[Re-read]: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

The Dirt on Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones
Publication Date: January 12th, 2016
Read: Three Times
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Truth be told, I’ve read and re-read the entire series twice now. And still, to this day, book number nine remains my favourite. That’s why when I was invited to do a re-reading blog tour for the series, there was no question as to which book I’d like to revisit again.

Time and again, St. Martin’s Press has been gracious enough to send me an invite for the instalments. But the rub is, the wait for the next book becomes especially longer. Book number eight ended with the mother of all cliff hangers. There were tears, I tell you. Tears. And it wasn’t because the cliff hanger was tragic. It was because of my debilitating need to know what happens next.

So then book number nine arrived in my Kindle via Net Galley. I was only too happy to lose sleep that night just so I can read it in one go.

In here, Charley was an amnesiac who found herself miles away from home. But since she has no recollection of who she was, home is Sleepy Hollow, New York. Her name is Janey Doerr. A waitress with a disturbing addiction to coffee; a predilection to know when a person is lying, and a sick sense in seeing dead people. How she lost her memory is something you need to find out for yourself in book eight.

She is also surrounded by a small army of people who either outright lie to her or give her half truths. But regardless of what they were hiding, she can see kindness and their protective instincts towards her. Except maybe for one regular who, short of snarling at her whenever she’s near, avoids her like she has the plague. But because she also has very little self-preservation instincts, Reyes Alexander Farrow is the flame to her moth.

Charley may have lost her memory but she’s still the same Charley. Trouble finds her every which way she turns, or perhaps she seeks them out. Dead people abounds, waiting to use her like the River Styx. There’s also a family who’s being held hostage by suspected terrorists. Oh, also a cop who thinks he owns her and therefore should be the love of her life. Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.

I’ve mentioned this on my previous review that the best thing about this book is the interaction between Charley and Reyes, per usual. They’re starting all over again so the push and pull was fun to watch. There is no denying that these two are one of my favourite literary couple. Between Charley’s odd and more often sick sense of humour, and Reyes’ infinite love for Charley, it would be difficult to find other couples to love. This series just fires on all cylinders for me. It’s hella funny, scorchingly sexy, and surprisingly still fresh after almost thirteen books.

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Genevieve Graham and Her Love for Canadian History

In high school, I had no interest in history. Now that I’m an adult, there’s a lot I don’t know. Non-fiction usually puts me to sleep, so I turned to historical fiction. My obsession with the genre started with “Outlander”, and I never stopped reading.

I’d never written anything, never dreamed of it, but in 2007 I made my first attempt and my Scottish historical trilogy became a bestseller. In 2008, my family and I moved to Nova Scotia, and it was full of history! My first eye-opening lesson was about the Halifax Explosion, the largest manmade explosion before Hiroshima. Despite my excellent education, I had never heard of it. I needed to know all about the Explosion, and I learn by visualizing. I dropped my fictional characters into the setting and walked beside them, writing as we went.

I have become addicted to the little known or untold stories in Canadian history and am determined to tell more. “Promises to Keep” covered the Acadian Expulsion. “Come From Away” returns to Nova Scotia during WWII, and soon I will get back to work on three more books which are already partially written: the Klondike Gold Rush (and the early Mounties), the British Home Children, and more.

My agent once told me the secret to successful publishing is to “write a really great book.” Well, I want more than that. I want to write a good book and I want to bring history back to life … so no one sleeps through class anymore.

 

Thanks for stopping by, Genevieve. As a Canadian, and as someone who didn’t have the opportunity to study here, I try to glean as much history as I can from the books I read. So reading your books is something that I look forward to with great interest if only to learn about the country that have embraced me and my family so warmly. Thank you for all you do and for taking the time to write this piece. 

@GenGrahamAuthor | Facebook | Website

Buy her books here: Amazon | Chapters Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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The Timeless Tour Kick Off


Last year, I was fortunate enough to have been a part of The Timeless Tour hosted by Simon & Schuster Canada. I was really excited to see which authors and works I’ll get to discover. I’m happy to see Ms. Genevieve Graham again and super pumped to read her recent work. Ms. Kearsley is, of course, a household Canadian name so to see Bellewhether amongst the list of books is a delight. I’ve already read Songs of Love and War by Ms. Montefiore and have loved it. As well, Ms. Van Alkemade’s Bachelor Girl.

To kick off this tour, we were asked three questions about our interest in Historical Fiction. As you know, I read a whole variety of stuff. But I find myself leaning towards Historical Fiction when I’m in need of something more cerebral, oddly enough.

To understand the past is to determine our future.

Historical fiction enables me to travel back in time and learn about the world I live in. History is not always an enthusiastic subject for me, but it feels different to see it through another person’s story instead of a stone-cold statement of facts. The irony is, I love to read about historical facts told in a fictional account of someone’s story.  So I love learning about it any way I can.

If I could travel back in time, which period would I want to be and why?

Elizabeth Bennett has done her part in making me feel like the Georgian era would be ideal for me. All we have to worry about is dodging our meddling mothers in finding us husbands and we’ll be golden.

Dinner for Two

There’s never been a great representation of grace and charm than the late Princess Diana. She’s not a perfect person, sure. But her life was the epitome of goodness and kindness towards the less fortunate, the sick children, and those in need. She would’ve had a lot of stories and experiences to tell, so if I could have a sit down with any historical figures, I would give a limb to have that time with her.

Thanks for reading!

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The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson


The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson: The Inspiration

This is a question writers get asked all the time. And some writers have really great, specific answers. Like: I was sitting on a bus and I saw a dog with a wooden leg and decided to write about wooden-legged, bus-riding dogs: their history and culture. But for a lot of writers, myself included, the inspiration for a novel, or indeed the inspiration to write in general, is a much more airy-fairy, metaphysical thing that’s hard to pin down.

My own novel, The Wolves of Winter, had a lot of different inspirations. I had the setting in mind: I wanted a snowy, post-apocalyptic Yukon. I wanted a father/daughter relationship that was prevalent (due to having a young daughter myself). And I wanted it to be part survival story, part coming of age story, part literary tale, part epic post-apocalyptic madness.

So why did I write what I did? Is it my passion for the outdoors? Is it the fact that I grew up on fantasy novels and love the blend of literary/fantasy or literary/science fiction? Is it my own family dynamics? Yes. Of course. The problem is, it’s all of those things. It’s everything that makes me who I am. From my memories to my passions, from the books I read to the movies I watch, from the myriad of people in my life to the myriad of personalities in my head. It’s everything.

So when an author tells you about that moment on the bus with the wooden-legged dog, I think she really is telling you the truth. BUT, I very much doubt it’s the whole truth. Maybe the dog was the spark that lit the fire, but the fire doesn’t burn without a giant pile of wood that’s already there. Books are like people, they’re messy things. They’re a bringing together of ideas and passions and wishes and fears. It’s why writing is so interesting. It’s why reading is so interesting. You never know what your readers are going to get out of your novel; you might not even know what you’re going to get out of it. While you thought you were writing a book about crippled dogs, in the end, you realize what actually inspired you to write was your deep-seeded fear of public transportation.

B  O  O  K    R  E  V  I  E  W  – 4 out of 5 Stars

The Wolves of Winter is a surprisingly fast read. I say that because, for all intents and purposes, it’s a book set in the post-apocalyptic Arctic where the environment enhances the feel of the desolation of the times. Whereas with other books in this genre tend to build a largesse narrative explaining the genesis of the world that they come to know, the bones of The Wolves of Winter is highly tangible; easily imaginable. I feel like we’re living in it now. The delicate global politics that only become even more so with the new American administration, it is indeed even more plausible now.

With the majority of the US population wiped out by a strain of Asian Flu, the McBrides fled to the remote Alaskan wilderness at first. But when the disease extended its reaches, they had very little choice but to flee even further up North. For years, it had only been Gwendolyn and what’s left of her family. They’d survived by hunting, foraging, and preserving their food for the bitter winter. Life was a cycle of monotonous humdrum until a fugitive named, Jax appeared in their midst. Suddenly, the quiet life of the town of McBrides – population 5 – had become far from boring.

Tyrell Johnson’s debut novel is a page-turner. There wasn’t a second when you’d lose interest in the goings on of Gwendolyn’s life. While she spent a lot of time immersed in her own self (for lack of company), her quiet introspective about the world and how it came to be pulled me that much deeper into the story.

There are a few aspects of the story that I wish was explored further, however. Ramsey, for one, had me speculating about his sexuality and his debilitating shyness when confronted with sex. Because he’s the only person not related to the McBride’s that’s close to Lynn’s age, it was only fitting that they’d be paired in all sense of the word. But any attempts at anything sexual with Lynn only led to tears and mortification. And yet, as soon as Jax entered the scene, Ramsey exuded attitudes attributable to jealousy.

There was also the appearance of white animals (foxes…crows) that I thought should’ve been better explained other than an adaptation to the new global climate of sorts. It felt like an afterthought that had no significance to the story at all. I also needed to read more about Jax’s abilities. I felt that it was one of this book’s strong points.

Regardless, I enjoyed this novel immensely. I’ve always loved reading post-apocalyptic novels, and Johnson’s debut hits all the right spots. It’s a page-flipper, a little desperate and sweet at times, but also violent. I especially loved Gwendolyn’s relationship with her father. They were close and was each other’s best friend. Lynn for her part is a strong character; stubborn and determined. Protective of those she loves. She is fearless and fierce and does what she can to adapt to a world that left her very little choice but to survive.

Overall, this was an outstanding debut. Vivid and bleak; exciting and tender at times.

Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018 | Simon & Schuster Canada | Amazon | Chapters Indigo | Book Depository |

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[724]: No Good Deed by Kara Connolly

No Good Deed
by Kara Connolly


Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.


This was a chockful of fun.

I was immediately drawn to this book because I’m a huge fan of the Robin Hood legend and when I saw that Ms. Connolly’s take would feature a gender twist of sorts, I knew I had to read it.

Present-time Ellie was an archer who was dealing with the recent loss of her brother. She also lived in his shadow for he was an Olympian as well. On her way back to her hotel, she followed a man dressed in a friar’s frock with whom she thought was the same one who distracted her during her during the competition. One topsy-turvy turn, however, brought her all the way back to the 12th century; specifically, at a time when most of Nottingham was suffering in the hands of the Sheriff.

It was not long ago that I read a time travel such as this one where the character was pulled all the way back to Medieval times. Both characters went through the initial shock of finding themselves stuck and unable to come home at will. In Ellie’s case, it wasn’t just a matter of retracing back her steps to see if she can somehow find her way home. This girl finds trouble at every step of the way, and no matter what she does to lay low, the trouble finds her regardless.

I love the characters she meets and the parallelization with the characters of the original legend. And because she’s an American set in her ways, she brings about shock with the way she acts and speaks at every turn. I love seeing the reaction of those around her. She’s full of spunk; courage when there’s none to be found and kindness towards the people with whom she only just met. There might be a romance brewing on the horizon but honestly, that’s just cake. The story is great the way it is. I adore the friendships she developed amongst the people of Nottingham; the thieves and the bandits; the nuns and the outlaws.

I’m not sure if this is going to be a series, but damn. I need more. No Good Deed is a great adventure set in Medieval England. If you’re a fan of the Robin Hood legend, Connolly’s take is sure to keep you entertained from page one to the last.

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[722]: The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

Monster mash-up of epic proportions.


The Only Child
by Andrew Pyper

Lily Dominick lives for her job. As a child, she was touched by the horror of having witnessed her mother’s murder. One thing that keeps her up some nights though, was the reason why the murderer left her unscathed.

Despite that traumatic event in her life, she grew up to be an intelligent woman; independent and determined. But there’s a dark side in her that feeds her drive to understand the patients — clients that she encounters day in and day out at Kirby.  A psychiatric facilty that houses the most demented, depraved serial killers and murderers.

One of those clients was a recently arrested beguiling man who had some stories to tell. He claimed to know her before she was even born. He claimed to have done what he’s done if only to get close to her. Even more shocking was his claim that he knew her mother. Then he dropped the mother of all revelations by claiming he was her father.

Meeting “Michael” for the first time reminded me of a scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarisse sparred with one psychopath named Hannibal Leckter. But Michael was incomparable to the famous cannibal. For one, when he’s not playing human he was a winged, clawed supernatural monster of sorts. What he is precisely is hard to tell. But he’s highly intelligent, indestructible, and possesses the kind of unmatched cruelty amongst serial killers in history. He’s also two centuries old – give or take.

Michael is also a cunning, manipulative monster. Dangling a proverbial carrot for Lily was his favourite. First, was his claim that he knew her mother. And then it was the knowledge that he was her father. There was something about Lily that yearns for this man. Both as a child to a father and in some ways, sexual, morbidly enough. In the end, I never knew which part of her longed for Michael the most. But either way, it neither was normal.

Throughout the story, readers will discover all the ways that Pyper derived from three well-known gothic classics. He seamlessly worked Michael’s character in the creation of the 19th-century horror fiction triumvirate. And as Lily continues her pursuit of the elusive Michael, she’ll piece together her mother’s life and death. All the while encountering a group of assassins who are also on Michael’s trail. This book never lacked for suspense; I flew through the pages like I was also in pursuit.

The Only Child was exactly what you would expect from Andrew Pyper. It’s a very dark fantasy littered with dead bodies and violence. The lure of the three horror classics was irresistible. But in the end, Pyper’s spin was even more incredible.

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The Curious Mind of a Scientist: Melodie Winawer


P.S.A I know it’s been a while, folks. But bear with me for just a few more days. Today, Melodie Winawer shares her inspiration for her debut novel, The Scribe of Siena. I absolutely loved this novel and reading about what inspired her to write this book only takes it a bit further. You can read my 5-star review here. 


My ideas for writing creep up on me—sometimes I wonder whether they come from me at all. When I started Scribe I hadn’t even been planning to write a novel. That isn’t entirely true—I’d been thinking about writing a novel for more than thirty years. What made me decide to write this novel at that particular moment? We’d just sold our house and bought a new house but it needed renovations so we moved into my mom’s apartment with our three kids. I was between books—not reading anything, and missing the feeling of being in an absorbing story, at the same time as being in a limbo of life stages too, between homes. During those few strange months where I was longing to be absorbed in a deep, compelling imaginary world, it came to me that I wanted to MAKE my own story, not READ one. So that’s what I did.

There were actually two inspirations at the heart of The Scribe of Siena. One was the history—or mystery— of Siena’s exceptional devastation and failure to recover from the Plague of 1348. The other beginning was more personal.

In addition to being a writer, I’m a neuroscientist and neurologist. The way I do scientific research goes something like this: I come up with a question I don’t know the answer to. If I don’t find an answer in easily accessible sources, I look harder. If I still don’t know the answer, I ask colleagues with special expertise. If no one knows the answer, or even better, if I find disagreement or controversy, that’s when I know I’ve found my next research project. That happened with The Scribe of Siena. The minute I started thinking and reading about Siena, I encountered an unanswered question. I learned that Siena had fared particularly badly in the great Plague of the 1340s—worse than many other Tuscan cities, Florence in particular. And I realized that a single clear answer didn’t exist to explain Siena’s decline during and after the Plague, a decline that eventually led to Siena’s loss of independence and subservience to Florentine rule under the Medici regime decades later. To make things more interesting, Florence was Siena’s arch-enemy for centuries, and in the 1340s a plot backed by Florentine nobles to overthrow Siena’s government had been attempted but failed.   Together, these details gave me that hair-raising moment, the moment I know so well from science.   I’d found my unanswered question—and that became the heart of the story. Or at least one of the hearts.

When I was in medical school, I helped take care of a 32-year-old neurologist who came for treatment of a breast lump. Medical students usually have more time to listen to patients than full-fledged doctors, and we talked for hours. Her breast biopsy was benign, but a colonoscopy showed a mass that was likely colon cancer. She was terrified and I was terrified for her. I was scheduled to assist in the operating room the next day, but I was not ready. I was afraid I couldn’t marshal the appropriate remove to allow my hands to do what they needed to do in the O.R. I’d grown too close.

I had to figure out how to get control of this empathy, rein it in enough so I could give my patient, who had begun to feel like my friend, the support she needed, without losing myself. For my new friend, the outcome was good; the cancer was removed. But that experience left me more aware of the danger, the far edge of empathy, uncontrolled. How far could it go–the ability to feel what someone else is feeling? Could it extend to the written word, or even to words written hundreds of years ago? Or blur the boundaries not only between self and other but between two times?

My experience of a physician’s empathy and its dangers led me to create my protagonist Beatrice. For Beatrice, a neurosurgeon who enjoys the great privilege of working inside patients’ brains with her hands, empathy—and its consequences—come unbidden, and unravel her orderly life. I set the book in Siena because I love the city and its history, and could imagine spending years thinking and writing about it. Siena is simultaneously modern and medieval, a city where the past and present coexist. So it became the perfect place for me to set this story of a woman who, at first against her will, and then by desire, loses her place in time.


Thank you so much, Melodie. I’m especially delighted to learn about Melodie’s seemingly enhanced empathic ability and where it came from. In my experience, a genuinely sympathetic doctor is one that I’ll always come back to. And I suppose being too involved in your patient’s well-being is one of the hazards of the job. That’s one of the things I loved about Beatrice. Besides the fact that she’s eternally curious, resourceful, and tenacious. 

Your love for the city of Siena shone through with every careful description of the medieval culture, food, and the overall mise en scène captured in your novel. Definitely on the ever-growing bucket list!

FIND MELODIE HERE:

Twitter | Website | Timeless Tour | Facebook

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[715]: The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

A sensory overload that shows the dark romanticism of the medieval past.


The Scribe of Siena
by Melodie Winawer

Debut novelist Melodie Winawer takes us to 14th century Italy right on the cusp of the Black Plague contagion.

A neurosurgeon in the contemporary time, Beatrice Trovato never knew what was lying in wait for her when she came to Italy. Having just lost her brother unexpectedly, the decision to honour his legacy by continuing on with his work was something she inherited.  He was on the verge of discovering the genesis of the Black Plague. And because it was a blight in the history of Siena, local historians didn’t take too well on Beatrice’s intrusion. But she persevered. Especially when she discovered the journal written by a local artist from hundreds of years ago.  The journal that will transport her to the year before the spread of the Black Plague.

Set in the backdrop of a period in history ripe with conspiracy and political intrigue, The Scribe of Siena is a languid tale of time travel, medical mystery, romance, and murder. Melodie Winawer is a scholar at heart – and it shows with every delicate and intricate detail. Though at times verbose, the writing showed intelligence and industrious research. I, for one, was caught almost immediately by page one. Through her words, I felt like Beatrice seeing Italy in a way that she’s never seen before. She tasted foods that are, in a lot of ways, culinary magic in their simple, most organic form. And the way she showed how art was preserved all through these years made me want to pack a bag and book the next flight to any countries that were cradles of civilization.

Beatrice is an incredible character. She was resourceful and clever; persistent and untiring. I love her passion in medicine and in helping people. I also love her relationship with her brother who became her father figure when they both lost their parents. It was sadly cut short, but readers can tell how big of a role he played in her life. She also seems to have a knack for adapting to any situations in which she was forced. To find herself in medieval Italy and not break down in tears of desperation was admirable to me. Some may find this unbelievable but I thought Melodie has done such a great job in character development that I was convinced Beatrice was such a person who effectively compartmentalized emotions and situations that help her deal with any trauma in a calm manner. (It’s the neurosurgeon in her, I think.)

Beatrice also has this uncanny and very pronounced emphatic ability. It’s almost like a sixth sense that enabled her to detect any grave diseases in her patients that technology is, otherwise,  unable to detect. A great mystery and mysticism that only enhanced my admiration for her.

Gabrielle, on the other hand, dealt with his own grief the only way an artist know how. (He lost his wife while giving birth to their stillborn son.) He threw himself in his work and never lost faith in the Divine (as evidenced by his work). Their romance was gentle and tentative on the whole. Part of this is Beatrice’s uncertainty with her future or very distant past, as it were.

This book didn’t incite boredom. I was captivated, intrigued and for an entire weekend, completely immersed. I was curious right along with Beatrice to see a place from a different perspective. Apologies for this supremely long winded gushing. But if you’ve not the time to read this review in its entirety, then there are only two words that you need to know: READ THIS.

Read this for the romance.

Read this for a peek at a period in Italian history unlike anything you’ve read before.

Read this for Beatrice – who is easily one of the coolest, bad-ass chick I’ve read in a while.

Whichever reason you picked for trying this book on for size, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

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[713]: Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham

Today’s post is my stop for Genevieve Graham’s latest, Promises to Keep for Simon & Schuster Canada’s Timeless Tour. For more details, follow the link here.


Promises to Keep
by Genevieve Graham

One of the best things I love about Historical Fiction is that it awakens a hunger in me to learn more. It’s an appetite that forces me to go beyond the storylines and seek the basis of the novel.

After devouring this in practically one sitting, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know much about the history of this great nation. I didn’t go to school here; even though I’ve been living here for 20+ years now. Other than the brief history I needed to learn in order for me to get my Canadian citizenship status; the current events, political or otherwise, my knowledge about this great country of mine is pretty paltry. Thanks to this book, I’ve developed an interest in the Expulsion of the Acadian people in the 17th century. 

On the surface, Promises to Keep is a story about the romantic entanglement between an Acadian and English soldier. But on the large, it’s about the resiliency of the Acadian people at a time when they were forced out of their land and imprisoned in a ship on their way to exile. It is also about the fierce relationship between the Mi’kmaq people and the French Canadians. This was an especially curious interest to me the most.

Over the course of history, all we’ve ever known about the relationships between the indigenous people and the invaders of their land was how it was ripe with contempt and ill will. But the Mi’kmaq people and the French had developed a friendship that left the English confounded. Perhaps it was in this resulting uncanny camaraderie that the Acadian hoped for a better outcome of the invasion.

The Acadian people wanted to believe that they can live in harmony with the English soldiers. They showed little to no resistance; they fed them even. But they would soon realize that the dictates of war offer no such euphony. The English would leave them homeless first, then confined in the bellows of a ship sailing the perilous Atlantic Ocean towards the South.

Before the invasion, Genevieve depicted the idyllic life of the Acadians set in the backdrop of a lush farming land and the giving sea. There were conviviality and togetherness in the small population of Grand Pre. Unfortunately, the serenity would not last. Through her words, she also conveyed their hardship during the invasion. The more often hopelessness of their situation: the hunger, the filth they had to wade through, and their resolve to see through their plight no matter how desperate their situation. 

And amidst this struggle, was the budding and tremulous romance between Amelie and Connor MacDonnell. It’s one that’s forbidden, dangerous but all the more important because their entanglement was the flint the Acadian needed to spark their resistance. MacDonnell was first burdened with a choice between doing his duties as a soldier and doing what’s right for Amelie’s people. But given his history with the British Army, this choice soon became less of a burden but more of the end justifying the means. 

He was once a victim of the English invasion as well. He’s a Scot who had seen and tasted what the English were capable of when they marauded Scotland. After his entire family was killed during the war, he was left with no other choice but to become a soldier in service of the Queen. Even if he was full of hatred for the English. Which is why the decision to betray them even it means his death came to him easily. 

Amelie was a strong woman who had to make hard decisions as well but never did she wallow or second guessed herself knowing what was at stake. She had a fierce love and loyalty to her family; a sense of belonging with the Mi’kmaq people, and love for her land that had given them so much over the years.

I started reading this book at noon on a Sunday. I finished reading it on my ride to work the following day. If you’ve ever considered Historical Fiction boring, Promises to Keep was far from it. Genevieve Graham rendered the most romantic landscape of the East Coast amidst the imperious haze of a brewing war. This book was a measly 300+ pages. But it offered so much perspective and connection to the characters and the history.


Genevieve’s Website | Twitter | Facebook

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The Birth of The Mistresses of Versailles by Sally Christie

Where do authors find their inspiration? Hemmingway said to “write drunk, edit sober”. But it often makes me wonder about how much truth are in those words. I don’t know about you but I, for one, couldn’t even write my name to save my life if I had a few glasses of wine in me. Heck, I can’t even finish one glass without face planting, to tell you the truth. So I’m in awe of anyone who can write an entire novel – sober or not. 
I’m especially amazed when an author is able to write entire series based on historical figures. Imagine the research! Imagine the painstaking work they have to do to make sure that their work is close to accurate. Louis XV is one of those prominent historical figures whose taste in women rivals that of any womanizing men of power in history. 
Today, Sally Christie, author of The Mistresses of Versailles shares with us her inspiration for her novels. 

• Behind the Book by Sally Christie •

I’ve always been a writer in the sense that I have been writing since I was very young. I experience the world through stories and always had the urge to capture life around me in words. But it was just a hobby and I never actually finished any of my stories. After a change in circumstances a few years ago, I decided to take a year, write full-time, finish a book, and see if I could get it published.

I had a number of projects lined up (some fiction; some non-fiction; all historical) and was just about ready to go when I stumbled onto the story of the Mailly Nesle sisters and Louis XV while surfing Wikipedia one night. I was instantly hooked and amazed that I had never heard of them. The obscurity of their story (at least in the English-speaking world) was part of the appeal – I love the idea that I would be the first one to bring it to light.

I dropped all my other projects to write the book that eventually became The Sisters of Versailles. While I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking of a potential series. I knew about Louis XV’s subsequent mistresses, the much more famous Madame de Pompadour and the Comtesse du Barry, and just assumed they had been the subject of a lot of historical fiction.

When my agent asked about other books ideas around The Sisters of Versailles (sometimes it’s easier to sell a series, so a publishing house isn’t investing in an author with just one book) I looked at these other mistresses, and was amazed and excited to learn they had not been written about in English. They could be “mine”!

And so The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy was born: after Sisters, The Rivals of Versailles tells the story of Pompadour and the many minor mistresses that rivaled her for the king’s affection. Finally, The Enemies of Versailles tells the story of the lovely Comtesse du Barry and her enmity with Madame Adelaide, the king’s daughter, and follows them all the way up to the French Revolution, that ended so badly for so many of my characters.

With the publication of the third book and the end of the trilogy, I feel great gratitude that I was the one to tell the sad, funny, improbable and tragic stories of these influential women who helped to shape the 18th century.

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Thank you so much, Sally. I’m looking forward to binge-reading this series. 🙂
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