Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Post: Naomi Jacob - Author of The Founder of the House

The author Naomi Jacob led a life that was every bit as interesting and eventful as those of her characters. In fact it was her own family background which influenced her most popular and well-known work - the seven volume historical family series The Gollantz Saga.
Jacob's paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had escaped the pogroms of Western Prussia to settle in England, while her mother's father was a Yorkshireman who was twice the mayor of Ripon. The experience of this mixed heritage shaped her saga of the Gollantz family, whose founding father moves from eighteenth-century continental Europe to start a business and family in London. The author's own emigration was from England to Italy. After suffering with tuberculosis for many years, she moved to Sirmione on Lake Garda to benefit from the milder climate.
The Gollantzes' story begins with The Founder of the House, which introduces us to Emmanuel Gollantz. His father, Hermann, is an antiques dealer who lives according to the principles of loyalty, honesty and honour instilled in him as a child. But his wife's calculating family exploit this idealism, threatening Hermann's professional and personal positions. Set mostly in nineteenth century Paris and Vienna, The Founder of the House makes reference throughout to the real-life famous people of the day, including Napoleon, Prince Metternich and Strauss. Naomi Jacob was no stranger to the celebrated people of her own time. Not only was she a bestselling author, she also had success as a character actor. She worked and socialised with household names such as John Geilgud (starring opposite him in the West End), the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Marie Lloyd and Sarah Bernhardt. Jacob also established a life-long friendship with the novelist Radclyffe Hall, after appearing for the defence in the obscenity trial of The Well of Loneliness.
In Vienna, the Gollantz family are well-regarded but are barred from high society because they are Jewish. Emmanuel, therefore, takes a great risk when he embarks upon a love affair with a member of the inner circle of the Viennese Court. Although she was raised in the Church of England, and then converted to Roman Catholicism, Jacob was proud of her Jewish heritage, and fought against anti-Semitism in her life and work. In 1935 she returned an award for one of her novels when she learned that another recipient was Adolf Hitler. At the end of the Second World War, she helped the many Jewish refugees in her home town of Sirmione.
The Founder of the House is an insightful and entertaining tale about family ties and rivalries, love and ambition. It is told with the candour and wit which were the author's trademarks. The Gollantz Saga is being reissued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the author's death, so this is a fitting time for readers to rediscover her engaging chronicle of family life.
You can read more about Naomi Jacob at
Publication Date: August 23, 2014Corazon Books
eBook; 320p
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in nineteenth century Paris, Vienna and London, this is a novel about family ties and rivalries, love and ambition.

The Founder of the House introduces us to Emmanuel Gollantz, the son of a Jewish antique dealer, Hermann Gollantz.

Hermann lives his life according to the principles of loyalty, honesty and honour instilled in him as a child. But these ideals are ruthlessly exploited by his wife’s family, threatening everything that is important to him. Protecting his beloved wife, Rachel, from the truth carries a great cost.

As a young man, Emmanuel, becomes involved with the inner circle of the Viennese Court, where his passion for the married baroness, Caroline Lukoes, has far-reaching consequences both for himself and the House of Gollantz.

The Founder of the House is the first book in the bestselling Gollantz Saga – an historical family saga tracing the lives and loves of the Gollantz family over several generations. This seven-novel series explores how one family’s destiny is shaped by the politics and attitudes of the time, as well as by the choices and actions of its own members.

The Gollantz Saga Titles

 Book One: Founder of the House
Book Two: That Wild Lie
Book Three: Young Emmanuel
Book Four: Four Generations
Book Five: Private Gollantz
Book Six: Gollantz: London, Paris, Milan
Book Seven: Gollantz & Partners

Praise for the Gollantz Saga

“Recommended. Ms Jacob writes skilfully and with that fine professional assurance we have come to expect of her.” The Times

“Impressive.” London Evening Standard

“A good family chronicle.” Kirkus Reviews

“Besides the interest of the plot, Miss Jacob’s book has much to recommend it. The style of the novel is unimpeachable, marked by sincerity, dignity and a sense of the dramatic. I can safely recommend

“The Founder of the House.” Western Mail (Perth)

Buy the eBook

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author


Naomi Jacob (1884-1964) was a prolific author, biographer and broadcaster. She is perhaps best known for her bestselling seven-novel series, The Gollantz Saga, which traces several generations of the Gollantz family in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Jacob had a mixed heritage, which influenced her life and work. Her paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had escaped the pogroms of Western Prussia and settled in England, while her mother’s family had strong Yorkshire roots. Her maternal grandfather was the two-time mayor of Ripon in Yorkshire. He also owned a hotel in the town. Her father was headmaster of the local school.

Jacob loved the theatre and became a character actress on stage and in film, notably opposite John Geilgud in The Ringer (1936). She also associated with the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Marie Lloyd and Sarah Bernhardt.

She published her first novel, “Jacob Usher” in 1925. It became a bestseller.

In 1928 she appeared for the defence of Radclyffe Hall’s “The Well of Loneliness”, and developed a friendship with Hall and her companion Una Troubridge.

After suffering with tuberculosis, in 1930 she left England for Italy, where she lived for most of the rest of her life. She lived in a villa in Sirmione on Lake Garda, which she called “Casa Mickie” (she was known to friends and family as “Mickie”).

In 1935 she was awarded the Eichelberger International Humane Award, for outstanding achievement in the field of humane endeavour, for her novel “Honour Come Back”. She rejected the award when she discovered that another recipient of the award had been Adolf Hitler, for “Mein Kampf”.

Jacob was involved in politics – she stood as a Labour PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and was a suffragette.

In 1940, she was evacuated back to England when Italy entered the Second World War. She joined the Entertainments National Service Association, becoming famous for her flamboyant appearance— crew cut hair, and wearing a monocle and First World War Women’s Legion uniform.

She returned to Sirmione before the end of the war, helping Jewish refugees in the town. Over the years, she frequently returned to the UK, and in the 1950s and early 1960s was regularly to be heard on the BBC radio programme “Woman’s Hour”.

She wrote the seven-novel Gollantz saga about several generations of a Jewish family, tracing their path from Vienna in the early nineteenth century to establishing a life and antique business in England in the twentieth century. It is a saga about family loyalty, honour and love, while also reflecting on the politics and ideals of the era.


The Founder of the House Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 10

Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 11

Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, November 12

Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse

Thursday, November 13

Guest Post at Madame Gilflurt

Friday, November 14

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Sunday, November 16

Review at Unshelfish

Monday, November 17

Excerpt at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, November 18
Spotlight at Mel’s Shelves

Wednesday, November 19
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Sunday, November 23
Review & Interview at A Bibliophile’s Reverie

Monday, November 24
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, November 25
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, November 26
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Thursday, November 27
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, November 28
Review & Excerpt at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Tiger Queens Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Publication Date: November 4, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction


In the late twelfth century on the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, following a violent feud between blood brothers, the victor Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself Genghis Khan. But behind one powerful man stand many strong women…

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, darkness looms over Borte’s life. She becomes an outcast among her clan and after seeking comfort in the arms of an aristocratic traveler, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man she was betrothed to years ago but who abandoned her long before they could marry. And he will only leave her behind again.

Temujin will make Borte his khatun, his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new empire. Their daughter, a fierce girl named Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, seeks revenge against the Mongol barbarians who destroyed her city and murdered her family, but in the end will sacrifice everything to protect the Golden Family. Demure widow to Genghis’ son, Sorkhokhtani positions her sons to inherit the Empire when it begins to fracture from within.

As Genghis Khan sets out to expand his conquests and the steppes run red with blood, Borte and the women of the clan will fight, love, scheme, and sacrifice, all for the good of their family and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls…

So What Did I Think About The Story?

Stephanie Thornton has become an author known for bringing to life the nearly forgotten stories of exceptional and courageous women from ancient history and, in the process, has become one of my all time favorite authors. I always know when she comes out with a new book that I need to set aside as much time as possible to dive deep into the world within the pages because once I plunge in I won't want to come out! Her newest novel, The Tiger Queens, is no exception and I am still reeling from the story now that I am through reading it.

While the most well known historical figure within the Tiger Queens is Genghis Khan, known to many armchair history buffs like me as a brutal conqueror who united many nomadic tribes into one unified empire and used vicious tactics and brute force to spread the boundaries of that empire to staggering proportions, the focus of The Tiger Queens is the women surrounding him who not only helped build that empire but keep it intact during his life and after his death. Ms. Thornton tells her story from the perspectives of four of these women: Borte, Genghis Khan's first wife and queen; Alaqai, their daughter; Fatima, a Persian woman captured when her city was destroyed by the Mongols; and Sorkhokhtani, wife of Genghis Khan's youngest son and the woman who would see the Empire continued when many others within this Golden Family would have caused its destruction. Using these four women as the storytellers not only gives a unique perspective to the life and conquests of this complicated historical man but advances the story across the years and lands of his rule in a delightful and unexpected way.  They also make this terrifying man more human, showing him as a tender and understanding husband and a benevolent (if distant) father and father figure to his people. He is still the brutal warrior we all know but has a softer side I did not expect.

While all four of these women are remarkable there are a number of admirable secondary female (and a few male) characters that could have easily shared their stories and demonstrated their influences on the Mongolian Empire (such as my all time favorite character, Toregene, a noblewoman who married the Khan's son Ogodei and was as detrimental to the story as any other). The bravery, sacrifices and spirit of each and every one of these characters served to highlight their power and ability in the face of so many hardships.

Ms. Thornton's writing style is perfectly fitting for this world and the characters within it and her use of language and description are simply breathtaking. The reader is instantly on the steppes with the characters during the ferocious winters and searing summers and getting their hands dirty during the animal slaughters and on the battlefields. There is no shying away from the brutality of this world and this makes the reader feel that much more invested in the lives, decisions and actions of these women. I came away from the reading completely awed by their determination and endurance against a harsh and savage world.

Within the grimness of their lives, however, is a bonding and camaraderie between the women that most people can relate to and which served to, again, humanize a world most of us would not be able to imagine. These women are real and flawed, showing ambition and jealousy but also love, forgiveness and an understanding of obligation above their own selfish needs. Remarkable is too small a word for these people and I am grateful to Ms. Thornton for bringing their stories into the light and refusing to let them be forgotten by history while also making their stories accessible to everyone.

The Tiger Queens, like all of the author's novels, is a must read in my opinion. Combining historically accurate information about little known women (supported by the helpful author's note and cast of characters at the back of the book) with stellar storytelling to tie up the loose ends no longer known, we are once again able to witness the lives of people who set the foundation for what our world has become.          

So What Did I Think About The Cover?

I absolutely adore it! The woman could be any of the strong and proud women found in the story and seems to encompass all of the characteristics I imagined they would have (except maybe Fatima). Getting to see the beautiful clothes, breathtaking yet dangerous landscape and the tents they lived in really helped solidify what was already quite clear from the marvelous descriptions given within the story. And I love the wild horses running through the background, not only because they are a huge part of the story but because they could represent the wild spirits of these brave women.

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Tiger Queens in exchange for an honest review! Make sure to continue below for more information about the book, the author and how to enter to win a copy of your very own!

Praise for The Tiger Queens

“A gripping epic of sacrifice, revenge, and conquest…kept me riveted from beginning to end!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of The Second Empress
“From under the felted ger tents of Genghis Kahn emerge four powerful women. It is a testament to Thornton’s writing prowess that she can so intricately whittle heroines that are both compassionate and ruthless from the bones of our ancestors…a stunning achievement!” — Barbara Wood, New York Times bestselling author of The Serpent and the Staff and Rainbows on the Moon
“A vivid depiction of warrior women tough as the harsh, windswept steppes which nurtured them and who, as the warring Mongol clans battle for supremacy, survive… to ensure their men emerge the victors. Gripping stuff!” –Alex Rutherford, author of the Empire of the Moghul series
“A sprawling historical saga centering on the wives and daughters of Genghis Khan. These bold, courageous women make tremendous sacrifices in the face of danger, revenge and high-stakes survival, all in the name of family love and loyalty. Be prepared to be swept away by Thornton’s richly drawn epic of an empire and its generational shifts of power.” –Renee Rosen, author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants
“They were the Golden Family of Genghis Khan. Yet their lives were anything but golden as they struggled to hold together the very center of the largest empire the world has ever known. An empire that was built in one lifetime, and would have been destroyed in the next had it not been for the wives and daughters of the Great Khan. This is historical fiction at its finest.” — Gary Corby, author of The Marathon Conspiracy
“Three generations of strong women live, love, suffer, and triumph in a fresh and gritty setting—Genghis Khan’s forging of an empire in thirteenth century Mongolia. Marginalized in most histories, these Mongol mothers and daughters, empresses and slaves, claim their voices again in Stephanie Thornton’s The Tiger Queens. Unusual and imaginative!” –Elizabeth Loupas, author of The Second Duchess and The Red Lily Crown
“Stunning. The Tiger Queens sweeps the reader into the ruthless world of Genghis Khan’s wives and daughters with a gritty realism as intense as the eternal blue sky and blood-soaked steppes. Vivid characterization and top-notch writing. This story of strong women, their enduring friendships and passions give a rare glimpse into a shadowy period of history. A worthy successor to Taylor Caldwell’s The Earth is the Lord’s.” –Judith E. French, author of The Conqueror, The Barbarian, and The Warrior

Buy The Book


About the Author

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where
she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” are available from NAL/Penguin. “The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan” will hit the shelves November 4, 2014, followed by “The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great” in November 2015.

For more information please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Giveaway Time!!

For a chance to win a paperback copy of The Tiger Queens (U.S. only!) leave a comment below telling me what woman or women from history you would love to see the heroine of her/their own novel.  Be sure to leave your email address (no email address/no entry!). For extra entries share this review/giveaway online and leave a separate comment with a link to where you shared. That's it! I'll pick a winner on November 25th and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner. Good luck everyone!

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 1
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Sunday, November 2
Review at Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 3
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 4
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, November 5
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, November 6

Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
 Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, November 7

Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, November 10

Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, November 11

Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, November 12

Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 13

Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, November 14

Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, November 17

Review at Turning the Pages

Tuesday, November 18
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 19
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, November 20
Review at Layered Pages

Friday, November 21
Review at Just One More Chapter

Monday, November 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark

Tuesday, November 25
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, November 26
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Friday, November 28
Review at Book Babe

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander

I was drawn to this book by the cover and having read the synopis expected a book about the importation of coffee in the seventeenth century.

Instead the book was about a young man, called Calumny living with his family in rural England during the terbulance of the seventeenth century, the removal of James II and the installation of William of Orange.

Calumny has a hatred for his father, He can not understand why they live in the middle of nowhere, why he can not read and why he not allowed to learn a trade that will enable him to leave his family home and become his own person.

Very little is known of his father's background, but before long a visitor from his father's past arrives and with them a set of decisions to be made and Calumny has to find a way to undestand and deal with the secrets of his father.

Overall, I was a little disappointed there was not more details of coffee trading, but overall this was a good storyline. There was a little disjoinedness between the historical facts, but nonetheless this was an enjoyable read and this is a book I would recommend and I am looking forward to the sequel.

To whet your appetite here is an excerpt from the book

"In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title.

When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Calumny’s desperation leads him to flee to London and become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life – but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself. Cal’s journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court. As the illicit trader Benjamin de Corvis and his controlling daughter Emilia pull him into their plots, and his lover Violet Fintry is threatened by impending war, Cal is forced to choose between his conscience and his dream of becoming Mister Calumny Spinks."

About the author.
This is a debut novel from Piers Alexander and you can read a little about him as well as following via various social media channels.

Piers Alexander is an author and serial entrepreneur. After a successful career as CEO of media and events companies he became a Co-Founder and Chairman of three start-up businesses. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN Factor Prize for The Bitter Trade. He is currently working on the sequel, Scatterwood, set in Jamaica in 1692.

For more information visit Piers Alexander’s website. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

The Bitter Trade has been on a book tour for the last month and today marks the end of the tour. You can read the reviews from other readers by clicking the relevant links below:

Monday, October 13
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse

Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Back Porchervations
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, October 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, October 20

Tuesday, October 21

Wednesday, October 22

Thursday, October 23

Tuesday, October 28

Wednesday, October 29
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Thursday, October 30
Review at Broken Teepee

Saturday, November 1

Monday, November 3
Review at Book by Book
Review & Interview at Dab of Darkness

Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, November 5
Review at Turning the Pages
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 6
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 10
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, November 11
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, November 12
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Friday, November 14
Review at Anglers Rest
Review & Giveaway at Booklover Book Reviews

The book tour was hosted by Amy at Historical Fiction Book Tours and this review appearred at Anglers Rest last week.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Facts Behind The Ripper's Wife: Guest Post by Brandy Purdy

If you read my review of The Ripper's Wife a few days ago you might have noticed that my only complaint was that there was no author's note included in the back of the book explaining what was fact and what was fiction in this incredible story of how love, addiction, pride and jealousy can bring people to do extraordinary - and sometimes heinous - things. Well, much to my happy surprise, author Brandy Purdy contacted me and offered to do a guest post explaining the facts behind the Maybrick's volatile life and how James Maybrick is tied to that infamous murderer Jack the Ripper. She also supplied some wonderful photos of the Maybricks which really help bring them to life. So, without further ado, Brandy Purdy...


In 1993 an intriguing document came to light that claimed to be the diary of Jack the Ripper. It gave the killer a name—James Maybrick—and a motive—the adultery of his wife. As I read the transcript, which is published in full and analyzed in The Diary of Jack the Ripper by Shirley Harrison, I vividly remember thinking “I don’t know whether this is true or not, but this would make a great novel, and I want to be the one to write it.” And that’s how the idea of The Ripper’s Wife was born.

Though never previously a Ripper suspect, James Maybrick’s name was already well known to crime buffs. His beautiful and flirtatious young wife, Florence, stood trial in 1889 for allegedly murdering her husband with a fatal dose of arsenic. The trial was a media circus with interest in Mrs. Maybrick’s adultery often eclipsing the pivotal question of her guilt. Even the judge waved aside the complex medical testimony in favor of more titillating testimony about her extramarital peccadilloes.

I saw Florence Maybrick as the real life incarnation of Bluebeard’s
Bride, whether her husband was Jack the Ripper or not, her fairy tale life literally turned into a horror story. In 1880 this rather na├»ve eighteen-year-old Southern belle who lived for parties and pretty clothes—think Clueless in Victorian garb and you’ve got Florie’s personality down pat—was traveling with her family on a White Star liner and fell head over heels in love with a man she saw as the epitome of the elegant English gentleman. Despite the twenty-four year age difference, James Maybrick was equally smitten with her and they were married within a year. But after the honeymoon it all started to crumble.



Neither of them had been completely honest with the other. James Maybrick thought he was marrying an American heiress; in reality the foundation of Florie’s fortune was about two million
acres of worthless swampland. James represented himself as a wealthy man with a thriving cotton brokerage, but he had serious business and money troubles that only got worse in years to come. Soon the debts were piling up but the couple kept spending, buying on credit, to keep appearances up. James also had a common-law wife and five children by her, and he was a hypochondriac and a drug addict. His drug of choice was arsenic, which many men of his time took, it was the Victorian version of Viagra and an energy drink combined. Drug use may have fueled his temper, and Florie became his punching bag, hiding the bruises behind carefully applied cosmetics, and stoically enduring for the sake of the children while consoling herself in the arms of other men and with lavish shopping sprees that only added to their money woes. She definitely had an affair with one of he husband’s business associates, Alfred Brierley, and there is reason to believe there was also a dalliance with her husband’s younger brother, Edwin Maybrick.


After James Maybrick died in May 1889, Florie suddenly found herself surrounded by enemies, accused of her husband’s murder, and all her mistakes came back to slap her in the face. The truth is, no one knew then, or knows for certainty now, how James Maybrick died. He had been abusing drugs
for years and the doctors trying to treat his final illness administered several medications and he may have secretly dosed himself during that final illness; we do know he begged for the drugs he craved. But Florie bore the blame, and after the Nanny revealed her adulterous liaison with Mr. Brierley everyone was prepared to believe the worst, even innocent remarks and actions were twisted into something sinister. Her trial was the Victorian equivalent of O.J. Simpson, even in a world before television, radio, and internet, it was everywhere, there was no escaping it, and everyone had an opinion. To save face, even beyond the grave, James’s brothers lied on the witness stand and denied his drug addiction and his sexual indiscretions were swept under the carpet. The end result was a grave miscarriage of justice; Florence Maybrick became a tragic victim of Victorian hypocrisy, and was found guilty of murder and condemned to death. In those days, there was no court of appeal for murder cases, so her only hope was a royal pardon, and Queen Victoria was firmly convinced that Mrs. Maybrick was a very wicked woman who deserved death. But a huge public outcry finally swayed the powers that be to commute the sentence to one of life imprisonment.

But interest in the case did not die. Millions of people signed petitions to set Mrs. Maybrick free. After fifteen years, and the death of QueenVictoria, that is what finally happened in 1904. But Florie had already lost everything that mattered. Her youth was gone. Her children had turned their backs on her, their adopted parents and uncles had brought them up to believe in their mother’s guilt. Florie returned to America and tried to make a living by writing a book and going on the lecture circuit, but it didn’t last. She became an eccentric drifter, a Southern lady relying on the kindness of strangers, who eventually found that cats made better companions than any of the people she had ever known. She died a pauper in 1941.


 As for the Jack the Ripper connection, the jury is still out. The authenticity of the diary remains a subject of hot debate and unless obvious proof one way or the other is found that will probably never change. But it makes a good story. I’m so glad I finally had the chance to tell it. As with any novel, creative liberties have been taken, but the basic framework is the truth as it has come down to us entwined with the terrible tale of abuse, madness, and carnage told in the pages of the Ripper Diary, the rest is my embroidery.

Thank you so much, Brandy, for this exciting and informative guest post! This definitely sounds like a case of the truth being better than any fiction. Florie's story is a tragic one, whether or not James was Jack the Ripper, and I am so glad you have shared her story with all your readers!
Everyone please remember that you can enter to win a copy  of The Ripper's Wife by commenting on my review HERE. I will pick a winner on Tuesday, November 18th so hurry and get your entry in!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Spotlight on Fire & Sword by Louise Turner Plus Giveaway!

Publication Date: September 19, 2013
Hadley Rille Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction


On the 11th June in 1488, two armies meet in battle at Sauchieburn, near Stirling. One fights for King James the Third of Scotland, the other is loyal to his eldest son, Prince James, Duke of Rothesay.

Soon, James the Third is dead, murdered as he flees the field. His army is routed. Among the dead is Sir Thomas Sempill of Ellestoun, Sheriff of Renfrew, whose son and heir, John, escapes with his life.

Once John’s career as knight and courtier seemed assured. But with the death of his king, his situation is fragile. He’s the only surviving son of the Sempill line and he’s unmarried. If he hopes to survive, John must try and win favour with the new king.

And deal with the ruthless and powerful Lord Montgomerie…

Praise for Fire & Sword

“The book is brutal in places and left me at times emotionally drained. But that just shows that I came to care about the characters. Recommended.” (Historical Novel Review, May 2014)
“Louise Turner skillfully brings to life the conflict-ridden world of 15th century Scotland… A fantastic debut, recommended for all fans of historical fiction, medieval times, and romance.” (Karin Gastreich, Author of Eolyn)
“If you like historical novels to be well-researched and well-written with a host of believable, three-dimensional characters, look no further than “Fire and Sword”.” (Juliet Waldron, Author of Mozart’s Wife)
“Louise Turner skillfully brings to life the conflict-ridden world of 15th century Scotland. Based on the true story of John Sempill, the narrative takes us from near ruin to an uneasy but satisfying final triumph. Thomas is a wonderfully flawed character, not your typical knight-in-shining-armor, but a young man plagued by uncertainty, prone to dark moods, and keenly aware of the ax hanging over his head. Hugh Montgomery, at once John’s nemesis and eventual ally, is simply delightful in his charisma and ruthlessness. The principle women of the story, Mary, Margaret, and Helen, bring fresh and varied perspectives to the events at hand, each one admirable in her own way. Honestly, I found nothing to complain about in this novel. It is expertly written, kept me turning the pages and reading late into the night. A fantastic debut, recommended for all fans of historical fiction, medieval times, and romance. I look forward to seeing what Turner has to offer next.” – Karin Rita Gastrich, Amazon Reviewer

Buy the Book

Amazon UK (eBook)
Amazon UK (Paperback)
Amazon US (eBook)
Amazon US (Paperback)

About the Author

Born in Glasgow, Louise Turner spent her early years in the west of Scotland where she attended the University of Glasgow. After graduating with an MA in Archaeology, she went on to complete a PhD on the Bronze Age metalwork hoards of Essex and Kent. She has since enjoyed a varied career in archaeology and cultural resource management. Writing has always been a major aspect of her life and in 1988, she won the Glasgow Herald/Albacon New Writing in SF competition with her short story Busman’s Holiday. Louise lives with her husband in west Renfrewshire.

For more information please visit Louise Turner’s Website and Blog. You can also find her on Facebook.


To win one of five Fire & Sword eBooks please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form HERE.
Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 1st and notified via email.

Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Fire & Sword Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 6

Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Thursday, October 9

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 13
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Monday, November 10
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, November 13
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Monday, November 17
Review & Interview at Dab of Darkness

Monday, November 24
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, November 25
Review at Broken Teepee

Sunday, November 30
Review at Unshelfish

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Ripper's Wife by Brandy Purdy Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Publication Date: October 27, 2014
Kensington Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction


A suspenseful, spellbinding novel of love, jealousy, and murder, The Ripper’s Wife re-imagines the most notorious serial killer in history through the eyes of the woman who sealed his fate.

“Love makes sane men mad and can turn a gentle man into a fiend.”

It begins as a fairytale romance–a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James’s secrets are infinitely darker–he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband’s depravity until she discovers his diary–and in it, a litany of bloody deeds…

So What Did I Think About The Story?:

I have recently realized that I apparently have a huge problem: I find these authors that have books that sound so wonderful I go get their books and add them to my toppling TBR pile and I then cannot find the time to actually read them . I know, many of you fellow bookworms probably have the same problem. When I decided to read Brandy Purdy's newest novel as part of her blog tour I realized I have almost all of her previous novels on my shelves, ready to be loved and devoured, but that I had not yet read even one of them. And, per the usual, I am now kicking myself that I took this long to read her books!!

The Ripper's Wife pulled me in from page one. Set up for most of the novel as Florie Maybrick telling her side of the story - from her meeting and falling in love with James Maybrick to the downward spiral of their marriage and her discovery that James was Jack the Ripper all the way to her final sad and lonely days - and interspersed in the middle of the novel with James Maybrick's diary entries detailing his violent and twisted alternate life as one of the world's most infamous killers, the novel never had a dull moment for me. The reader knows from the beginning what the outcome of Florie's life will be and the horrid turn her life will take and this caused a delicious sense of foreboding to hang over the whole story, even the seemingly fairytale beginnings of the Maybrick's  early marriage. 

It doesn't take long for Florie's life to spin out of control and while Florie makes some very bad mistakes over the years that had me yelling at her to grow up and make the right decisions for her and her children it was heartbreaking to watch the vicious beatings she took at the hands of this supposedly loving husband and the eventual jail time she served for a murder she didn't commit. I am not completely sure how much of this novel is based in fact (and this would be one of my only complaints about The Ripper's author notes at the back of the book explaining what is fact and what is fiction) but the life Florie lived within the pages of The Ripper's Wife is absolutely heartbreaking. Ms. Purdy does not hold back from detailing the horrible things Florie went through and the descriptions are quite intense.

James Maybrick's diary entries are likewise vivid and descriptive and I felt like I was watching those poor women be stalked and torn apart by this sick and twist man. For some it might be hard to read these passages but I would ask why someone would think to read a novel about Jack the Ripper and shy away from then reading the bloody details....the actions of this killer were violent and horrible and Brandy Purdy perfectly brings it all to life.

Having now finished the novel and looking back at the story as a whole, I feel Ms. Purdy did a remarkable job at giving life to these characters, each one of which is flawed and sympathetic in their own way (even James, believe it or not!). Her descriptive power is superb and I felt completely immersed in the story as it unfolded. If you are a fan of historical fiction and are able to stomach what by right should be a graphic and depraved story given the subject matter, I would highly recommend The Ripper's Wife.

So What Did I Think About The Cover?:

I love it! The color's are beautiful and fitting and the woman fits the descriptions of Florie perfectly. Seeing her reading the diary and looking back at the reader with her mouth set like she had read something horrible gives you that feeling of confidence between the reader and Florie. I can't think of any changes I would have preferred to see.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Ripper's Wife in exchange for an honest review! Make sure to continue below for more information about the book, the author and how to enter to win a copy of your very own!

Praise for the Novels of Brandy Purdy

“Recommended for readers who can’t get enough of the Tudors and have devoured all of Philippa Gregory’s books.” —Library Journal on The Boleyn Wife

“Purdy wonderfully reimagines the behind-the-scenes lives of the two sisters.” —Historical Novel Reviews on The Tudor Throne

“I love Brandy Purdy’s books, she does thorough research into the lives of the people in the Tudor era and it shows in her writing style. Very descriptive, engaging characters makes The Queen’s Rivals a page turning novel. If you are a fan of the Tudor era like I am, then this book is a must.” -CelticLady’s Reviews on The Queen’s Rivals

“The writing is inviting, intense and flawless, rich with the flavor of English country life as well as court life. The political machinations, the tragedy to befall the Dudley family and the mystery surrounding Amy’s death were weaved to captivating detail and the end result is a mesmerizing work of historical fiction that puts Brandy Purdy on my “must read” list.” -Psychotic State Book Reviews on The Queen’s Pleasures

About the Author

Brandy Purdy is the author of several historical novels. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or watching classic movies. She currently lives in Beaumont, TX. Visit her website at for more information about her books. You can also follow her via her blog at where she posts updates about her work and reviews of what she has been reading.

Buy The Books

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

The Ripper's Wife Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 27

Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, October 28

Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, October 29

Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 30

Review at Book of Secrets

Friday, October 31

Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, November 3

Review at A Chick Who Reads
Interview & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, November 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book reviews
Interview at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 5
Review at JulzReads

Thursday, November 6
Review at History & Women

Friday, November 7
Review at A Book Geek

Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, November 11
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 12
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, November 13
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Friday, November 14
Review at Girl Lost in a Book


Giveaway Time!!

For a chance to win a paperback copy of The Ripper's Wife (U.S. only!) leave a comment below letting me know if you have read any of Brandy Purdy's novels and, if you have, which is your favorite. Be sure to leave your email address (no email address/no entry!). For extra entries share this review/giveaway online and leave a separate comment with a link to where you shared. That's it! I'll pick a winner on November 18th and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner. Good luck everyone!