We’ve got another loaded post with lots of information including a review, interview and giveaway!
- Review of Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener
- Giveaway of Daughter of the Sky, Enter to win!
- Interview with Author Michelle Diener
- Book, Author, and Tour Information
Daughter of the Sky, Review~
I was very curious about Daughter of the Sky, by Michelle Diener, when I first heard of it. Known for her traditionally published works in the Tudor and Regency era, this novel set in South Africa was a new endeavor. Not ever having read much about the Zulu culture, their conflict with the British, or really much about late 1800s South Africa, I was intrigued. I like novels that write about ancient or historic tribal cultures, so I set in for fresh read about a new time and place. Diener did a fantastic job of both entertaining me with a fabulous romance as well as teaching me a history lesson about the Anglo-Zulu Wars.
After a shipwreck leaves 15-year-old Elizabeth Jones the survivor of a shipwreck on the Zululand Coast, Elizabeth is taken in peacefully and given a family within the Zulus. She has lived for the last six years with them as a sister to Lindani, the boy who saved her. It’s at this point that the book really begins.
Loyal to her Zulu family, when British invasion is imminent she becomes a spy by dressing as a young British soldier and infiltrating the enemy camp. What she doesn’t bargain for is falling in love with the British Captain Jack Burdell, a man questioning his will to fight wars he might not stand for. Her outlook brings him a different view of the Zulus. She teaches him the loyalty, respect, and determination of her Zulus, of which she will always feel she is one. I respected Jack’s trust in Elizabeth throughout the story and his willingness and desire to embrace her independence as well as protect her.
I enjoyed how Diener juxtaposed letters written to Jack from his father, who fought in India and was injured. They also gave him a viewpoint of why war sometimes is senseless and that he must question every decision. Diener also showcased letters from a solider on the front to his family and it was heart-breaking to know the emotional turmoil both solider and family must have gone through, well…what they go through no matter what the war. Diener truly embraces what it means for families to be torn apart from war.
The book shows the fight for equality over arrogance, explains that family is sometimes more than you think, and explains that love can overcome anything. It was a delightful romantic read filled with military strategy that contained just the right balance. Elizabeth is a very strong-willed protagonist who will give up nothing in order to fulfill her goal right up to the end. Will she choose love? I don’t want to spoil the finale for you.
I recommend you read this book for a light romantic read intertwined with historical details of a not often mentioned conflict. This battle in which the Zulu army out-witted the arrogant English is a tarnish for the British in the history books, but a testament to a people who knew how to stand their ground and fight for their lives. You’ll connect to Elizabeth’s fiery character and cheer her on.
Daughter of the Sky, Synopsis~
The Victorian Empire has declared war on the Zulus if they don’t accede to their outrageous demands. The clock is ticking down to the appointed hour. With no idea why the British are marching three massive columns of men and guns towards them, one Zulu general is prepared to take an impossible risk. But the life he’s gambling with isn’t his own . . .
The sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Zululand coast, 15 year-old Elizabeth Jones is taken in by the Zulus, the people of the sky. Six years later, her white skin becomes useful to the Zulu army as they try to work out why the Victorian Empire has pointed their war-machine at the Zulu nation. Elizabeth is suddenly Zululand’s most important spy.
While infiltrating the British camp, Elizabeth’s disguise as a young soldier is uncovered almost immediately by Captain Jack Burdell. However, he believes the tale she spins of searching for a missing brother and shields her from discovery, allowing her to bunk in his tent and giving her a job as his batman. Burdell is war-weary and disillusioned – no longer willing to follow regulations at all costs.
But as Elizabeth and Jack explore their growing attraction to each other, the two armies move towards their inevitable clash. Elizabeth is torn between the guilt of betrayal and her fierce loyalty to her Zulu family, and when Zulu and British meet on the battlefield, both she and Jack find their hearts and their lives caught in the crossfire.
Enter to win a copy of Daughter of the Sky here! The giveaway is for one (1) paperback copy OR one (1) eBook (winner’s choice) and open internationally. eBook files available are PDF, mobi & ePub.
Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST 2 weeks from the date of this post. For extra entry, follow my blog. For two additional entries, please go and like my Hook of Book Facebook page linked above.
Interview with Author Michelle Diener~
HI Michelle! Very happy to interview you today at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m looking forward to learning more about you. How has your release been going for Daughter of the Sky?
Thank you so much for having me, Erin. The release is going really well, and I’m looking forward to connecting with readers in my upcoming tour. It is always exciting to have a new release.
A celebration! I’m so glad things are going well. I’m anxious to sit and chat with you for a while so let’s pour some tea and get started….
Q: How long have you been writing? What else have you written?
A: I’ve been writing seriously for around 9 years. I’ve got three other historical novels published with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books: A Tudor-set series including In a Treacherous Court and Keeper of the King’s Secrets, and a Regency-set historical, The Emperor’s Conspiracy. A new novel, set as a loosely connected book to The Emperor’s Conspiracy, Banquet of Lies, is due out later this year, in October.
Erin Comments: One of my favorite time periods, I can’t wait to read them all!!
Q: How does Daughter of the Sky differ from anything else you’ve written?
A: It’s different because of my very close connection to the subject matter. Daughter of the Sky is set in Zululand during the Victorian era, and I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal. It is also a book that is a bit of a ‘risk’, because the setting is a little different to the usual historical novel with a strong romantic element. The east coast of Africa isn’t your run-of-the-mill setting. 🙂
Erin Comments: Sometimes it’s nice to take a risk and be original. That gives you a voice into something not otherwise told.
Q: If you didn’t already mention above, it’s an historical piece taking place in the 1800s in Zululand. Can you tell us more about the history of the Zulus for potential readers who might not understand the historical aspect?
A: Well, I might not go into their whole history, LOL, but suffice to say, they were the main force to be reckoned with on the east coast of South Africa. When the white settlers arrived, they made a deal with the Zulus for land, and the Zulus gave them an area that became known as Natal, which ran side-by-side with Zululand (today, the two areas have been joined again, and are called KwaZulu-Natal).
But towards the end of the C19th, the Victorian government started to get really aggressive with the Zulus, and eventually issued them with an impossible ultimatum. If the Zulus didn’t accede to the demands, the British said they’d consider it an act of war. They knew the Zulus couldn’t and wouldn’t bow to their demands. They were forcing them into a war they didn’t want. The Zulu never really knew why the British wanted to pick a fight, and it is still a bone of contention with historians, although I go with one of the most likely reasons in Daughter of the Sky. The book centers around the Zulus’ attempts to find out the reason so they can work out if they can do something to stop the British attack by sending in a white spy – my heroine, Elizabeth.
Q: How much research did you need to do for Daughter of the Sky?
A: A lot. Bear in mind, I’ve studied the Anglo-Zulu War for years, at school and university, and then dived into many other research books before I wrote Daughter of the Sky. Aside from that, I grew up in this place, and have physically visited most of the places I write about many times in my life.
Q: Why did you choose to write a book as original as this? I very much enjoyed reading it.
A: This is a story I’ve had inside me for a long time. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It sprang from my love of KwaZulu-Natal and my interest in history and an interest in the underdog. The David and Goliath story, as well as a story of someone who has two very strong pulls on her heart, and how she copes with that.
Q: As a woman, do you feel it’s important to “schedule” time for yourself to complete your writing dreams? As a mother also running from place to place (I can relate!), how do you find time for your writing?
A: I do! There is very much a feeling that my work takes a back seat to everything else. I have to be very clear that it is important. That said, I try and do as much writing as possible while my children are at school, which is a nice chunk of time.
Erin Comments: Always a battle for time, but worth it.
Q: Do you set goals for writing, such as so many words a day, use an outline, or free write?
A: I do try to set goals for writing, but I’ve given up on the words a day thing. Sometimes I need to rework what I’ve written, and so my actual word count doesn’t go up that much, but I’ve been working solidly for hours. I try to get around 1800 – 2000 words a day, but if I don’t make that, I don’t worry. I like to have an outline. Whether I use it or not, it’s nice to have! 🙂
Q: What advice do you have for other female aspiring authors?
A: Make time for yourself. You are entitled time to pursue your dream. And when you get the time, make it count!
Q: What is your favorite time period of history? Why?
A: I really find this so difficult to answer, because I just find so many periods fascinating. Let’s say Tudor, Medieval, Regency and Victorian. But I am also very interested in WWI, WWII and the time in-between, as well.
Q: I was pleased to see that you are part of a short story anthology, Entangled, that gives proceeds to Breast Cancer Research Foundation. What an amazing thing to do! Being the President of our local Cancer Association, I understand how important fund-raising for the cause it. Can you tell us more about it briefly? And thank you for helping to fight Cancer!
A: Thanks, Erin. I’m so proud of my involvement in the Entangled anthology. The idea was conceived by fellow writer, Edie Ramer, and she got together a group of us. We all contributed the stories for free, the cover artist, Laura Morrigan, donated the cover, and the book formatting was also donated. So far, thanks to our readers, we’ve made more than $12,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. My story for the anthology, Breaking Out, is a contemporary paranormal short story, totally different to what I usually write. I had such fun!
Erin comments: I’m posting the information for purchase from your website. http://www.michellediener.com/entangled/
Q: What writing is coming up in the future for you?
A: I’ve got my Regency-set novel Banquet of Lies coming up in October of this year. I’m busy with the copy edits right now, and I’m loving revisiting the book again. Some of the characters from The Emperor’s Conspiracy are secondary characters in Banquet of Lies.
It’s about a woman who is carrying an important diplomatic document and doesn’t know who to give it to. She goes into hiding in London as a French cook while she figures out who to trust, but finds her new employer far too curious about her for his safety and hers. Food, spies and illicit attraction! And a French chef with a bad attitude and a very large cleaver!
Erin comments: Sounds fascinating!
Q: You live in Australia, which I hear is amazing beautiful. Where would you wish to travel (or would you like to talk about places you’ve been as you’ve lived several places)?
A: I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled a lot. I think I’ve always had the travel bug, and I have tried to travel as much as possible. One part of the world I’ve never been to is Eastern Europe, and I would love to travel there.
Q: Where can readers connect with you?
A: They can visit my website (www.michellediener.com), connect with me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Diener/196593580366013) or on twitter (@michellediener). I love connecting with readers, so don’t be shy!
Erin: Thank you so very much for allowing me to talk to you today about your historical writing. And by the way, I loved the cover of Daughters of the Sky. Actually, I love all your covers! I wish you continued success and hope to talk to you again in the future. Thank you!
Michelle: Thanks, Erin! I am VERY lucky in my covers. I’m expecting the cover for Banquet of Lies any day now, and I can’t wait to see what Lisa Litwack of Simon & Schuster’s art department has come up with. She always outdoes herself. And thank you so much for having me, I really enjoyed it!
Michelle Diener, Biography~
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout and John Parker series starts with IN A TREACHEROUS COURT. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker. It was followed by KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, and DANGEROUS SANCTUARY, a short story with the same characters, set between the two books, is currently available as an ebook only.
A new historical novel, set during the Napoleonic Wars in London in 1811, THE EMPEROR’S CONSPIRACY, was released on November 27th, 2012.
Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Michelle grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Australia with her husband and two children. For more information please visit Michelle Diener’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/daughteroftheskyvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #DaughterOfTheSkyVirtualTour