Friday, February 28, 2014

Saint Maggie by Janet R Stafford

Book Blurb

Maggie, a widow with two teenage daughters, runs a rooming house smack dab on the town square. In 1860, this makes her a social outcast - boarding houses are hardly respectable. And her collection of eclectic boarders - a failed aging writer, an undertaker's apprentice, a struggling young lawyer, and an old Irishman - only brings her snubs and snide comments, as does her friendship with Emily and Nate, an African-American couple with whom she shares her home and chores. So Maggie is stunned when she is asked to provide a room for Jeremiah Madison, the new and very gifted Methodist minister. He may be able to revive the little church she attends and provide her boarding house with some badly-needed respectability. But Jeremiah comes with secrets that will change Maggie, her friends, and her town forever. (Based on an historical event.)


An Authentic Portrait of 1860’s Mid-America

In Blaineton, during a pre-Civil War America, Maggie is still paying for her sin of marrying the son of her father’s business rival. Though her husband and father of her two daughters died ten years before, Maggie is still estranged from her pompous brother Samuel, though she tries to heal the breach. Samuel, however feels that Maggie would have done better to throw herself on his mercy and become a dependent.

A committed Christian, Maggie has a generous heart and gathers life’s lame ducks to her side, including a black couple, Nate and Emily, whom she fears for in case they are captured and sent as slaves to the south. Then there is Eli Smith, Maggie’s love interest who believes quoting bible scriptures loudly and often does not make a Christian.

The dynamic of the community is altered when Reverend Mr Jeremiah Madison arrives. Handsome and charming, his charismatic preaching style soon has the folks of Blaineton worshipping at his feet. However Maggie is uneasy when the young girls of the neighbourhood, including her niece and her own daughters fall for his charms. The only person who is not fawning over the good reverend is Eli.

Janet Stafford draws an authentic picture of the prejudices, hypocrisy and undercurrents of a small community who feel they are inherently ‘good’, but who don’t see how their actions affect others. Maggie commits her thoughts to her diary, which helped us see her more clearly, though I did think she was being too reckless putting her involvement in the underground railroad on paper.

The author’s writing is beautiful, gentle and heartfelt, though I just knew it would take a turn for the sinister somewhere along the line – and indeed it does in a case of arsenic poisoning.

I am not a fan of inspirational novels, and in places the religious aspect was a bit overplayed, but then Maggie is a mid-Victorian American widow who lives in the bible belt, so Ms Stafford wrote her character perfectly.

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Follies Past by Melanie Kerr

Book Blurb

Taking its facts from Austen’s own words, Follies Past opens almost a year before the opening of Pride and Prejudice itself, at Pemberley, at Christmas. Fourteen-year-old Georgiana has just been taken from school and is preparing to transfer to London in the spring. It follows Georgiana to London, to Ramsgate and into the arms of the charming and infamous Mr. Wickham. 

To read this book is to step back into the charming world of Jane Austen’s England, to pass a few more hours with some of her beloved characters, sympathetically portrayed as they might have been before ever they came to Netherfield, and to discover a host of new characters each with engaging histories of their own. Authentic in its use of language and meticulously researched, it is a truly diverting entertainment.


Miss Kerr manages to evoke the essence of Jane Austen in the first sentence of this book, and carries it through to a satisfying ending with humour, intelligence and heart-warming characterisation. It begins with Caroline Bingley’s conviction that Fitwilliam Darcy is romantically interested in her, and is then proved completely wrong, though it takes Caroline a while to accept it. The reader is given the opportunity to take a shadenfreude type pleasure in Caroline’s self-delusion – attributable entirely to Miss Austen’s original ability to make us hate her when she doesn’t do anything that terrible.

This is more the story of Wickham and the alleged elopement with Georgiana, not to mention the duplicitous Mrs Young. 

The language is exquisite, and so Austen-like I found it hard to differentiate between them. The story is well researched, giving new life to not only Georgiana, but Darcy as a man and not a suitor for Elizabeth Bennet whom he hasn’t met yet. The characters are well rounded and fascinating in their own right, and I don’t think Ms Austin would have objected to how the author has given new life to her secondary characters.

The casually insulting and insufferable Lady Catherine de Bourgh is a masterpiece, I really enjoyed this novel, and I hope there are more in the same vein. 

My only criticism is the clumsy artwork on the cover, this book deserves something far more artistic and beautiful. Definitely one of the best fan fiction books I have read.

Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour

TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vienna's Last Jihad by C.Wayne Dawson

Book Synopsis

Publication Date: October 20, 2013
Katy Crossing Press
Paperback; 334p
ISBN-13: 978-1490426341

Brash and brilliant, twenty year old Mathis Zieglar, Professor of Languages, faces an agonizing choice: should he fight the Turks who take his family hostage and move to destroy Vienna? Or should he betray his army to save his kin? Vienna’s Last Jihad is an historical novel set against the 1683 siege of Vienna. 

Europe is balanced on a knife’s edge while Mathis, the man who holds its fate in his hands, struggles against powerful enemies: Father Sistini, a Jesuit who brands him a heretic and drags Mathis’ fiancĂ©e off to the Inquisition; a xenophobic city mob, who wants him dead for protecting a Hungarian soldier; but most dangerous of all, Captain Tyrek, a Muslim chieftain who will kill Mathis’ family unless he spies against his own army. One by one, Tyrek’s agents murder Mathis’ closest associates in an attempt to isolate him. As 138,000 Turks grind down Vienna’s 11,000 defenders with no relief in sight, Mathis’ only chance to save family and country is to use his ability to speak Tartar and the knack he learned as a child to leap, whirl like an unwinding mainspring, and strike. 

Book Review

C. Wayne Dawson’s Vienna’s Last Jihad is an absorbing piece of historical fiction that retells one of history’s most important turning points, the 1683 siege of Vienna, in a way never before attempted. Readers will cheer on Professor Mathis Zieglar, the saga’s protagonist, a brash but brilliant academic, as he battles the Inquisition and an invading horde of Muslim Turks, using his wits and martial talents in a struggle to save his family and the city of Vienna from impending doom.

Skillfully written and researched by a trained historian, Dawson’s Vienna’s Last Jihad is a compelling saga that will transport the reader to a world seldom portrayed in historical fiction and will plunge him/her into a web of danger, treachery, and white knuckle suspense. Were this reviewer to summarize the novel as briefly as possible, she would say “satisfying and never boring.”

Tour Hashtag: #ViennasLastJihadVirtualTour

Buy the Book

C. Wayne Dawson writes for The Williamson County Sun, and has written for History Magazine, Focus On Georgetown, The Georgetown Advocate, and SAFVIC Law Enforcement Newsletter. In 2012, he founded Central Texas Authors, an author’s marketing collective.

He was an Adjunct Professor of History for ten years at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, where he created the Chautauqua program. There, he enlisted scholars, government officials and activists to discuss and debate social policy before the student body and the media.

In 2009, the students of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society honored him with the Glaux Mentor Teacher Award for bringing the Chautauqua program to Mt. SAC.

He currently lives in Georgetown, TX with his wife and two dogs.

For more information please visit C. Wayne Dawson’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, February 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at History & Women

Wednesday, February 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, March 3
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 4
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, March 6
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, March 11
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, March 12
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, March 13
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Friday, March 14
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 20
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, March 21
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee