experience inspired her to write The Munich Girl.

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third-Reich family history is entwined with her own.

As Anna learns more about the “ordinary” Munich girl who became a tyrant’s lover, and her mother’s confidante, she retraces a friendship that began when two lonely teenagers forged a bond that endured through the war, though the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged as she realizes that she has suppressed her own life in much the way Hitler’s mistress did. Ultimately she and Hannes discover how the love in one friendship echoes on in two families until it unites them at last.

The Legacies That Outlast War
by Phyllis Ring

During my years as a U.S. military brat in the 1960s, my first friends were German families. Then I married another brat who’d also spent part of his childhood in Germany, and we began returning there as often as we could. I realized that if I wanted to understand this culture I love (as I struggled to relearn its language), I needed to understand more about Germany’s experience during the war.

Never could I have imagined how quickly that intention would take me straight to Hitler’s living room. Within the week, I received a copy of British writer Angela Lambert’s biography of Eva Braun. Then a combination of entirely unexpected circumstances led to my owning the portrait of Braun that began to unwind the sequence of events in my novel, The Munich Girl.

A major turning point in the story’s development occurred when I discovered, while researching the Trials at Nuremberg, that an action of Eva Braun's in the last week of her life saved the lives of about 35,000 Allied prisoners of war. Two members of my British mother's family were among them.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff

From the Back Cover:

This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.

Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.

Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.

As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.

My Thoughts:

Kitty Trenowyth, the pampered daughter of a wealthy earl, yearns to choose her own future, to explore her artistic talents, to experience more than her sheltered life has so far allowed. When her father commissions an artist to paint her portrait, he brings with him Simon Halliday, a handsome assistant who awakens both physical desire and a desire to prove to herself and her family that she can make it on her own. But life in the real world turns out to be far harder than Kitty ever expected. She valiantly attempts to make the most of it, but with the outbreak of World War One, she suddenly finds herself alone and with child, with nowhere to go.

Twenty-five years later, Kitty's daughter, Anna, is searching for answers. A nurse posted to the Trenowyth family estate at Nanreath Hall, which has been turned into a hospital for soldiers too ill or badly wounded to return to the front, Anna hopes to learn more about the mother she barely remembers and the father she never met. But her arrival is not welcomed by her cold and bitter aunt and her crippled, drunken cousin, who are suspicious of her motivations. And though Anna diligently tends to the wounded, she is nursing wounds of her own, both physical and mental. As the war slogs on, Anna and her newfound family form tenuous bonds under the strain of hardship and suffering, but their descriptions of her parents don't match up with the ideal of them she's carried in her heart. With the help of a dashing airman who refuses to let Anna push him away, she unravels the mystery surrounding her birth, but the truth may be more than she's prepared to handle.