(Review) Sanditon by Jane Austen and Kate Riordan

Riordan_Sanditon(TP)

Publisher and Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Austenesque.
Pages: 400.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.

Based on Andrew Davies’ tv adaption/continuation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel written in 1817.
As seen on Masterpiece PBS, premiered January 12, 2020.

The foreword is written by Andrew Davies. He is a Welsh author of screenplays and books. He has adapted several books to film. For example: Pride and Prejudice (1995), Vanity Fair (1998), and War and Peace (2016), Sanditon (2020).

Link for more information at the publisher

Link at Amazon

Link at Barnes and Noble

Author Info: 
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an
editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor
for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had
assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in
London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly)
during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer,
she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her
first novel.

Summary: 
In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished
masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a
spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series.
Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the
joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky
relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker.
When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to
the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the
intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters
whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the
plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London,
exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover
herself… and ultimately find love.

My Thoughts:
I first want to say how excited I am to be apart of the book tour for Sanditon. I enjoyed reading the book, rereading (multiple times) the original chapters Jane Austen wrote, The World of Sanditon by Sara Sheridan, and watching the PBS Masterpiece series Sanditon.
The original writing of Sanditon by Jane Austen is twelve chapters. She began writing in January 1817, and stopped writing March 18, 1817. She died July 18, 1817. The manuscript she wrote was not only unfinished, but had not shown enough material to understand the full direction she intended the story to take. It is a guess. She was sick during the writing. Health is a theme in the original manuscript. The book presents Austen’s first character of another race. She is described in the original writing as a West Indian heiress in poor health. The story shows a modern attitude that previous writings did not. However, Jane Austen did not finish the story, and it’s only a guess about how we think the book would progress and end.
I consider the original writing of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, as an outline for the tv adaption and book. In the book by Kate Riordan, it does not follow the exact manuscript of Austen’s. Austen’s has been used as an outline. And this current book is an adaption. I was constantly aware during the reading of the current book of the differences between what had been written by Austen and the changes in the new book. I had to finally place that developing attitude aside and enjoy the adaption.
The story begins in 1819. The main character is Charlotte Heywood. She is the oldest child in a large family. She is in her late teens. They are country people. Charlotte is a personality that I cherish. She is responsible, kind, quick to help others, observant, and a bit restless for adventure. A chance encounter gives her an opportunity to leave the home and area she’d known, and experience another type of life. Through her eyes, I too experienced the adventure. She has another character trait: speaking her mind. At times, this causes people to be offended. But, I believe this makes her well-rounded, imperfect, and believable. Characters shouldn’t be too perfect!
Other characters have sharp contrasts to the likable Charlotte. They are the wealthy Lady Denham. She also speaks her mind. Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. Both of them are calculating.
Other characters like the Parker family are the benefactor of Charlotte’s travel and lodging during her visit to Sanditon. Sidney Parker is the person who Charlotte either likes or dislikes depending on their conversations. He perplexes her.
Georgiana Lambe is the wealthy West Indian heiress. She is another favorite character.
Primarily because she seems sad and I want her to be happy.
The story is strong in characters that leap off the pages and that is a plus for me.
I especially enjoyed reading the thoughts behind the characters that the tv adaption does not reveal.
I love the developing story that showed me the plight of several characters. Health is not a big plot like in the original Austen manuscript. Money and status is a big theme.
The conflicts in the story are conflicts that people of any era relate. For example, betrayal and ambition.
The book ends with the wish (on my part) for more of the story. 

(Review) Wolf by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter

Wolf_Blog Tour PosterWolf

Publisher and Publication Date: Skyhorse Publishing. February 11, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 552.
Source: I received a complimentary hardback copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers who are interested in the history in Germany between the two World Wars.
Rating: Very good.

Blog tour link at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Amazon link 
Barnes and Noble 
Indiebound

Praise:
•“Adolf Hitler anointed himself with the name, Wolf, then plotted and connived with remorseless determination to become Der Fuhrer, Dictator, Savior of the Fatherland. As in ancient Greek drama, we know the ending to the story. The riddle is how we get there….A Hitler we did not know existed emerges page by page, all his bits and pieces, certain of his role as Savior of Germany, evil, driven, shrewd, an unrepentant, serial seducer of teenage girls, surrounded by toadies as ruthless as himself but not nearly so smart—his rise and words an unnerving parallel as we witness the continued erosion of democracy today in our own sweet land. Put this book on the shelf with Ludlum, Michener, and Clavell. Wolf deserves to be in their company.” —Stephen Foreman, author of Toehold, Watching Gideon, and Journey, and screenwriter of The Jazz Singer, Hostage, and America the Beautiful
•“Based on extensive research, the extraordinary novel Wolf, by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter, lifts the curtain so that the reader can observe through the eyes of a fictional character how a seemingly unremarkable corporal who was denied a promotion for lack of ‘leadership ability’ became dictator of Germany. The result is a gripping page-turner, a masterful historical novel.” —The Jewish Voice
•“Wolf offers a front row seat to the Nazi Party’s early years, expertly using the fictional protagonist Friedrich Richard to take the reader on a fifteen-year journey from the end of the First World War to Adolf Hitler’s seizure of absolute power in Germany. The reader experiences the gradual death of democracy in Weimar Germany like a slow-motion train wreck, equally fascinated and horrified. We all know how Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich ended, but Wolf shows us how the nightmare began. A compelling, thoroughly researched, and important work. Wolf is an impressive achievement. Exhaustively researched and richly detailed, it draws on new historical research to paint a fascinating portrait of Adolph Hitler that is more human and recognizable than most depictions—and thus even more chilling and sobering.” —Alex DeMille, co-author of The Deserter with bestselling author Nelson DeMille
•“Wolf will incite intense discussion in historical circles and book clubs alike. It is a poignant, persuasive, and ultimately terrifying story of how one man came to bend the path of history through oppression and genocide by taking one step at a time.” —Amy Wilhelm, senior writer, Book Club Babble

About the Authors:
Herbert J. Stern, formerly US attorney for the District of New Jersey, who prosecuted the mayors of Newark, Jersey City and Atlantic City, and served as judge of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, is a trial lawyer. He also served as judge of the United States Court for Berlin. There he presided over a hijacking trial in the occupied American Sector of West Berlin. His book about the case, Judgment in Berlin, won the 1974 Freedom Foundation Award and became a film starring Martin Sheen and Sean Penn. He also wrote Diary of a DA: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Took on the Mob, Fought Corruption, and Won, as well as the multi-volume legal work Trying Cases to Win.
Alan A. Winter is the author of four novels, including Island Bluffs, Snowflakes in the Sahara, Someone Else’s Son, and Savior’s Day, which Kirkus selected as a Best Book of 2013. Winter graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in history and has professional degrees from both New York University and Columbia, where he was an associate professor for many years. He edited an award-winning journal and has published more than twenty professional articles. Alan studied creative writing at Columbia’s Graduate School of General Studies. His screenplay, Polly, received honorable mention in the Austin Film Festival, and became the basis for Island Bluffs.

Summary:
In the Great Tradition of Herman Wouk, Author of Winds of War and War and Remembrance, Wolf is a Thoroughly Researched and Illustrated Historical Novel about a Man who is Not Yet a Monster . . . but Will Soon Become the Ultimate One: Adolf Hitler.

Perhaps no man on Earth is more controversial, more hated, or more studied than Adolf Hitler. His exploits and every move are well-documented, from the time he first became chancellor and then-dictator of Germany to starting World War II to the systematic killing of millions of Jews. But how did he achieve power, and what was the makeup of the mind of a man who would deliberately inflict unimaginable horrors on millions of people?
Meet Friedrich Richard, an amnesiac soldier who, in 1918, encounters Hitler in the mental ward at Pasewalk Hospital. Hitler, then a corporal, diagnosed as a psychopath and helpless, suffering from hysterical blindness, introduces himself as Wolf to Friedrich and becomes dependent upon Friedrich for assistance, forming an unbreakable bond between the two men.
Follow Fredrich—our protagonist—who interacts with real people, places, and events, through the fifteen-year friendship that witnesses Hitler turn from a quiet painter into a megalomaniacal dictator. Using brand-new historical research to construct a realistic portrait of the evolving Hitler, Wolf will satisfy, by turns, history buffs and fiction fans alike. And as this complex story is masterfully presented, it answers the question of how a nondescript man became the world’s greatest monster.

To look at rare photos of Hitler during his stay at Pasewalk Hospital. Rare Historical Photos. 

Further Summary and My Thoughts:
In the prologue, the book begins in 1933. This is the afterwards of the rest of the book. Actually, the book ends with a hint of a book two, because it doesn’t wrap up, it’s an abrupt stop.
Part I, chapter one, it is July 1918. A German soldier is in a hospital in Berlin recovering from wounds and surgery. He has no memory. He doesn’t know his name. He is later transferred to Pasewalk Hospital. The town of Pasewalk is in far east Germany near Poland. It’s near the Baltic Sea. It is a doctor at this hospital who names the German soldier with no memory. His name becomes Friedrich Richard. He is a tall and handsome man. Probably in his twenties. He learns early on that he knows guns and ammunition. He also knows how to fight. Pasewalk Hospital has patients who have a mental instability from being in the war. It’s a noisy hospital with men who scream, stutter, and sob loudly. Another soldier is brought to the hospital after he lost his eyesight in a gas attack. The two men become friends.
Even in the opening pages of the book, I don’t have empathy for these two soldiers. It’s a strange experience to not feel empathy for the characters. These feelings followed me through the entire book. I don’t like the men. I don’t care what happens to them. Of course I know what “Wolf” became. I know he was a disturbed-frenzied-psychopath murderer.
Friedrich is handsome and he attracts females like pesky flies. I didn’t have sympathy for any of the women.
It is difficult to read a lengthy book and be unmoved for the characters. I continued to read, because it is an enticing story about the origins of the Wolf’s demented beginnings.
Wolf is probably one of the most hated men who ever lived. To read a book that shows his human qualities is odd. He was a monster. I don’t want to read a book that brings human qualities about him. This is a block to overcome when reading this book.
The storyline showed me the reasons behind the Wolf’s brutality and insanity. And, his plot and purpose, and his steps to carry out those plans. I feel this story has achieved a strong storyline despite unlikable characters.
It is an achievement to write a book with unlikable characters-monsters, and, yet, draw the reader in to the story. It’s like walking a fine line.
Wolf is obviously not a feel good book. It requires a different “thinking cap” to read it.

Giveaway Rules:
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

This blog itself does not host giveaways, but this is the link for the giveaway.

 

(Review) Salt The Snow by Carrie Callaghan

Salt the Snow_PosterSalt the Snow

Publisher and Publication Date: Amberjack Publishing. February 4, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 304.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers who’d enjoy a female expatriate living in the former Soviet Union during the 1930s.
Rating: Good-the last part of the book was the decider.

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
The landing page for the book tour: https://www.hfvirtualbooktours.com/saltthesnowblogtour/

Amazon link

03_Carrie Callaghan
Author Information:
Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information, please visit Carrie Callaghan’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Praise:
“The vivid prose of Salt the Snow sets the reader in the middle of socioeconomic upheavals and political unrest with the best possible tour guide, wisecracking American journalist Milly Bennett. Callaghan excels at bringing little-known real-life women out of the darkness of historical obscurity and into the light of recognition. From the first scene, the reader is plunged into a world of suspense and intrigue, led by an unforgettable protagonist. Milly is not so much a character as a fully realized, complex human being: her brilliance and self-sufficiency are admirable, and her loneliness and feelings of unworthiness are heartbreaking. A fascinating novel!” —Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice
“A vivid, well-researched story of a complex and ahead-of-her-time woman, an American journalist, who finds herself—head and heart—while living and working in an equally complex Russia.” —Jenni L. Walsh, author of Becoming Bonnie
Salt the Snow is a vivid journey through the kaleidoscope of 1930s Europe with an irrepressible and all too human guide in Milly Bennett. Don’t miss this book and its unforgettable heroine!” —Linnea Hartsuyker, author of The Half-Drowned King and The Golden Wolf
“Honest, vivid, and bold in the face of historical truths, Salt the Snow is a captivating story of a woman whose vulnerability and hopeful idealism resonate even today.” —Jennifer Klepper, bestselling author of Unbroken Threads

This blog does not host the giveaway. I am sharing the direct link for the giveaway.
Direct link for the giveaway that ends @ 11:59 tonight-Feb 5.
Guidelines for the giveaway:
You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Summary:
American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart. Salt the Snow is a vivid and impeccably researched tale of a woman ahead of her time, searching for her true calling in life and love.

My Thoughts:
Milly Bennett is 30ish. She’s an American. She’s a world-traveler. She’s a journalist. She is independent, feisty, and assertive. Her weakness is allowing men to dominate her life. Surprising, as sharp as she is in some ways, Milly is not wise about men. She settles.
She doesn’t consider herself to be attractive. She wears men’s trousers in an era when no matter the country or weather, females wear dresses. She has curves, but she’s not happy about the way her face looks. She is a female easily persuaded by men’s flattery and tenderness. I believe that flattery and attention makes her feel better about herself. Milly is a character that I have only a little bit of empathy for. She should know better by her 30s to not get mixed up quickly with men who come on really fast (they want a permanent relationship.) It’s a strong possibility they are using her. Awe, if we all had hindsight!
Milly is a character that I don’t care either way what she chooses, because she has shown to choose the same pattern. It makes me want to lay the book down and walk away, because I see the same thing happening on and on.
The book moves back and forth in time. At least the times are in the 1930s.
Salt The Snow showed me what life was like in the former Soviet Union during the 1930s. It was a scary time for the people who lived there. It was an era of police action against anything they were intolerant to. And, just like that you were beat-up, murdered, or sent far away like Siberia. I enjoyed learning about this aspect, because I have a better understanding.
This is a sad story. I wanted her to be a heroine. She had opportunities to write great journalist stories while in Russia; instead, she chose to put her energy in a troubled relationship.
A final point about this book, the last part of it is the best.
I enjoyed reading the author’s notes about the real person behind Milly. Her name was Mildred “Milly” Jacqueline Bremler.

(Review) Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Dreamland
Publisher and Publication Date: Endeavour Quill. January 16, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 386.
Source: NetGalley ebook copy. I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers, especially those interested the early 20th century in America-wealthy class.
Rating: Good over-all, despite reservations explained in the review.

Amazon link. The Kindle Unlimited is free.

 

Nancy Bilyeau website
Facebook page
Author profile at Goodreads

Summary:
New York. 1911.
It was the age of Progressivism in America. The Progressive Era was 1890s to 1920s. The Gilded Age was 1870s to 1900.
A brief definition of Progressivism was an era when people focused on social and then political changes in response to the affect of industrialism in America.
Dreamland is the story of a wealthy young Jewish woman named Margaret “Peggy” Battenberg. Her grandfather was a Jewish man who immigrated from Switzerland. How he made his fortune was in the mines of Colorado. Peggy’s father was the youngest of six sons. He died in debt. Her mother and siblings live off income from the Battenberg family. Her sister Lydia, age 17, is expected to help the family by marrying wealth. Peggy rebels from her wealthy society by taking a job in a bookstore. She loves the job; her family is appalled. An uncle asks Peggy to stay with the family in a seaside hotel for the rest of the summer. She’s to behave and abide by the family wishes. The goal is an engagement between Lydia and a wealthy man named Henry Taul. Henry was once the beau of Peggy! The hotel is near Coney Island. A dead woman’s body is found at the beach. Meanwhile, a chance encounter shows Peggy another socio-economic life and new friends.

My Thoughts:
I love the storyline.
I love the themes in the story.
I love the mystery surrounding the murders.
There is intrigue about the person Henry Taul. Is he hiding something bad? Is he trustworthy? This was a big reason I continued to read the book.
I loved reading about the history of events in New York City and America; and, a world that is headed for war.
It’s interesting and it’s been an education on how the wealthy lived in this era.
For example:
•How they spent their time.
•Their thoughts on their own kind of people and also those who are beneath them.
•How to keep their money and how to make more money.

What I didn’t like about Dreamland is the main character. I did not like Peggy. She’s rude and harsh; and she’s unaware of how she comes across to people who are of a different socio-economic class. They realize this but she doesn’t.
She’s arrogant and haughty. She becomes smitten with a man who is not in her class. I found this odd, considering how she presents herself. I wondered if deep down this is a rebellion against her class?
Her character showed me she is immature and pompous.
This affects the romantic scenes, because it demonstrates a silliness on her part.

This is a book review where I’m tested. Am I coming across as pompous because of a character I dislike? Maybe. Possibly.

(Review) To Crown a King by Raedene Jeanette Melin

To Crown a King
Publisher and Publication Date: Skjaldmaer Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 298.
Source: NetGalley ebook copy. I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers who enjoy reading about Scottish history.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon 
Kindle copy is $3.99

 

Raedene Jeannette Melin website
True facts about the main character, Christina.
Lady Christian Bruce or Christina was born in 1273 (other sites place her birth in 1278.) She was the daughter of the 6th Lord of Annandale, Robert Bruce. Her mother was the Countess of Carrick. The Bruce family were the Lord’s of Annandale. The castle and lands were located just north of the English border. She was the older sister of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland. She was the 2nd of ten children. She was actively involved in the Wars of Independence. She was married three times and had four children. Christian died in 1357.
For more information: Undiscovered Scotland.
Wars of Independence, from Britannica.

Summary:
Scotland, 1295.
Edward I of England wants control of Scotland. A man named John Balliol wears the Scottish crown but not for long. Christina Bruce is a daughter of Robert Bruce. When the story begins he is in Norway with her older sister Isabel. Christina lives with her grandfather, also Robert Bruce. She’s betrothed to a man she doesn’t love. She avoids this arrangement. She is a woman of determination and rebellion. In an era when females were under the control of their fathers, Christina is not a woman who will obey.
Throughout the story, Christina seems to be in the right place at the right time to become involved with a strong historical figure involved in the Wars of Independence. For example, William Wallace. Without being said, she has a reputation as a wise person who can be counted on for planning and carrying out missions.

My Thoughts:
To Crown a King is my kind of historical fiction. I love Scottish history. I love this time period. And, to top it off, I read about an ancestral family member in the story. I’m not going to name him, because he made a history defining poor choice. I read somewhere else he later apologized.
Christina is a story hero I love. She has strength, maturity, boldness, wisdom, and insight. She’s an imperfect person and this makes her both enduring, likable, and believable. I do have a slight problem with her being in the right place at the right time so often. This seems staged. However, later in the story this “right place” ends.
I like the story, because it is a story that’s not been told until this book.
I like this story, because William Wallace is a character I enjoy reading. He is a likable fellow. He is shown not as a machismo type, but he’s shown as a thinking, observing, guileful warrior.
To Crown a King shows the Scottish noble families and who they aligned with; of course, sometimes they changed to another leader. This story told me people betray those thought to be trusted.
The story is in an era when the brutality of war and aggression is common. It’s also a time when vengeance and revenge is expected.
The Scottish people did not want their land to be controlled by the English king. They were ready to fight and lay down their lives for freedom. This is the number one theme.
The culture of women is shown. However, Christina is a remarkable character for this era.