Review & Giveaway: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King


The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Atria Books
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction


A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Praise for The Chef's Secret

"King’s characters are drawn as lovingly, as sensually as the food and the Vatican world she describes, and the plot itself — part secret-code mystery, part love story — moves like a well-paced meal." (Boston Globe)

“King supplies all of the elements historical fiction fans expect in a juicy Renaissance tale, including luscious meals, erotic interludes, and deaths by poison and blade. This rich tale should satisfy the appetites of fans of historicals.” (Publishers Weekly)

"In The Chef’s Secret, Crystal King serves up a delectable read stuffed with passion, danger, and a plot worthy of Dan Brown. This fast-paced, engrossing novel brings Renaissance Rome and the Vatican to life through the eyes of a famous papal chef. You won’t be able to put it down." (Stephanie Storey, author of Oil and Marble)

"A veritable feast for the senses, The Chef's Secret is part mystery, part love story, and all sumptuous sixteenth-century Italy. This tale of one of the world's first celebrity chefs—Bartolomeo Scappi, a DaVinci of Renaissance cuisine—sent me on a quest to know more, and to my kitchen to experiment—a sign of a great historical novel. Readers will delight in a plot as juicy as Scappi's braised beef!" (Heather Webb, international bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris)

“The Chef’s Secret is a sumptuous buffet, serving up a love story (two of them!); mystery and suspense so thick you could cut it with, well, a chef’s knife; and such a vibrant panorama of Ancient Rome you’ll feel you’ve walked its streets and inhabited its kitchens. Anyone who loves history, food, a great story—read this novel! Warning: it will make you hungry.” (Jenna Blum, New York Times and international bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family)

"Crystal King’s The Chef’s Secret is a fabulous immersion in the world of Renaissance Italy, full of passion, intrigue, secrets, danger, and of course food. Come hungry!" (Melodie Winawer, author of The Scribe of Siena)

“With adventure, engaging characters, and an absorbing mystery, King expertly blends fact with fiction, intrigue, and a powerful love story. Well written and perfectly paced, The Chef's Secret is a fascinating immersion into sixteenth-century Italian life, an introduction to the world's first celebrity chef, and a reminder of the power of food to influence a civilization.” (Booklist)

“King twists in romance, mystery, cultural richness, and some zesty research. Scappi’s secrets are unveiled at a pace that simmers with intrigue…Mixed together with decadent banquets and sweeping historical detail, King has a recipe that entices the senses… vibrant in both visual and flavorful detail.” (Historical Novel Review)

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Warning: Don't read this book on an empty stomach!

Scrumptious food, mystery, and forbidden romance merge in a masterful way in this un-put-down-able historical from Crystal King!

When Bartolomeo Scappi, a famous Italian chef who works for the Pope, dies he gives his estate to his beloved nephew and protege Giovanni, along with a box of letters and journals that Bartolomeo expressly asked for him to burn. Unable to do so before finding out what is in them, Giovanni's curiosity gets the better of him and what he reads sets off a series of secret-revealing and adventure! Add in secret passageways (heck yes!) and secretly coded letters and you've got one exciting read! I was flippin' those pages like you wouldn't believe! I think I devoured (pun intended) this book in hours.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Rome and Florence in my senior year of high school and this book brought me back to that amazing place! I can't wait to go back and look at it through the eyes of a historical fiction reader and adult. Maybe Crystal will need an assistant on her next research trip :) heehee!

You seriously should pick up The Chef's Secret! It was exquisitely written and researched, and Crystal really knows how to bring Italy and it's amazing culinary talents to life! Loved, loved, loved! I cannot wait to go back and read her first book, The Feast of Sorrow, and will be anxiously awaiting her next one!

About the Author

Crystal King is the author of THE CHEF'S SECRET and FEAST OF SORROW. A culinary enthusiast and social media professional, her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. A Pushcart-nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 18
Review at Tar Heel Reader
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, June 20
Review at My Reading Chronicles
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Friday, June 21
Review at Amy's Booket List
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Monday, June 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, June 25
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, June 26
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Orange County Readers

Thursday, June 27
Review at Book Frolic
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, June 28
Review at Mama's Reading Corner
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, July 1
Review at Comet Readings
Review at Stephanie's Novel Fiction

Tuesday, July 2
Review at Melissa Reads
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, July 3
Review at Henry and Benny's Book Nook
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, July 4
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, July 5
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Girls Just Reading
Review at Book Reviews from Canada

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, one winner will receive a set of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef's Secret! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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 Chef's Secret


Interview & Giveaway: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Good morning, dear readers! Welcome to my stop on Crystal King's blog tour for The Chef's Secret! Today I will be hosting an interview with Crystal and later on I will be posting my review. Sneak peek...I LOVED it!

Hope you enjoy the interview!


Hello Crystal and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Chef’s Secret!

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

I’m Crystal King, the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. I’m an author, culinary enthusiast, and social media professor. My writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. I have taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. Many years ago, I started out writing poetry and was honored to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I also founded and co-edited the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review. I received my MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where I developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers stuck in the middle of their work. Hopefully, someday that will be a book too!

What inspired you to write The Chef’s Secret?

When I was doing research for Feast of Sorrow and wanted to understand more about the ancient Roman gourmand Apicius, I kept coming across the name Bartolomeo Scappi as one of the most important chefs in the history of Italian cuisine. I picked up the cookbook more out of curiosity than anything else. But I found that the cookbook is very readable and there is a lot of really fascinating information about the various regions where the food is from and about Bartolomeo's employers in the papal kitchen, and the various Cardinals he worked for. But there's not much about him and his life. There's a few small details like his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni, worked for him, and we know about the banquets that he created for his wealthy employers. But we don't have any idea where he lived or how much money he made or if he was in love or if he had any children. And so I thought, this has to be my next book, I want to explore his life.

What research did you undertake when writing The Chef’s Secret?

I begin my research usually when I'm reading other books, other histories. I spend a great deal of time trying to understand everything I can about my real characters and the time in which they lived. Which means, in this case, it was a bunch of books about Renaissance Italy, and books about food in that time. Once I had the structure of the book, I headed to Italy, setting up meetings with historians, with food experts, and taking tours of the places where my novel is set. One of the locations in the book, the inn where the climax of the story takes place, is set in the little boutique hotel we stay in every time we go to Rome, Casa Dei Coronari. The proprietors shared a lot of information about the Renaissance building and its owners, and were kind enough to show me one of the remaining arches of the street behind the hotel, la Via Dei Tre Archi, which is hidden, essentially, in the garage behind the building! It’s that kind of thing that is amazing to me--being able to look into the past and find creative ways to bring those findings to present readers.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Chef’s Secret?

I hope that the book whets their appetite a bit--it’s full of incredible feasts and food. I also hope they learn something new. It’s set in a rich time frame of the Renaissance, and Bartolomeo Scappi was the world’s first celebrity chef. I hope that others find him as fascinating as I did.

What was your favorite scene to write?

This is a hard question because there are so many enjoyable scenes that I wrote. Maybe the scene with Michelangelo, because it was a fun scene, and was more of a nod to the great master than anything else. Scappi and Michelangelo worked at the Vatican at the same time, and I like to think that the two might have known each other.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The scenes with code! Writing in cipher isn’t easy at all. I lucked out and found a site online that helped me generate much of the code, but there was still wrangling and testing it out to make sure that it worked. I also had to write the passage in Italian (which my friend and tutor, Graziella Machetta proofread) and then translated it. I wanted to make sure it was right, for anyone that was diehard enough to try and check it. So far, no one has bothered, ha!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t remember exactly when, but I was quite young when I began writing. I was always writing stories and poems as a kid. I never played with dolls and was only interested in books. I remember going to a Young Authors conference of some sort when I was about ten and I met Madeleine L'Engle. I loved her books so much as a child and to meet the person who created them was hugely inspiring to me.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

It’s not daily, for one! I write mostly on weekends, usually on Sundays. I have a day job as a social media professor and coming home and writing at night is just too draining.

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

That I also have a fulltime job! But yes, my two books out in the world shows that anyone can do it.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I have so many that it’s very hard to really pick one. I love Italo Calvino, M.F.K. Fisher, Neil Gaiman, Anais Nin, and Gunter Grass to name a few. I wrote a blog post once about my top 100 books if you want a bit more insight into my bookish loves.

What was the first historical fiction book you read?

I was reading by the time I was 3 years old, and have always read voraciously. I even won a medal in 1st grade for reading 100 books in a year. So I have NO idea. There have been so many through the years. Maybe Johnny Tremain or Old Yeller.

What is the last historical fiction book you read?

She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore. It’s a beautiful tale of historical, magical realism about the formation of Liberia.

What are three things people may not know about you?

1. I’m a gamer. Most people are surprised to hear that, but I love good, story-rich fantasy and sci-fi games like Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls games, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed (if you love history, the AC games are SO amazing), and so many more.

2. I’m terrified of going to the dentist. My father recently told me that when I was a kid I could always feel the drill through the laughing gas, so I imagine that’s why.

3. If you’ve been to my house, you’d know this, but my husband and I collect Shepard Fairey (of Obey Giant and the Obama “Hope” poster fame) prints.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love the research. Digging into the past is so much fun. Uncovering all the layers and figuring out how to fill the gaps in between what we know and what we don’t is extraordinarily satisfying. I feel like a god (all that world-building!) and a detective all at once.

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

I actually tend to read a lot of fantasy, which may also surprise some people. I have several shelved fantasy novels that I might dig out of the drawer some day. I do read a lot of ancient historical fiction and Medieval/Renaissance era fiction, however. I tend to like things set before the 1600s best. It feels more foreign and I like employing my imagination toward that. I also read a lot of historical novels set in Italy, from any era. I’m a bit obsessed with il bel paese.

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

That whole gaming thing. ;-) I love video games because to me they feel more active than watching TV. I’m adventuring, making decisions and participating in a story.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m working on a novel that is set at the same time as The Chef’s Secret, about Vincenzo Cervio, the meat carver to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. And perhaps Bartolomeo Scappi will make an appearance!

Oh yay! I loved Bartolomeo! I will be waiting ever so impatiently for your next release!



The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Atria Books
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction


A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Praise for The Chef's Secret

"King’s characters are drawn as lovingly, as sensually as the food and the Vatican world she describes, and the plot itself — part secret-code mystery, part love story — moves like a well-paced meal." (Boston Globe)

“King supplies all of the elements historical fiction fans expect in a juicy Renaissance tale, including luscious meals, erotic interludes, and deaths by poison and blade. This rich tale should satisfy the appetites of fans of historicals.” (Publishers Weekly)

"In The Chef’s Secret, Crystal King serves up a delectable read stuffed with passion, danger, and a plot worthy of Dan Brown. This fast-paced, engrossing novel brings Renaissance Rome and the Vatican to life through the eyes of a famous papal chef. You won’t be able to put it down." (Stephanie Storey, author of Oil and Marble)

"A veritable feast for the senses, The Chef's Secret is part mystery, part love story, and all sumptuous sixteenth century Italy. This tale of one of the world's first celebrity chefs—Bartolomeo Scappi, a DaVinci of Renaissance cuisine—sent me on a quest to know more, and to my kitchen to experiment—a sign of a great historical novel. Readers will delight in a plot as juicy as Scappi's braised beef!" (Heather Webb, international bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris)

“The Chef’s Secret is a sumptuous buffet, serving up a love story (two of them!); mystery and suspense so thick you could cut it with, well, a chef’s knife; and such a vibrant panorama of Ancient Rome you’ll feel you’ve walked its streets and inhabited its kitchens. Anyone who loves history, food, a great story—read this novel! Warning: it will make you hungry.” (Jenna Blum, New York Times and international bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family)

"Crystal King’s The Chef’s Secret is a fabulous immersion in the world of renaissance Italy, full of passion, intrigue, secrets, danger, and of course food. Come hungry!" (Melodie Winawer, author of The Scribe of Siena)

“With adventure, engaging characters, and an absorbing mystery, King expertly blends fact with fiction, intrigue, and a powerful love story. Well written and perfectly paced, The Chef's Secret is a fascinating immersion into sixteenth-century Italian life, an introduction to the world's first celebrity chef, and a reminder of the power of food to influence a civilization.” (Booklist)

“King twists in romance, mystery, cultural richness, and some zesty research. Scappi’s secrets are unveiled at a pace that simmers with intrigue…Mixed together with decadent banquets and sweeping historical detail, King has a recipe that entices the senses… vibrant in both visual and flavorful detail.” (Historical Novel Review)

About the Author

Crystal King is the author of THE CHEF'S SECRET and FEAST OF SORROW. A culinary enthusiast and social media professional, her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. A Pushcart-nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 18
Review at Tar Heel Reader
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, June 20
Review at My Reading Chronicles
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Friday, June 21
Review at Amy's Booket List
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Monday, June 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, June 25
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, June 26
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Orange County Readers

Thursday, June 27
Review at Book Frolic
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, June 28
Review at Mama's Reading Corner
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, July 1
Review at Comet Readings
Review at Stephanie's Novel Fiction

Tuesday, July 2
Review at Melissa Reads
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, July 3
Review at Henry and Benny's Book Nook
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, July 4
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, July 5
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Girls Just Reading
Review at Book Reviews from Canada

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, one winner will receive a set of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef's Secret! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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 Chef's Secret


Review: The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke


The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Tyndale House Publishers
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 432 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Christian


Read an Excerpt
Download the Discussion Guide
Download the Recipes for The Medallion

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah's Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler's mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen--Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city's library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter's life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war--if any of them survive--is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland's darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-A-Million | CBD.com | Wal-Mart


Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

There is no way I can adequately express how beautiful and tragic this book was! For the past few days, I've been completely absorbed in Cathy Gohlke's The Medallion. Alternating between anger, sadness, and ultimately hope, I was emotionally invested in this book like none other before.

Set in Poland during WWII we follow two couples as they struggle to survive the German invasion. It's a powerful and memorable story of one woman's ultimate sacrifice to save her child and another woman who risked everything to take care of her during one of our history's darkest times. I've never read a WWII set in Poland so that provided a fresh perspective for me.

Cathy's writing is exquisite. While it's heartbreaking and maddening to read, I am so glad that I did. I will never forget Sophia, Janek, Itzhak, and Rosa. Thank you to Cathy Gohlke for sharing this exceptionally written historical. I cannot wait to read more books by her!

About the Author

Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels The Medallion, Until We Find Home, Secrets She Kept (winner of the 2016 Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (winner of the 2015 INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award.

Cathy writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith.
When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Visit her website at www.cathygohlke.com and on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.


Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 4
Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, June 5
Review at Bibliophile Reviews

Thursday, June 6
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, June 7
Review at Orange County Readers
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Saturday, June 8
Excerpt at Spellbound by History

Sunday, June 9
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, June 10
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, June 12
Review at Mama's Reading Corner
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 13
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, June 14
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, June 17
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 18
Review at Lakeside Living

Wednesday, June 19
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away 5 paperback copies of The Medallion! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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 Medallion


Book Blast: Of Knights and Dogfights by Ellie Midwood

I am super excited to be hosting the Book Blast for Ellie Miwood's Of Knights and Dogfights! I loved this book so much and we have a chance for you to win a copy! This was a fascinating and unique historical set in WWII.


Of Knights and Dogfights: A WWII Novel by Ellie Midwood

Publication Date: January 4, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 426 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


“Has it ever occurred to you, Johann; the fact that we’re fighting on the wrong side?”

Austria, 1938

On the verge of the most devastating war of all times, four young men found themselves sharing a room in a flying school dormitory. A bohemian Berliner, a Flieger-Hitlerjugend member, a prodigy pilot, and a butcher’s son, with nothing in common but their love for the Luftwaffe and the freedom the sky has to offer. The bond they develop is put to the test by what might be a stronger adversary - war itself. Over the English Channel, in the dusty skies of Africa, on the brutal Eastern front, they will discover where their loyalty lies, and what true bravery means.

“It’s Großdeutsches Reich, soldier. When one has a family at home, it doesn’t leave him many chances for the revolt.”

As the war progresses, Willi and Johann grow more and more disillusioned with the regime they’re protecting with their lives. An SS unit appearing on their base to claim one of their own; bits of conversation revealing the truth about the extermination program accidentally overheard during the official reception - the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together, but it’s too late to do anything but fight to the bitter end, whatever it may bring.

Set during one of the bloodiest wars in history, “Of Knights and Dogfights” is the story of the shattered illusions of youth, tyranny and freedom, friendship and love guiding one out of the darkest hell of Soviet captivity.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She's a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an 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.

Readers' Favorite - winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) - "The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer's Wife"

Readers' Favorite - winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) - "The Austrian" (honorable mention)

New Apple - 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing - "The Austrian" (official selection)

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


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 10
CelticLady's Reviews

Tuesday, June 11
Donna's Book Blog
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, June 12
Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Thursday, June 13
100 Pages a Day

Friday, June 14
Passages to the Past

Saturday, June 15
Locks, Hooks and Books

Sunday, June 16
A Book Geek

Tuesday, June 18
Melissa Flory

Wednesday, June 19
What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 20
Just One More Chapter

Friday, June 21
Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

We have one paperback copy of Of Knights and Dogfights up for grabs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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.

Of Knights and Dogfights


Cover Love: And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Author Stephanie Thornton just revealed the cover of her next book, releasing in March 2020, and boy is it a stunner! I cannot stop staring at it!


Here's a little teaser from the author...

"Millions fell silent, stricken by grief and disillusionment, as news of President Kennedy's assassination streaked across the globe. Where were you when it happened, they asked? But for one woman the answer has always been the same--for every step, every victory, and every defeat--she was right beside him."

All I have to say is...hurry up March!

Review & Giveaway: The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods


The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods

Publication Date: January 5, 2019
Paperback & eBook; 446 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Violet is a pillar of hospitality and compassion within her community. As a farmer’s wife and mother of a large brood, she is resolute, thrifty, and charming. The life that is woven between the land and her family is one of harmony and beauty.

When she begins to struggle with depression, her demeanor changes. At first, the change is subtle, but it becomes increasingly problematic as Violet struggles with bouts of incapacitating depression and anxiety and visions of self-harm. A candle flame offers a way to feel, even if it is the pain of a burn. Her beloved creek becomes ominous as it beckons to her. Having no real understanding of what is happening within her, Violet turns to both the religious and medical communities for guidance. Both fail her. With her identity stripped away and her family reeling from the aftermath, Violet must determine if she can make peace with the changes within herself before she is consumed by them.

The Process of Fraying is a historical family drama that explores the social, religious, and medical stigmas surrounding mental health in the 1940s.

Available on Amazon


Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

It took some time to gather my thoughts after finishing The Process of Fraying last night in order to write this review. This is one of the most emotional books I've ever had the privilege to read. Seriously, I couldn't even read the last few pages of the book through all of my tears.

Based on her great-grandmother's life in Tenessee in the 1930s, the author has written a heartrending book that will captivate and enrage you, all at the same time. The "treatment" for depression back then was horrifying and barbaric. There were so many times I wanted to reach through the book and save Violet.

I've suffered from depression for as long as I can remember so this book was super emotional for me and I could easily relate to Violet. The author captured the absolute darkness you feel when you're depressed perfectly and so much so that I got chill bumps while reading. The writing was beautiful. I think the author did a fabulous job of capturing her great-grandmother's life.

I highly recommend The Process of Fraying, especially for those that have depression or knows someone that does. It's an eye-opening look at mental illness and the stigma attached to it. An emotional but engrossing read.

About the Author


Jess is a debut novelist in historical fiction centering around the WWII era. A graduate of Indiana University, Jess holds a degree in English. When she is not reading or writing, she teaches English (literature and composition) courses online to high school students. Jess currently resides in upstate New York with her husband, Josh, their three children, and their two dogs. Though she is a Georgia native, Jess has lived in a multitude of states. Each place gives her writing fresh flare and direction as she is exposed to new people, stories, and experiences.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 10
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 11
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 12
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 13
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews
Review at Henry and Benny's Book Nook

Friday, June 14
Review at A Book Geek

Saturday, June 15
Feature at Broken Teepee

Monday, June 17
Review at Mama Panda Bear
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a copy of The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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 Process of Fraying


Cover Reveal: The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

I am beyond excited to share the cover of Mimi Matthews' upcoming historical romance, The Work of Art! Mimi always has the best covers and this one is another stellar one! Kudos to her cover designer, they are truly talented at capturing how beautiful Mimi's books are. I cannot wait to devour this when it releases on July 23rd!


The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Perfectly Proper Press

Genre: Historical Romance


An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland—a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the Duke's clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her—and her heart—in more danger than ever?

Available for Pre-Order: Amazon | Apple | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, June 10
Passages to the Past
Book Reviews from Canada

Tuesday, June 11
T's Stuff
Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Wednesday, June 12
Just One More Chapter
The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Thursday, June 13
Laura's Interests
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, June 14
Bookish Rantings
View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, June 15
The Lit Bitch
100 Pages a Day
Donna's Book Blog

Sunday, June 16
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, June 17
Maiden of the Pages
The Book Junkie Reads

Interview & Giveaway: The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods

Happy Monday, dear readers! I am so excited to be hosting Author Jess Neal Woods today as part of her blog tour for The Process of Fraying! My review will be up later, so stop by to check it out. It's a book that now has a special place in my heart.


Hello Jess and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Process of Fraying!

Thanks for having me!

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

Certainly! I’m not incredibly interesting, so I will stick to the basics. I’m an avid reader, and I’m lucky enough to have a job that encourages me to continue to read widely (though I’d do it even if I didn’t have the excuse). I’m an English teacher for an online middle and high school consortium. Though I’ve always loved writing, I’ve only recently (within the past three years) decided to take it more seriously and pursue publication; I even cut back on classes in order to dedicate more time to writing. Though I’m just getting started, I am excited to see where it takes me. I released my debut novel (Fraying) early this year, I have poetry appearing in a literary magazine this summer, and a few essays will be published in a magazine this fall. My prose writing tends to center around 20th century historical fiction, and all of my writing gives special attention to nature imagery as nature is one of my favorite things in the entire world. Beyond that, I truly enjoy spending time with my family and friends, watching cooking competition shows, and running.

What inspired you to write The Process of Fraying?

The treatment of mental health and mental illness (today and throughout history) has always fascinated me, but when I found familial connections, that really spurred on my interest. Fraying is based loosely off of my great-grandmother, Violet, and her experiences with depression. Growing up, I knew most of my great-grandparents, but she died before I was born. I heard many stories about her, and I was always intrigued. As I got older and realized what she endured, I kept coming back to the idea of telling her story someday. I put it off for a long time in the early years of motherhood, but I finally decided that if I was going to tell it, I had to make space for writing consistently, so I did.

What research did you undertake when writing The Process of Fraying?

When I began researching, six of Violet’s children were still alive. They sat down together and made a recording for me. This recording recounted memories of her (both good and bad), and those stories allowed me to get to know a woman I would not have known at all otherwise. I also had access to some of her letters and medical records. These firsthand accounts were invaluable, but they weren’t enough to construct a story. I had to fill in gaps, and much of what occurs within my novel is speculative or fictitious based on additional research, which includes reading over forty books and having numerous conversations with psychologists.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Process of Fraying?

I really would like readers to come away with an understanding of how far we’ve come regarding the treatment of mental health as a society AND how far we’ve yet to go. It’s so easy to dismiss something like depression if you’ve never experienced it because it doesn’t have a look, and it doesn’t have a time frame for getting better. I hope readers will face the stigmas presented in the novel head on and reflect on them because while we are making progress, we aren’t there yet.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scenes were the ones that had a heavy nature presence. That farm is still in my family, and I have fond memories of the fields, the creek, the plants, the way the sun slid over the mountains, the workings of a farm. For me, these scenes were a respite in the midst of many other heavy scenes that were difficult to write.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Several scenes drove me to tears while writing, but I would say the most difficult scene to write was the first asylum scene. I don’t want to believe that these things could have happened to anyone, much less someone as lovely and kind as my great-grandmother.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer from as early as I could remember. I told elaborate stories before I could read or write. I wrote voraciously in middle school and high school and into college, but when an academic advisor told me that it wasn’t feasible to make a living as a writer and that I should change my major to English Education, I followed his advice and put writing on the back burner as nothing more than a child’s dream. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching, but oh, how I wish I hadn’t taken a near-decade hiatus from writing.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I try to write something daily, but I schedule by the week, so it differs from week to week. Some days I truly do not have much time, and those days I work on blog entries, poetry, or essays. I try to have two-three good novel writing days built into my week. Generally, I aim to write between 3-5 hours on those days.

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

Doubt… and marketing. I am still working on both.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I’m not sure it’s fair to ask an English teacher this question. I could fill pages with authors who inspire me. For the sake of space, I will just list a few who come to mind quickly: Mary Oliver, Charles Frazier, Maya Angelou, Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf, and Richard Powers.

What was the first historical novel you read?

It’s hard to remember so far back. I think I would have to say either Little House on the Prairie or the Felicity series from The American Girls.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-yi

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Historical fiction brings history to life in a way that textbooks simply cannot—it humanizes time periods and adds depth and understanding.

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

I suppose I’d have to say 19th and 20th centuries, but I’m not opposed to other time periods. I don’t think I’ve ever read a historical fiction book I didn’t like.

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

Hike, run, walk, be outdoors, watch cooking competition shows, spend time with family and friends, garden, play board games

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m always working on poetry. I’m also about 25,000 words into a first draft of a post WWII, reconstruction novel that focuses on an East German woman who saves herself and in doing so gives up family and love. It is also based on a true story, and I am lucky that the woman is still alive and can provide me with scrupulous records and vivid memories.

Wow, that sounds amazing! I can't wait to hear more! Thank you for stopping by today and talking about the Process of Fraying!


The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods

Publication Date: January 5, 2019
Paperback & eBook; 446 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Violet is a pillar of hospitality and compassion within her community. As a farmer’s wife and mother of a large brood, she is resolute, thrifty, and charming. The life that is woven between the land and her family is one of harmony and beauty.

When she begins to struggle with depression, her demeanor changes. At first, the change is subtle, but it becomes increasingly problematic as Violet struggles with bouts of incapacitating depression and anxiety and visions of self-harm. A candle flame offers a way to feel, even if it is the pain of a burn. Her beloved creek becomes ominous as it beckons to her. Having no real understanding of what is happening within her, Violet turns to both the religious and medical communities for guidance. Both fail her. With her identity stripped away and her family reeling from the aftermath, Violet must determine if she can make peace with the changes within herself before she is consumed by them.

The Process of Fraying is a historical family drama that explores the social, religious, and medical stigmas surrounding mental health in the 1940s.

Available on Amazon

About the Author


Jess is a debut novelist in historical fiction centering around the WWII era. A graduate of Indiana University, Jess holds a degree in English. When she is not reading or writing, she teaches English (literature and composition) courses online to high school students. Jess currently resides in upstate New York with her husband, Josh, their three children, and their two dogs. Though she is a Georgia native, Jess has lived in a multitude of states. Each place gives her writing fresh flare and direction as she is exposed to new people, stories, and experiences.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 10
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 11
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 12
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 13
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews
Review at Henry and Benny's Book Nook

Friday, June 14
Review at A Book Geek

Saturday, June 15
Feature at Broken Teepee

Monday, June 17
Review at Mama Panda Bear
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a copy of The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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 Process of Fraying


Review: Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop


Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Publication Date: May 30, 2019
Headline Publishing Group

Genre: Historical Fiction

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.

Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I've been reading a lot of WWII books this year but what sets Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop is that it is set in Greece. I've yet to read anything about the German occupation of Greece so it was fascinating, and of course, heartbreaking and infuriating. This book had all the feels!

Themis is a young woman when the Nazis invade her homeland. She and her siblings live with their grandmother, and the politics of the day divide the siblings, which is frightening similar to what is happening to families around the world today with regards to the left and right. In the book, we see how the invasion of the Germans and then the British affect Themis, her friends, and her family. It was absolutely engrossing!

Hislop is a master at bringing the atrocities that happened to Greece and it's people during this tumultuous time in history to life. Beautifully written and well-researched, Those Who Have Lost is why I read historical fiction. I will never forget Themis or what happened to the people of Greece. And I sincerely hope we don't have to live through something like that again. Be warned...have tissues ready!

This is my first read from Victoria Hislop but I loved her writing so I'm going to go and pick up her other books. I love finding a new author that I can binge!

Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours for giving me the opportunity to read Those Who Are Loved.

About the Author

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. The Island has sold over 1.2million copies in the UK and more than 5 million worldwide. Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, which inspired her second bestseller The Return, and she returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki in The Thread, shortlisted for a British Book Award and confirming her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. It was followed by her much-admired Greece-set short story collection, The Last Dance and Other Stories. The Sunrise, a Sunday Times Number One bestseller about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, was published to widespread acclaim in 2014. Victoria’s most recent book, Cartes Postales from Greece was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and one of the Top Ten biggest selling paperbacks of 2017. Her novels have sold 10 million copies worldwide.


Passages to the Past turns 11!



Happy 11th blogiversary to Passages to the Past!


A huge thank you to all of our blog readers throughout the years and the authors and publishers that have contributed to this blog! I started this blog while going through one of the hardest times of my life and I cannot tell you what this community means to me and how it helped save me.

It's been a lot of fun talking books and historical fiction with you. I am so grateful for all of you!

Going forward, what would you like to see more of on Passages to the Past?

● reviews
● author interviews
● giveaways
● new releases

Thank you for your awesome support! I appreciate all of you! Here's to many more years of blogging!

Review: The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry


The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry


Berkley Trade
Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop at Water's End, here is a lush, heart-wrenching novel about the power of memory, the meaning of family, and learning to forgive.

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home--until she learns of her dad's failing health.

Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family's Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters' rift. While Alzheimer's slowly steals their father's memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena's own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Well, I finally read my first Patti Callahan Henry book and I can see why everyone raves about her!

The Favorite Daughter starts off as Lena is preparing for her Wedding day when her world suddenly crashes. Devastated, she leaves her home and family to start a new life. Flash forward 10 years, Lena is now going by Colleen and is a popular travel writer living in NYC. When she receives a call from her brother about a family emergency, she must go home, and back to the place where the ultimate betrayal took part.

"Memories had originally kept Colleen away, and now that her dad might be losing his, she would return."

Faced with the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Colleen and her siblings race to document their father's past before it's too late. When questions from his part start to arise they dig in and discover a big family secret that could threaten to tear them apart, just as they are healing and becoming a family again.

The Favorite Daughter is a story about memories, forgiveness, and family. It's a deeply emotional read but an important one. I loved it and cannot wait to pick up more from Patti Callahan Henry!

Have you read The Favorite Daughter or is it on your TBR?

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