Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review--The Algerine Captive

The Algerine CaptiveThe Algerine Captive by Royall Tyler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Royall Tyler's "Barbary captive" narrative has the distinction of being known as the United States' first novel, and it's still a good read today for its take on events in the early republic. Supposedly it's the tale of a young New England doctor named Updike Underhill, who unknowingly signs aboard a slaver as ship's surgeon, only to end up captured by Algerian pirates and sold as a slave himself.

Royall Tyler uses the novel format as an opportunity to make statements about the horrors of American and African slavery, comment on life as a Christian in Muslim North Africa, and poke fun at some of the political and educational standards of his time.

For a writer of historical fiction, these works contemporary to the period in which one is writing can be a valuable research tool. I would recommend The Algerine Captive to anyone interested in the history of the early American nation.


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Monday, April 28, 2014

Review--The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812

The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 by Gene Allen Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent history of an overlooked part of American history and US/British conflicts. I knew about the Patriot War in Spanish Florida, and the role Blacks, Seminoles and Maroons played in driving back invading American forces, but I wasn't familiar with many of the other events involving slaves and free Blacks during the War of 1812.



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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review--Bitter Spirits

Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this Roaring 20's paranormal set in San Francisco. The characters were engaging, the mystery was solid, and the "woo-woo" factor was a good plot point without overwhelming the story. I especially enjoyed the research into the little tidbits that made the story of Chinatown, Prohibition and wealthy bootleggers come alive.

I'm looking forward to the next Roaring 20's historical by Ms. Bennett.


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Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring cleaning!

My spiffy new website is finished, and it's just in time for the Goodreads Giveaway of The Pirate's Secret Baby, happening now through May 31. And in case you missed the news, Amber Quill Press is discounting the related award-winning novels (Sea Change, Castaway Dreams) through April 30.

Now that the website's done and TPSB is out and about, my goal for May is to begin writing book number eight, with the working title of Mattie's Book. If you've read The Pirate's Secret Baby (and you know you want to read it!) you'll understand the title.

In the meantime, there is some actual spring cleaning going on at my house, much as I've tried to avoid it. It's so difficult to pick up that mop when my TBR shelves are groaning under the weight of all those books just waiting to be enjoyed. Ah well, they'll be my reward for clearing out the dust bunnies and getting ready for summer.

Enjoy your springtime, but don't forget to take time to read. You'll be more satisfied in the long run.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway of The Pirate's Secret Baby!

You can enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win one of four signed copies of The Pirate's Secret Baby, published by Amber Quill Press. The contest runs through May 31, but if you want it right now, you can purchase TPSB through AllRomance ebooks, Amber Quill Press or Amazon.

So enter the contest! You know you want hot pirates for your summer beach reading!



Monday, April 07, 2014

Review--The Rebel Pirate

The Rebel Pirate (Renegades of the Revolution)The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Donna Thorland's second "Renegades of the Revolution" novel is another winner in dealing with a period of American history not appreciated nearly enough by folks on both sides of the pond.

I liked how this second novel of the American War of Independence dealt with small ships. Think of the 13 Colonies as a long island, because almost all commerce and travel moved on the water. Shipping was vital to the war effort and to daily life, and Thorland's focus on the pirates, privateers and merchantmen of New England is an important story. All American schoolchildren learn about Gen. George Washington and the land battles at Lexington & Concord, Paul Revere's ride, the winter at Valley Forge, the final battle at Yorktown, but not enough teaching material focuses on the need for sea power to win independence.

I also liked how Thorland's research library overlapped so neatly with my own.[g]

If I could, I would give this novel 4.5 stars. There was a plot twist near the end involving a character moving to the Rebel side just a little too smoothly for my taste. However, it's close to five stars because overall the story is so good.

If you enjoyed The Turncoat, I think you'll enjoy the second novel in the "Renegades of the Revolution" trilogy. I'm anxious to read the third novel in the series.


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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Review--The Wedding Ring Quest

The Wedding Ring QuestThe Wedding Ring Quest by Carla Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This won't go down as my favorite Carla Kelly, but I enjoyed it. It's a romance about comfort food...and comfort. Capt. Ross Rennie and his young son are traveling to Scotland when they meet Mary Rennie at a coaching inn. Mary is a distant....waaaaaaay distant cousin on a quest: to find a fruitcake with a missing wedding ring baked inside it. No kidding.

Ross and Nathan are getting to know one another again after Ross' years at sea battling Napoleon, but when Ross meets Mary there's an instant connection, and it's not cousinly.

As this unlikely trio travels around Northern England and Scotland, the reader is drawn into their lonely lives--the naval captain who can't leave war behind, the spinster who longs for a bit of adventure, the boy who wants to know his absent father and have a real family.

Like most Kelly novels it's a gentle weepfest about good people, and her fans are sure to enjoy it. I don't know that it'll be one of her frequently recommended novels, like Reforming Lord Ragsdale, but it's still a delightful (if unseasonal) treat.


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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

New features from Amber Quill Press, including PayPal!

My publisher, Amber Quill Press, overhauled their website and added some great new features to make shopping easier and more enjoyable. From the website::

Changes and additions include...
•  Wireless eBook delivery to your Kindle or Kindle App!
 
•  Wish List feature
 
•  We are now accepting PayPal along with all major credit cards
 
•  Our new Log-In Feature will retain basic "check-out" information so you'll no longer have to enter your name, address, credit card info, etc. every time you make a purchase.
 
•  Now you can explore our Genre Pages using new filters: Book LengthPaperback Availability, andSeries Books. Additionally, you can select how many products will display on each genre page, as well as the order in which books will appear: whether alphabetically by title or by name of author, from the newest to oldest titles, or in order of price.
 
•  We are now offering a new Amber Rewards Program. For every $10 you spend, you earn Amber Reward points worth $1 toward a future purchase.


I encourage all my fans to see what's new at Amber Quill Press. My books are discounted, and shopping is easier than ever. If you've been wanting to check out my back list or get The Pirate's Secret Baby, now is the time!