Review: “You’d Be Mine” by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine (Erin Hahn)

Title: You’d Be Mine
Author: Erin Hahn
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Imprint: Wednesday Books
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
TW: Grief, trauma, alcoholism, drug use, parental death, mentions of suicide
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Teen country music stars find love in this sweet YA romance by debut author Erin Hahn.

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic deaths, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

I love music and I love stories. Combine those two elements together and you have me practically eating out of your hands. So you’d understand my excitement over Erin Hahn’s debut You’d Be Mine.

And it was a treat to read.

Summer, music, the sweetness of first love – You’d Be Mine has it all. I can’t remember the last time I fell in love so quickly with a YA contemporary. It completely reeled me in with its first few pages and had me swooning by chapter four. All of these was largely due to the story’s main characters, Annie and Clay.

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Annie and Clay were interesting characters. They were different from one another with their contrasting personalities and temperament, and yet they were still similar. Both had some serious emotional baggage – Annie with her parents and Clay with his brother. These unresolved issues and the different way they dealt and coped with them kept Annie and Clay from really acting on their obvious attraction. At the start, at least. The two young country stars, getting to know each other more and growing closer during their summer tour, eventually getting together close to the end.

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I really enjoyed reading this book. The sweet, satisfying ending of course factors in, but it was more than that. You’d Be Mine tackled grief and trauma, and the different ways people handle these two issues. Clay turned to alcohol to numb the pain of losing his grandfather and brother almost simultaneously. He was close to the edge, driving himself to his own destruction. Annie, meanwhile, became too careful, setting strict rules and boundaries for herself wanting to steer away from the path her parents took. These – their grief and trauma – was a big part of Annie and Clay’s story, and Erin Hahn did a great job tackling this element of their characters. It was realistic but was still handled with great care and sensitivity, something that I hugely appreciate as it opens up avenues for discussions in relation to these to very real issues.

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This was a character-driven story – Annie and Clay doing most of the labor with supporting characters adding more color and nuance – but it did not take anything away from the plot. It was still fun and sweet. The glimpses into the inner workings of the country music scene were definitely intriguing. Other readers got A Star is Born vibes from this book, and while I agree it did have that going for it, I was more reminded of two of my old time favorites – Nashville and ­Hart of Dixie – which was a nice surprise for me.

With characters you’d cheer for and a swoony romance, You’d Be Mine is the perfect summer read for YA contemporary lovers. Trust me, this book will definitely give you that funny butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling just by reading it. Erin Hahn may just be a new auto-buy author for me. I’m definitely going to look forward to any other future works of hers.

Author Q&A (2)

Erin Hahn

ERIN HAHN spent the first half of her life daydreaming in a small town in northern Illinois. She fell in love with words in college when she wrote for the campus paper, covering everything from drag shows to ice fishing and took way too much liberty with a history essay on the bubonic plague.

She started writing her own books when her little sister gave her shade about a country music-themed Twilight fanfic. By day, Erin gets to share her favorite stories with her elementary students. By night, she writes swoons. She married her own YA love interest whom she met on her first day of college and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Michigan, aka the greenest place on earth and has a cat, Gus, who plays fetch.

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First Line Fridays: “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday!

Today I’m going to be sharing to you the first couple of lines from my most recent read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls.

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Althea
You do a lot of thinking in jail. Especially when you’re locked in the box that’s your cell. Mine is about as big as the walk-in closet I had back at home, but in place of leather bags and slingbacks and racks of clothes, I’ve got bunk beds, a stainless-steel sink-and-toilet combo, and a compact, padlocked cabinet. The cabinet’s where you keep your valuables, like family pictures, commissary and letters, including the one from your daughter that’s not addressed to you. The letter that, truth be told, you just can’t bring yourself to read, so you’ve got it tucked inside the Bible that belonged to your dead mother.

I just finished this book a day ago and I’m still thinking about it. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was an emotional read, and a great debut at that. But, having read this right after I finished Tara Conklin’s The Last Romantics, it kind of fell a bit flat to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was an exceptionally written novel, the problem’s on my end. I’d talk about this more in my review, which I’m hoping to get posted within next week.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls releases next week, February 26.

Have a happy weekend!

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Rachel

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Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Connections in Death” J.D. Robb

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Hey there! Welcome to this week’s installment of CWW. Today I’m going to be sharing the latest installment of a long-time running favorite series of mine.

40122012Title: Connections in Death
Series: In Death #48
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads—and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering—whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison—and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

This is already the 48th installment of the In Death series, but it still excites me. It’s like getting to meet a friend you haven’t seen a while and catching up with them, that’s how it feels for me.

Nora posted an excerpt of this book on her blog Fall Into the Story. If you’re interested, here’s the link to that preview.

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Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?

 

Review: “A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts” by Therese Anne Fowler

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Title: A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts
Author: Therese Anne Fowler
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

 

Author Therese Anne Fowler shines a light on one of the Gilded Age’s most fascinating and misunderstood women in her newest fictional biography, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts.

In 1883, the New York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt’s Fifth Ave. costume ball – a coup for the former Alva Smith, who not long before was destitute, her family’s good name useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but socially scorned Vanderbilt clan, a union contrived by Alva’s best friend and now-Duchess of Manchester, saved the Smiths – and elevated the Vanderbilts.

From the outside, Alva seems to have it all and want more. She does have a knack for getting all she tries for: the costume ball – no mere amusement – wrests acceptance from doyenne Caroline Astor. Denied a box at the Academy of Music, Alva founds The Met. No obstacle puts her off for long.

But how much ambition arises from insecurity? From despair? From refusal to play insipid games by absurd rules? – There are, however, consequences to breaking those rules. One must tread carefully.

And what of her maddening sister-in-law, Alice? Her husband William, who’s hiding a terrible betrayal? The not-entirely-unwelcome attentions of his friend Oliver Belmont, who is everything William is not? What of her own best friend, whose troubles cast a wide net?

Alva will build mansions, push boundaries, test friendships, and marry her daughter to England’s most eligible duke or die trying. She means to do right by all, but good behavior will only get a woman so far. What is the price of going further? What might be the rewards? There’s only one way to know for certain…

I’ve always been a history nerd and with it comes my love for historical fiction, but I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know much about America’s Gilded Age and the families who ruled it like royalties – the Astors and Rockefellers, and, of course, the Vanderbilts. So, naturally, when I saw this book available on NetGalley, I immediately requested it wanting to know more.

And this one didn’t disappoint.

Written in the third person and in the style of an Edith Wharton novel, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts is a well-researched, informative and entertaining fictional biography focused mainly on Alva Belmont and her years as a Vanderbilt.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alva Smith – who later on became Alva Vanderbilt when she married W.K. Vanderbilt in 1875, then Alva Belmont when she married Oliver Hazard Belmont in 1896 – was a fascinating woman. She’s a contradiction: head strong and confident, driven, ambitious, and a forward thinker even in today’s standards, but at the same time she’s insecure and so full of doubts and fears about herself, her family and their place in society.

Alva is a tough woman in a time when society expects women to stay in the background, arm candies to their rich and powerful husbands. It was just so easy to like her, though, by all means, she did do a whole lot of things with questionable reasons (pushing, almost to the point of forcing, her daughter Consuelo to marry the Duke of Marlborough for one). But that’s just one of the things that make Alva, Alva.

A lot of Fowler’s main character’s concerns may not be relevant to us now (Societal standing be damned) but some of Alva’s struggles like not letting her philandering first husband and his overbearing family (especially her sister-in-law) walk all over her still hits home. Truly, I cannot imagine myself living in her time. Put in her place, I might just punch someone, cause a big scandal and live as a pariah my whole life! My personal thoughts aside, I appreciate how Fowler was able to humanize this deeply interesting woman who lived more than a hundred years ago for a modern-day reader like me. She felt closer – reachable – and it was this that made this book enjoyable for me.

The book, the way it was written, may not work for everyone though. The dialogues may sound too formal, some parts moving too slow at points, but I think these are all justified given Fowler wrote this novel emulating the style of writing particular to that period. One thing I wished this one had more though was Alva’s involvement with the Suffragette Movement. While the end of the book and the long (but informative) author’s note tackled it, I still wanted more and couldn’t help thinking how much more interesting it would be to read about Alva’s part in the movement in story form.

That said, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts is still an engrossing read. I enjoyed this one a whole lot, learning as I read. I definitely recommend it to readers of historical fiction.

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About the Author:

72904080THERESE ANNE FOWLER is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Raised in the Midwest, she migrated to North Carolina in 1995. She holds a B.A. in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing from North Caroline State University.

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Blog Tour + Review & Author Q&A:”I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

37638243Title: I Do Not TrusYou

Authors: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

Get it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

A teenaged girl and a young man become an uneasy allies as they set on an epic quest in writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz’s newest offering I Do Not Trust You.

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust him.

Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

I went into this book almost blind. It was my first time reading anything from Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns (not unless you count watching Roswell), so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But this one surprised me in a good way.

I Do Not Trust You is what you will get if you throw Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider into a blender and add in a dash of The Mummy (the original one, okay, the one with Brendan Fraser). With an intriguing plot filled with adventure, danger, mysterious groups and vengeful ancient gods, this book will reel in readers from the first page up to its last.

The two main characters – Memphis, or simply “M” and Ash – are both bring different things into the story. M, having grown up in various archeological digs with her archeologist dad and doctor mom, have acquired an extraordinary knowledge of ancient history and dead languages. She’s awesome in a fight, too. Ash, meanwhile, brings in a bit more mystery into the story. A part of a cult worshipping the ancient Egyptian god Horus, he bankrolls their adventure and uses what he knows about the mythical god and his nemesis, Set.

It was interesting to read how M and Ash work together. They want different things with M wanting to rescue the father she thought had died in a plane crash and Ash being tasked by his group to retrieve an ancient map which points out where pieces of a mystical statue of Set are hidden. They start out forging an uneasy alliance out of necessity, but, by the end of the book, the two have earned each other’s trust.

The globe-trotting M and Ash’s duo undertook to retrieve the Set pieces was another aspect of the story that I loved. Oh! All those places! It was, essentially, a fun scavenger hunt. Still, the authors were able to incorporate bits of history and culture into the story’s narrative in a way that flowed well. It was just awesome!

The book had a couple of flaws, though. The way Memphis quickly puzzles together the clues they find is sometimes unbelievable. I get it, she grew up with an archeologist father and she does know her stuff. Still, I just find it too easy of a way out for both characters, though it does move the story. Also, that abrupt ending! I’m sure I won’t be alone in this opinion. It was sort of open-ended and it left me hanging.

Overall, I Do Not Trust You is an entertaining read. Readers will find adventure within the pages of this book by the truckload. I’d recommend this to YA fantasy and mythology fans.

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blog tour i do not trust you (1)

I was lucky to have a chance to ask Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns about their new book I Do Not Trust You. Read on to find out what inspired them to write the ancient battle between Horus and Set, and how they work as co-authors.

Rachel: You’ve been writing as a duo for a long time now. How do you make it work with Laura living in New York & Melinda in North Carolina? Who writes what and so on?

Laura & Melinda: Even when we both lived in New York City, we’d mostly do our work together on the phone or over email. Because we’re lazy, is what we’re saying. We both prefer to stay at home and spend our days in pajamas.

We work out plots and character arcs in hours-long phone sessions. Once we have those, we take turns outlining. We’ll email the draft outline back and forth with notes to each other until we’re happy with it. (These days we use a shared document, because technology is good.) When one of us gets stumped, usually the other can fix the problem. After the outline is finished, we split it in half and each of us writes one half. Then we revise it, over and over, taking turns. The trick is that we decide in advance what the voice should be, how each character should sound. We know each other’s writing so well that we can match the tone pretty well, and anything that doesn’t match gets edited when we put it all together. Neither of us is precious about our writing–we are as comfortable changing each other’s words as we are changing our own. It all comes down to trust.

R: Your upcoming book involves some mythology, Egyptian mythology to be exact. What made you decide on weaving it into M’s and Ash’s story?

L & M: No lie, we attempt to weave Egyptian mythology into whatever we can! One of our earliest discoveries about each other was that we both loved the book The Egypt Game when we were kids. Usually, though, the stories we write don’t leave much room for Egypt. But this book was about a treasure hunt of sorts, and our minds immediately went to Egyptian artifacts. (Fortuitously, our editor is also an Egyptian mythology fangirl. One of the many things we love about her.) The Horus and Set story seemed a natural, since it involves the goddess Isis searching for the scattered pieces of her husband’s body the same way our characters were searching for scattered pieces of a statue.

R: Lastly, could you summarize your book using 3 emojis?

L & M:

🗺     ðŸ“œ     ðŸŒ‹

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About the authors:

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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Special thanks goes to Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz for giving me their time for this Q&A, and Brittani Hilles at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.

Blog Tour + Author Q&A: Sarah Bird

Bird - Author Image (credit Sarah Wilson)

With already 10 books under her belt, Sarah Bird is already a veteran author. But, somehow, her latest release Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is extra close to her heart. Lightly based on the life of the only known female Buffalo Soldier, Cathy Williams, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen shines a light on an inspiring, feisty woman.

In this author Q&A, Sarah talks about what inspired her new book, her writing process, and a little bit about what’s in store for her in the future.

 

Rachel: How did you decide to take on writing about Cathay Williams? What about her did you find the most compelling?

Sarah Bird: I first heard about Cathy Williams’ extraordinary feat of disguising herself as a man and serving for two years in the Buffalo Soldiers way back in the late nineteen-seventies when I was photographing and documenting African-American rodeos.

My imagination was seized by the tale of a slave who, at the end of the Civil War, made the singular decision to reject the life of servitude she would have had as a woman, and enlisted with one of the six new regiments formed by the U.S. Army. If this story were true, I thought, then Cathy Williams was the first woman to serve in the regular U.S. military. Though hundreds of women had passed as men during both the Revolutionary and Civil War, I had not heard of any who’d done so during peacetime.

Perhaps because I am the daughter of two warriors–a career Air Force officer and an Army nurse who served from Casa Blanca to Marseilles–who grew up on military bases around the world with an understanding of the power of a uniform, the power of the salute, I felt a special affinity with a woman who shared that understanding and tried to learn more about her. Back in those pre-Internet days, however, I found no trace of Cathy Williams, Buffalo Soldier, and assumed the fabulous story was apocryphal.

Cathy did not return to me until 1988, when, pregnant with our son, I attended a childbirth class taught by Pam Black, teacher at a predominantly African-American school. When she learned that I was a novelist, Pam told me I “had to” write a book about a forgotten hero that her students, especially the girls, needed to know, Cathy Williams. Before I had time to tell her that there never was a female Buffalo Soldier, Pam handed me copies of Cathy’s enlistment certificate, discharge, and her application for a pension. Thrilled to know that she was real, I quickly hunted down the rest of what little documentation exists about Cathy Williams.

The more I learned, the more “inhabited” I felt by Cathy and, with her slender archive as a trellis, her imagined life twined through me and, after many more twists and turns, blossomed into a tale as majestic as her decision had been.

R: How much research went to making this book?

SB: A ton!! Fortunately, I live in a city with a world-class university library system, including one library that specializes in the history of the West. They provided me with a wealth of material. I also traveled to Fort Davis, six hours away in West Texas, many times. I used this fully restored fort which had once been regimental headquarters for the Buffalo Soldiers as the setting for Cathy’s service in the West. I also benefited from visiting the Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston which allows visitors to handle artifacts.

R: What’s the biggest takeaway do you want readers to have from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen?

SB: What has always inspired me the most was the example of a woman presented with nothing but horrible choices, imagining herself into a better life than any on offer. I am thrilled by the pioneers and heroes among us who find a way when there is no way.

Second, I’d like readers to take away the certain knowledge that, as far as we know, Cathy Williams was the first woman, of any race, to enlist in the regular, peacetime armed forces. One hundred and twenty years before the act that allowed women to enlist in the regular army was signed into law in 1948.

R: You’ve been writing historical fiction since the 80s, and while most of it is built on real events and people at its base you still add some things into the story. How do you decide what things to add into your stories and how do you balance this out with the historical foundations of your stories?

SB: Such a great question. I sort of think it as building a fire. The research is the kindling, the logs, the careful addition of the right material at the right time. The story is the flame. Too little fuel and it fizzles out. Too much and the fire is suffocated, buried beneath the weight of too much research. For me, one of the major dangers is falling in love with some juicy nugget or astounding fact that I’ve unearthed then, sort of, deforming the story to shoehorn it in. I won’t point to specific examples in my own work, but , as far as research goes, I’ve learned to kill my darlings.

R: Do you have another book in the works?

SB: Yes, I am researching the story of a doomed love affair set in the world of dance marathons during the Great Depression. And, boy oh boy, are there ever some juicy nuggets!

R: When you aren’t writing, what things keep you busy?

SB: The heart of Austin, for me, is Barton Springs, a three-acre, limestone-bedded pool where the water is 68 degrees all year round. I go there to swim, think out plot points, and abate anxiety.

R: Lastly, if you could described Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen in 3 words, what would it be?

SB: I can’t do any better than my friend, the wondrous Christina Baker Kline who described the novel as, “an epic page-turner.” I always imagined Cathy’s story as larger than life and attempted to write a book of that scope.

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About the author:

SARAH BIRD’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.

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To celebrate the release of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, I am, with the help of St. Martin’s Press, giving away a copy of this amazing book. Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link below. This is open to everyone. (Yes, even you wonderful international readers! Yes, of course, you!)

Also, if you haven’t yet, please check out my review of the book.

I am so thankful and happy to be given a chance to be a part of the blog tour for this very special book. Special thanks goes to Sarah Bird for giving me her time for this Q&A and Clare Maurer at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.

Review + Giveaway: “Daughter of a Daughter of Queen” by Sarah Bird

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Title: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Author: Sarah Bird

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan

Publication Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Get it:

IndieBound | Book DepositoryBarnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

Sarah Bird shines a light on the only known female Buffalo Soldier Cathay/Cathy Williams in her newest offering Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen.

“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it”

Though born into bondage on a “miserable tobacco farm” in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to consider herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive destined by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Philip Henry “Smash ’em Up” Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war’s end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Alone now in the ultimate man’s world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she also vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman’s fight for freedom, respect and independence.

I admit, aside from having to memorize and perform Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in junior year English class (for which I got an A), I know almost nothing about the American Civil War. It’s always been a point of interest though, so when I got an email asking if I’d want to read an advanced copy of a book set at the tail-end of the civil war featuring a woman, a freed slave, who disguised herself as a man to join the army, I immediately said yes.

And I’m totally giving myself a good job pat on my shoulder for making that decision.

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is an engaging novel, vividly re-imagining historical figures and events. I totally fell in love with this story. It has everything I could ever ask for  – captivating writing, interesting and nuanced supporting characters, action, and romance.

But, as important as those elements are, where Sarah Bird really excelled is at writing her main character.

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From the get-go, I was compelled by Cathy Williams’ character. She’s strong and feisty and proud. Having been raised by strong, proud women – her mother and grandmother – Cathy’s will remain unbroken even through years of bondage and servitude. She’s still sarcastically witty, gutsy, and resilient, and I admired her more for it. The things she has gone through, I can only imagine just how hard it had been for her, but still, she pushes and comes through in the end.

As is the case with historical fiction, this book is a mix of researched facts and the authors creative leeway. Sometimes a book may be bogged down by these creative add-ons, but Bird managed to balance it, taking what bits of history there is about Cathy Williams and weaving it into a story of her own making while tackling racial issues that are still very much relevant today.

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This was an almost flawless book for me. What kept it from getting a five-star rating is its slow pacing down the middle parts and the nonmention of Lincoln’s assassination (whereas Andrew Jackson was brought up).

Overall, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a great, important read. Whether you’re a historical fiction lover or not, I believe this is one book you’ll enjoy and treasure. I definitely recommend this book.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

To celebrate the release of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, I am, with the help of St. Martin’s Press, giving away a copy of this amazing book. Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link below. This is open to everyone. (Yes, even you wonderful international readers! Yes, of course, you!) The giveaway runs until the end of September 11. I’ll be picking a winner on September 12.

I am so thankful and happy to be given a chance to be a part of the blog tour for this very special book. Special thanks goes to Sarah Bird and Clare Maurer at St. Martin’s Press.

First Line Fridays: “Leverage in Death” by J.D. Robb

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday!

First week of September done, just like that. If you’ve read my August wrap-up, you’ll know that I’ve set up quite a challenge for myself this month, and I think I’m off to a good start. I’ve already finished one book (yay!) and am well into my second one. I only took a quick break from it to write this post.

My FLF pick today is one I’ve been waiting to come up since, well, since it was announced.

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Thou shalt not kill.

Paul Rogan didn’t consider himself a religious man, but that commandment played over and over his head as he stepped into the lobby. As his wing tips clicked on the polished marble floor, those four words beat inside him.

 

 

 

Leverage in Death is the 47th book in J.D. Robb’s long-running crime thriller/romance series. I already have the e-book (and waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive in the mail) and I’m excited to start reading it. I have to postpone it though since I have to finish my blog tour books. I think I can get to it next week, so, that’s something I’m really looking forward to. I can’t wait to see just what case Eve is handling in this one (sounds like it involve suicide bombing). Also, as it is with series, it’s always fun to catch up with all the series’ regular cast. It almost feels like seeing old friends you haven’t seen in a while.

What are you guys and gals reading today? Hit me up with ’em, won’t you. 🙂

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

 

Can’t-Wait Wednesday:”I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Happy Wednesday everyone!

This is my first CWW post in a while. I’ve missed posting for two weeks in part because I’ve been busy at work and, well, I forgot. I’m trying not to kick myself for it, but I should have known better and scheduled posts ahead of time knowing how busy the end of each month is for me at work. It’s another lesson I need to learn, I guess.

Anyway, today’s CWW pick is pretty special. I’ve been looking to blab about this book more than a month now.

37638243Memphis “M” Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help. 

From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer t

they get to destroying the world.

I’ve only started this book today, got until the third chapter before I remembered I haven’t posted for CWW yet. Yeah, you can say I’m pretty absorbed right now. This one has treasure hunting and Egyptian myth and a crazy, fanatical group – really, I’m excited to see how all of these pan out!

Another thing I’m really excited for? Well, I’m happy to be a part of St. Martin’s blog tour for this book! I will be posting my content on the 9th, that’s this coming Sunday. But to tease you a bit, here’s a short sneak peek at I Do Not Trust You.

I Do Not Trust You releases next week, September 11.

 

First Line Fridays: “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen” by Sarah Bird

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Heya! It’s Friday!

I’m pretty excited to share my FLF pick for today because I have something special coming up next week related to it.

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Here’s the fist thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am a daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just started reading Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen yesterday and I’m hooked. I couldn’t put it down. Cathy Williams is such an interesting character, tough and proud and brave. Also, I think the fact that I haven’t read much historical fiction set during the years when the Civil War happened made reading this all the more “more.” I learn and enjoy both at the same thing, which is really something.

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen comes out next week, September 4, and I’m excited to announce that I’m part of the blog tour for it. I was lucky to have a Q&A with the author, Sarah Bird. I will be putting up that post next week on the 8th, along with a giveaway, so stick along for that.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.