Liebster Award!

I have been nominated by: My Personal Thing and A Scholarly Skater. Thank you both so much for the nomination! ❤


Here are the official rules for the Liebster Award nomination:

  • Each nominee must have under 200 followers
  • Thank and link to the nominating blog
  • Answer their 10 questions and propose 10 new ones for your nominees
  • Nominate 10 blogs and tell them that they’ve been nominated
  • Write a post containing the questions
  • Include these rules in the postth_SNOOPYreading_bookMy Questions for my nominees: 

    1. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose and why?
    2. If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would you choose? (You can pick more than one–have  a dinner party!)
    3. What’s your favorite color?
    4. Books or movies?
    5. If you could go on an adventure to anywhere, with anyone, what would you pick?
    6. Favorite tv show?
    7. What do you love about blogging?
    8. What do you hate about blogging?
    9.Where is your favorite place to be?
    10. Tell a random fact about yourself!

    My nominees are:
    {I’m sorry there’s not 10!}

    swirl-divider-purple-smallI’ve answered both series of questions from those who nominated me:
    1. Favourite game?
    Well, if you mean like a board game, I’m going to go with Monopoly. I was terrible at it as a kid, but I’ve gotten better at it. Computer games, I’m going with the Assassin’s Creed series.

    2. Anything you would like to learn that you haven’t learned already?/
    I’d like to learn French and Spanish.

    3. What is your dream job?
    To work at Colonial Williamsburg.

    4. Films or books?
    I love both! Do I have to choose?

    5. Furthest place you have traveled to?
    Roatan, Honduras. I was on a cruise. We also stopped in Cozumel, Mexico, Belize and Grand Cayman Island.

    6. Favourite part about blogging?

    All the wonderful people I’ve met. :]

    7. Most memorable part about blogging?

    Getting to talk to authors I might not have ever gotten to meet and to talk about their work.

    8. Favourtie song?

    All time? Ugh, you’re killing me! Haha. “Let It Be” by the Beatles.

    9. Favourite musical artist/band?
    Artist: Right now, I’m really into Sam Smith.
    Band: Backstreet Boys. (LoL, I know.)

    10. Favourite artistic/creative artist?
    Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo. I also like Renaissance art.


Pick any work of art or artifact from any time or place to display in your home. Feel free to ignore all practical concerns when answering this question.

This is such an awesome question. I would take La Scapigliata by Leonardo da Vinci. I’d want to have a Da Vinci Code-esque adventure to get it first though, lol.

What was your major in college and why did you pick it?
I didn’t actually finish college, but I had hoped to major in history with a minor in British Literature. I love history and I really enjoy BritLit.

Imagine that you wake up one morning and have a rare day off, with no responsibilities whatsoever. How do you spend the day?
Sleeping, haha.

Describe your personal sense of style by referring to the characters or pop culture icons it most resembles.
<—Basically my style, lol.

Who is your role model and why?

I don’t think I really have one. I’m just kind of me and  I don’t want to look up to someone who will disappoint. But if I had to pick, perhaps I’d pick Alice Roosevelt, Theodore’s daughter. He once commented, “I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.” So, that tells you something about her. 🙂

What is your favorite non-fiction book (because everyone always asks about fiction)?

Do you think a movie can ever be better than the book it’s based upon? (I know I’m being scandalous here!)
It can! Forrest Gump is a perfect example because Book!Forrest is actually a bit of an ass and he’s mean! Movie!Forrest is just perfect. He’s emotional in a way that I don’t think book version is. I just love the movie version so much more. (And Tom Hanks is just amazing to me.)

What is your dream job (real or invented)?
I answered this, but I’d really love to work at Colonial Williamsburg. 🙂 I just love it there.

What would the title of your memoir be?
“God bless you, blow your nose.’
I have terrible allergies and I’m always sneezing…so my mom always says that to me. I joked I’d name my memoirs said title.

Would you rather have an unlimited, forever-replenishing supply of good books, cute clothing, or yummy snacks?

I have so many books and snacks are easy to come by. But I’m a big girl, so cute clothing in my size would be fantastic!

Pick a foreign language that you want to learn.
Well, I said French and Spanish already, but I’d also like to learn how to speak Italian or Greek.

Angels at the Gate: {A Review}

02_Angels at the Gate_CoverPublication Date: March 5, 2015
Cappuccino Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Based on historical, biblical, and archaeological research, visits to the Middle East, and a large measure of creativity, ANGELS AT THE GATE is the story of Adira, destined to become Lot’s wife. A daughter of Abram’s tribe, Adira is an impetuous young girl whose mother died in childbirth. Secretly raised as a boy in her father’s caravan and schooled in languages and the art of negotiation, Adira rejects the looming changes of womanhood that threaten her nomadic life and independence.

But with the arrival of two mysterious strangers – Northmen rumored to be holy or possibly even “Angels” – Adira’s world unravels. Raiders invade the caravan, and she loses everything she values most – her father, her freedom, and even the “Angels.”

Caught between her oath to her father to return to her tribe and the “proper life for a woman” and tormented by an impossible love, she abandons all she has known in a dangerous quest to seek revenge and find her kidnapped “Angel.” With only her beloved dog, Nami, at her side, Adira must use the skills she learned in the caravan to survive the perils of the desert, Sodom, and her own heart.

ANGELS AT THE GATE is a story of adventure and the power of love, exploring themes about choice – the importance of asking the right questions and walking the fine edge between duty and personal freedom.

Based on a simple mention in the Bible, T.K. Thorne has developed a complex and full-bodied character in the wife of Lot, a woman both ancient and modern, who will touch readers’ hearts, and live in their memories for years to come. As Dianne Mooney, founder of Southern Living At Home says, “For all those whose curiosity is piqued by how it might have been in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, this is a must read!”

Praise for Angels at the Gate

“ANGELS AT THE GATE is nothing short of a masterwork–superbly and eloquently written, solidly researched and a high-speed page-turner. Readers will be swept up in a story they can’t put down.” –Elsa D. Ruther, editor,The Nifty Pickle

“A masterpiece of historical research, interweaving history and theology in a re-visioning of an ancient story from a woman’s perspective. Thorne is a dazzlingly gifted writer.” –Sue Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama, 2003-2012

“Thorne unspools an ancient adventure with crackling undertones of our contemporary lives. Lean, polished action sequences render a young woman’s life with both intensity and nuanced truth.” –Dale Short, public radio commentator and author of A Shinning, Shinning Path


This was my first reading of a novel by T.K Thorne and I’m going to safely say that this is not my last. Biblical fiction is becoming something of interest to me, even though I am not particularly religious. (I attended catholic school for eight years, but I’m more spiritual than anything. However, despite that fact about me, I had always found the story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt when departing from the city of Sodom when she looked back as interesting, but not truthful. I was happy to read the author’s own creative spin on Adira’s life and appreciated all the detail that was put into it. It is an alternate history but a satisfying one.

Sometimes biblical novels are preachy and I spend most of the time wanting to throw it across the room, but it wasn’t like that in this book. I give my utmost kudos for being able to keep me mostly engaged. As biblical books often do, I often ponder why in the bible women are sometimes nameless and why we’re not given a story about them, but I think the men who wrote the book just went with the times and wrote them off as irrelevant. Pity that is.

My rating: 3star

Buy Angels at the Gate

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About the Author03_Author TK. Thorne

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” When she retired as a captain, she took on Birmingham’s business improvement district as the executive director. Both careers provide fodder for her writing, which has garnered several awards, including “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” (ForeWord Reviews) for her debut novel Noah’s Wife. Her first non-fiction book, Last Chance for Justice, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. She loves traveling, especially to research her novels, and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home, often with two dogs by her side and a cat on her lap.

She blogs at and her web site is You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Sign Up for T.K. Thorne’s newsletter.

Angels at the Gate Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 23
Review at Genre Queen
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, March 26
Review at Room With Books
Review at Unshelfish

Friday, March 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review at Broken Teepee

Saturday, March 28
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 31
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, April 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Monday, April 6
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, April 9
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Monday, April 13
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, April 16
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Friday, April 17
Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past


To enter to win a Hardcover copy of Angels at the Gate please complete the giveaway form below. Five copies are up for grabs!

  • Giveaway is open to US residents only.
  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 17th.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
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  • Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 18th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
  • Please email Amy @ with any questions.

Angels at the Gate

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I Am Lincoln {A Review}

02_I Am AbrahamPB Publication Date: February 9, 2015
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Paperback; 480p

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Narrated in Lincoln’s own voice, the tragicomic I Am Abraham promises to be the masterwork of Jerome Charyn’s remarkable career.

Since publishing his first novel in 1964, Jerome Charyn has established himself as one of the most inventive and prolific literary chroniclers of the American landscape. Here in I Am Abraham, Charyn returns with an unforgettable portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated boldly in the first person, I Am Abraham effortlessly mixes humor with Shakespearean-like tragedy, in the process creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President.

Tracing the historic arc of Lincoln’s life from his picaresque days as a gangly young lawyer in Sangamon County, Illinois, through his improbable marriage to Kentucky belle Mary Todd, to his 1865 visit to war-shattered Richmond only days before his assassination, I Am Abraham hews closely to the familiar Lincoln saga. Charyn seamlessly braids historical figures such as Mrs. Keckley—the former slave, who became the First Lady’s dressmaker and confidante—and the swaggering and almost treasonous General McClellan with a parade of fictional extras: wise-cracking knaves, conniving hangers-on, speculators, scheming Senators, and even patriotic whores.

We encounter the renegade Rebel soldiers who flanked the District in tattered uniforms and cardboard shoes, living in a no-man’s-land between North and South; as well as the Northern deserters, young men all, with sunken, hollowed faces, sitting in the punishing sun, waiting for their rendezvous with the firing squad; and the black recruits, whom Lincoln’s own generals wanted to discard, but who play a pivotal role in winning the Civil War. At the center of this grand pageant is always Lincoln himself, clad in a green shawl, pacing the White House halls in the darkest hours of America’s bloodiest war.

Using biblically cadenced prose, cornpone nineteenth-century humor, and Lincoln’s own letters and speeches, Charyn concocts a profoundly moral but troubled commander in chief, whose relationship with his Ophelia-like wife and sons—Robert, Willie, and Tad—is explored with penetrating psychological insight and the utmost compassion. Seized by melancholy and imbued with an unfaltering sense of human worth, Charyn’s President Lincoln comes to vibrant, three-dimensional life in a haunting portrait we have rarely seen in historical fiction.

Praise for I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War

“Thoughtful, observant and droll.” — Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review

“Not only the best novel about President Lincoln since Gore Vidal’s Lincoln in 1984, but it is also twice as good to read.” — Gabor Boritt, author of The Lincoln Enigma and recipient of the National Humanities Medal

“Jerome Charyn [is] a fearless writer… Brave and brazen… The book is daringly imagined, written with exuberance, and with a remarkable command of historical detail. It gives us a human Lincoln besieged by vividly drawn enemies and allies… Placing Lincoln within the web ordinary and sometimes petty human relations is no small achievement.” — Andrew Delbanco, New York Review of Books

“Audacious as ever, Jerome Charyn now casts his novelist’s gimlet eye on sad-souled Abraham Lincoln, a man of many parts, who controls events and people—wife, sons, a splintering nation—even though they often are, as they must be, beyond his compassion or power. Brooding, dreamlike, resonant, and studded with strutting characters, I Am Abraham is as wide and deep and morally sure as its wonderful subjects.” — Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compassion: 1848-1877

“If all historians—or any historian—could write with the magnetic charm and authoritative verve of Jerome Charyn, American readers would be fighting over the privilege of learning about their past. They can learn much from this book—an audacious, first-person novel that makes Lincoln the most irresistible figure of a compelling story singed with equal doses of comedy, tragedy, and moral grandeur. Here is something beyond history and approaching art.” — Harold Holzer, chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation

“Jerome Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature.” — Michael Chabon

“Jerome Charyn is merely one of our finest writers with a polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing. Whatever milieu he chooses to inhabit, his characters sizzle with life, and his sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable.” — Jonathan Lethem

“Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer—so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible.” — Tom Bissell

“One of our most intriguing fiction writers takes on the story of Honest Abe, narrating the tale in Lincoln’s voice and offering a revealing portrait of a man as flawed as he was great.” — Abbe Wright, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Jerome Charyn, like Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg’s superb 2012 movie, manages a feat of ventriloquism to be admired… Most of all, Lincoln comes across as human and not some remote giant… With that, Jerome Charyn has given Lincoln a most appropriate present for what would have been his 205th birthday this month: rebirth not as a marble memorial but as a three-dimensional human who overcame much to save his nation.” — Erik Spanberg, Christian Science Monitor

“Daring… Memorable… Charyn’s richly textured portrait captures the pragmatism, cunning, despair, and moral strength of a man who could have empathy for his bitterest foes, and who ‘had never outgrown the forest and a dirt floor.’” — The New Yorker


Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be president? Any president, really. I once imagined being George Washington when I was a little girl. As I got older, I wanted a book like that. I wanted to be put into the mindset of a president and to see things from their point of view, even if it’s fictional. So, paint me a happy woman when I was contacted to review ‘I Am Abraham’. I did not hesitate because firstly, it’s what I wanted and secondly, I find that there’s a severe lack of American Historical Fiction. Now, mind you, I did try once to read a book about Mary Todd Lincoln that was from her point of view…and well, I just didn’t enjoy that. (Click her name and it will take you to my review of ‘The Emancipator’s Wife’.) So, alright, I did worry I might not like it but I was not too disappointed at all. In fact, I loved this book as much as I loved the film, Lincoln.

To fully jump into the role of our 16th President and to do it so effortlessly is really something amazing. from the use of proper language and phrases and to the descriptions of where he was, what he aimed to do…brilliant. I do think though, that there are flaws, such as his fixation on the female body and how Mary was portrayed.She is never portrayed as a being a woman with a mental illness; she is always written as being crazy or maddeningly annoying, It was also very interesting to me and I think that this is something that people forget with how much we glorify him, that he didn’t view himself as anyone great. He was a man elected to office right as we were going to war. He was not the Great Emancipator yet, he wasn’t any of the things that we refer to him as. Not yet anyway…and even then, I don’t imagine that Lincoln would have taken to referring himself as those things.

I think that’s what I loved so much; was that he was written as a simple man, with his own ideals on things. We see him as a husband, a father, a man who very clearly works to end the war between the states. I liked seeing this human side to him. We very often glorify people and forget that they too are/were mortal. We only seem to recollect the things he did but never consider, what was Abraham like? The author illustrates this perfectly for us and I couldn’t be happier to have read that. And we are reminded how mortal Lincoln was. We are reminded that he had hopes for the future, that he wanted to travel…there’s so much and one shot of a gun changed all of that. The man who had endured so much in his life, who was looking forward to taking some pleasure in it…was denied that.

I often wonder–what would the rest of his presidency have brought us had he not been killed? Just some food for thought.

I think you’ll really enjoy this book if you’re willing to put aside the glorified view of Lincoln and are willing to see the man, not the legend. The author did a wonderful job of researching and it shows in every page. Yes, the book is a bit long and some sections could have been shortened, but it wasn’t unpleasant. I hope you’ll give it a try. Let me know what you all think of it. (Also, if you listen to the movie soundtrack of “Lincoln”, whilst reading it’s a rather cool experience.)

My rating:4Star


Postscript: My deepest apologies to the author for the lateness in which this review reaches him. I hope you will forgive me.

Buy the Paperback

Amazon || Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Jerome Charyn is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.” New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,”and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American 03_Jerome Charyn_Author Photowriters.” Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009. In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, “The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong.” Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

For more information please visit Jerome Charyn’s website. You can also find him on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Voila! Mademoiselle Chanel! {A Review}

MCPublication Date: March 17, 2015
William Morrow/HarperCollins
Formats: Hardover, eBook, Audio Book

Genre: Historical Fiction

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DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her.

An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story.

Praise for Mademoiselle Chanel

“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)

“In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl)

“A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls)

“From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex)

“Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review)

“Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist)

“Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Untitled-2Coco Chanel.

It is a name that almost everyone knows, even if you own nothing Chanel. The intertwined C logo, the infamous perfume, yes…Chanel is a legend, a true trailblazer in the fashion world. In a time where a woman was expected to stay home, have babies and be a good wife. Chanel eschewed those things and the rest, shall we say is history?

I admit that I knew very little about her life, just her name and always have admired the brand. It’s way out of my price range–unfortunately!–but thanks to C.W Gortner, I have learned a great deal about the tour de force that was Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. I have also been blown away by Mr. Gortner’s writing because he transported me from my room to Chanel’s world in France, England, Switzerland…et cetera. It was a delight to be taken on such a grand tour, seeing her evolve from an (essentially) orphaned girl to the most popular designer in the world. Such was her influence that she was the only designer listed on Time Magazine’s ‘Top 100 most influential people of the 20th century.’ Her tenacity and spirit was exemplary considering the many hurdles she was made to endure.

Now, this is not to say that I love Chanel the woman; rather, she does seem unlikable at times–a tyrant, a possible spy for the Germans, she was rather known for anti-semitism and for being homophobic…she is a very flawed woman and can come off, as I said, as unlikable. Yet, Mr. Gortner’s skillful writing makes her shine and you do find yourself rooting for her at times. In a world dominated by men and by propriety, she was an outcast. Her style was entirely her own, her looks–boyish figure, short hair and suntanned–she never married but had many lovers. She was a trailblazer.  If it weren’t for her, I don’t think there would be many women designers out there. Not without the doors she opened and strode through.

I absolutely love that it was written from first person perspective. It always helps me to connect more with the character and to see things from their eyes. This isn’t to discredit third person perspectives, but I feel more connected to first person. I mean, the pain she felt when Boy died in an accident, her anger, her desire…all her emotions poured into every page, drawing you in to the point of you feeling those same emotions…how can you not enjoy a book like that?

Mr. Gortner is more well-known for his Spymaster series and novels about varying Queens (Catherine de Medici, Isabella of Castille, Juana (Catherine of Aragon’s sister)…so this was a departure–but it was certainly a very successful one! His next novel, “Vatican Princess” is due out later this year or next year. (A book about Lucrezia Borgia always has my attention!)

I highly, highly recommend this and I’m sorry that this review doesn’t seem to encompass the spirit of the book but just know that I really want you to go and check this out! 🙂

Rating: 4auqZQi



C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, andYouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Excerpt: Mademoiselle Chanel.

We’re very lucky to have an excerpt from this wonderful novel! I hope you enjoy it and please be sure to visit the author on Facebook, Twitter and his official site! Links are provided in the review post. 🙂

                One night, I asked Boy to meet me for dinner in the casino. We had spent several evenings there in the company of his friends—people I’d never met who also lived in Paris, who welcomed him with a familiarity that made me clench my teeth. Among them were long-nosed, beautiful women shimmering with jewels who eyed me from behind languid swishes of their fans. I could practically hear their cruel appraisal of the tradeswoman whom Arthur Capel had seen fit to take up with. I was determined to show them who I truly was.

                   In a boutique in town, I bought a white silk dress that clung to the body, supple and tucked high at the waist, a dress for sultry nights, unlike any I had seen in Paris. Pairing it with a length of pearls that Boy had given me, I sauntered into the casino with my hair swept back into a chignon at the nape of my neck, held by a piqué band; my long throat and arms were tan from the sun, a touch of kohl at my eyes enhanced their luster.

                Boy waited at the table. As he saw me approach, he stood with a knowing smile and drew out my chair. Around us, the haut monde dined on caviar and poached salmon in mint sauce. Champagne by the gallon cooled in buckets of ice. I paused, marking my prey, then leaned to Boy and grazed his cheek with my lips. I heard the rustle of alarm ripple through the dining room, as if the walls had turned to tissue, an urgent susurration as all eyes shifted to watch me sit, not across from Boy as was customary, but directly by his side.

The rest of our table’s chairs, as I had ensured, were empty.

               After dinner, they gathered in the mirrored salon to greet me. I was at my most charming, exchanging witticisms and bestowing smiles as though I mixed with such company every hour of every day. With that uncanny intuition women have for threats, I was besieged at the end of the evening for my card, along with promises that as soon as they returned to Paris, they would call upon me at my shop.

“So daring,” they said, “this bronze color of yours. Do you not fear getting spots from the sun? No? And that dress and pearls—oh, my dear, it’s sublime. You say you make hats? Well, I simply must see them. I’m so terribly bored with the usual.”

When we returned to our hotel, Boy watched me loosen the knot at my nape and allow my hair to fall. He mused, “You would look exquisite with short hair, I think.”
I smiled. “One thing at a time. We mustn’t frighten the herd too much at first.”
“Frighten them?” he growled, and he stalked across the room to seize me in his arms. “You’re a lioness. You’ll eat them all alive and still be ravenous for more.”
He was right. Those credulous gazelles would not sate a hunger like mine.

But it was a start.

Loving Lady Montague: A Guest Post by David Blixt {&Giveaway!}

Once upon a time, I had this nifty idea. Explore the origin of the Capulet-Montague feud by placing it in the historical context for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. They were real families, mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy. And based on a little-noticed line at the end of the play, I found a cause for the feud that spurred this whole series of books.
The idea is this: Lady Montague is supposed to marry Lord Capulet, but elopes with Lord Montague instead. The deep friendship between Capulet (Capulletto) and Montague (Montecchio) is shattered, and the feud begins. Boom.

The unintended consequence of this was that I had to invent a character for Lady Montague, who has a mere two lines in the play. The servant Potpan has a more defined character than Romeo’s mother. Hell, unnamed musicians have more personality than she is given. So I had free reign.

I named her Gianozza, named for an early version of Juliet in Masuccio Salernitano’s 33rd Novel from Il Novellino. That story involves secret marriages, deaths of kinsmen, and a young groom fleeing to Alexandria. Because I was setting up a prequel to the famous story of star-crossed lovers, I liked the idea of using the names from that earlier version of R&J.

And somewhere along the line I ended up creating a character my readers love to hate.
Gianozza’s not evil. She’s not a schemer or a villain. Instead, in creating her character, I took her son’s main failing in the play and decided he learned it from her.

Gianozza’s in love with Love.

She’s especially fond of love poetry, and becomes fixated with the story of two doomed lovers Dante uses in The Inferno. She fails to notice that the lovers in question are in Hell. Instead she starts to idealize their doomed romance, with disastrous consequences. She aims to have a great love story just like theirs. And in so doing she sets up a great tragedy.

It all ties into the notion of Courtly Love, of love for love’s sake. Dante had his great love, Beatrice. She was not his wife. She was his muse. And when she died, he was able to love her completely, because his love wasn’t for the real Beatrice. It was for the idealized version of her.

Courtly Love is great for poetry. It’s just lousy for life.

In The Prince’s Doom we see Gianozza fifteen years after her marriage to Mariotto Montecchio. By now the marriage is strained. Not because her husband doesn’t love her. But because she’s no longer the center of attention. The only real attention she gets is from Antony Capulletto, still pining for her after all these years. Unconsciously, she stokes the feud, keeping it alive. There is a moment where Mariotto and Antony could reconcile, renew their friendship, end the feud. But Gianozza can’t help inserting herself once again, with disastrous consequences. Instead of burying the feud, she keeps them on the path that will end with them burying their children instead.
But she can’t help herself. She has defined herself through being loved by two men, men who are willing to fight and even die for her. She is the new Helen of Troy, the catalyst for great deeds. If she doesn’t have that, who is she?

Sean Graney just adapted all the classic Greek dramas into a single day-long event which he entitled All Our Tragic. The title comes from a line that he gives to Clytemnestra: “All our tragic happens because we love someone we shouldn’t have.”
Truer words were never spoken. Because the best drama doesn’t come from hate. It comes from love.


The Prince's Doom_Mug GiveawayWould you like to win this spiffy looking mug here?

Just click here and you’ll be entered!

Good luck!! 🙂

The Prince's Doom: A Review

02_The Prince's DoomPublication Date: December 23, 2014

Sordelet Ink

Paperback; 722p

ISBN: 0615894437

Series: Book Four, Star Cross’d Series

Genre: Historical Fiction

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The long-awaited explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross’d series! Verona has won its war with Padua, but lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona and the Church, but the stars themselves. Trying desperately to salvage what’s left of his spirit, for once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake the young man out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, one that will doom them all.

Praise for David Blixt

‘For anyone who has yet to read David’s novels, you are about to hit the literary lottery. Yes, he’s that good.’ –Sharon Kay Penman, The Sunne In Splendour

‘David Blixt is a master of historical fiction. Dramatic, vivid, superbly researched, this series captures Renaissance Italy in all its heady glamour and lethal intrigue.’ –C.W. Gortner, The Tudor Conspiracy

‘This is one of the most exciting, and satisfying, reads that I have immersed myself in for a long time. David Blixt is a gem of a writer.’ –Helen Hollick, The Pendragon Chronicles.


First–to the author–I am sorry that this was late. I actually finished the book late last night.

If you like big books–you’re going to love “The Prince’s Doom”. It’s over 700 pages and at first, you may question why you’re tackling such a biggie. Fortunately, Mr. Blixt makes you forget that worry and takes you in. If you’re familiar with Juliet and Romeo, the theme of this book is similar in that vein. Dandolo and Elisabetta are attempting to see what their futures hold…and what a future it is! (I wish Mr. Blixt could write a future for me…it’d be vivid and brilliant, I’m certain of it.)
Now there are some familiar Shakespeare characters in here, but don’t fret. The story really is very original (yay!) and fascinating. You’re not getting a Shakespeare play reconstructed (like Lois Leveen’s ‘Juliet’s Nurse). Of course, be careful! As there are a lot of different characters, that also means a lot of different storylines, so try to keep track of all of them else you may find yourself very confused. They can and do intermingle, so you may find yourself going back to reread certain passages. (That’s what I did and once I got them sorted, I was good to go.) I was also quite pleased at the level of detail that was put into the entire novel. Can I also just take a moment to flail over some of the swordfighting? SO AWESOME.
I know you’re probably thinking, “But Clarissa, it’s a series!” Don’t worry about that at all. “The Prince’s Doom” can be read as a standalone novel, but you will want to read the others because he’s such a brilliant writer. Every character is three-dimensional, they seem to jump out of each page and I felt like they were friends–or enemies–of mine. It was fun to see what everyone’s motives were for things and how there was a challenge to sort out who they were–friend or foe.
I loved all the surprises and how the stories were interwoven, like a quilt, all of them coming together to be part of this wonderfully written and thoughtout novel.



The Star Cross’d Series

Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, the Star-Cross’d Series is a tale of wars won, friendships lost, and conspiracies both mortal and stellar, an epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell and Dorothy Dunnett.

Titles in the Star Cross’d Series

Book One: Master of Verona

Book Two: Voice of the Falconer

Book Three: Fortune’s Fool

Book Four: The Prince’s Doom

Buy the Book


Untitled-303_David Blixt Author

Author and playwright David Blixt’s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, FORTUNE’S FOOL, and THE PRINCE’S DOOM) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, “Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It’s well worth it.” Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”

For more information please visit David Blixt’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Be sure to stop by tomorrow’s stop on the tour!

Excerpt at Becky on Books

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