Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guest Post: Elaine Cougler author of "The Loyalist's Luck"

Today I'm really happy to welcome Elaine Cougler to the blog!  She is the author of The Loyalist's Wife and The Loyalist's Luck which was just released in October (check out the review I posted yesterday!).

7 Super Interesting Things Writing The Loyalist’s Luck Taught Me

For the next half hour the house was all a-tumble with getting William ready to travel. Young Will and wee John woke with all the hubbub and even their sister slid down the steps as fast as she could to be part of the excitement. Catherine and Lucy held the youngest ones on their laps, out of the way of the men. Young Will ran back up to his room and reappeared as his father was opening the door, his hand behind his back.
“Daddy.”
“No, Will. Your daddy has to hurry,” said Catherine, holding the boy’s hand.
They gathered together in the kitchen and he stopped to smile at each one in turn. “I’ll be back soon.”
 But he wasn’t. The hours passed, night came and with it the far-off sounds of cannon-fire. John sat on the porch with Lucy and Catherine, all of them fighting off the barrage of mosquitoes but reluctant to retreat inside. William was there in the midst of the fighting and in this small way they could each support him. Or so it seemed.
Soon the sky went darker and quiet and a few crickets braved the stillness with their annoying shriek. The adults moved inside to their beds although sleep did not come easily. John wondered what Catherine’s thoughts were this night, the second without William. Lucy lay awake beside him; he heard the catch in her breath every few moments. In the morning he would ride towards the fighting. At Chippawa he thought. For now, he must let his fears go and just sleep.  –from The Loyalist’s Luck.

1.      I wanted to use cicadas in the above passage and, in fact, I did. Then a beta reader suggested to me that cicadas only make their racket in the daytime. Who knew? I looked it up and found my reader was right. The word became crickets because I remembered how they annoyed me when I was a kid and one got in the house at night.
2.      We always learned about the British and the Americans in the Revolutionary War and again in the War of 1812. Well, there was definitely a third side, the Iroquois confederacy and other tribes, sometimes fighting with the Americans and sometimes with the British. I learned the extent of the betrayal the Natives suffered during those times. And I was not proud.
3.      Should the word loyalists be capitalized, I wondered. Not usually, so I found, but I decided to give this group more credibility and capitalized Loyalists. I did the same with Natives.
4.      Governor Simcoe used a plan to settle those people with strong Loyalist leanings on land along the Niagara River and to dole out land further away from the border to those without Loyalist ties. Of course this makes sense because Canada was just in its infancy as was the United States and Simcoe was uncertain of his settlers’ allegiance. Families lived on both sides of the border, a circumstance with which Sir Isaac Brock had to deal when war came in 1812.
5.      Redans and redoubts confused me so that I decided to save my readers and just use redoubts in my book. For the record a redan is a V-shaped work, usually projecting from a fortified line.  A redoubt is an isolated work forming a complete enclosure of any form, used to defend a prominent point. My story line did not suffer because I opted to avoid the redans.
6.      Before the American Revolutionary War, traffic traveling on the present-day U.S. side of the border around the Falls used the road built specifically to portage around the Falls. After the Revolutionary War, the British had to build a new road on their side of the Niagara River. This Portage Road went from Queenston Heights to Chippawa and parts of that route still carry the Portage Road name.
7.      In school we learned that the War of 1812 went from 1812 to 1814. The Treaty of Ghent was in fact signed in December, 1814 but there were no cell phones or even telegrams to spread the news. The last battle was actually fought in early 1815 when the British troops on the North American continent, not knowing about the peace, attacked at New Orleans and were severely trounced.

These are the types of tidbits that make researching and writing historical fiction so interesting for writers. Consider leaving a comment with your own research and reading discoveries. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: "The Loyalist's Luck" by Elaine Cougler

Synopsis:  When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy.

With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.

My Thoughts:  The Loyalist's Luck is a wonderful sequel!  It's one of the best I've read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist's Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of loyalists escaping the American Revolution. 

Lucy continues to be an amazing character.  She is hit with even more hard times in this book and still manages to be the picture of grace under pressure.  She dealt with a lot of good times and a lot of bad times but she still managed to keep it together.  I just love her!  We saw her husband John a lot more in this book but I felt like he played second fiddle to Lucy.  He was missing from chunks of the story again and it didn't seem like the reader ever really got to know him.  There was a point where I was almost hoping he wouldn't come back so that Lucy could get on with her life.  It's not that I didn't like him; it just seemed like I didn't know enough about him early on to care much about him.  I will say that I did really like Sergeant Crawford and I felt so bad for him.  He was such a kind person but he never got to have a chance to be happy (I'm not going to go into detail here for fear of spoiling things!).

The Loyalist's Luck portrays a life of constant struggle.  I liked that Ms. Cougler didn't sugar-coat the events that affected her characters' lives.  It was a very difficult time for people on both sides of the war and I liked that The Loyalist's Luck was an honest portrayal of what was really happening during the American Revolution.  I also love seeing the Revolution from the losing side. These books are actually my first encounter with what was going on with the other side and I definitely want to read more about it.


At its heart, The Loyalist's Luck is the story of a family sticking together through good times and bad.  It is a well-written, engaging story and I really look forward to its sequel.  4 stars.

About the Author:


A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.
For more information please visit Elaine Cougler’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mailbox Monday (34)

I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday again. Check it out here!

It's almost Thanksgiving! I'm so looking forward to the long weekend!  It is much needed right now.  We are just staying in town and going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.  It will be nice to relax a bit.

 I got two new books this week, both look really good.  I swore I was going to stay away from NetGalley but I couldn't help myself!  

From NetGalley:



I hope all of my American followers have a happy Thanksgiving!!  What books did you get this week?  Any big plans for the holiday?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review and Giveaway: "The Tudor Vendetta" by C.W. Gortner






Synopsis:  Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

My Thoughts:   The Tudor Vendetta is a fantastic end to the Spymaster Trilogy.  It is an exquisite mystery filled with secrets and intrigue and is by far my favorite of the three.  I was hooked from the first two pages and could not put this book down.

Brendan is a much more mature and well-developed character in this book.  When the story begins, he has been away from England for several years and is finally able to return upon the death of Mary I.  He arrives in England just as Elizabeth is taking the throne and he is forced to deal with his old nemesis, Robert Dudley and I must say, Dudley is quite the twit in this book.  You can't help but hate him which makes him such a good villain.  I liked Elizabeth in this book; lately I've read a lot of books where I really just couldn't sympathize with her but I think Gortner does a great job of showing the precarious position she was in when she became queen and making her relatable.

The setting of this book was perfectly creepy; a small manor in the north of England where all kinds of strange things occur while Brendan is there investigating Lady Parry's disappearance.  The descriptions of both the surroundings of the manor and it's mysterious inhabitants kept me wondering what secrets the manor held.  And boy did it hold a big secret that changed the whole trajectory of the story.  While the reader thought Brendan was at the manor for one reason, it is revealed that he is there to deal with an entirely different situation.

The Tudor Vendetta is full of twists and turns and every time I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong.  The story is action-packed and the ending is intense to say the least.  I loved every minute of it!  I highly recommend The Tudor Vendetta and the rest of the Spymaster Trilogy.  4 stars.

About the Author:

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



 
Check out other stops on the tour here!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mailbox Monday (33)

 Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at To Be Continued.  It's a great way to show off all the cool books you received during the week.  Check it out here!

I got some great books this week!  On Monday night, I went to an event at a library near Kansas City and got to see Maggie Stiefvater and the Merry Sisters of Fate.  They gave a great talk on writing and then signed books.  I picked up a copy of The Raven Boys got it signed.  It was so fun!  I also got a couple of review books that I'm so excited to read.

Purchased:


For Review (from HFVBT):



What books did you get this week?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Post: Shanna Hatfield, author of the Hardman Holiday series



Shanna-Hatfield-Nov-Blog-Tour

Welcome to the

Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield
and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

An Interview with the Men of Hardman Holidays

Three characters from Shanna Hatfield’s historical holiday series, Hardman Holidays join us today. Set in the western town of Hardman, Oregon, this series of sweet romances highlights determined women and the men who fall for them. Luke Granger, Blake Stratton, and Arlan Guthry talk about life in Hardman in the 1890s.

A warm welcome to you all. Tell us a little about how you met.

Luke: We all grew up in Hardman. Blake moved here with his parents from England just after my family arrived from New York when we were quite small. Arlan, your parents moved here before you were born, didn’t they? I was young enough I don’t remember.

Arlan: Yes, they did. My brother, Adam, was just a year old when they moved to Hardman. I was born two years later. Blake’s mother was a friend of my mother’s.

Blake: That’s right. When Mum and Dad returned to England, she mentioned how much she missed visiting with your mother, although she didn’t say the same about Luke’s.

Luke: (Grins) Dora Granger just takes a little getting used to. Besides, she’s completely changed for the better since I married Filly.

Blake: Rather like you, ol’ chum.



What type of work do you do?

Luke: I own the Hardman Bank and manage it with Arlan’s capable assistance. I also raise cattle, hold an interest in a lumber mill, and a partnership in a mine.

Blake: He doesn’t want to get bored. (Blake and Arlan chuckle). While Luke is running hither and yon to meetings and the like, I stay home and carve furniture or work with my horses.

Luke: The Viscount should mention his furniture is in high demand both in England and America under the Roxbury House name. He also breeds and trains some of the best horses in this part of the country.

Arlan: His stallion, Romeo, is quite an impressive beast.

Blake: Romeo’s feelings would be hurt to hear you refer to him as a beast.

Arlan: If the name fits… As Luke mentioned, I work at the bank as his assistant. When I’m not there, I play the trumpet in the community band, and participate in activities around town.

Luke: And I thought he just had a thing for the phantasmagorical wonders of the new magician who rolled into town.

(Arlan frowns at Luke while Blake laughs)

Arlan: You just like to say the word "phantasmagorical" and work it into nearly every conversation since Alex came to town. She is a very talented magician.

Blake: And very beautiful.

Luke: And single. Don't forget she is as free and unfettered as they come, should anyone be interested in courting her.

(Arlan glares at Blake and Luke)


Use  five words to describe the most wonderful thing in your life

Luke: Filly - my wife, my love.

Blake: Beautiful Ginny - wife, friend, lover.

Arlan: That’s a tough one. Maybe you can come back to me on that.

Luke: (Slaps Arlan on the back) It’s just us. Go on, Arlan, fess up.

Arlan: (Frowning at Luke while fidgeting with his pocket watch.) Look at the time, we really must be going.



Before you leave, tell us what’s the best part of Christmas in Hardman?

Arlan: The sounds of carols, the crunch of snow beneath my boots, and the decorations. There is a feeling of kinship and welcome all around town.

Blake: (Snorts and shakes his head) Don’t forget the food, Arlan. You’re about to neglect a very important part of the holidays.

Luke: Like Filly’s cakes, tarts, and candies. There are the sweet breads and rolls, jams and pies, and the best cookies.

Blake: (Glances at Luke) Did she make those chocolate meringue things again?

Arlan: I had the rash idea Filly and Ginny were the best part of the holiday season for you two. It will be my pleasure to let them know you much prefer cookies and bread to their love and devotion. (Smirks at his friends)



Thank you for joining us. Any parting words for our readers?

Luke: Thank you for hosting us today. If you enjoy sweet holiday romances set in the past, I hope you’ll consider reading our stories in The Christmas Bargain, The Christmas Token, and The Christmas Calamity.


Where to Find The Books

Travel back to a different time with the historic Hardman Holiday Series,
christmas bargain coverbeginning with The Christmas Bargain

Now through Dec. 24, Shanna will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all her book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. JCCF logoThe JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.


You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here:   http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994

In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!

Prize Basket

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form.

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:


Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mailbox Monday (32)

Mailbox Monday is a great way to share the books you get each week!  Check it out here!

I haven't received any books for a few weeks and then in the past week, I got quite a few!  I'm still really busy with school and work but the semester will be over in a month and then I can get back to more reading.  Thank goodness!

For Review (from HFVBT):


The Loyalist's Luck by Elaine Cougler

Borrowed from a friend:


On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

From the Library (ebook):


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

What books did you get this week?
 
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