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Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann Melds NYC Past and Present with Independent Female Characters and Vintage Fashion

Astor Place VintageI was completely excited when I heard about this book and very happy to have been asked to review it. I couldn’t wait to read it, and….you guessed it…Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann didn’t disappoint me!! In fact, I couldn’t put it down and read it in about one day, sometimes only with one eye and one hand!

This novel, juxtaposing between Olive in 1907 NYC and Amanda in 2007, the story had a ton of things to love. My excitement grew as I checked off my list the following: NYC-Manhattan circa the 1900s (a fave time period and place in history for me), fashion, vintage, art, women’s rights, female protagonists, and mystery! Wow, how much more could I possibly want, right?!?

I happen to still have been hoping for a wonderful story to go along with the beautiful cover and my overwhelming interest in its topics. Happily, a wonderful story that will go on the list of favorites this year was the outcome. I certainly recommend that this book make it to the top of your reading pile if you like Manhattan history, as well as modern-day NYC living, and have a great desire to read about women, even from different eras, who are struggling to make a career for themselves.

Both characters have similar voices even though they live 100 years apart, which tells me that the conflicts and dilemmas that women deal with aren’t different no matter what decade they are living in. Things change with the times, but a monumental struggle for most women is a desire to leave a legacy through some type of career work, or even a need to work, while still juggling the issue of having or raising children. Marriage. Death. Rights. Finances. They all come in to play in this conflict driven drama featuring well-developed characters.

Lehmann is a superb writer, prone to lovely details describing people and places, all that give you a true sense of being in the story and learning about life in a new place. I loved her details of historic NYC and really immersed myself in her descriptions.  On the modern end of the tale, I think we also get a good picture of the modern woman’s city life, such as issues with owning a small business, turns that relationships take, and stress.

As Olive and Amanda hauntingly intertwine, the journal that Amanda has found in her modern life, written by Olive, becomes a driving force both to Amanda’s character as well as to the reader. It really did propel me to read faster. Just as we wonder about the many people in history who have come before us, we are left wondering at the end and left to our own imaginations.

I highly recommend this book for its absorbing story, historical aspects, and alluring characters, as well as for its engaging entertainment value. And it’s even more recommended if you’re like me and love vintage fashion!

Astor Place Vintage, Synopsis!

Astor Place VintagePublication Date: June 11, 2013
Simon & Schuster
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-10: 1451682050

Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’s on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither could have imagined.

Praise for Astor Place Vintage

“The past meets the present in Lehmann’s work of feminist literary fiction. . . . The author combines an impressive knowledge of history, sociology and psychology to create an intellectually and emotionally rewarding story.”

« “Enchanting. . . . Lehmann does a seamless job of moving between the past and present and gives a definite sense of place to the story’s two periods, with rich descriptions of city life and architecture. First-class storytelling with an enticing dose of New York City history.”

“A thoroughly engaging story about fate, struggle, and will, as told through the intertwined lives of two women in New York living a century apart. Past and present blur in unexpected ways in this insightful, charming, and wholly entertaining novel.”
—KHALED HOSSEINI, author of The Kite Runner

“Lehmann’s blend of past and present perfectly woven together create an addictively readable novel. New York City will never look the same to me after reading ‘Astor Place Vintage.’”
—KATHLEEN GRISSOM, author of The Kitchen House

“A fascinating tour of turn-of-the-century New York. Guaranteed to appeal to anyone who likes to search for the bones of the past beneath the bustle of the present.”
—LAUREN WILLIG, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

“I love Amanda and Olive and how we come to understand what links them despite the passage of time. I love what Lehmann has done with the 1907 city—how real it is.”
—BEVERLY SWERLING, author of City of Promise

“This utterly engrossing novel gives us a portrait of one of the most fascinating cities in the world where long after the book has ended you will walk the streets in your mind.”
—STEPHANIE COWELL, author of Claude and Camille and American Book Award recipient

“A splendid banquet of fashion, style, and both old and contemporary New York City, couched in a riveting story. A feast not to be missed!”
—LYNN CULLEN, author of The Creation of Eve

Author Stephanie Lehmann, Biography~

Stephanie LehmannStephanie Lehmann received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. In English from New York University. She has taught novel writing at Mediabistro and online at Salon.com, where her essays have been published. Like Olive and Amanda, she lives in New York City.

For more information, please visit www.AstorPlaceVintage.com and www.StephanieLehmann.com. You can follow Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and tumblr.

 Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/astorplacevintagetour/
Twitter Hashtag: #AstorPlaceVintageTour

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Jennifer Cody Epstein Shows Literary Excellence in Historical Fiction Novel Centered in WWII called The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

The Gods of Heavenly PunishmentThe Gods of Heavenly Punishment, by Jennifer Cody Epstein, is a brilliant, epic novel that is an emotionally character driven look into a part of World War II not always featured heavily in historical fiction work.

It gives the reader a glimpse, through the eyes of every day characters, the life pre- and post part of the war that occurs between America and Japan. It impacts our soul by concentrating on the result these horrors of war has on actual life.

However, the book does more than bring to us a reporting of events as it draws comparisons among characters and shows us that human compassion doesn’t have boundaries, even in war. It offers a look at the survival of the human spirit, determination of the soul, and love that extends even through heartache.

In her own subtle way she creates suspense as she begins her novel in a way that makes us feel that this is a normal story of life’s interactions, only to literally “drop the bomb.” To me, I sensed this was pretty parallel to how the people in Japan felt when the firebombing occurred in Tokyo. Though she didn’t rely heavily on any military or war details, she brought the story to us through how the war effected the people on both sides of the conflict, how it impacted families in both America and Japan, and how it pitted people not even wanting to be involved in war against each other.  Although I don’t want to mislead you, hearing about the atrocities is unsettling, as it should be to readers.

I’ve not ever read much historical fiction involving the Japanese side of WWII. The writing style of Epstein intrigued me and has made me want to learn more. I didn’t remember that fighter pilots were captured and tortured, nor did it dawn on me that so many thousands of people were killed in Tokyo. However, as I stated, her book isn’t fully a history lesson, it’s more a story of how life and people all intertwine together. It shows us how, in life, we are all connected in some form. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is truly a story of journey and redemption.

Epstein’s character development, layers of literary depth, and emotionally moving and complex story lead me to highly recommend this book not just to fans of historical fiction, but to readers who can appreciate literary fiction that cements itself into the psyche and the heart, causing thought-provoking episodes.  It’s truly a piece of literature that delves into societal and social issues in history, comparable to another best-loved author of mine, Pearl S. Buck.


The Gods of Heavenly PunishmentPublication Date: March 11, 2013
W.W. Norton & Company
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 039307157X

A lush, exquisitely rendered meditation on war, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the story of several families, American and Japanese, their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses, and how they are all connected by one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

Fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

Praise for The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

“…The book reveals itself to be as miraculously constructed as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (which itself is a character). The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a page-turner thanks to its high-stakes adventure, torrid love affairs and characters so real they seem to follow you around. And in the end, this gripping novel asks us not just to consider a lost chapter of a famous war but also to explore what it means to be lucky—and what it means to be loved. (Amy Shearn, O magazine)

“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment showcases war’s bitter ironies…as well as its romantic serendipities.” (Megan O’Grady, Vogue)

“With stunning clarity, Epstein has re-created Tokyo both before and after the bombing in a novel that raises still-unanswered questions about the horrors of war, the cruelty associated with it and the lasting impression it can make on a person, a people or a place.” (Shelf-Awareness.com)

“An epic novel about a young Japanese girl during World War II underscores the far-reaching impact that the decisions of others can have.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Epstein’s second novel (after The Painter from Shanghai) is bursting with characters and locales. Yet painful, authentic (Epstein has lived and worked in Asia), and exquisite portraits emerge of the personal impact of national conflicts—and how sometimes those conflicts can be bridged by human connections.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Sweeping….[A] harrowing novel of destruction and creation that will appeal to fans of historical fiction” (Library Journal—starred review)

Author Jennifer Cody Epstein, Biography~

Jennifer EpsteinJennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.

For more information, please visit www.jennifercodyepstein.com.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/godsofheavenlypunishmenttour/
Twitter Hashtag: #HeavenlyPunishmentTour


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Do You Like to Uncover Archaeological Mysteries? See this Interesting Interview with Elle Maria, Author of Chronicle of the Mound Builders

Today I have a wonderful original interview with Elle Marie, author of Chronicle of the Mound Builders. And after the interview, there is a giveaway for a copy of it!!! If you missed my review for it yesterday, click HERE!

Hi Elle, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join us for an interview. Your work is a fascinating blend of history and fiction! How are things going for you?

Elle: Hello, Erin! Thanks for having me. Things are going very well. I’m really enjoying my tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Erin: So glad to hear that! Let’s leave the “dirt” of the archaeological site and dig deeper into your writing…let’s have a seat and get started!

Chronicle of the Mound BuildersQ:  Where did you come up with the idea to write Chronicle of the Mound Builders?

A:  I’ve always wondered what happened to the ancient civilization at Cahokia Mounds. They disappeared 700 years ago with few traces left behind – one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries. When a Mound Builders village was discovered in my hometown of Chesterfield, Missouri, it gave me the idea to write about what might have actually happened to destroy the prosperous community.

Q:  Have you always been a fan of archaeology and/or Native American studies? If so, what intrigues you about this profession and about Native American history in particular?

A:  Oh yes, I love both fiction and nonfiction books about archaeology. I find it fascinating to learn how archaeologists solve mysteries through the clues they find and interpret from digs. The Native American cultures in particular are very interesting to me. So much of what we think we know comes from stereotypes in movies, which only show a slice of what their lives were really like.

Q:  The mystery component for those that enjoy these types of topics is usually a propelling factor in a desire to read or write books with this topic. Do you like to uncover and solve historical mysteries? Without giving your book away, can you describe the element of mystery that you have in Chronicle of the Mound Builders?

A:  The basic mystery in Chronicle of the Mound Builders is what happened to the Mississippians, otherwise known as the Mound Builders. The entire civilization vanished practically overnight and no one really knows why or how it happened. Chronicle follows the people living in that time period as they move toward their destiny, while at the same time telling the story of archaeologist Angela Hunter trying to solve the mystery in modern times.

Q:  In researching and writing about Native American tribes, the names and verbiage can sometimes be hard to pronounce, write, and organize. How did you deal with this or overcome this? Do you have any words of advice for readers in regards to pronunciation?

A:  I’m glad you asked – it’s come up many times already! I did a lot of research to find actual Aztec and Native American names to use in Chronicle, and the Aztec names in particular are long and hard to pronounce. I recently added a pronunciation guide to my website (http://www.chronicleofthemoundbuilders.com/dig-deeper.html, below the chapter excerpts) where you can actually hear the names and places spoken aloud. It was fun to recruit volunteers to help me do the recordings.

Erin comments: That is a GREAT idea!

Q:  What was one of the most interesting things you uncovered during your research?

A:  I was amazed at the advanced technology developed by the Mound Builders. Their knowledge of astronomy, agriculture, and even dentistry was so much more sophisticated than I expected.

Erin Comments: I love the whole astronomy aspect!

Q:  I love Native American, or in other words First Peoples, history and culture. We have the Serpent Mounds here in Ohio and they are fascinating. What you see on the ground compared to what you see from the air is so different, it’s like they built them for someone looking down from the sky. That mystery again is what thrills people. Do you feel that there is more than meets the eye?

A:  That’s another mystery we may never know the answer to. How were they able to visualize a view that they could not actually experience themselves? Perhaps Angela Hunter will take on that challenge next!

Erin Comments: One theory is that they were directed by people from another world to build them as markings for them. I wonder…!! I suppose astronomy comes in to play in that regard. Kind of like the Great Pyramids. If Angela ever wants to visit the Serpent Mounds here, I’ll give her a tour! 😉

Q:  What do you feel that modern society can learn from the ancient cultures of Native Americans?

A:  What impresses me most about the ancient cultures was their understanding of nature and their desire to be in harmony with it, rather than overcome it. I think we forget that sometimes and have the mistaken belief that we can control nature.

Q:  I read that your book is an adventure. What do you hope that readers take away when they’ve completed your novel?

A:  My hope is that while readers are enjoying the action and adventure, they’re also learning about the ancient cultures. Kind of a stealthy way of educating through entertainment.

Q:  When did you start writing? What is your inspiration for writing and what motivates you to keep writing?

A:  I’ve been writing one thing or another since grade school. I think everyone has the desire to create something, and since I have pretty much zero artistic or musical talent, I turned to writing.

Q:  What has been your happy moment during the process of writing and publishing your book? What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

A:  What I enjoy most is hearing from readers and their thoughts on Chronicle. While not all the comments are favorable, I can always learn something from them. As far as my biggest challenge, I guess one of them was deciding when to stop researching and get back to the job of writing! There is so much fascinating material about the Native American cultures, but I also researched things like hunting, how to escape from a cave, and how a bear attacks. One item leads to another related article or website and sometimes it’s just fun to follow that trail. Then before you know it, another evening is gone!

Q:  What else do you plan to write in the future? Will there be a sequel to Chronicle of the Mound Builders?

A:  I’m actually starting to plot out a prequel to Chronicle. Angela will face another archaeological mystery and the reader will gain some insight into her early relationship with Dr. Oettendorf. Should be fun!

Q:  Who are some of your favorite authors and your favorite books to read?

A:  I’m a very eclectic reader. I enjoy historical fiction (of course!), mysteries, and nonfiction such as biographies. Recently I’ve read the Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. I enjoy reading fun adventure novels by authors like Michael Crichton, Ken Follett, and Douglas Preston. I also confess to the guilty pleasure of reading Sophie Kinsella books. She makes me laugh out loud!

Q:  You work in what must be a challenging full-time job that seems opposite from your creative side. When and where do you find time to put on your creative hat? What advice do you have for other writers?

A:  That’s a funny question coming from someone who is able to juggle writing, public relations, photography, motherhood, and more – I should be asking you! But to answer your question, my full-time IT job is certainly challenging and when I’m working, I’m fully immersed in it. But after hours, I prefer to use my imagination and creativity. My secret to having time to write is that I don’t watch television. I don’t necessarily advise other writers to give up TV, but I would tell them to find a cozy place to work without distractions and set aside a solid block of time each day for writing. I find I can’t really be productive in 5-minute spurts – I need time to focus and give my thoughts a chance to flow.

Erin Comments: Life is full, for everyone in different ways! And I don’t always juggle well!! Ha! I like your advice though and I think the answers I get to this question helps out other authors as well.

Q:  Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A:  My website is www.ChronicleOfTheMoundBuilders.com and you can find me on Twitter at @ellemarie24. I’d love to hear from fellow authors as well as my readers!

Erin:  Elle, thank you so much for joining us here today. Glad to find we have a similar interest! I look forward to seeing what else you write in the future!

Elle:  Thanks! It’s been great talking with you.


The giveaway is for one (1) paperback copy and open to US/Canada. Enter by 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post. You must leave your email in the comments, email to me at hookofabook@hotmail.com, or comment on a Facebook link I post.

For +1 extra entry, follow my blog and for another +2 entries, “like” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.


Chronicle of the Mound BuildersPublication Date: October 29, 2012
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-10: 1479206652

Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site in the St. Louis area. Knowing the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is determined to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved codex.

In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his 12-year-old son. They travel from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River to settle in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds, Illinois.

Angela recognizes the symbols as Aztec pictograms and begins to translate the story. However, other forces also want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she learn the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?

Author Elle Marie, Biography~

Elle MarieComing from a large family of readers, Elle Marie grew up with a love of reading. Her passion for reading led to a desire to write. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.

A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14th century? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together. Extensive research enabled her to create a believable, engrossing world.

By day, she works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.

For more information, please visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/chronicleofthemoundbuildersvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #MoundBuildersTour



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Seduction by M.J. Rose Delves into Secret Haunting Life of Victor Hugo: Must Read!

SeductionPick up your copy of M.J. Rose’s Seduction and be held captive for the weekend!! Rose will pull you in and leave you breathless, depositing you on what feels like a parallel planet of existence.  Seduction’s surreal prose gives you a much-needed escape from reality.

Rose expertly flows between the 1800s world of author Victor Hugo, and his obsession with the spiritual world, to the present day when Jac L’Etoile (her adventurous and inquisitive protagonist) returns for another novel in hopes to uncover more clues and answers about ancient mystery.

Seduction is another novel in Rose’s Reincarnationist series (#5), but in my opinion you can read Seduction stand-alone without completely missing anything even though Jac has been featured previously. I haven’t even read the other books, but I most certainly will go back now and dive into Rose’s other novels.  Her writing style isn’t stuffy or even smooth, but it is earthy, absorbing, and her story lines flow without hesitation from one thought in time to the next. She writes with impulse and feeling–the sign of a great storyteller.

Rose’s details and descriptions are vibrant, sensual, and haunting without over embellishing. Her vivid scenes and lush character development immerse the reader into a plethora of sensory activity, as well as formulating a sphere of spirituality that encourages thoughts and deals with the deepest emotions of love and loss. The mystery, suspense and science of historical and mythological research kept me flipping the pages.

I loved her choice of using Victor Hugo and his addiction to seances; the mystery of him speaking to the “Shadow” which becomes a battle for him. The horrors that are uncovered by him, and in the present by Jac, are so real and creeped around me, giving me shivers up my spine.

I can’t rave enough about Seduction by M.J. Rose! It’s definitely one you’ll not want to miss and will go on my list of favorite novels of 2013. See for yourself why it’s getting rave reviews–you’ll be totally engrossed in her artistry as a writer and her spellbinding storytelling.

 Seduction, Synopsis~

SeductionPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621507

SYNOPSIS: From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

Author M.J. Rose, Biography~

M.J. RoseM.J. Rose is the international best-selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

See my INTERVIEW with M. J. Rose by clicking on INTERVIEW WITH M.J. ROSE!

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Link to Tour Schedule with more guest posts, interviews, and reviews: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/seductionvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour

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The Fifth Knight by E.M. Powell Brings Readers Entertaining Mystery from the 12th Century

The Fifth Knight, by E.M. Powell, is a superb novel set in the medieval ages around the time of Henry II and focuses on the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. Thrilling, intriguing, and suspenseful, Powell does a great job allowing the prose to feel authentic in its language to the time period, yet at a pace  and with enough modernized text that readers can follow with inquisitive and motivated minds.

Theodosia, a nun and co-protagonist to Sir Benedict Palmer, had me hooked on her story from the beginning. She struggles as any nun might who has to be locked away from world and fights against the temptations  even if only within her thoughts. It’s interesting to me to read novels that feature a nun protagonist whose heart and feelings fight against the vows they took to God. I don’t necessarily enjoy seeing them struggle, but I do find it intriguing as they face real human feelings and I enjoy seeing how they overcome to them or if they’ll submit to something, for instance, like love.

Theodosia and Palmer’s twist-filled, mysterious journey won’t feel like the serious, heavy non-fiction paragraphs you read about pertaining to religion, nuns, Knights, and life in 12th Century medieval England (after taking a course on the Middle Ages in college I vowed then and there never to time travel to this period, not matter how much it thrilled me on paper…..haha), as it felt human and real and thrilling!! And really, that’s what historical fiction should incite in a reader….thrills. Page-turning, descriptive detail drooling, and head-scratching stories. Powell delivered to me just that with her mystery,  transporting me to a time of everyday heroes who seemingly are fighting for what seems like the weight of the world, without ever missing a step.  Powell allowed me to enter the fantasy world of medieval England all while I still enjoyed the comforts of indoor plumbing.

History states that four Knights were responsible for Becket’s death. However, Powell brings another version to life by creating a fifth Knight and telling a new version of the reported incident using her own imagination and fantasy based on historical detail. The ending I won’t giveaway, but it’s surprising. I’ll be curious to know if you figure it out before reading the final pages….

E.M. Powell  brought nicely developed characters, mystery, intrigue, thrills, light romantic undertones, and entertaining historical fiction to me for several “reading past my bedtime” nights. I highly recommend this book for readers who love historical fantasy from the middle ages!

Please return on April 24 for my interview with E.M. Powell, as well as a giveaway opportunity!


Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Thomas & Mercer Publishing
Paperback; 390p
ISBN-10: 1611099331

To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. But what begins as a clandestine arrest ends in cold-blooded murder. And when Fitzurse, the knights’ ringleader, kidnaps Theodosia, a beautiful young nun who witnessed the crime, Palmer can sit silently by no longer. For not only is Theodosia’s virtue at stake, so too is the secret she unknowingly carries—a secret he knows Fitzurse will torture out of her. Now Palmer and Theodosia are on the run, strangers from different worlds forced to rely only on each other as they race to uncover the hidden motive behind Becket’s grisly murder—and the shocking truth that could destroy a kingdom.

Author E.M. Powell, Biography~

E. M. Powell was born and raised in Ireland, a descendant of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. At University College, Cork, she discovered a love of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English during her study of literature and geography. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Manchester Irish Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers. A reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, she lives today in Manchester, England, with her husband and daughter.

For more information, please visit E.M. Powell’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thefifthknightvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #FifthKnightVirtualTour

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Interview with Author M.J. Rose of Seduction: A Magical, Haunting Tale of Victor Hugo

Hi, M.J.!  Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s a pleasure for me to have you here today for an interview. Our time is obviously short so let’s get started!

SeductionQ:  Where did your inspiration for Seduction stem from? What compelled you to write it?

A:  A trip to Paris and Victor Hugo’s home there inspired me to read Les Miserables. I became obsessed with Fantine. I kept wondering if someone had inspired Hugo to create her? I started reading more and more about him. I read his poetry. Sought out his watercolors and drawings… But it was coming across a description of his belief in reincarnation and his experimenting with séances that made me decide to write about him… and the woman who might have inspired him to create Fantine.

Erin Comments: Fascinating!

Q: How is Seduction similar to your other novels? How does it differ?

A: Al l of my novels seem to be about how the past influences the present.   Seduction is different in that it’s the first time I wrote from a famous person’s point of view. About 25% of the book is me writing as Victor Hugo – giving his first person account of his experiences with séances.

Q:  What was your favorite part of writing Seduction?

A: The second draft. I love that part of every book the best. The hardest part is done – getting the book on paper – then I get to finesse for days and days and days.

Erin Comments: Totally understandable.

Q: What is one thing you want readers to remember or feel after they are done reading Seduction?

A: Hopefully how much they enjoyed reading the book so they tell everyone about it 🙂

Q:  What other novels have you written and are they all historical thriller/suspense?

A: All the books are at MJRose.com – there are 13 novels all together. The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist and The Book of Lost Fragrances all have elements of historical fiction – the others don’t.

Q:  I like how you meld the senses, art, music, and the spiritual into your books. I can imagine you live your life surrounded by all things beautiful from the creative world.  What would some of your favorite Pinterest boards say about you (if you have or would have them) or show us about your personality?

A: OH I HAVE THEM! Just visit MJRose at Pinterest – I love doing them. – some are very personal and some are even hidden that the public can’t see. I use them to create characters and work on stories.

Q: Who are your favorite heroines from history?

A:  I can’t tell you – I have a list of them and a series of books planned about them – and don’t want to give it away 🙂

Q:  How do you feel that the publishing world is doing now in accepting females as major novel writers, especially in the thriller genre?

A: Other than getting reviews – which mostly go to male writers in suspense and every genre – women writers in the suspense genre have done well for decades. Going back to Agatha Christie and even further, I don’t think there’s been any serious prejudice from readers or publishers against women writers.

Q:  Do you think paranormal or spiritual themes are integral parts of your writing?  Why do you feel these themes are so popular in the current culture?

A: I think magic is integral to my writing… I’m drawn to possibilities even when they are impossible ones. And I think they are popular because we’re living in hard times and the paranormal takes us out of our world and offers hope that there is more than we know about – more than we can see.

Erin Comments: I agree.

Q:  You are an extremely well-known consultant and mentor in regards to self-publishing. I know you’ve opened a marketing company for promoting books. I’m in the same line of work in regards to journalism, PR, and marketing. I’m wondering, how do you manage to do all this and write novels too? How do you juggle it all?

A: I work on my fiction in the morning and then the afternoon is devoted to AuthorBuzz.com

Erin Comments: You make it sound so easy. Kudos to you for all you accomplish.

Q: What is some of your best advice for women authors who are balancing a family, life and writing novel(s)?

A: I don’t have any since I do not have anything like a balanced life!

Q:  What is your advice about self-publishing versus looking for a traditional publisher? What about independent press?

A: All publishing is a lottery. Over 2 million books will be published this year. Most will sell less than 100 copies. I think everyone needs to educate themselves and not just talk to the successes in traditional publishing and self publishing but talk to the authors in the trenches in both camps and see which trench you’d rather be in. Self publishing gives you total control, you own all your own rights and you don’t share any of what you make on your books but I think you need to have  an interest in running a business. Traditional offers you a lot of help, more distribution, financial support upfront and a chance at reviews that elude most self published authors. It’s all what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Q:  What has been your biggest achievement or success? What has been your biggest challenge?

A: Staying alive. And staying alive.

Q:  Switching gears, what is your favorite stage play and why? Movie?

A: Stage play  Brigadoon – it is so magical.

Erin Comments: Also one of my favorites! I hardly hear anyone say this one!

Movie – Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn tied with Portrait of Jennie. It’s that magic again.

Q:  What is coming up next for you?

A: I’m working on the 2014 book now but I think it’s bad luck to talk about it.

Q: What is the best way for readers to connect with you?

A: MJRose.com – there’s a form there.

Erin:  It’s been an honor to have the opportunity to interview you, M.J.!  I wish you even more continued success and welcome you here anytime! Best of luck to you in all your many endeavors.

M.J.: And a pleasure to visit with you here!

Readers, please stop back by on May 9 for my review of Seduction!

Seduction, Synopsis~

SeductionPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621507

SYNOPSIS: From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

Author M.J. Rose, Biography~

M.J. RoseM.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Promotion for Necklace from M.J. Rose!

NecklaceYou will be eligible to win a Victoria Choker if you:

1. Put the book on you To Be Read shelf on Goodreads and email me the link or tell me and send me your account name in an email to hookofabook@hotmail.com: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15802432-seduction


2. Pre-order SEDUCTION here: http://mjrose.com/books/seduction.asp?BookVar=Praise
Send your receipt to mjrosewriter@gmail.com and state you came from the Hook of a Book blog.

Only US residents can enter.
See More Guest Posts, Interviews, Reviews, and Giveaways at Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/seductionvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour
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Border Bride by Amanda Scott is For Women Who Like Dominating Male Characters

Border BrideAmanda Scott is a USA Today Bestselling Author  and has over 50 romance books under her belt.  She’s done a lot for the Scottish romance subgenre I hear, but since I don’t read predominately romance or regency, I’ve never read Amanda Scott.

When I was asked to be a part of her blog tour for several of her books, each from a separate series, I agreed to try them out. I am very open-minded about reading and genres. Plus I love historical fiction and historical fiction romances are many times very good. Scott seems like a good writer and capable of putting historical detail together with a plot to tell a story.

In reading Border Bride, which is part one of her Border Trilogy first produced in paperback in the 1990s, it’s evident she is of Scottish heritage.  As a reader you can tell she is very knowledgable of the culture and heritage.

I enjoyed Scott’s preliminary and underlying character development of female protagonist Mary Kate, who at first seemed independent, self-respecting and feisty.  However, she soon became controlled, dominated, self-conscious and apologetic. I understand history and I understand the role women played in most cultures, and in various social classes within cultures, but never have any of the other amazing historical writers I’ve read taken it to this level. 

I am sure that Scott meant to just show how her life may have been through her controlling father arranging her an even more controlling marriage, but reading this topic is always hard for someone like me who is a domestic violence survivor. I hated her father and her husband both, but I tend to have that feeling toward any males who act in this manner no matter what time period they come from.

I’ve read so many other books written in the past that show that a man was head of the household, but also was not abusive and I tend to believe that there were good men in the past too. I didn’t like seeing a strong woman worn down. It would have been nice to also see Mary Kate slowing changing him throughout the story until they meshed as a respectable couple. Women want an escape from reality with romance, no matter what “proper historical detail” dictates. Also, there were men even in that time period who listened, respected and adored their wives. There were also many strong woman who are featured in stories as overcoming this type of life with a man. I suppose I was just mostly confused why she didn’t wrap this up into a happy ending with Mary Kate.

I had a hard time from the beginning also reading her conversations written in old Scottish dialect. It made the book very hard to follow and I ended up skipping many paragraphs. It isn’t that I am not smart, I just didn’t care to struggle through the book. I wanted an enjoyable read, not a lesson in Scottish dialect, even if she was trying to be true to the time period and culture.

I am sure this is not the review that Amanda Scott wanted. In fact, I think this is my first negative review on my blog ever. I just hated even having to put one up. 

But I won’t support such abusive behavior in characters. Maybe someone who likes controlling relationships, or dominating men, which I am sure some women do, will like to pick up a copy of this book. I just wouldn’t recommend it to someone who has been beaten down emotionally already. It won’t be entertaining for them. To each his own and it’s a readers decision, but really when he threatens to “skelp” her at the end for being naughty when she tries to secretly assist him, and she feels she deserves a beating, then he graciously fondles her instead like he is doing her a favor, and she swoons…..well, I found it very unnerving.

I was surprised at the re-issuing of this book since it was already published in 1990 with many negative reviews. I think Scott should consider a letter to readers as to her intentions if she plans to keep publishing these books. From a marketing perspective, I am baffled why one of my favorite new publishers, Open Road Media, would pick up this series to digitize it for publication. Maybe they are trying to latch on to the Fifty Shades of Grey (also didn’t read) or the bondage erotica rage, but really in this novel it just seemed very sad. Sometimes a head-up and a sell to a target audience is better than randomly saturating the market.

So there is my first review on my blog of a book that just left me confused. But by all means, try it for yourself if you’d like. I’ll still be trying more Amanda Scott to see how her other work compares.

On a postive note, I LOVE the covers Open Road Media provided for her new electronic titles!

Border Bride, Synopsis~

Border BridePublication Date: March 26, 2013
Open Road Media
eBook; 344p

Set in treacherous sixteenth-century Scotland, the first volume of Amanda Scott’s Border Trilogy tells the unforgettable story of a woman sworn to defy the knight she is forced to wed—only to discover a love she’ll do anything to claim

As Mary, Queen of Scots, languishes in the Tower of London as a prisoner of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, war tears Scotland apart. To save her beloved homeland, a proud Highland beauty named Mary Kate MacPherson must wage her own battle when she’s forced into wedlock with a knight, Sir Adam Douglas, from the barbaric borderland of Tornary.

Even as she succumbs to her seductive husband’s sensual demands, Mary Kate vows never to give him her heart. She will belong to no man. But Adam burns with something deeper than desire. Sworn to carry out a long-awaited revenge, he won’t rest until he has vanquished his enemies. Accused of treason, the last thing he expects is to lose his heart to the woman he’s determined to tame but never to love: his own wife.

The first part of the Border Trilogy is Border Bride, see here for the entire series: http://www.openroadmedia.com/border-bride

Amanda Scott, Biography~

A fourth-generation Californian of Scottish descent, Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Her Scottish heritage and love of history (she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose, respectively) inspired her to write historical fiction.

Credited by Library Journal with starting the Scottish romance subgenre, Scott has also won acclaim for her sparkling Regency romances. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award (for Lord Abberley’s Nemesis, 1986) and the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. She lives in central California with her husband.

For more information on Amanda Scott’s novels, please visit the official website.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/amandascottvirtualbooktour/
Twitter Hashtag: #AmandaScottVirtualTour

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Like Chaff in the Wind Continues Romantic Historical Time Travel Saga by Anna Belfrage

Like Chaff in the WindFirst of all, isn’t this cover completely gorgeous??

I was hooked on Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage from the moment I opened its pages! Usually it takes me some time to warm up to a new book, but this one caught me from the start and had me hooked. It wasn’t due to action-packed suspense scenes though, as most people might generalize with that type of statement. It did move smoothly, and there was action, but more so it was her style of writing that kept me reading. It was quick and emotional, with characters as quick-witted as the movement of her words, and was detailed in just the right measure!

For instance, one of my favorite characters was the housekeeper, Mrs. Gordon, who partners with Alex on her adventure across the sea to find her husband Matthew. She was hilarious, just like a 1600-era Mrs. Doubtfire! Who doesn’t love jovial, tell-it-like-it-is English housekeepers, right? Belfrage had some really well-developed characters. 

Alex, her protagonist of the series, had the determination of the strong women characters I’ve grown to admire. To give up something most dear in order to take to such a perilous journey is commendable.  Sailing across the sea to the New World in the 17th century was not an easy task to endure, but she did it for love. What a romantic undertaking! It made my heart sing.

I was surprised when the element of time shifting appeared at the beginning, but I also got very excited as I love books with this element. I had to go read more on A Rip in the Veil (I hadn’t read the first book in the series) and I was then throughly hooked. I realized as I read on that Belfrage was juxtapositioning between present day characters in Alex’s life and her current saga with Matthew. It led to an air of mystery as the parallel world continued to move alongside the past.

In this book there was just the right amount of turmoil, without dwelling on it; challenges, without weighing the book down. There were struggles, but each time she pulled it back around to focus the characters in their journey in a calm manner that really set the book’s tone and made me want to enjoy more of the book. Times were hard, and as a history lover, I know that. But the book certainly presented it in way that was also enjoyable for me to read.

I love the sweeping romance in this epic travel series so far, with Alex time shifting to meet her soul mate, then traveling across the seas to find him again in Like Chaff in the Wind, all while continually finding her true self along the way too. Belfrage’s cast of characters is delightful!

This is the second novel in her The Graham Saga series, the first novel being A Rip in the Veil.  I didn’t have the chance to read A Rip in the Veil and I am sure there is more great background to the characters I didn’t know. The book started out quickly, probably due to there being a previous book, but I wasn’t missing anything except for another great read!!  It just made me want to go back and read the first novel due to my love of the characters in Like Chaff in the Wind, especially when I find out that Alex actually appeared in 1658 after landing back in time from her real time in 2002. I love time travel back through history!

If you haven’t read A Rip in the Veil, I urge you to also buy and read that book too for the full story. Here is some info on A Rip in the Veil: http://www.annabelfrage.com/My-Books-The-Graham-Saga/A-Rip-in-the-Veil/

I do like this section on Belfrage’s website that explains overall The Graham Saga:  http://www.annabelfrage.com/My-Books-The-Graham-Saga/.  She says there will be several more books in the future, all with GORGEOUS covers I see, that continue the tale of Alex and Matthew. I can’t wait to read them all!

Stop back by tomorrow for a wonderful guest post by Anna Belfrage on Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

 Like Chaff in the Wind Synopsis~

Like Chaff in the WindMatthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother’s nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour – a death sentence more or less.

Matthew arrives in Virginia in May of 1661, and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his tale of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything Matthew’s insistence that he is an innocent man leads to him being singled out for the heaviest tasks.

Insufficient food, grueling days and the humid heat combine to wear Matthew down. With a sinking feeling he realises no one has ever survived the seven years of service – not on the plantation Suffolk Rose, not under the tender care of the overseer Dominic Jones.

Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife, a God’s gift who has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die, and so Alex Graham sets off on a perilous journey to bring her husband home.

Alex is plagued by nightmares in which her Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. She sits in the prow of the ship and prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, to let her hold him and heal him before it’s too late. God, however, has other things to do and what should have been a two month crossing becomes a yearlong adventure from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Will she find him in time? And if she does, will she be capable of paying the price required to buy him free?

Publication Date:  December 17, 2012
Troubador Publishing
Paperback; 392p
ISBN: 1780884702


You can have a chance to win one (1) print copy of Like Chaff in the Wind, which is open internationally!! Please just comment below, on my Facebook link, or send me an email to hookofabook@hotmail.com. No strings attached, I just need your email to contact you!

You may received an extra entry for following my blog, just let me know you did. If you already do, you can follow me on Twitter at @ErinAlMehairi.

Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 3, 2013!

Anna Belfrage, Biography~

Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

Find more about Belfrage and about the series at:  www.annabelfrage.com.

For more Like Chaff in the Wind reviews, interviews and guest posts, click on the tour schedule here:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/likechaffinthewindvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ChaffInTheWindVirtualTour

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