Tag Archives: historical fiction

Blog Tour & Paperback Giveaway: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

 One of The New York Times 100 Most Notable Books of 2012

” From Kathryn Harrison, one of America’s most admired literary voices, comes a gorgeously written, enthralling novel set in the final days of Russia’s Romanov Empire.

St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family—including the headstrong Prince Alyosha. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha, who suffers from hemophilia, a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed, lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal.

Two months after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives, finding solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, they tell stories—some embellished and some entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s many exploits, and the wild and wonderful country on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.

Mesmerizing, haunting, and told in Kathryn Harrison’s signature crystalline prose, Enchantments is a love story about two people who come together as everything around them is falling apart.”


In some cases the story really begins at the end. Spanning the time immediately after Rasputin’s brutal murder and beyond the last days of the Romanov family, Enchantments gives a unique look into a time period of Russian history very well documented and yet still coveted in the fictional world of literature. This novel however is unlike the others I have read in that it gives a fresh look as it delves into Rasputin’s life as a family man, very rarely do you ever see it even mentioned that he had a wife and children much less see his offspring as the narrator of such a monumental time in history.

Masha as she was called was the oldest of Rasputin’s daughters and very much the favorite daughter who both respected and cherished her father. The Tsarina of Russia even felt that the young girl had inherited her father’s healing gifts although Masha never felt so herself and never pursued any of Rasputin’s practices. Nevertheless this belief allowed Masha and her sister access to the Romanovs that very few ever held.  Within her stories Masha gives a insider’s account of both Rasptuin the Monk’s life and that of the last royal family of Russia. She is truly a gifted storyteller and the accounts she gives create characters out of historical figures we have all read about.

While much of the novel is very well imagined and given in a abundance of fictional stories within it still lies the tragedy of the last Tsar of Russia and his family. Many of the stories told by Masha are clearly of a fantastical nature but they provide not only a enjoyable reading experience but also a deeper insight into a family lost. A relationship between Masha and Alyosha, gives  the son of Nicholay and Alexandra a life and history beyond his disease and death. Alexei truly becomes a person within this novel and that is something I have rarely seen in accounts of the Romanovs.

In the end while most of the the stories are purely fiction behind them lie real people whose story may never be able to be factually told. This novel at least gives them a past and life of some type in which to be real people and not simply notes in a history book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from both a fictional and historical stand point. It truly flies by once you become entranced by Harrison’s unique storytelling style. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those interested in the Romanovs specifically. I adored this novel when I first read it in 2012 and am so excited to be able to share it again with my readers in it’s new paperback release.

 Book Giveaway

Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a giveaway as part of this TLC Book Blog Tour Stop for Enchantments and a paperback copy of the book will soon belong to one very lucky reader. Giveaway ends midnight EST March 25, 2013. US/Canada addresses only please for this giveaway.

To enter: Simply share one of your favorite historical fiction authors and the time period that most appeals to you as a reader below in the comment section. I love getting new suggestions for my future reading and it seems there is always a work that I have passed by or not heard of . So share one…or share a few while entering to win a great addition to your own library.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, Contests, historical fiction

Blog Tour: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

“The fateful first meeting of Enza and Ciro takes place amid the haunting majesty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the last century. Still teenagers, they are separated when Ciro is banished from his village and sent to hide in New York’s Little Italy, apprenticed to a shoemaker, leaving a bereft Enza behind. But when her own family faces disaster, she, too, is forced to emigrate to America. Though destiny will reunite the star-crossed lovers, it will, just as abruptly, separate them once again—sending Ciro off to serve in World War I, while Enza is drawn into the glamorous world of the opera . . . and into the life of the international singing sensation Enrico Caruso. Still, Enza and Ciro have been touched by fate—and, ultimately, the power of their love will change their lives forever.

A riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny, inspired by the author’s own family history, The Shoemaker’s Wife is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write.”

One of my absolutely favorite types of books is that of the family saga. It’s a tricky thing to get right as it takes so many different writing skills from the much needed intense character development to keep readers involved to a fantastic ability to keep a plot interesting and unpredictable for longer periods of time than most novels. To tell a story about a small group of characters and keep readers interested across not only various geographic locations but across time itself is a real feat especially when it’s done as well as Adriana Trigiani’s latest work The Shoemaker’s Wife.

One of the most attractive aspects of this work was the characters themselves. Trigani created two main characters that not only were like-able but downright love-able too. Both Enza and Ciro along with their families grab the heart of the reader and make them hungry to know what would happen to them as the book unfolds. While their love story soon becomes the focal point of the novel, readers will find themselves riveted to their tales long before when their stories are being told separately for the most part. The characters also had a some what old fashioned goodness to them that was captured so perfectly. They are characters that simply steal your heart and connect on a very personal and emotional level. You become invested in their lives, their dreams and ambitions, their love and their loss. It’s a novel that carries a lot of feeling and love which translates so well through the page and the written word. It’s impossible to put down once you meet them and begin their story. The love that the author feels shines through perhaps added to all the more because she based them on members of her own family.

Over the last few months I have found myself in a reading rut of sorts. Tackling being sick myself along with caring for my young son has made me not only exhausted but also distracted to the point that I have found it hard to concentrate on much of anything. Unfortunately for the first time in my life…reading simply could not put me at ease or take me to it’s usual place of escape that I have come to love and expect from it. I tried reading multiple books with little success. I even finished a few only to completely feel underwhelmed upon their completion. I needed just the right book to get me back on my feet and this one was just what the doctor ordered. I went from being unable to read more than a few pages at a time to devouring this book in just a few days. It’s a real treat for readers…the type of novel that doesn’t come along every day. It’s definitely one to be savored and remembered.

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, historical fiction, New Books

Review & Giveaway: The Taker by Alma Katsu

   “True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. . . .

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her . . . despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption.”

 We all have them. The titles may be different but the existence of the books are all the same for each of us. There are those books that you mean to read. Often times they are books that have received a large amount of attention or even praise and as a reader you truly mean to read them, you make the mental note again and again but somehow never seem to get around to it. It’s almost as if you are saving those titles for a reader’s rainy day perhaps? Confession time..The Taker has long been one of mine. Saved for who knows what reason and then eventually devoured in almost one single sitting. I honestly did not put it down for two solid days. Leaving me wondering: why on earth did I wait to read this?

What can I say? This book really hit all the right notes for so many reasons. There is almost nothing about it that I didn’t truly, deeply enjoy. Dipping between modern day and a time long ago, the telling is pitch perfect for both which I think is a tricky thing within itself for a writer to accomplish but Alma Katsu proves it can be done and done well.

The core of the novel is the love that Lanny feels for Luke. It’s that kind of love that is so powerful that you know it will either redeem or destroy. Love is the driving force in this novel and I think the author did a great job of making it feel both believable and real. It was essential that the reader understand and in some ways be able to relate to how a person that deeply in love would actually feel. The author did a splendid job of building and establishing that intoxication. As she describes it at one point…

“It was like being in love with the sun: brilliant and intoxicating to be near, but impossible to keep to oneself. It was hopeless to love him and yet it was hopeless to not to.” 

In the end the only positive thing I can glean from waiting so long to indulge in this book is that now I have a shorter wait time than everyone else for the next book to continue this addictive series. The Reckoning releases June 19, 2012 and I can promise I will not be waiting one day to dive deep within it’s pages.

 Gallery Books Book Giveaway

 I so love being able to give away books that I honestly thoroughly enjoyed reading.  Thanks to the generous folks at Gallery Books I am very pleased to be able to provide a brand new paperback copy of The Taker  to one lucky reader at Stiletto Storytime. This giveaway will end midnight EST May 18, 2012 and is available to a US address only. The lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Want a sneak peek at a scene? You can check out The Taker for yourself here.

To enter just comment below and share what books you have saved in the past or are “saving” for your reader’s guilty pleasure? What is that book you keep meaning to read but just never seem to get around to?

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Filed under Adult Books, historical fiction, Paranormal

Blog Tour: The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

“It’s refreshing to have a little of the unexpected.”    

 “With some apprehension, the Torrington family is about to celebrate the twentieth birthday of Emerald, the second of three children. Their housekeeper, Florence, plans an elaborate dinner for the family and a few close friends. Charlotte and her children—the romantically handsome and callow Clovis; nine-year old Imogen, known as Smudge, who plots a “Great Undertaking” for the evening; and Emerald herself—are disconsolate at the thought of losing Sterne, their beloved family home.

Originally purchased by Horace Torrington, Charlotte’s first husband and the children’s father, Sterne has become too expensive for the financially strapped family to maintain. Since Horace’s death and Charlotte’s remarriage to Edward Swift, the house remains an important link to the past, a symbol of the family’s position that is intertwined with their sense of identity.

As Edward sets off for Manchester in hopes of obtaining a loan, the rest of the family begins preparing for the dinner party. An evening unlike any other awaits them. Little can the Torringtons imagine, that more than just a few intimate friends are about to arrive at Sterne . . .”

The Edwardian period has returned to Stiletto Storytime…this would be the second appearance this time period has made on the blog this week. Popular much? I should think so…however this time we are spotlighting a book that was purely Edwardian England through and through. I don’t know how else to explain the character of the writing except to say that it is very British. Austere, clean and brisk, the story is told in  a point blank manner that suits it and lends to it’s reserved and yet comical nature. I won’t lie ( I don’t want to give anything away which makes this review very hard to write) but I was laughing out loud at multiple moments in this book. I have been told often that my sense of humor is very British and it must be true considering how much I enjoyed the humor within The Uninvited Guests. The very premise is quite humorous in and of itself. It was a perfect short but entertaining read to cheer one’s spirits and yet at times it was startling brutal in it’s look at human behavior and issues of class. It truly ran the gamut of emotions at times going from comedy to cruelty within just a few pages.

 The Uninvited Guests also takes place in a very short amount of time, is not of great length and really read almost like a short story in many ways. The voice of Sadie Jones is that of a storyteller- very strong and steady. The book does manage despite it’s short length to have multiple character POV’s and a somewhat complex plot with lots of action occurring at once. Personally I enjoyed the different characters and their personal outlooks immensely. I loved being able to see the happenings of the tale from the different character viewpoints, it really allowed for some very funny and revealing moments that were sometimes intriguing and often truly priceless. Books very rarely surprise me but this one did and it was in wonderful ways. Though it may have begun somewhat slow the book really ended up winning me over in the end. And most importantly it truly did make me laugh.

You can check out the rest of the TLC Book Tour here.

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, historical fiction, New Books

Review & Giveaway: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

The prettiest people often have the ugliest secrets…

“Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been… even as their carefully constructed façade rapidly comes undone.

Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one… the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.

Wentworth Hall is a lush historical novel by debut author Abby Grahame, which is spot-on perfect for fans of Downtown Abbey!”

First off let’s acknowledge that the number of Downtown Abbey fans that would fall in the teenage age range are probably few (sad but true right?)…however that’s exactly what this novel will remind you of and it works…in fact it works spectacularly. It’s one of those books that you pick up and you do not put down. I read it in one sitting and that can be hard for me to do with a pre-schooler controlling my reading privileges these days.

Enter the once grand estate of Wentworth Hall, a crumbling family residence teeming with the young, beautiful and rich of the Edwardian period (some admittedly only the once rich but shush….that’s a supposed to be a secret). Follow along as they navigate coming of age, the rough waters of young love and secret betrayals of today and years gone by. It’s a world that’s only too easy to fall deeply into within the first few pages. One would never guess this to be by a newbie author as it shines in all the right places. Abby Grahame’s sense of timing and pace are impeccable. The characters and setting are written to perfection and surprises seem to lie around every single Edwardian corner.

It’s a book for young adults who enjoy historical fiction and also adults who love young adult fiction and/or historical fiction. Readers that found bliss within the pages of The Luxe series will fall in historical love all over again. And with a cover  like that it’s got great shelf appeal and reader’s advisory potential. For those non-librarians….that means we can more than likely get it into a teen’s hands and out the door, fingers crossed they open the cover once that happens. But if they do open that cover and begin to read…I guarantee they’ll be hooked.

There is also hope of a continuance of some sort since many of the plot lines simply scream to be explored. It will intriguing to find what author Abby Grahame will do next, she is definitely one to watch. But don’t take my word for it…dip into the pages of Wentworth Hall by checking out an excerpt and enter to win your very own copy below.

 Fabulous Book Giveaway

 Oh, you know you want a copy and luckily I have two copies of this luxurious historical novel to give away to two US readers.  This double giveaway will end midnight EST May 14, 2012. The charmed winners will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail.

To enter just comment below and tell us what book, TV series or movie has you slightly obsessed right now. We all have our favorites…let’s share. Are you a “Downtown Abbey” fanatic? Do you crave “True Blood”? Hunger for The Hunger Games? Or live to follow every move on “The Game of Thrones”?

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Filed under historical fiction, New Books, The Luxe, Young Adult Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

     ” THE GARDEN INTRIGUE is the latest novel in the nationally bestselling Pink Carnation series byRITA Award winner Lauren Willig. In this ninth installment, long-time readers and newcomers alike will be delighted to meet a character sure to become a fan favorite—a poet whose fervent ardor leads him to declare his feelings for the Pink Carnation in atrociously overwrought verse.

Lovable modern day grad student Eloise Kelly is back and on the trail of the Pink Carnation when she discovers a wretched poem among the papers of a code book. Poetry penned by the notorious fop Augustus Whittlesby for Jane Wooliston (aka the Pink Carnation)—Eloise can’t help but wonder; can anyone really be that bad of a poet? Or is something else hiding behind his putridly saccharine words? Back in 1804, New York born Paris socialite Emma Morris Delgardie doesn’t think so. She’s too busy sipping champagne to notice Whittlesby’s strange interest in a top-secret device Napoleon has commissioned. Unfortunately for Emma, she’s the poet’s entrée into the emperor’s inner circle. Fortunately for Augustus, this plucky American heroine could turn out to be his true muse.”

The Garden Intrigue is the ninth book in the Pink Carnation Series and I have to admit I have been kind of lax since about the third or fourth book so going into it I was a little nervous that I would be lost. That was not the case. This installment has no problem standing on it’s own for a reader who has read a few books in the series or one who has no introduction whatsoever to the series. Either way I think it would prove to be an enjoyable read.

The main characters within the book remain the same as we continue to follow the modern day love story of Colin and Eloise which is probably my favorite part of the series in all honesty. Within the historical side of the story we meet a former character in the poet Augustus but he is supplied with a new love interest in the American Emma. I found both time periods and relationships to be interesting and addicting. Best of all is Willig’s rendering of the historical time period since she is such a spectacular researcher and exacting historical fiction author. Love, espionage, mystery and danger combine as always to create a great storyline within this series. Add in the bad poetry of Augustus for humor and you have the perfect recipe for a great read.  I for one am looking forward to going back and re-reading the books that I have missed after finishing this book.

My only real problem with The Garden Intrigue lies within the cover choice. I find it looks a little too much like a romance novel. It’s shelf appeal is greatly diminished for that reason in my opinion for many potential readers and I fear many  may overlook it based on cover alone. Most of the former books in the series had a much different cover that I thought served them well. You can compare covers here if you’d like and tell me if you agree.

 Book Giveaway

Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a giveaway as part of this TLC Book Blog Tour Stop for The Garden Intrigue and a copy of the book will soon belong to one very lucky reader. Giveaway ends midnight EST March 31, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please for this giveaway.

To enter to win a copy simply comment below and share your favorite book series. It can be historical fiction or not…whichever series you get really excited about each time a new installment is released.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, New Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

   ” From Kathryn Harrison, one of America’s most admired literary voices, comes a gorgeously written, enthralling novel set in the final days of Russia’s Romanov Empire.

St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family—including the headstrong Prince Alyosha. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha, who suffers from hemophilia, a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed, lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal.

Two months after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives, finding solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, they tell stories—some embellished and some entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s many exploits, and the wild and wonderful country on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.

Mesmerizing, haunting, and told in Kathryn Harrison’s signature crystalline prose, Enchantments is a love story about two people who come together as everything around them is falling apart.”

In some cases the story really begins at the end. Spanning the time immediately after Rasputin’s brutal murder and beyond the last days of the Romanov family, Enchantments gives a unique look into a time period of Russian history very well documented and yet still coveted in the fictional world of literature. This novel however is unlike the others I have read in that it gives a fresh look as it delves into Rasputin’s life as a family man, very rarely do you ever see it even mentioned that he had a wife and children much less see his offspring as the narrator of such a monumental time in history.

Masha as she was called was the oldest of Rasputin’s daughters and very much the favorite daughter who both respected and cherished her father. The Tsarina of Russia even felt that the young girl had inherited her father’s healing gifts although Masha never felt so herself and never pursued any of Rasputin’s practices. Nevertheless this belief allowed Masha and her sister access to the Romanovs that very few ever held.  Within her stories Masha gives a insider’s account of both Rasptuin the Monk’s life and that of the last royal family of Russia. She is truly a gifted storyteller and the accounts she gives create characters out of historical figures we have all read about.

While much of the novel is very well imagined and given in a abundance of fictional stories within it still lies the tragedy of the last Tsar of Russia and his family. Many of the stories told by Masha are clearly of a fantastical nature but they provide not only a enjoyable reading experience but also a deeper insight into a family lost. A relationship between Masha and Alyosha, gives  the son of Nicholay and Alexandra a life and history beyond his disease and death. Alexei truly becomes a person within this novel and that is something I have rarely seen in accounts of the Romanovs.

In the end while most of the the stories are purely fiction behind them lie real people whose story may never be able to be factually told. This novel at least gives them a past and life of some type in which to be real people and not simply notes in a history book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from both a fictional and historical stand point. It truly flies by once you become entranced by Harrison’s unique storytelling style. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those interested in the Romanovs specifically.

 Book Giveaway

Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a giveaway as part of this TLC Book Blog Tour Stop for Enchantments and a copy of the book will soon belong to one very lucky reader. Giveaway ends midnight EST March 31, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please for this giveaway.

To enter to win a copy simply share one of your favorite historical fiction titles below. I love getting new suggestions for my future reading and it seems there is always a work that I have passed by or not heard of . So share one…or share a few while entering to win a great addition to your own library.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

36 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, historical fiction, New Books