Wednesday, April 30, 2014

GUEST POST AND INTERVIEW: "Seeing Green" author Annabel Hertz

Review on Huffington Post calls Annabel Hertz’s new book: energetic, witty and timely

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Drawing on clever social commentary and her own experience in the political realm, author Annabel Hertz will get readers “Seeing Green” in no time.

Her new book “Seeing Green” (April 15, 2014) steps into the world of cutthroat politics and environmental policy as seen through the eyes of a young multicultural woman whose personal life seems to parallel her professional life as an activist on the frontlines of Washington D.C. in the ’90s. Never afraid to articulate her personal convictions, Hertz’s modern day heroine is strong and profound, yet humorous and relatable.

“Seeing Green” is Hertz’s first endeavor in historical fiction, reviewed on The Huffington Post as “timely, energetic and witty.”

Much like the protagonist she introduces in “Seeing Green,” Hertz has delved into the world of politics with organizations involved in international relations and sustainable development. More recently, she served as a policy consultant, adjunct professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations and Global Governance Fellow at the World Economic Forum.

“Seeing Green” is Hertz’s debut novel. She holds master’s degrees from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and San Francisco State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree from the University of California where she studied politics. Hertz is currently pursuing a doctorate in international relations at American University in Washington D.C.

Guest Post by Annabel Hertz

A Year of Great Expectancy—Annabel Hertz

A prospective book agent once asked me if I would consider changing the historical setting of Seeing Green. She suggested the story could take place in the current day—or be rewritten as “timeless.”

It was awkward request, I thought, in regards to a novel about a young woman’s political coming of age in 1992—during a simultaneous coming of age phase in American and international politics: surely, a protagonist and her era could not be separated! (Not to mention the sense of dislocation this would cause the other characters…)

1992 was a time of great expectancy. The Cold War was finally over. One could practically hear the planet exhaling in relief. Still, it was not clear what was next in the world of international politics: the Gulf War hinted at a new era of coercive action, while the Earth Summit signaled quite a different agenda that sparked many an imagination for years to come. In the US, Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign re engaged Americans in electoral politics—both embodying and generating possibility, instead of apprehension. And we ended the year with an unprecedented six women serving in the Senate.

It was a heady period—and a heady moment for any 25 year-old protagonist to be leaving home in order to chase that aura of possibility. Many of the problems we have resigned to live with now still seemed solvable then, despite the limitations of twentieth century tools—such as fax machines and voicemail—for global organizing.

So it was not that I was inflexible, I told the agent. Rather, it just seemed clear that—even though some of the events that took place in Seeing Green would repeat themselves a decade later—the story could not have happened at any other time. A protagonist and her context are not so easily parted!

Q&A with Annabel Hertz

Arcani Kirsch, the heroine in “Seeing Green,” is a multicultural woman with a Native American and Jewish background. What role does her ethnicity play in the book?
Arcani’s mixed heritage plays several roles in the book. First, it’s a fundamental source of her identity predicament in that she is trying, throughout the book, to relate to both sides of her lineage and draw upon and unify these heritages for inspiration—and for connections to her own life.
At the same time, she sometimes feels a bit in limbo because of this mixture, and even experiences tension around it—not to mention the friction she encounters, as a minority, within society as a whole, which causes her to wrestle with her identity as an American.
Her multiculturalism is also symbolic of all the other ways that she is divided in the story—between striking out on her own and staying close to her aunt, sticking up for herself and not making waves, getting ahead without sacrificing values, being a Washington inside and an outsider….carefree versus committed, east coast-west coast. And the list goes on.
So, as a result, like many of us, Arcani spends a fair amount of time trying to both assert and reconcile competing tendencies in—or parts of— herself.
Finally, her mixed heritage is—I think and hope—a source of humor in book.

What do you think makes Arcani such a relatable character?
The aforementioned internal struggles makes her relatable, including to men, which indicates some level of universality in her character. She is imperfect—as are her immediate work environs and personal life, so most people have had some experience with that, and can empathize with her and things not going according to plan, see her vulnerabilities and forgive her self-righteousness, such that they welcome growth that occurs during her various mini crises, and want her to succeed.

Are you anything like Arcani?
On one hand, almost everything that happens to Arcani has never happened to me. She really took on a life of her own—which I am sure is a typical for many writers. On the other hand, I channeled some of my views through her, and reinterpreted some specific moments or emotions I have experienced in scenes with her, and added my heritage to hers halfway into writing the book specifically to personalize the story (as well as to complicate things). So, I am sure there are some similarities between us— though some folks who are not overly fond of her are still friends with me! But I also put pieces of myself—so to speak—in the other lead female characters, and even in the male and secondary characters. Each character is partly a composite of various people—and partly a product of imagination.

“Seeing Green” is a work of historical fiction. What parts of the book are based on real events?
            Presidential campaign events like the Democratic National Convention, the scene in Bryant Park, the Inaugural parade—those all occurred, as did of course the Rio Conference on Environment and Development, although the Earth Treaty is a gross over simplification of that conference’s outcomes.
The one-year follow up to Rio, the Ministerial conference in Paris, never existed. Some events are mixed—for example, the environmental inaugural ball occurred but its locale and the events in it were fictionalized, as was the politics on Capitol Hill and the hearing, though I drew from real hearings that were occurring at that time. References to international events—the aftermath of the Cold War, the Iraq war, Chernobyl, the Bosnian conflict—are all of course real. By establishing this broader context, I tried to capture the political zeitgeist of the early 90s. I also ended up showing how history—and particularly public and political debates—are cyclical. To me, the similarities and parallels were notable.

Do you have to know a lot about politics or environmental policy to enjoy “Seeing Green?”
            Not at all. In fact, one of my goals was to personalize the politics and policy to the point that it was intrinsic to the stories about the characters and their motivations, personalities, and growth trajectories. I wanted to make politics more accessible. Some of what’s currently popular on television about Washington already does this, but I think Seeing Green takes accessibility to a new level because of the depth and multidimensionality of the protagonist and her struggles (which doesn’t normally exist in political fiction), and because of its focus on underlings and underdogs who may have linkages to power but are relatively powerless, and have their own dynamics.

How did you get interested in politics and international relations?
            When I was 14, I saw a documentary at school called ‘The Last Epidemic’ about nuclear war and based on a conference held by Physicians for Social Responsibility. That was a life changing moment, much the way the cold war influenced the character Ginger in the 2012 film “Ginger and Rosa,” only in my case there was a delayed reaction—it wasn’t until college that I became active in the anti nuclear testing movement and interested in international disarmament. That was a formative and exciting time. I was inspired by Helen Caldicott, the Australian anti-nuclear activist, the Western Shoshone People, who were leading the charge in the US, and by Gorbachev and the momentum of Perestroika in Russia. Soon after, the Berlin wall was dismantled.

How did your experience in politics and policy shape your book?
            My experiences provided a very healthy reservoir to draw upon when coming up with the narrative and sub plots. Although the book really arose from the sheer desire to create and entertain, the content seemed value added and an appropriate fit—and the perspective seemed unique to what’s already out there.

“Seeing Green” is humorous and entertaining, yet it serves as a commentary on some serious issues. What do you want readers to take away from your book?

            First and foremost, I want them to have fun and be entertained—but ideally in a way that also feels nourishing and is perhaps thought provoking and maybe even moving. Some of my favorite films and novels combine these elements, and I worked hard to make the book read lightly, while still containing grit and ballast. In terms of take aways, the idea of being true to oneself both emanates and resonates. I thought that idea might inspire young women in particular—since Arcani is 25—but it’s a classic message that’s always had broader appeal. Also there is the green message—a de-emphasis on materialism—but this is conveyed through the plot and protagonist’s values, and is not intended to be preachy or overbearing, and I don’t think it comes across as such.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

GUEST POST & INTERVIEW: by Author Faye Hall

Passions in Australia

She giggled knowingly. “I knew your name, Re, both your first and your last.  How could I not.”
“Then why pretend you didn’t know me?”
She shrugged casually. “Would you rather me have told those ladies that we slept together?”
-          From Faye Hall's 'She's a Lot Like You', released April 2014

Faye Hall, an Australian author, will have her second eBook, ‘She’s A lot Like You’ released with Red Sage Publishing April this year.
Like her other passion driven, mystery filled books, her new release is set in a small township of North Queensland, Australia during the late 1800's.

Ravenswood, the setting for ‘She’s A lot Like You’, is a township in Queensland most commonly known for its history in gold mining.  However, for her story, Faye has chosen to show a more glamorous and risqué side of this once very prosperous town.  There are beautiful gowns, gala dances and the hidden beauty of a country estate, all things Ravenswood had and more before the gradual decline of the town.  As with all her stories, Faye has included something singularly Australian to entice her readers into the hypnotic allure of the Australian culture in the late Victorian period. 

Faye has chosen this period to set her stories in precisely because she feels it has not been explored enough, nor has the beauty of Northern Australia during that period been represented to its fullest extent.  Other townships Faye explores through her writings include the Burdekin Shire, Sarina, Proserpine and Bowen (the township made famous by Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’).

With every book, Faye has strived to give her readers not only the passionate connection between the hero and heroine, but also the ever present threat of deceit, scandal, theft and sometimes even murder.

A third book has recently been contracted with Red Sage, but as yet a release date is unavailable.

Faye’s books can be purchased direct from Red Sage at:-
From Amazon:-
Also you can visit Faye’s blog and website for any updates:-
Or find her on social networks:-

Interview Questions

When and why did you begin writing? I always loved stories as a kid and it fascinated me how they were written.  I would even try to write different endings to some of my fairy tales.  By the time I started high school I was writing my own original poems and short stories.  Several of my poems were published in local and international journals.

Why/how did you start writing romance? I was about 15 or 16 when I wrote my first romance story.  It was barely more than a couple of pages written in the back of one of my school books.  I loved how I could write about two peoples life struggles but always give them a happy ending.  I instantly thought “This is for me!”

What inspires you? Movies, music, other authors, etc? I find a lot of inspiration in music…all types of music too…my collection ranges from 1960’s rock to opera to more modern heavy rock.  In more recent years though I have been able to find just as much inspiration from certain TV series and movies.

What are you working on at the moment? At the moment I’m waiting for edits for a third script titled “Mistress of Purity”.  So while I wait for that I’ve started writing a new script called “Passions in the Dust”.  It’s about a man who lives on a cattle station in Bowen, Queensland, Australia who buys a mail order bride from England.  When she arrives though he discovers her to have been one of his mistresses back in England.  There are cattle rustlers and many disasters happening on his station too.  So that is managing to keep me very busy.

Who is your favorite character from one of your stories and why? Favorite character?  Is it bad of me to say I love them all lol.  But if I had to choose only one I guess it would have to be Rush Mullens, the heroine from my debut eBook ‘My Gift To You’.  She’s a gutsy little thing who just doesn’t give much of a damn about the restrictions of society.

If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it? My husband is wonderful for getting me through writers block!  He starts asking me about whichever story I’m working on at that particular time and asking me ‘why is this there?’ or ‘what happens next?’.  He gets me talking about things until the story just starts to flow again.

What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why? I see all my published works as a fantastic achievement.  I’ve been writing and submitting works for about 15 years now, so I know quite well how hard it is to get into the very competitive market of romance.  I still literally jump for joy with every acceptance letter I get for a script.


Willow stood with her back to Re, never able to see his approach.  She didn’t even see the look of horror on his face...nor did he see the gleam of tears on her cheeks.  All he saw was her being held in Chris’s arms, her body only a breath away from his.  It was a closeness he knew was far from accepted in polite society.
It was a closeness he shared with her...had thought to only share with her.
Looking to his friend, Re silently pleaded with him.  He needed to hear him say it was all just a misunderstanding.  He needed him to put at ease the quickly growing doubt in his heart.
But he didn’t hear any of this.  All he saw was the obvious lust gleaming in the young man’s eyes.
Chris cocked his brow, as if it was obvious their reason for being together.  When Re looked at him, begging to know the truth, Chris’s smile turned into an obvious sneer. 
Slowly, he shrugged his shoulders.
“How could I refuse?” he muttered, his words almost a whisper.
Hearing this short statement through her distress, Willow knew someone had found them.  Raising her tear-covered face from Chris’s shoulder she tried to free herself from his unrelenting grasp.  Realising her struggles were useless, she turned in his arms to see who had approached them.  Only too late did she realise just how suggestive her position would look.
Her eyes’ meeting the hurt and pain in Re’s eyes, Willow knew instantly what he was concluding of what he was seeing. 
“Re,” she whispered, almost desperate.
His dark stare turned hateful. 
“Damn you both to hell!” he spat at them, immediately turning back to make a quick return to the estate house.
“Re,’ she again called after him, struggling against Chris’s tight hold.
When Chris didn’t let her go despite her struggles, she turned slightly and pushed him away with all her might.
“You son of a bitch,’ she spat at him, suddenly realising this man’s intentions.
“I may be, madam,” he replied casually.  “Yet even you can’t deny what you wanted when you lured me out here.”
Her dark eyes narrowed with hate. 
“I hope you rot in hell, you bastard!”
Turning quickly, Willow ran after Re’s retreating figure.  She knew what he must be thinking, but he had to know she played no willing part in it.  He had to know the truth.
“Willow,” Chris called after her, slight anger in his tone.  “Damn it, you know you want this as much as I do.”
But she never turned back to him.  She only kept chasing the retreating figure of the man she loved.

Red Sage Publishing, Inc. © 2013 All Rights Reserved

Author Bio:

Faye Hall's passion driven, mystery filled books are set in small townships of North Queensland, Australia during the late 1800's.

Each of her novels bring something symbolically Australian to her readers, from Aboriginal herbal remedies, to certain gemstones naturally only found in this part of the world.

Each of her books tell of a passionate connection between the hero and heroine, surrounded and threatened by deceit, scandal, theft and sometimes even murder.

These romances swerve from the traditional romances as Faye aims to give her readers so much more intrigue, whilst also revealing the hidden histories of rural townships of North Queensland.

Faye finds her inspiration from the histories of not only the township she grew up in, but the many surrounding it. She also bases most of her characters on people she has met in her life.

Faye was able to live her own passion driven romance, marrying the love of her life after a whirlwind romance in 2013. Together they are raising their 9 children in a remote country town in northern Queensland, Australia.

Blurb for "She's A Lot Like You":

Willow Jameson knew nothing of her family’s past or their connection to the Morgan family when she first met Re Morgan.  All she seen was his ruggedly handsome appearance, his gentle words luring her into his strong embrace.  What she found was a passion beyond compare.
She couldn’t have foreseen the lies and family betrayal that would inevitably rob her of the man she loved and forever change her life.

Willow returned to the town life she loved so much, no longer ignorant to those who had separated her from the man she’d loved.  She was back now to make those responsible pay for all they’d taken from her.  In her search what she found was the hardened man Re Morgan had become…
…a man whose mere glance reignited a passion she had thought long since forgotten.

Re Morgan had left a horde of jilted lovers in his trail.  When he seen Willow again across the crowded dancehall, he wanted nothing more than to add her to this list.  Re wanted little more than a short, heated affair.
What he became involved in was far more scandalous than he could have ever imagined.

Friday, April 25, 2014


 Characters are a lot like children by Mike Hartner

         I made this mistake the first time I tried to write. I had this idea for a fiction in the 1970s and 80s. The main characters were to be twentysomethings, and the first outline said that 22-year-old boy meets 22-year-old girl, and the two go do some important things. Simple, right? Create the boy and his family. Make the path to the big city where the novel was set a straight line... let him meet the girl there, and voila! Everything early is solved. And the two protagonists can go solve the mysteries of the world together.
         (*SIGH*) And then, I sat down to write the novel. The male was born in Hawaii... so getting him to the big city was not a direct path. The female was born in Chicago... she was also going to the big city, but needed a reason. After all Chicago was big enough. And rather than take the direct path, and go do what I expected, both of them went off on their own tangent lines.  
         The direct line to the Big City...New York City, in this case...was anything BUT straight or direct. And the adventures in other parts added to their many character layers.
         Understand…I created these characters. They are something I’d been thinking about in my own mind for some time. And then I set their births to paper.
         And All H! broke loose. I didn’t plan on the male adventures with base jumping, or surfing. I didn’t plan on the female being exposed to the EVIL forces, or criminal elements or a neighbour whose parents insisted their daughter learn about ALL of the world’s religions in increments of one or two years. These are things I NEVER would have considered for either of them. And yet, they were things that the protagonists themselves told me about their upbringing.
         Every time I wrote a scene, and let it sit for a few days, the protagonists would tap me on the arm and say, “Well, that’s not quite how it happened...” And I would need to go back and set the record straight. One such event in the male’s life dragged out for three or four weeks until it was ‘accurate’ according to the protagonist’s memory. And my mental response was ‘Why didn’t you just say this in the first place?’ And the smart-ass response was, ‘You never asked.’
         And yes, I know I sound schizophrenic because I believe my characters are real. But, if you are an author, or close to one, you probably also understand that scenario. And I freely admit to listening to my characters as I’m writing their story down. They are REAL…to me anyway.
         And characters, like children, hate being told what to do. And they like carving their own path into your heart and your story.
         So, for you authors out there, feel free to plot and scheme (read: outline and plan). But, don’t be surprised if your characters decide to go a different way, and make the story more rich and enjoyable. Have fun doing it.
         Oh, and the story? Never got published. But not for the reasons you’re thinking. No, the simple reason this story got put aside is because it was meant to be part of a series. And it comes towards the end of that series. So, obviously you need to write the beginning first. And the beginning is I, Walter.

I, Walter is the first in a series of books in a saga which will span continents and time to arrive in present day North America. 
Each in the series will be connected, though that connection may not be obvious for several more books.  
It's almost like looking at a menorah (sic). Many lines, seemingly individual, connect to center at different points. 

Walter Crofter was born into Elizabethan England.

In a country and a time where favor and politics were both deadly, can an honest boy stay true to himself?

Especially given his family background?


About the Author

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Book Details

·         224 pages
·         Genre: Historical Fiction
·         Age: Young Adult
·         Available from:
·         ASIN: B00C7FJ7B4

Review Excerpts

"I, Walter is a grand tale of adventure that reminds me of the Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin adventure series but with a noble innocence and, a most refreshing, charming slant. Romance, adventure, mystery, rescues, deception, and vivid descriptions make I, Walter a most enjoyable and inspirational read of chivalry. This CBR reviewer looks forward to reading more of the Crofter saga from Mike Hartner" Chanticleer Book Reviews

“This book truly is New York Best-seller material!" Charity Langley, Author

Contact Details


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Giving away ONE copy of "I, Walter"
Readers choice: ebook, audio, or print (International ebook or audio book only)

1. In order to enter giveaway all you need to do is leave a comment with your email address!
2. For one additional entry, follow me on GFC and leave your user name!
3. I will choose a winner and contact them on May 1st.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The seduction of Miss Amelia Bell by Paula Quinn



Edmund MacGregor will do anything to save Scotland from English rule-even kidnap Lady Amelia Bell for ransom. As the daughter of a duke and the chancellor's betrothed, she's the perfect pawn in this game. But from the moment he first lays eyes on his spirited captive, he can't resist stealing a kiss . . .


Lady Amelia's duty is to marry well, but that hasn't stopped her from fantasizing about true love. So when a sexy Scot appears in her home, she's beguiled. When he kidnaps her, she's furious. Yet as Edmund introduces her to a world of passion beyond her wildest dreams, can she leave her family behind for this handsome Highlander? And will Edmund risk the only true home he's ever known to capture the heart of this lovely lass?

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn lives in New York with her three beautiful children, three over-protective chihuahuas, and a loud umbrella cockatoo. She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven. She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.

My Review:
Give me a book that involves romance and Scottish Highlanders, and I’m a happy woman! “The Seduction of Miss Amelia Bell” by Paula Quinn definitely hits the mark with this great historical romance. The characters are great, and both Amelia and Edmund are people who you can relate to and root for. I love Amelia’s passionate nature and her rebellious side. You can’t help but like her. Edmund is the typical rogue at first, until he falls hard for Amelia. The writing style is great, and there is the perfect mixture of romance and action going on. I hate romance novels that are like one giant orgy, this one has some steamy sex scenes, but evens it out with an actual story line that is easy to follow. The sexual tension between Amelia and Edmund is thick, and as a reader you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for and wanting something to happen between them. The wait is worth it though, because when they do finally hook up, it is a steamy scene. I like that the writer also followed Amelia’s servant Sarah’s life in this novel. It wasn’t all about Amelia and Edmund, it also brought other characters stories into this novel.

I would definitely recommend this novel to all lovers of historical romance novels. Paula Quinn definitely has a knack when it comes to writing well-balanced romance novels. If you get a little hot thinking about Scottish Highlanders in their sexy kilts, than this novel is definitely for you!

I give “The Seduction of Miss Amelia Bell” a FIVE out of FIVE stars!

Purchase this novel here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux

Donatello: Art, Pain, Passion, Murder
Renowned Literary Writer Renders Controversial Life of
Mysterious Renaissance Genius

“John L’Heureux has built a gripping story of love, genius and betrayal.”
--JM Coetzee, Nobel Prize for Literature, Booker Prize Winner

“Deeply enjoyable, The Medici Boy soars like an operatic aria, before breaking our hearts.”
--David Henry Hwang, playwright, M. Butterfly, Chinglish

“L’Heureux’s is certainly one of America’s greatest living writers. I’d put him in the top ten...And now he’s come out with his first new novel in ten years, The Medici Boy, and it’s a masterpiece, the most ambitious, beautiful, and complex novel I’ve read this year…”
--David Vann, Financial Times of London

Astor + Blue Editions is proud to release perhaps the most passionate work of master storyteller, John L’Heureux, in The Medici Boy [ISBN:  978-1-938231-50-6 (Hard Cover); ISBN: 978-1-938231-48-3 (E-book); US $25.95; Historical / Literary Fiction; 346 Pages, April, 2014].  Described as “one of America’s greatest living writers” by the Financial Times of London, L’Heureux returns with a long-awaited new historical fiction novel; the result of years of research—backed by a Guggenheim Grant—on location in Europe.

In this well-conceived, historically accurate rendering, the Renaissance worlds of art, politics and passion collide. With his distinct style and rich, sinewy narrative, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant.

While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save Donatello, even his master’s friend—the great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici.

John L’Heureux’s long-awaited hardcover delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux artfully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the leading—and competing—powerbrokers of Renaissance Florence: the Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed narrative that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.

Award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer, John L’Heureux has taught at Georgetown University, Tufts, Harvard, and (for more than 35 years) in the English Department of Stanford University where he was Lane Professor of Humanities.  There he received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and
earned it again in 1998.

A prolific writer, L’Heureux has written more than twenty books of fiction, short fiction and poetry.  His works have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and have been included in dozens of anthologies including Best American Stories and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards.

John L’Heureux has twice received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Grant to do research for The Medici Boy, his new novel.

He is retired and lives in Palo Alto with his wife Joan.

My Review:

“The Medici Boy” by John L'Heureux was a great read. I love that it was written in first person, it definitely helped me to really get to know the main character, and to understand what was going on throughout the novel. I like that the narrator is a flawed character who is lead by his passions. It really helps the reader to relate to him, and to like him. I can't stand novels where I don't like the main character, so liking the main character was definitely a plus for me! The author does a great job of really taking the reader into the story. You really see how much devastation was caused by the black plague, and what the people went through because of it. I definitely felt like I was right there with the narrator. It was also interesting to see what went on behind the scenes when Donatello was creating a work of art. The author did a great job of describing everything so well that you can really picture his work. It's easy, as a reader, to imagine that things really worked like it's described in Donatello's studio. 

The book did slow down a little at times, and there were times when a lot of names, that were hard to pronounce, were mentioned so it got confusing. It got a little bogged down at times also, like a lot was happening, but it wasn’t really going anywhere. However, this didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the novel.

This is a great novel for lovers of historical fiction. I really felt like I learned a lot about the time period, and about different character’s in history. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this time period or in historical fiction in general. 

I give this novel a FOUR out of FIVE stars.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

BOOK BLAST AND GIVEAWAY: The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram

The Towers of TuscanyHistorical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and author Carol M. Cram are excited to announce The Towers of Tuscany Book Blast! Join us from April 7-13 as The Towers of Tuscany is featured around the blogosphere, along with a chance to win one of three copies of this amazing new novel! Called "a beautifully crafted masterpiece of historical fiction", "lush", and "page-turning" Cram's debut novel will appeal to readers who enjoy a strong female lead who, against great odds, dares to follow a dream. The Towers of Tuscany includes a Reader's Guide making it a perfect Book Club pick! In honor of the Book Blast we are giving away three copies to three lucky readers, see below to enter. Publication Date: January 23, 2014 New Arcadia Publishing Formats: Paperback, Ebook Genre: Historical Fiction Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia’s desire for freedom from her father’s workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son. In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion—both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her. The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe's most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes. READ AN EXCERPT.
The Towers of Tuscany

Praise for The Towers of Tuscany

“The Towers of Tuscany is a delightful escape to the Siena we all love. Carol Cram has crafted a delicious story about a strong woman torn between her secret past, her love of painting and the forbidden charms of her rich patron. Hard to resist and highly recommended!” - Anne Fortier, Author of The Lost Sisterhood and the New York Times bestseller, Juliet “Carol Cram's lush descriptions and intriguing characters bring this dramatic tale of medieval Tuscany to life. If you love Italian art, a feisty heroine, and a page-turning plot, you will adore this novel.” – Deborah Swift, Author of A Divided Inheritance "The Towers of Tuscany has all the elements of a wonderful historical novel?a talented, frustrated heroine, a treacherous, feckless husband, and a promise to a dying, much loved father who orders the heroine on a dangerous mission. Carol is a first rate storyteller. The research is well done. Every chapter displays a fine knowledge of painting technique of the 14th century, and customs and mores of the age. The details of dress, fabric, food, are flawless. The clever dialogue and fast pace make the novel zing along." - Roberta Rich, Author of The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife “Sofia will set your heart racing as she attempts to find what we all, in our own ways, strive to seek: love, resolution, and artistic freedom. The legacy of this story will leave you yearning for more.” – Cathleen With, award-winning author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison

Buy the Book

Amazon (Ebook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

Carol Cram

Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist. She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.

Author Links


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 7
Literary Chanteuse
Bibliophilia, Please
Cheryl's Book Nook
A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 8
Mari Reads
Peeking Between the Pages
History From a Woman's Perspective

Wednesday, April 9
Reviews by Molly
Susan Heim on Writing
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, April 10
Passages to the Past
Book Lovers Paradise
To Read or Not to Read
Curling Up With a Good Book

Friday, April 11
Words and Peace
The Mad Reviewer
Historical Fiction Obsession

Saturday, April 12
Book Nerd
Layered Pages
Princess of Eboli
Kelsey's Book Corner

Sunday, April 13
West Metro Mommy
The True Book Addict
Caroline Wilson Writes


To enter to win one of 3 copies of The Towers of Tuscany please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below.
Giveaway is open internationally.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 13th.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on April 14th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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