The Memory House: A Love Story in Two Acts by Jenetta James

Happy Monday everyone! Today I am hosting the Book Blast for the upcoming release from Jenetta James! The Memory House will be out on August 10th from Quills and Quartos Publishing and is available for pre-order. Isn't that cover beautiful?


The Memory House: A Love Story in Two Acts
by Jenetta James

Publication Date: August 10, 2020
Quills and Quartos Publishing

Genre: Historical Romance


A house in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods is home to secrets, mysteries, and two love stories spanning two centuries.

In 1859, independent-minded Kitty Cathcart dreams of escaping Veronica Gardens but her father’s determination to marry her off to a rich man of his choosing forces her to seek happiness and find her own voice by other means. And then the handsome but poor Alex Faraday walks through the front doors.

In 2019, Oxford-educated Josie Minton never dreamt of living in a house as grand as Veronica Gardens, but the nanny’s quarters are a perfect fit for a young woman in need of a job. Wealthy financier James Cavendish and his twin girls quickly find her indispensable to their happiness, but Josie is still searching for her future.

Then the great house reveals the first of its secrets, and the tragedy and romance of one era are brought into sharp relief with another.

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

About the Author

Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego.

She is the author of "Suddenly Mrs Darcy", "The Elizabeth Papers" and "Lover's Knot" as well as a contributor to The Quill Ink series of anthologies, "The Darcy Monologues", "Dangerous to know", "Rational Creatures" and "Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl".

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Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 22
Robin Loves Reading
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, June 23
Momfluenster
Jorie Loves A Story

Wednesday, June 24
Gwendalyn's Books

Thursday, June 25
A Darn Good Read
Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, June 26
Austenprose
Donna's Book Blog

Saturday, June 27
Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, June 28
Books, Cooks, Looks

Monday, June 29
Bookworlder
Passages to the Past

Book Blast: Out of Night by Kellie Butler


Out of Night by Kellie Butler

Publication Date: June 24, 2020
Raleigh Hills Press
Paperback & eBook; 328 pages

Series: The Laurelhurst Chronicles, Book 4
Genre: Historical Fiction


How long can you run from yourself?

1968. In the continuing bestselling Laurelhurst Chronicles family saga series comes a gripping, moving tale of separation, self-discovery, new beginnings, and reconciliation.

Kate. A mainstay on Swinging London’s party circuit for years, Kate is plunged into a sordid world when Lord Elliott Cutterworth kicks her out of her home and takes custody of their daughter, Violet after she relapses on her journey to sobriety. Separated from her family, she’s determined to get clean and regain custody of her daughter. On the run from Elliott and her old life, she finds assistance in her reluctant brother-in-law, Edward Cavert, who is running away from some secrets of his own. Can she reconcile her past and face down Elliott?

Lydie. When her youngest son, Cole, is institutionalized from intellectual impairments, it sends Lydie into a downward spiral, and her once loving marriage is in jeopardy.

After botched treatments leave her memory in tatters, her husband, Henry, sends Lydie to Kansas, and to the one psychiatric hospital that can help her restore her memory and her sanity. There, Lydie meets new friends while reconnecting with a childhood friend, Lord Christopher “Kit” Alderley. As she puts the pieces of her life back together, can she finally leave the haunting memories from her youth in Lancashire behind her and reconcile with her brother and her husband?

Available on Amazon


Giveaway

Win a copy of the book (paperback or eBook) and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
Click the photo below to enter
.
Giveaway ends on June 29th.



About the Author

Kellie Butler is the author of Beneath a Moonless Sky, Before the Flood, and The Broken Tree, all part of the bestselling The Laurelhurst Chronicles series.

Born in the deep south and educated at Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University, she has travelled and lived around the globe. Besides writing books, she enjoys knitting, yoga, cooking, hiking, classical film, her MSU Bulldogs, and her dog, Chippy. She lives in Arizona with her family.

She enjoys hearing from readers. To connect with her, visit her website www.kellierbutler.com to join her newsletter, connect with her on social media, and receive updated news on signings and events.

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Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 22
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 23
Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, June 24
SplendeurCaisse
Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, June 25
Pursuing Stacie

Friday, June 26
Donna's Book Blog

Saturday, June 27
CelticLady's Reviews

Sunday, June 28
History From a Woman's Perspective

Monday, June 29
The Book Junkie Reads

Review & Giveaway: The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth


The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth

Publication Date: April 2, 2020
RedDoor Press
Paperback & eBook; 356 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession.

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters' lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life's work or devote herself to painting.

When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the Northern Territory outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life.

Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand seeking revenge.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Kobo UK | Kobo US | Apple iBooks

Praise for The Philosopher's Daughters

"A lyrical tale of wild, frontier Australia. Evocative, insightful, thought-provoking." -Karen Viggers, author

​"Booth is superb at the small detail that creates a life, and the large one that gives it meaning." -
Marion Halligan, author

"Delicately handled historical drama with a theme of finding self, both in relationships and art, backed by issues on race relations in Australia and women’s rights." -Tom Flood, author and editor

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Philosopher's Daughters is set in the 1890s in London and Australia and focuses on Sarah and Harriet - two sisters who live with their philosopher father, James Cameron.

The sisters are close yet very different in personalities. Sarah is the beauty and when she meets Henry at a suffragette meeting they soon marry and embark on a two-year honeymoon to Australia, which eventually turns into a permanent move, leaving Harriet behind in London with their father. Harriet is the artist of the family and expressly wishes to remain single in order to pursue her own dreams. When her father dies, she decides to take an adventure and visit her sister in Australia. Sarah and Henry are now living in a remote outpost where the mail is delivered every 6 weeks (can you imagine?!) near an Aboriginal camp. At that time there is significant prejudice and racism against the Aboriginal people and this book highlights that. There are some really tough scenes to read, but it's especially poignant given the current circumstances of race and racism in the world today.

I greatly enjoyed The Philosopher's Daughters and Alison's writing is top-notch. For me, it was more of a slow-burn novel with the action coming more towards the latter half of the novel. Australia is fast becoming a new favorite setting for me - I don't know, there's just something about the vastness and wildness of the country that fascinates me.

This was my first read by Alison Booth but I am definitely picking up her others!

About the Author

Alison Booth was born in Melbourne, brought up in Sydney and has worked in the UK and in Australia as a professor as well as a novelist. Her most recent novel, A Perfect Marriage, is in the genre of contemporary fiction, while her first three novels (Stillwater Creek, The Indigo Sky, and A Distant Land) are historical fiction spanning the decades 1950s through to the early 1970s. Alison's work has been translated into French and has also been published by Reader's Digest Select Editions in both Asia and Europe. Alison, who holds a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics, is an active public speaker and has participated in many writers' festivals and literary events.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 15
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 17
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, June 18
Guest Post at Gwendalyn's Books

Friday, June 19
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, June 20
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday, June 23
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Wednesday, June 24
Excerpt at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, June 26
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Monday, June 29
Review at A Darn Good Read

Wednesday, July 1
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Friday, July 3
Feature at I'm All About Books

Monday, July 6
Review at Impressions In Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of The Philosopher's Daughters! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Philosopher's Daughters

The Philosopher's Daughters


Review & Giveaway: Tales of Ming Courtesans by Alice Poon


Tales of Ming Courtesans by Alice Poon

Publication Date: June 1, 2020
Earnshaw Books
Paperback; 354 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


From the author of The Green Phoenix comes a riveting tale of female friendship, honor, and sacrifice for love, set in 17th Century China and featuring the intertwined stories of three of the era's most renowned courtesans, escorts skilled in music, poetry and painting who could decide themselves whether or not to offer patrons bed favors.

Inspired by literary works and folklore, Tales of Ming Courtesans traces the destinies of the three girls from the seamy world of human trafficking and slavery to the cultured scene of the famously decadent pleasure district of the city of Nanjing, evoking episodes in Memoirs of a Geisha.

The girls all existed - Rushi was a famous poet, Yuanyuan became the concubine of a general who changed the course of Chinese history by supporting the Manchu invasion in 1644 and Xiangjun challenged the corruption of court officials to try to save her lover. Rushi's daughter, Jingjing, gradually pieces together the stories of the three from a memoir left to her by her mother.

Betrayal, tenacity and hope all come together in a novel that brings to life an important era in China's history, and particularly highlights the challenges faced by independent-minded women.

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for Tales of Ming Courtesans

"In Tales of Ming Courtesans, Alice Poon masterfully brings to life three fascinating women who had a lasting impact on China's culture and history. This beautiful telling of their turbulent lives and devoted friendship is a reverential testament to their memories." - Kelli Estes, bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

"Tales of Ming Courtesans is a poignant and captivating exploration of the lives of three extraordinary women.... Ultimately an enduring tale of the power of sisterhood and the bonds between women." - Jeannie Lin, USA Today bestselling author of The Lotus Palace

"Tales of Ming Courtesans is a brilliant, 'own voices' alternative to Memoirs of a Geisha....An exquisite reading experience. Highly, highly recommended." - M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl With Ghost Eyes

"Alice Poon's excellent Tales of Ming Courtesans follows the intertwined lives of three seventeenth-century courtesans..... Poon's real achievement is to create believable depth to her characters' known histories....She has clearly written Tales from the heart." - David Leffman, author of The Mercenary


Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you ever sat down to read a few pages of the book and you become so engrossed in it that by the time you look up its hours later and you're already half-way through it? That's what happened to me with Tales of Ming Courtesans! I was instantly hooked!

Tales of Ming Courtesans tells the story of Liu Rushi, Chen Yuanyuan, and Li Xiangjun, who were famous courtesans in China between the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The three women were all sold as children to slave traders and eventually became concubines. Despite the fact that their lives were controlled by the whims of powerful men, these amazing women persevered and fought their way to respect and freedom. I absolutely cannot fathom going through what they did and still have the strength that they did. They are truly inspiring. Each woman had a talent all her own and together they created their own family.

I have never read a book set during this time in China so that aspect was especially fascinating to me, as were the details of Chinese culture and traditions.

I don't think I will ever forget these incredible women - the beauty, the artist, and the rebel will remain in my thoughts for a very long time. I only wish I had their fortitude and grace. A truly remarkable story and I am grateful to Alice for writing this book and telling their story. I highly recommend you pick this one up.

About the Author

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Alice Poon steeped herself in Chinese poetry and history, Jin Yong’s martial arts novels and English Literature in her school days. This early immersion has inspired her creative writing.

Always fascinated with iconic but unsung women in Chinese history and legends, she cherishes a dream of bringing them to the page.

Her new historical novel Tales of Ming Courtesans will be released by Earnshaw Books on June 1, 2020.

She is the author of The Green Phoenix and the bestselling and award-winning non-fiction title Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong. She now lives in Vancouver, Canada and devotes her time to writing historical Chinese fiction.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 25
Excerpt at Journey in Bookland
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, May 26
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Wednesday, May 27
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 29
Review at Reader then Blogger

Monday, June 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 3
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, June 5
Review at YA, it's Lit

Monday, June 8
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 10
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, June 12
Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Tales from Ming Courtesans! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Tales of Ming Courtesans


Interview & Giveaway: Saving the Music by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are all safe and healthy! Today on the blog I am very excited to share my interview with Author Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco! Chip is currently on blog tour for Saving the Music, which I absolutely loved, and he's here today to tell us more about the book and series, and himself! Enjoy! And don't forget to enter to win a copy of the book!



Hello Chip and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Saving the Music!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I live in New Orleans with my wife and two kids, where, when I am not writing, I practice law. I have written three novels, Tempesta’s Dream, A Song for Bellafortuna and Saving the Music.

Saving the Music is the follow up to A Song for Bellafortuna, what inspired you to write the series?

When I started writing, I never envisioned that this would become a series. Book 1 – A Song for Bellafortuna – was a story that came to about a small Sicilian village who is visited by the great opera tenor, Enrico Caruso. I decided very early on that instead of placing the story in a real village in Sicily, which ties your story down to the history of that place, I decided to create my own village with its own history, yet based on what life was like in Sicily at the turn of the century. It was after Book 1 was released, that I received an email from a reader who told me that they loved the characters and so wished to know what happened to them all as they got older. The very next week I was in DC and I went to the Holocaust Museum, which greatly moved me. There was a plaque there that I came across that thanked the Italian people for their response to the Holocaust. Right then and there the genesis of Book 2 – Saving the Music – began. The characters from Book 1 would still be around during WWII and they would be involved in the hiding of Jews in Sicily. Thus, without having any idea when I first started writing about Bellafortuna, I began work on book 2 of a series for which I never had any intention of writing.

What research did you undertake when writing the Bellafortuna series?

For A Song for Bellafortuna, I did a lot of research regarding Sicilian life at the turn of the century. However, Saving the Music, by far, was a huge undertaking as the story concerns the Vatican’s controversial response to the Holocaust, and in particular, the actions of Pope Pius XII. My research led me to read speeches of Pope Pius XII, newspaper reports from around the period, and the works of lots of historians. I also spoke to people who lived at the Vatican during WWII so that I could adequately describe what life was like inside the Vatican and around Rome during the War years.


What would you like readers to take away from reading the Bellafortuna series?

I think at the end of the day, the stories speak to one simple truth - To be fully human is to live for others. Although it’s an easy statement to say, often its hard in today’s world to find evidence of it, where people are more interested in living for themselves and not for others.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There is a scene in Saving the Music that takes place down in the burial grottos of St. Peters Basilica and the final resting place of St. Peter. I loved the message of that scene and the way it all came together.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Without giving too much away, it was a scene regarding the roundup of the Jews in the Roman Quarter by the Nazis. It was very difficult as I wanted to allow the reader to get a sense of the horror and sense of betrayal that the Roman Jews felt.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I wrote – “Giovanni Tempesta always dreamed of being an opera tenor.” Those were the very first words I wrote when the story of Tempesta’s Dream came jumping into my head. I needed to know more about Mr. Tempesta. The writing bug bit me hard that very night.


What does your daily writing routine look like?

Being a lawyer during the day, most of my writing takes place early in the morning. I try to write for an hour to an hour a half every morning. I’m an early riser, so weekend mornings are spent perfecting everything I had written the previous week. This is a picture of my writing spot. A friend gave me the bottle of wine on the right called Writers Block with a card that says “In case of emergency break glass.”


What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

For me, my greatest challenge is trying to find the story I want to tell. Once the story is in your head, I find it rather easy to proceed from there. But its antagonizing as story after story comes to you and you work through them mentally to see if they will give you the inspiration to not only start writing, but see the story till the end.

Who are your writing inspirations?

By far, the single greatest writing inspiration for me was JRR Tolkien, as his Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit, provided me with a life-long love of fiction and story-telling.

What was the first historical novel you read?

It was probably The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I loved that book and still to this day remember parts of it and how Eco described certain things.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

What are three things people may not know about you?

1) I’m a huge opera fan and have seen operas at some of the most famous opera houses in the world.
2) My most favorite dish – don’t laugh – is pasta and meat sauce.
3) My dog is an 11 year old beagle named Scout – yes after the character from To Kill a Mockingbird.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I was a history major in college. I love learning what life was like in different times. Historical fiction requires a lot of attention to details and lots and lots of research. It’s fascinating for me because I get to learn so much while I write.

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

I love anything to do with the WWII period.

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

Listening to opera and music, travelling, and just being with my family.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m only three chapters in, but I just started working on Book 3, the final book in the Bellafortuna Series. I have no name for it yet.

Oh yay, I am so excited for that! I can't wait to get back to Bellafortuna! Thank you for stopping by today, Chip!


Saving the Music by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Cefalutana Press
Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook

Series: Bellafortuna, Book #2
Genre: Historical Fiction


It is the winter of 1942, and the world is at war. A few Jewish musicians attempt to flee the Nazi death grip, each desperately trying to navigate his own path to safety. With the courageous aid and kindness of strangers, they soon find themselves in Rome, where under the highly secret help of the Vatican, they are hidden in Bellafortuna, a small village in Sicily. The residents of Bellafortuna welcome them and care for them, and for a fleeting moment, the horrors the musicians are facing are forgotten while residing in the beautiful, idyllic landscape of Sicily. But word soon reaches the small village that Italy has surrendered, now making Germany at war with Italy. War quickly comes to the village as the Germans storm into Sicily to repel the Allied advance. As Bellafortuna becomes front and center in the raging war, the villagers rise as one to try and protect and save the Jews hiding in their midst. Failure to keep them hidden will mean death to those under their protection...and perhaps even to the villagers themselves.

An intricately plotted and meticulously researched novel, Saving the Music demonstrates how, in the face of death and unspeakable horror, the strength of the human spirit of ordinary people can shine bright through the darkness.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Advance Praise

"In Saving the Music, author Chip LoCoco writes of the efforts undertaken by common villagers, priests, and even a Pope to protect Jews from the Nazis. He vividly depicts the horrors faced by the Jews as they confront the Holocaust. Filled with real heroism and high drama, this book brings perspective and depth to its subject. It's an exciting read on an important topic, and I strongly recommend it." -Ronald Rychlak, Author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope

"This is a well-composed novel that captures key moments of the Holocaust as it relates to the Italian people. I highly recommend it." -Professor Vincent Lapomarda, S.J., Author of The Jesuits and the Third Reich

"This is a well-researched novel and reflects the situation as it then existed, hopefully, never to return." -Fr. Peter Gumpel, S.J., postulator of the cause of beautification for Pius XII

"Chip LoCoco's novel, Saving the Music, is a realistic fact-based story of pain, fear and true heroism. The premise is solidly grounded on documented facts of the actions of the Catholic Church under the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII down to priests and individual Catholics. Saving the Music is an exciting and engrossing read, which joins the list of wonderful truth-based books of late that is shedding light on the truth ending the worst character assassination of the 20th Century. Bravo." -Gary L. Krupp, Author of Pope Pius XII and World War II- The Documented Truth

About the Author

Chip LoCoco was born and raised in New Orleans. His first novel, Tempesta's Dream, became an Amazon Bestseller.

His second novel, Bellafortuna, has been nationally recognized, being named a Short List Finalist in the William Faulkner Writing Competition and awarded the B.R.A.G. Award in Historical Fiction. Mr. LoCoco is a member of the Italian American Writers Association.

His newest work, Saving the Music, which is Book 2 of his Bellafortuna Series, was just recently released.

Chip, who is an attorney, is married to his wife of over 20 years, Wendy. They have two children, Matthew and Ellie and a beagle, named Scout. They reside in their beloved city of New Orleans, where if you try to find them on a Sunday in the Fall, they will be somewhere rooting on their Saints.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, June 3
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Friday, June 5
Feature at What Is That Book About
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Monday, June 8
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 9
Feature at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Wednesday, June 10
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, June 12
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, June 15
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, June 18
Review at Impressions In Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Saving the Music! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Saving the Music



Review & Giveaway: Spies by Ellie Midwood


Spies by Ellie Midwood

Publication Date: May 15, 2020
Paperback & eBook

Series: Metropolis, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction


Weimar Berlin, 1927

Having recovered from the hyperinflation, the decadent metropolis is prospering against all odds. Unbothered by the turbulent events of the previous years, Berlin plunges into an orgy of life, entirely oblivious to the dangerous signs of an upcoming catastrophe.

Much like the rest of Berlin’s artistic elite, Margot von Steinhoff is too preoccupied with her work on the set of the infamous Fritz Lang, to pay attention to the dark shadow of the nationalistic threat hanging over the city. When Ernst Weniger, her former lover and now an official NKVD officer, asks for her help in aiding the German communists, she refuses at first, choosing to stay apolitical, just like Lang. However, when the new Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, arrives in the city and begins his relentless campaign of harassment and misinformation, Margot realizes that staying neutral is no longer an option. Playing on the wrong side can cost her not only her career but her freedom, yet Margot has never been more certain of her choice.

“I don’t read political newspapers, Margot. I only want to make my films… I don’t want to have anything to do with all those politics.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with them either. But the sad fact is that sometimes politics wants to have everything to do with us, regardless of our desires. At some point, all of us will have to take sides. The good news, Fritz, is that I’ll always be on yours.”

Dark, gritty, yet full of hope, “Spies” is the novel of the doomed Weimar Republic and the last generation of free-thinking artists who lived and created their masterpieces in a city, on the verge of collapse.

Available on Amazon


Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another stellar read from Ellie Midwood!

Spies picks up after the first book, Metropolis. Margot is asked to work as a Cinematographer on the set of a new movie, Spies, by Fritz Lang, who also made an appearance in Metropolis. I loved reading about the inner workings of film-making, it was really fascinating.

As in Metropolis the city of Berlin is a character unto itself. Ellie masterfully puts you right there - an exciting and vibrant city on the brink of enormous change as the Nazi party starts becoming more powerful.

When Margot is asked to spy on people on the set of her movie she is hesitant but realizes the danger of the right wing party infiltrating film sets and spreading propaganda, so she agrees.

As with all of Ellie's novels, the character development is incredible. Her talent for plotting the novel and keeping the reader turning the pages is fantastic. She is one of those authors that I will read everything she releases! I highly recommend this series!

About the Author

Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, "The Girl from Berlin." Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.

In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, June 6
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, June 8
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, June 9
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 10
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, June 12
Interview at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Monday, June 15
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Tuesday, June 16
Review at Nurse Bookie
Excerpt at I'm All About Books

Friday, June 19
Review at YA, It's Lit
Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading

Monday, June 22
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Spies by Ellie Midwood! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Spies


Review & Giveaway: Saving the Music by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco


Saving the Music by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Cefalutana Press
Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook

Series: Bellafortuna, Book #2
Genre: Historical Fiction


It is the winter of 1942, and the world is at war. A few Jewish musicians attempt to flee the Nazi death grip, each desperately trying to navigate his own path to safety. With the courageous aid and kindness of strangers, they soon find themselves in Rome, where under the highly secret help of the Vatican, they are hidden in Bellafortuna, a small village in Sicily. The residents of Bellafortuna welcome them and care for them, and for a fleeting moment, the horrors the musicians are facing are forgotten while residing in the beautiful, idyllic landscape of Sicily. But word soon reaches the small village that Italy has surrendered, now making Germany at war with Italy. War quickly comes to the village as the Germans storm into Sicily to repel the Allied advance. As Bellafortuna becomes front and center in the raging war, the villagers rise as one to try and protect and save the Jews hiding in their midst. Failure to keep them hidden will mean death to those under their protection...and perhaps even to the villagers themselves.

An intricately plotted and meticulously researched novel, Saving the Music demonstrates how, in the face of death and unspeakable horror, the strength of the human spirit of ordinary people can shine bright through the darkness.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Advance Praise

"In Saving the Music, author Chip LoCoco writes of the efforts undertaken by common villagers, priests, and even a Pope to protect Jews from the Nazis. He vividly depicts the horrors faced by the Jews as they confront the Holocaust. Filled with real heroism and high drama, this book brings perspective and depth to its subject. It's an exciting read on an important topic, and I strongly recommend it." -Ronald Rychlak, Author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope

"This is a well-composed novel that captures key moments of the Holocaust as it relates to the Italian people. I highly recommend it." -Professor Vincent Lapomarda, S.J., Author of The Jesuits and the Third Reich

"This is a well-researched novel and reflects the situation as it then existed, hopefully, never to return." -Fr. Peter Gumpel, S.J., postulator of the cause of beautification for Pius XII

"Chip LoCoco's novel, Saving the Music, is a realistic fact-based story of pain, fear and true heroism. The premise is solidly grounded on documented facts of the actions of the Catholic Church under the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII down to priests and individual Catholics. Saving the Music is an exciting and engrossing read, which joins the list of wonderful truth-based books of late that is shedding light on the truth ending the worst character assassination of the 20th Century. Bravo." -Gary L. Krupp, Author of Pope Pius XII and World War II- The Documented Truth

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Even in silence, there is music."

WOW, I was not prepared for how amazing this book was! From the absolutely gorgeous Preface to the bittersweet and heartwarming ending, I was completely captivated by the author's words.

Saving the Music tells the story of 15 Jewish musicians and their families that were saved from the Nazis by a network of Resistance workers that help smuggle them into a small town in Sicily, Bellafortuna, where the people in town help hide them and keep them safe, despite the danger that would come upon them if they were ever found out.

"Bellafortuna is a special place. It's a place of decency where music and opera thrive. With so much hate in the world, it stands in stark contrast with its good-heartedness, grace, decency, and love. It is a place of light in the darkness. What better way for the world to see its spirit than for the entire village to save other souls."

Told with exquisite writing and full of intrigue, danger, hope, and the power of fighting injustice, I highly recommend Saving the Music. I can't wait to go back and read the first book in the series!

About the Author

Chip LoCoco was born and raised in New Orleans. His first novel, Tempesta's Dream, became an Amazon Bestseller.

His second novel, Bellafortuna, has been nationally recognized, being named a Short List Finalist in the William Faulkner Writing Competition and awarded the B.R.A.G. Award in Historical Fiction. Mr. LoCoco is a member of the Italian American Writers Association.

His newest work, Saving the Music, which is Book 2 of his Bellafortuna Series, was just recently released.

Chip, who is an attorney, is married to his wife of over 20 years, Wendy. They have two children, Matthew and Ellie and a beagle, named Scout. They reside in their beloved city of New Orleans, where if you try to find them on a Sunday in the Fall, they will be somewhere rooting on their Saints.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, June 3
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Friday, June 5
Feature at What Is That Book About
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Monday, June 8
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 9
Feature at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Wednesday, June 10
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, June 12
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, June 15
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, June 18
Review at Impressions In Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Saving the Music! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Saving the Music


Interview & Giveaway: Tales of Ming Courtesans by Alice Poon

Happy Monday all! Today on the blog I have two posts that will be up. First up is my interview with Author Alice Poon! Alice is currently on blog tour for Tales of Ming Courtesans and I am super excited to host her today and I can't wait to read the book! My review for that will be up later this week. Enjoy the interview & be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book!



Hello Alice and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Tales of Ming Courtesans!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Thank you so much, Amy, for hosting me.

I am just a retiree trying to fulfill a school-days dream of becoming a good fiction writer. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I was lucky to have received my education first at a Chinese primary school (which initiated me into Chinese poetry), then at a Catholic convent English secondary school. This bilingual education attributed to my proficiency in both the Chinese and English language.

In my early teens, I was drawn to Jin Yong’s martial arts novels which are all set in China’s distant past. The stories of bittersweet romance and heroic feats serving justice in a fantastical world (called “rivers and lakes”) parallel to the imperial order provided me with a perfect escape from an unhappy childhood. As I grew older, Chinese History, Chinese Literature and English Literature dominated my curricular interest. In my early twenties I also achieved basic proficiency in French, which introduced me to French Literature. I guess all that early reading has had an impact on my creative writing.

During my working years, my leisure reading inevitably took a back seat, but upon retirement it resumed with a vengeance. My reading interest is diversified but I am particularly drawn to historical fiction, world history and classics. In terms of writing, I have developed an affinity for stories set in China’s dynastic past featuring real historical characters, especially unsung females of strong character, often overshadowed by the men in their lives.

What inspired you to write Tales of Ming Courtesans?

The inspiration was sparked by a cursory reading of the biography of courtesan-poet Liu Rushi written by an eminent historian, which I stumbled upon while doing research in 2014 on Chen Yuanyuan who plays a minor role in my earlier historical novel The Green Phoenix (2017). An idea for a story of sisterhood with both of them as leading characters immediately sprang up. Then I chanced to read the famous historical drama The Peach Blossom Fan which features another late-Ming courtesan named Li Xiangjun, and the thought of including her as a protagonist leaped to mind. Thus, a story outline for Tales began to take concrete shape.

What research did you undertake when writing Tales of Ming Courtesans?

My research basically relied on well-known literary works in Chinese language.

The main source of information for Liu Rushi was the 800,000-word, 3-volume epic biography of her written by eminent historian Chen Yinke (1890 – 1969). On and off, I plowed through this biographical tome between 2015 and 2018. As for Chen Yuanyuan, the key sources were Ming poet Wu Weiye’s famous narrative poem Song of Yuanyuan and elitist scholar Mao Xiang’s memoir Reminiscences of the Plum-Shaded Cloister. Information about Li Xiangjun mainly came from the renowned historical play The Peach Blossom Fan and scholar Hou Fangyu’s short biography of Li.

Other information about the period and cultural details was found in Ming poet Yu Huai’s Banqiao Zaji (Diverse Records of the Plank Bridge), historian Jonathan D. Spence’s Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man, and Ming historian Zhang Dai’s memoir The Dream Recollections of Taoan, plus various English-language reference books related to women, culture and the literary world in Ming China.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Tales of Ming Courtesans?

Tales is a novel that celebrates how women transcend oppression and abuse to create goodness around them. I hope my novel sends this key message to readers: that tyranny over the weak and powerless has no place in humanity, and that love and hope ultimately triumphs over evil.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I think I enjoyed writing the scene where Yuanyuan’s husband Wu Sangui decides to abandon her and how she accepts her doomed future stoically and retorts with clear-headed audacity.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The most difficult scene to write is probably the one related to Liu Rushi’s wedding, which ought to give the sense of a climax and an anticlimax rolled together.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A vague idea formed in my mind perhaps as early as my Form Four year in secondary school. That year, my English Literature teacher Mrs. da Silva one day surprised us by picking up a piece of my composition (which describes how a hunter aims to shoot a tiger with arrows in a forest) and reading it aloud to the whole class, with compliments. The idea was buried deep in my subconscious. Then life got in the way, and I didn’t revisit that latent dream until my retirement from the corporate world in my late fifties.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

When I am in a writing spell, I would write four days a week, and would start my daily writing session right after breakfast, usually around 9:30 am to 10:00 am, which would continue until 2:00 pm. Then after a short snack lunch break, I would write for another couple of hours.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

So far I’ve written one non-fiction title, two historical novels and one contemporary novel. The greatest challenge has probably been the need to find a balance between satisfying my desire to write historical novels based on Chinese history and suiting the current taste of the English historical fiction market. I’ve discovered that this presents a hard challenge not easy to overcome. Suffice it to say, with due respect, that the historical fiction genre is a Eurocentric one. If I may add, Chinese history is grossly under-represented in this genre.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I would say Jin Yong, Emile Zola and George Orwell for their take on morals, and Sarah Dunant, Hilary Mantel, Sharon Kay Penman and C. W. Gortner for their storytelling skills.

What was the first historical novel you read?

In Chinese it was Jin Yong’s The Book and the Sword. In English it was, if I remember correctly, Gone With the Wind.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The last historical novel I read was Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.

What are three things people may not know about you?

One, my first love interest was my French teacher from Alliance Francaise. Two, I’m an agnostic. Three, my comfort food is Singaporean laksa.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

To be transported to faraway time and places and be able to explore human emotions, desires, hope, fear and life choices and understand the reasons behind them. I think reading historical fiction does help me understand our present human condition a lot better, as I do believe that history always repeats itself.

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

For my reading in Chinese, I tend to gravitate towards 17th century China (i.e. the period straddling the Ming and the Qing dynasties) and 12th – 13th century China (Southern Song dynasty). For my reading in English, I love the Plantagenet dynasty and War of the Roses period, and the French Revolution and Second Empire époques.

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

When I’m not writing, my greatest joy comes from burying my head in books.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m mulling on a story idea about a Song dynasty female warrior.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Alice! It was wonderful to get to know more about you!


Tales of Ming Courtesans by Alice Poon

Publication Date: June 1, 2020
Earnshaw Books
Paperback; 354 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


From the author of The Green Phoenix comes a riveting tale of female friendship, honor, and sacrifice for love, set in 17th Century China and featuring the intertwined stories of three of the era's most renowned courtesans, escorts skilled in music, poetry and painting who could decide themselves whether or not to offer patrons bed favors.

Inspired by literary works and folklore, Tales of Ming Courtesans traces the destinies of the three girls from the seamy world of human trafficking and slavery to the cultured scene of the famously decadent pleasure district of the city of Nanjing, evoking episodes in Memoirs of a Geisha.

The girls all existed - Rushi was a famous poet, Yuanyuan became the concubine of a general who changed the course of Chinese history by supporting the Manchu invasion in 1644 and Xiangjun challenged the corruption of court officials to try to save her lover. Rushi's daughter, Jingjing, gradually pieces together the stories of the three from a memoir left to her by her mother.

Betrayal, tenacity and hope all come together in a novel that brings to life an important era in China's history, and particularly highlights the challenges faced by independent-minded women.

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for Tales of Ming Courtesans

"In Tales of Ming Courtesans, Alice Poon masterfully brings to life three fascinating women who had a lasting impact on China's culture and history. This beautiful telling of their turbulent lives and devoted friendship is a reverential testament to their memories." - Kelli Estes, bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

"Tales of Ming Courtesans is a poignant and captivating exploration of the lives of three extraordinary women.... Ultimately an enduring tale of the power of sisterhood and the bonds between women." - Jeannie Lin, USA Today bestselling author of The Lotus Palace

"Tales of Ming Courtesans is a brilliant, 'own voices' alternative to Memoirs of a Geisha....An exquisite reading experience. Highly, highly recommended." - M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl With Ghost Eyes

"Alice Poon's excellent Tales of Ming Courtesans follows the intertwined lives of three seventeenth-century courtesans..... Poon's real achievement is to create believable depth to her characters' known histories....She has clearly written Tales from the heart." - David Leffman, author of The Mercenary


About the Author

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Alice Poon steeped herself in Chinese poetry and history, Jin Yong’s martial arts novels and English Literature in her school days. This early immersion has inspired her creative writing.

Always fascinated with iconic but unsung women in Chinese history and legends, she cherishes a dream of bringing them to the page.

Her new historical novel Tales of Ming Courtesans will be released by Earnshaw Books on June 1, 2020.

She is the author of The Green Phoenix and the bestselling and award-winning non-fiction title Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong. She now lives in Vancouver, Canada and devotes her time to writing historical Chinese fiction.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 25
Excerpt at Journey in Bookland
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, May 26
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Wednesday, May 27
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 29
Review at Reader then Blogger

Monday, June 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 3
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, June 5
Review at YA, it's Lit

Monday, June 8
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 10
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, June 12
Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Tales from Ming Courtesans! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Tales of Ming Courtesans


2020 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: June Reviews


Welcome to the June link page for the 2020 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. I hope everyone is healthy and well! How is everyone doing under lockdown? Are you reading more or less? I've been reading more which is helping escape from the craziness of the world right now.

Reading Challenge Instructions...

  • Add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review). A direct link to your Goodreads review is also acceptable
  • Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, etc.)
  • Don't forget to look some of the other links that are present. You never know when you will discover new blogs or books!

There's still time to sign up for the 2020 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge! Sign Up Here.


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Review: Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten


Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Publication Date: May 14, 2020
Bloomsbury Publishing

I didn't realize that I needed to read more historicals set in Russia until I read Tsarina by Ellen Aplsten! My word, this book was a wild, sexy ride through Peter the Great and Catherine I's reign, and I loved every minute of it!

I'm a huge fan of the darker side of history and the more debauchery, the better and Tsarina had all of that in spades! Catherine I begins life as a young girl named Marta living with her siblings and father in a small, run-down shack when she is sold off to a man to become his servant which sets off a series of events that will leave Marta used and abused and passed to other men until she finally meets Tsar Peter. Their marriage and the ungodly amount of children that Catherine bore is detailed as well, which was fascinating!

Tsarina will immediately grab you from the first page and will leave you breathlessly turning the pages to see what will happen next. If you're sensitive to violence and sexual scenes this book may not be for you but I thought it was an exceptional read about a woman that rose from a life of servitude to become the first woman to rule Imperial Russia. An absolutely stellar read, I was highly impressed that this was Alpsten's debut novel. I will definitely be on the lookout for her future books!

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I didn't realize that I needed to read more historicals set in Russia until I read Tsarina by Ellen Aplsten! My word, this book was a wild, sexy ride through Peter the Great and Catherine I's reign, and I loved every minute of it!

I'm a huge fan of the darker side of history and the more debauchery, the better and Tsarina had all of that in spades! Catherine I begins life as a young girl named Marta living with her siblings and father in a small, run-down shack when she is sold off to a man to become his servant which sets off a series of events that will leave Marta used and abused and passed to other men until she finally meets Tsar Peter. Their marriage and the ungodly amount of children that Catherine bore is detailed as well, which was fascinating!

Tsarina will immediately grab you from the first page and will leave you breathlessly turning the pages to see what will happen next. If you're sensitive to violence and sexual scenes this book may not be for you but I thought it was an exceptional read about a woman that rose from a life of servitude to become the first woman to rule Imperial Russia. An absolutely stellar read, I was highly impressed that this was Alpsten's debut novel. I will definitely be on the lookout for her future books!

About the Author



Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, before attending L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. Whilst studying for her Msc in PPE she won the Grande École short story competition with her novella Meeting Mr. Gandhi and was encouraged to continue writing. Upon graduating, she worked as a producer and presenter for Bloomberg TV in London. She contributes to international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint and Conde Nast Traveller. Tsarina is her first novel. She lives in London with her husband and three children.



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