Excerpt & Giveaway: Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

Today I have the honor of hosting Susanna Kearsley's pre-publication excerpt tour with Sourcebooks and sharing with you a sneak peek from Susanna's upcoming book, Season of Storms! I also have one advanced reading copy to give away, be sure to enter the giveaway below.

From Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

“It isn’t me he wants, it’s just the name,” I said to Robert.

We’d stopped walking now to stand beneath the central southern window that was glowing with that softly golden light that seems to seek out empty churches in the quiet early evening. I had to tilt my head a long way back to read the lettering cut in the marble stone above. And though I’d read it countless times before, it still felt strange to see my own name spelt there: Celia Sands.

Rupert, at my shoulder, gave a cough that stirred my hair, and from the angle of the sound I knew that he was looking up as well. “Perhaps,” he said, his quiet voice not echoing as mine had in the soaring space. His tone was noncom¬mittal. Rupert rarely offered an opinion. I’d always found that maddening, especially when as a child I’d wanted his advice, but it was one of those small things that made him such a good director, his ability to let a thing develop, not to interfere.

That said, I didn’t think it wholly accidental that he’d wanted me to meet him here, at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden.

This was the “actor’s church,” a landmark of the theatre district, the names on its marble memorials reading like some sort of heavenly cast list: Sir Michael Redgrave, Dame Edith Evans, Sir Noël Coward…all properly humbling to someone like me, who had only just cracked the West End, and that in a role with ten minutes onstage and three lines, barely noticed by anyone.

“I don’t know, Roo.” I exhaled a breath that fell short of a sigh and looked down again, turning away from the memorial stone. “I don’t know that I’d feel quite comfort¬able taking a role like this.”
“Why not?” His question made no judgment.

“Well, for one thing, I haven’t auditioned. He’s never even seen me act. He’d never have known I existed if you hadn’t told him.” There was an accusation in my tone, and he responded with a calm defense.

“You only came up in conversation because—”

“Because of my name. I know.”

Silence for a minute, as both of us looked up again at the marble memorial stone. Rupert coughed.

“He does have my word for your abilities.”

“Yes, well.” I glanced back, slanting him a smile. “You are a little biased, don’t you think? And anyhow, that’s just what I’ve been saying—I don’t want to get a part because of who I know, or whose daughter I am, or whose name I happen to have. Besides,” I said, “I’m building a career as Celia Sullivan, I can’t just throw that all away, not now. And if I do this play as Celia Sands, I might as well forget about my stage name, because everyone else will—it’s going to get attention, this play, because of what it is, and where it’s being done. If I do it, I’ll be Celia Sands for the rest of my life.”

“You have to do what you think best, of course.” Glancing down at his watch, he said, “Come on, time we were going. I told Bryan we’d meet him at the club at seven sharp, and it doesn’t do to leave him sitting too long in the bar.”

“You think I should take the part.”

“I haven’t said anything.”

“But you think I should take it.”

He smiled, not replying; turned and, hands in pockets, led me back along the peaceful dimness of the aisle towards the door, while from the shadows in the corners all the actors who still haunted St. Paul’s Church appeared to watch and wait, as I did, for his answer.

Pub Date: September 2, 2014 | Sourcebooks Landmark | eBook, Paperback

In 1921, infamous Italian poet Galeazzo D’Ascanio wrote his last and greatest play, inspired by his muse and mistress, actress Celia Sands. On the eve of opening night, Celia vanished, and the play was never performed.

Now, two generations later, Alessandro D’Ascanio plans to stage his grandfather’s masterpiece and has offered the lead to a promising young English actress, also named Celia Sands—at the whim of her actress mother, or so she has always thought. When Celia arrives at D’Ascanio’s magnificent, isolated Italian villa, she is drawn to the mystery of her namesake’s disappearance—and to the compelling, enigmatic Alessandro.

But the closer Celia gets to learning the first Celia’s fate, the more she is drawn into a web of murder, passion, and the obsession of genius. Though she knows she should let go of the past, in the dark, in her dreams, it comes back…

Season of Storms just received a STARRED review from Booklist:

“Kearsley seems to be channeling Mary Stewart or Victoria Holt in this mesmerizing modern gothic.”—Booklist, starred review

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden, both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Other honors include finaling for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. Her popular and critically-acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audio books. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.


To win an advanced reading copy of Season of Storms please enter the form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 1st.

Good luck!

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2015 Release: Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

Major squeal alert! Heather Webb just unveiled the cover of her highly-anticipated upcoming release of Rodin's Lover and it's awesome!

Pub Date: January 27, 2014 | Plume

A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France...

As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness.

Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.

Praise for Rodin's Lover

"Camille Claudel is an audacious and authentic character who deserves to be remembered. Rodin’s Lover is epic and unflinching--a book you won't soon forget." --Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author of City of Jasmine

“Written with great empathy, this novel of the visceral world of Paris ateliers, of clay-stained dresses and fingernails, and talent which endures, comes vividly to life." -Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

About the Author

Heather Webb is a former French teacher, a blogger, and a member of the Historical Novel Society. She lives with her family in Connecticut.

Giveaway: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

Today is the release day in the US of the first book in Conn Iggulden's series, Wars of the Roses: Stormbird, and thanks to the publisher I have two copies to give away!

Pub Date: July 8, 2014 | G. P. Putnam’s Sons | eBook, Paperback

In the middle of the fifteenth century, a mentally unstable and physically feeble young King Henry VI makes a fateful bargain, under the influence of spymaster Derry Brewer, giving up a large swath of England’s hard-won territory in France in exchange for twenty years of peace and marriage to a young French princess. But the deal quickly sours, as the newly reclaimed French territories slide into warfare, Henry’s nobles seethe, and thousands of his subjects revolt. Henry’s new queen, the remarkable and resourceful Margaret of Anjou, finds that instead of enjoying a life of peace and luxury, she must save her weak-willed husband from multiple threats to his throne. A rebel army attacks the heart of London, sons and fathers battle one another, and great men betray their king. It is the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, when the House of York, represented by a white rose, and Henry VI’s House of Lancaster, symbolized by a red one, bitterly fought for control of what would ultimately become the world’s most powerful and influential nation.

Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful and critically praised authors of historical fiction writing today, with over seven million copies of his books sold worldwide. Now, with WARS OF THE ROSES, he plunges readers into one of the most bloody and brutal periods in history, when two rival branches of one royal English family threw their country into a devastating, decades-long civil war. In a starred review, Kirkus says:

“Capturing the stink and gore, violence and romance of medieval life, Iggulden makes real those grand characters who live in the collective memory. A page-turner sure to have readers eager for the next in the series.”

Watch the Book Trailer

About the Author

Conn Iggulden is the author of two previous series on Julius Caesar and on the Mongol Khans of Central Asia and also the co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and children.


Passages to the Past has two copies of Wars of the Roses: Stormbird up for grabs! To enter please complete form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 18.

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Spotlight & Giveaway: Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Today kicks off Susan Spann's Blog Tour for Blade of the Samurai: A Shinobi Mystery (Book #2, Shinobi Mysteries Series) and I have a chance for one of you lucky people to win a copy! Susan's tour with HF Virtual Book Tours runs through August 1st, be sure to see the schedule of stops below.

Blade of the Samurai 

Pub Date: July 15, 2014 | Minotaur Books | Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Series: Shinobi Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery

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June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the Shogun’s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the Shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the Shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the Shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the Shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the Shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the Shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time … or die in his place.

Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in 16th century Japan.

Book One of the Shinobi Mysteries series, Claws of the Cat, was released in 2013.

Praise for Blast of the Samurai

“The second Hiro Hattori mystery (after 2013’s Claws of the Cat) finds the sixteenth-century ninja—and unofficial investigator—presented with an interesting problem…A strong second entry in a very promising series.”—Booklist

“Hiro and Father Mateo’s second adventure (Claws of the Cat, 2013) combines enlightenment on 16th-century Japanese life with a sharp and well-integrated mystery.”—Kirkus Reveiws

Buy the Book

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

Susan Spann 1Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.

For more information please visit Susan Spann's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blade of the Samurai Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 8
Review at Closed the Cover

Wednesday, July 9
Review at Staircase Wit
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Thursday, July 10
Review at Boolover Book Reviews

Monday, July 14
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, July 16
Review at Buried Under Books

Thursday, July 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Claws of the Cat)
Spotlight at Reviews by Molly

Friday, July 18
Review at History Undressed

Monday, July 21
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, July 22
Review at Judith Starkston
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, July 23
Review at The True Book Addict

Thursday, July 24
Interview at Layered Pages

Monday, July 28
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, July 29
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, July 30
Review at Princess of Eboli

Thursday, July 31
Review at A Fantastical Librarian

Friday, August 1
Review at Reading the Ages


To win a copy of Susan Spann's Blade of the Samurai please enter the form below. Giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only and ends on July 17th.

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Interview with Carol Bodensteiner + Giveaway of Go Away Home

Please welcome author Carol Bodensteiner to the blog today! Carol's Blog Tour for her novel Go
Away Home kicks off today and she has graciously stopped by to answer some questions for us. I also have a copy of this exciting new historical up for grabs!

Hi Carol! Congratulations on the release of Go Away Home and many thanks for spending some time with us here at Passages to the Past! 

My pleasure, Amy. Thanks for inviting me to talk about my latest favorite project, Go Away Home!

Go Away Home was inspired by the story of your maternal grandparents, when and why were you inspired to write about them?

The idea that became Go Away Home has been in my head since I learned as a child that my grandfather died of the Spanish Flu in 1918. Throughout my life, I’ve been intrigued by my connection to this major world event. Of course I never knew my grandfather and even though my grandmother lived until I was well into my 20s, I never asked her a single question about him or their lives together. And she was not the type to share.

So, this story is based on a few facts, but it’s entirely fiction. In a way, the book creates a life for the man I never knew and for the grandmother I only knew as a stern old woman.

After I published my memoir, Growing Up Country, the thought of doing something with this story wouldn’t get out of my head. Five or six years late, here we are.

How much of Go Away Home is fact and what parts did you have to fill in?

The longer I worked on the story, the more it became fiction. I was told, for instance, that my grandmother went to a sewing school. Research told me that the town in question didn’t have a sewing school, rather that young girls apprenticed with seamstresses as a way to learn an important life skill and to meet a man to marry. This idea that seamstresses were invited to their clients’ house parties had a lot more dramatic potential so I ran with that. Another bit of fact to fiction. My grandmother took pictures, but the whole part in the book about the main character’s work for a photographer and her relationship with him is entirely fiction. Most of the book is that way. Tiny fact. Huge fiction.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Go Away Home?

Overall, I hope readers will be touched by the characters and the story. That would mean they felt the story was well told, which was my goal. I hope readers will empathize with the challenges the main character Liddie faces in making choices and perhaps go further to consider their own choices. Are we happy with our choices? What regrets do we have? Finally, I hope readers come away from the book knowing more about rural life in the early 20th century.

What was the hardest scene to write?

Without getting into the details because it would be a spoiler, the hardest scene to write was early in the book when a character dies. The reason this was hard to write was because I was drawing from a well of emotion created when someone close to me died. I had to relive those moments during the writing. It’s hard to see the computer monitor when I’m crying!

What was your favorite scene to write?

One of my favorite scenes is when my main character Liddie makes a serious mistake at her job and attempts to hide it. When she’s found out, she takes responsibility as she never has before. I liked this scene because it shows real growth for Liddie. Go Away Home is a coming of age novel, and in this scene, Liddie really grows up.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been a writer all of my life. In the third grade I entertained thoughts of being a creative writer. Those thoughts gave way to a more-practical-at-the-moment career in business where I wrote all the time but in a different way. About 15 years ago, I decided to try my hand at creative writing again. I’ve been in heaven learning the tools and techniques of creative writing and now publishing my second book. I’ve never regretted leaving the business world behind to take this new road.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I’m enjoy the outdoors. My husband and I live on an acreage. I put a portion of the acreage in prairie flowers and grasses when we moved here nine years ago. That’s now an area of joy for me and every child who visits. We also have a big vegetable garden, and the flower gardens around the house get bigger every year. These spaces are wonderful for giving my writing brain a break.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I know John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath wasn’t written as an historical novel, but when I read it in the 1960s, I read it as such. It’s a book that made a profound impression on me. I knew those people. I understood their desperation. I felt the heat and the grit. It’s that kind of writing I aspire to.

What is the last historical novel you read?

One of the best I’ve read recently is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Set in post-WWI Australia, the story is built on a powerful metaphor of choice - a lighthouse marking the way between the calm Indian Ocean and the stormy Southern Ocean. The writing excellent. The premise thought-provoking. The situation disturbing.

What historical time period or setting do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I enjoy any historical era if the stories are well written, but in the past few years I find myself most often seeking out novels from the early 20th century. No doubt because that’s the era I’m writing about. One hundred plus years ago isn’t really so long ago. I can relate to the people and situations because I can imagine my own grandparents in that time.

Is there another novel in the works that you can tell us about?

I’ve started outlining an idea that’s been simmering in the back of my brain for several years. In time-honored writing tradition, the frame of this story is ancient, though the setting will be modern. I won’t be able to give it my full attention until the end of July, after Go Away Home is launched to the world, but the idea is persistent. I’m sure it won’t let me get away.

Many thanks for letting me chat with your readers, Amy. And thanks for kicking off this great month with the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. I’m excited.

02_Go Away Home 

Pub Date: July 1, 2014 | Rising Sun Press | Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Liddie Treadway grew up on a family farm where options for her future were marriage or teaching. Encouraged by suffragette rhetoric and her maiden aunt, Liddie is determined to avoid both and pursue a career. Her goal is within her grasp when her older sister’s abrupt departure threatens to keep her on the farm forever.

Once she is able to experience the world she’s dreamed of, Liddie is enthralled with her independence, a new-found passion for photography, and the man who teaches her. Yet, the family, friends, and life of her youth tug at her heart, and she must face the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as she once imagined.

GO AWAY HOME is a coming-of-age novel that explores the enduring themes of family, friendship, and love, as well as death and grief. This novel will resonate with anyone who’s confronted the conflict between dreams and reality and come to recognize that getting what you want can be a two-edged sword.

Praise for Go Away Home

“Go Away Home is … a tale of choices, dreams realized and rejected, and how values evolve … gently compelling and highly believable.” – D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“Excellent characters and an extremely realistic plot … Go Away Home is the perfect story of coming home.” – Samantha Rivera, Readers’ Favorite reviewer

“… a heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale … a story that promises to fulfill what it is to be alive when one chooses the life one wants to live, despite the consequences” – Paulette Mahurin, author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

“Go Away Home is a coming of age novel that is well-written, compelling, and endearing … a strong sense of place, excellent character development, and an engaging plot line.” – Kara Logsden, Iowa City Public Library

“Every life is a story, no matter how mundane it may appear on the surface, but it takes a writer like Carol Bodensteiner to draw a reader in and keep them turning the pages. Bodensteiner … writes characters with depth … she’s captured the era … with meticulous historical detail.“ – J. P. Lane, author of The Tangled Web

About the Author

Carol Bodensteiner grew up in the heartland of the United States, and she continues to draw writing inspiration from the people, places, culture, and history of the area. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She is the author of Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl, a memoir. Her essays have been published in several anthologies. Go Away Home is her first novel.

For more information please visit Carol Bodensteiner's Website/Blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Sign up for Carol's Newsletter.

Go Away Home Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 8
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 10
Guest Post at Closed the Cover

Friday, July 11
Review & Giveaway at History From a Woman's Perspective

Monday, July 14
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, July 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, July 17
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Friday, July 18
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, July 21
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Tuesday, July 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes

Thursday, July 24
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover

Friday, July 25
Tour Recap at Passages to the Past


Passages to the Past has one paperback copy up for grabs! To enter please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only and ends on July 17.

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New Release: The Darkest Hour by Barbara Erskine

Pub Date: July 3, 2014 | HarperCollins | eBook, Hardcover

From the Sunday Times bestselling author comes an epic tale of love, passion and heartbreak.

Love is as uncertain and as untameable as war…

In the summer of 1940, most eyes are focussed on the skies above the South of England. The battle for Britain has just begun. But young Evie Lucas has eyes for no-one but a dashing young pilot called Tony. Evie has a glittering career as an artist ahead of her but seems to be wasting her time sketching endless portraits of Tony. She wants his parents to have something to remember him by in case it all goes wrong in the war…

Seventy years later, and recently widowed art historian Lucy is trying to put the pieces of her life back together. And in order to do that, Lucy needs to uncover the mystery surrounding a painting in her home. But as she accidentally ends up stirring up a hornet’s nest of history which has been deliberately obliterated, Lucy finds herself in danger from people past and present who have no intention of letting an untold truth ever surface.

New Release: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion (a #HistFic Collaboration)

Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love is an exciting new historical collaboration novel from some of today's most talented writers! I picked up my copy the other day and can't wait to dive in!

Pub Date: July 1, 2014 | Berkley Trade | eBook, Paperback, Audio 

A war bride awaits the arrival of her GI husband at the platform...

A Holocaust survivor works at the Oyster Bar, where a customer reminds him of his late mother...

A Hollywood hopeful anticipates her first screen test and a chance at stardom in the Kissing Room...

On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through New York City's Grand Central Terminal, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell.

Now, ten bestselling authors inspired by this iconic landmark have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal....

Featuring stories from...

Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife
Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 Britannia Road
Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of The Ambassador's Daughter
Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter
Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Baker's Daughter
Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Pieces We Keep
Alyson Richman, bestselling author of The Lost Wife
Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Call Me Zelda
Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of After the Rain

With an Introduction by...

Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Home Front

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