Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Feature: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen III

TITLE: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol III by Collins Hemingway
Publication Date: November 4, 2017 eBook & Paperback; 338 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction.

SYNOPSIS: The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen’s Saga. In the moving conclusion to “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen,” Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

In this third volume, the conclusion of the series trilogy of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Collins Hemingway brings a beautiful end to the story of Jane and husband Ashton Dennis. This volume is the most heart wrenching, dark and most devastating. Without giving away the tragic details, the story is beautifully imagined on what Jane Austen's life might be during 1802-1809 where not much were chronicled and considered the "missing years". This volume does begin 4 months after Jane delivers a baby boy George at the age of 31 years old. This was also a time in England where there was political unrest and the Napoleonic war is upon them. 

Collins Hemingway writes a masterful imagination that explores creative ingenuity of what would be like with Jane married with a child. The story delves with amazing detail of the intimate life of this famous writer of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. As I was reading this, the beautiful prose and language, the historical detail and creativity transported me back to Austen's world where strong women with opinion were considered unimaginable. I could not put this book down and devoured it with so much joy and satisfaction. What an amazing book to read for any fans of Jane Austen, British Literature and Historical Fiction.

Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Series

Hemingway again displays his notable ability to recreate time and place, moving on from the heady days of Jane Austen’s early love to a marriage beset by difficulties and a country at war. Hemingway … vividly and authentically portrays the times. … [T]his is a lively, compelling read, [a] sobering but moving finale to Hemingway’s successful trilogy. —BlueInk Review

Immensely satisfying … Marriage is lively, compelling, and fun. … [Her] relationship with her husband Ashton still sparkles. Marriage is a lovely ode to their connection. … Hemingway has combined Austen’s humanity with her fiction and created a Jane that lives and breathes on the page. Audiences will want her to be real… It offers a wonderful, imagined alternate life for the well-loved author. —Claire Foster, Foreword Review

‘Enjoyable … an imaginative, well-researched series.’ —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Collins’ passion for literature, history, and science enable him to create complete, sharply drawn fictional characters fully engaged in their complex and often dangerous worlds. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding respect for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Collins has investigated topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he co-authored with Bill Gates, he tackles challenging topics with clarity and insight, writing for the intelligent but nontechnical reader.

Born and raised in Arkansas, Collins has lived most of his adult life in the American Northwest, with a career that has spanned writing, high tech, and aviation. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Arkansas, Phi Beta Kappa; a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Oregon; and numerous technical certifications in computer technology.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: The Key to Happily Ever After
TITLE: The Key to Happily Ever After
AUTHOR: Tif Marcelo
PUB DATE: May 2019
PUBLISHER: Gallery Books
GENRE: Women's Literature; RomCom

One of BuzzFeed’s “Books Coming Out This Summer That You Need to Seriously Read” * One of Bustle’s “New Romance Novels to Make Your Spring Reading Even Dreamier Than You Imagined”
A charming romantic comedy about three sisters who are struggling to keep the family wedding planning business afloat—all the while trying to write their own happily-ever-afters in the process.

All’s fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride’s day a fairytale. But when their parents announce their retirement, the sisters—Marisol, Janelyn, and Pearl—are determined to take over the business themselves.

But the sisters quickly discover that the wedding business isn’t all rings and roses. There are brides whose moods can change at the drop of a hat; grooms who want to control every part of the process; and couples who argue until their big day. As emotions run high, the de la Rosa sisters quickly realize one thing: even when disaster strikes—whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a snowmageddon in the middle of a spring wedding—they’ll always have each other.

Perfect for fans of the witty and engaging novels of Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, The Key to Happily Ever After is a fresh romantic comedy that celebrates the crucial and profound power of sisterhood.

This is a charming story about the de la Rosas, a Filipino Family living in the Washington, DC area and their Wedding Planning business. The story revolves around the three sisters Marisol, Janelyn and Pearl. Their parents just announced their retirement, and the three sisters are left to manage the business, to handle the day to day challenges, and to ensure the business stays afloat and thrive. That means, managing the bridezillas, the over controlling families and whatever surprises that may come along. Well, there is no shortage of fun and excitement like the sudden snowmageddon in the middle of spring, and other dramas that sure kept this story fun! Does the cost of their customers’ Happily Ever After worth their sanity, their sacrifices, and their own relationships?
I loved this book because I love reading about different cultures, and this highlighted the Filipino culture and the nuances on the importance of a close knit family, with gatherings and food in the center of it all. I also loved that this is about an honest story about the complex relationships of sisters. Finally, I love how the chapters are titled with songs from my favorite artists and I kept hoping that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark made it and it sure did!!! I don’t know any Filipino friends who didn’t enjoy listening to OMD.
Tif Marcelo wrote such an endearing and light story that I truly enjoyed! If you love Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, you will surely enjoy this book!

By the way, Tif Marcelo’s new book is out for request in NetGalley now called “Once Upon A Sunset” - GET IT NOW!


Tif believes in and writes about heart-eyes romance, the strength of families, and the endurance of friendship. A veteran Army Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration, she is a craft enthusiast, food-lover and the occasional half-marathon runner. As a military spouse, she has moved nine times, and this adventure shows in some of her free-spirited characters. Tif currently lives in the DC area with her own real life military hero and four children.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Book Review and Feature: PERFECTLY ADEQUATE

Dr. Elijah Hawkins needs … something.
After his wife jumps headfirst into a midlife crisis, he’s left with his young son, Roman, and a lot of unanswered questions.
That something turns out to be a someone—Dorothy Mayhem, nursing student, patient transporter, reckless driver, and emu owner.
Dorothy studies humans, the neurotypical kind, through books and television. Then she emulates their behavioral patterns to fit in with her peers.
But nothing can prepare her for Dr. Elijah Hawkins.
Single dad.
Brilliant pediatric oncologist.
And the sexiest doctor at the hospital.
When his failed attempts at asking her out turn into a string of playdates with his son, Dorothy finds herself unexpectedly enamored with the boy and his father.
And that’s a problem, a huge one, because Elijah’s ex-wife is a famous plastic surgeon—and Dorothy’s idol.
Perfectly Adequate is a beautiful, hilarious, and heart-felt journey along the “human” spectrum.

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About Jewel
Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.
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A Phoenix Rising by Vivienne Brereton

#APhoenixRising #VivienneBrereton #HFVBTBlogTours

Publication Date: July 7, 2019
Yuletide Press
eBook & Paperback; 339 pages

Series: The House of the Red Duke (Book 1)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance


Thomas Howard. Head of a sprawling, hot-blooded, sensual brood. Soldier, courtier, politician, a man of great personal charisma. A phoenix rising from the ashes. Will Thomas's ambitions be realised? Or will the phoenix come crashing down again?

“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.”

Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII.

Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestry

Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler - a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy.

The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them.

Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….”

Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”

"From the moment I picked this book up, I was enthralled and the story was so well written that I simply had to keep reading. Brereton weaves a fascinating story of several famous houses which lived during the Tudor age, including the Howards, Stewarts, Boleyns and of course the famous Tudors. If you are looking for a new fiction series that will draw you in and keep you wanting more than this is certainly the book for you!" - Sarah Bryson, author of 'La Reine Blanche'

"I really enjoyed it. I sometimes struggle with books written from the point of view of several characters, as this one is, but this one worked quite well because it had to be told from the points of view of different characters because it is spread across several countries - England, France and Scotland. The addition of Tudor recipes was a nice touch, and demonstrated that the writer had really done her research." - Helene Harrison, Tudorblogger


I was always fascinated with the British monarchy especially The TUDORS (Henry VIII and his wives, The Howard Family, The Boleyn Family, The Staffords), The STEWARTS (James IV and Margaret - The King and Queen of Scotland), The VALOIS (Charles VIII, King Louis XII and Anne - King and Queen of France) and finally, the HABSBURG (Maximillian I, The Holy Roman Emperor and Margaret of Austria). This exciting debut novel, A Phoenix Rising Book #1 of The Series House of the Red Duke, by Vivienne Brereton is a well written and well researched Historical Fiction. Brereton as an expert in medieval history was able to capture the rich detail of the Tudor families. In her writing I was taken in and captivated by the details of the stories of these families we have long been fascinated, studied and had been in awe with. 

The first book goes through 1497 to 1520, with alternating viewpoints from the English, Scottish, French and Habsburg. The book is divided into six parts (Field of Gold, First Love, The Politics of Marriage, The Tudor Rose, Youth Must Have Some Dalliance, and The Christmas Castles), all of which is as exciting as the next as Thomas Howard, from one of the most powerful House in England tries to manipulate the families like a chess board to gain power. 

Based on real life events, Brereton was able to brilliantly create an exciting historical fiction based on well known players in the British Isles and Europe in the 1500's. I thoroughly enjoyed the bonus of incorporating recipes in the book that have been tried by the author herself - such as Pottage, Cakes and Minced Pie to name a few. This book carries a lot of the themes that are similar to what we would encounter in present day such as power, trust, betrayal and love. An enjoyable book, and Book 2 cannot come soon enough.



Fifteen-year-old Tristan d’Ardres, the younger son of the Governor of Picardy, is destined for the Church but kicking and screaming against the idea. Nicolas de La Barre (orphaned when he was thirteen), is the Count d’Ardres’ ward…and Tristan’s bitter enemy. It is Christmas Eve, 1512, and Tristan has just had a terrible argument with his father in the library of Ardres Castle. He’s now alone, looking at his father’s New Year’s gift to him.

“With one swift movement, I swept all but one of the brand new books onto the floor, taking great satisfaction in watching them peel apart. Normally, I loved books but not these. Sheaves of paper flew up into the air like so many wounded soldiers, before coming to rest in a pathetic pile on the wooden boards below: useless corpses on a battlefield.

But even this solid layer of paper wasn’t enough to satisfy me. There was one book remaining: ‘“A handbook on manners for children”’, I said aloud. ‘Well, Father,’ I sneered, ‘this is what I think of your droning handbook!’

And with that, I launched the offending volume across the room with all my might, sending the missile high up in the air, aiming for the nearby balcony where more of Father’s vast collection of books was kept.

There was a satisfying thud…immediately followed by a male voice of protest.

* * *

‘Nom de Dieu! Can’t a man read in peace? You nearly took my head off. Surely flinging Monsieur Erasmus’s advice about manners for children against the nearest wall isn’t recommended by the great scholar.’

<<Nicolas!>> After recovering from the shock of knowing someone else had witnessed the argument with my father, I could feel my hackles rising. Of all the people it could have been, it had to be him. I decided attack was the only way forward.

‘Haven’t you got anything better to do than spy on others?’

‘Not when it proves to be so entertaining.’

I inwardly groaned. Nicolas never missed an opportunity to bate me, just as he was doing now. At the beginning of November, he’d been setting off on a hunt with Father and several other older men. Seeing me hanging forlornly around the courtyard, he’d called out (in deliberate earshot of the others): “What a shame you can’t join us.” The huge smile on his face belied this statement and proved he knew I was being forced to stay behind and do extra Latin, as a punishment for some petty crime or other.

The fact he was a good six years older didn’t matter a jot. We were deadly rivals in everything: hunting, riding, jousting and archery, to name but a few. However, our greatest battle was vying to win the respect of my father. For me, it was no easy task when my future lay in being a pathetic milksop, fit only for the Church. Knowing this, Nicolas made it all the harder for me, gloating at every opportunity at being outwardly able to achieve all the things to which I aspired, but without any of the constraints of a future religious calling. It had made the two of us bitter enemies and, if anything, our relationship had only deteriorated with time.

* * *

“Just think. One day I might have to make my confession to you,” Nicolas had jested one morning recently as we were breaking our fast, the flirtatious looks passing between him and a pretty serving maid making it quite clear where he hoped to spend the night.

He leapt down from the balcony, landing in one graceful bound in front of me, still clutching a copy of ‘Tristan and Iseult’. ‘I was reading about your namesake,’ he smiled. ‘Things certainly didn’t end well for him.’

I could never work out why my enemy spent so many hours poring over the romances on the balcony of the library. Books about the art of warfare, the lives of Roman generals, or the rules of jousting, were of far more interest to me. As far as I was concerned, Nicolas had the tastes of a lovelorn, dismal-dreaming minstrel, haplessly strumming a lute; perhaps it had something to do with his current infatuation with the young wife of a local nobleman, a renowned flirt-gill. Ysabeau de Sapincourt. Nicolas had no idea I knew but I’d seen his looks of longing whenever she came to the Castle with her ageing husband: a conquest so far without success, of that I was certain.

‘Searching for inspiration, Nicolas? Not enough ideas of your own.’

A look of annoyance crossed his face but he quickly recovered and glanced down at the paper on the floor. ‘Well, you’ve just destroyed the only reading material you’re going to need in that monastery of yours. I’m guessing that “In praise of folly” is somewhere amongst that lot. As it seems you’re to be seated next to the great man at a banquet, I understand why your father wanted you to know something about the book.’ He kicked up a snowstorm of paper sheets with a couple of measured strikes of his favourite shoes, made from Spanish leather. ‘I know it’s not New Year yet but let me make a gift of my knowledge to you. To help you when you meet Monsieur Erasmus. He wrote it at Thomas More’s hous—

‘You can keep your beetle-headed gift to yourself!’

I was piqued the qualling Nicolas had actually read the worthless thing and would do better seated next to the fusty old scholar than me. ‘I don’t need your help. In fact you’re the last person on earth—’

‘I know I am. But I want to help. As I was saying, he dedicated it to his great friend, More, with “Folly”, a harlot, as the narrator, empty compliments and love of self as her clients. She attacks all in her sight: idle friars, greedy princes, lawyers and theologian—’


Nicolas reached for the brass door handle. ‘I’m going. But you’ll thank me when you meet him, I promise. Now, hadn’t you better see if you can piece back together your father’s “Handbook on manners for children”. Who knows, you might learn something from it.’”

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Born near historic Winchester in the UK, Vivienne Brereton has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in medieval history at university where she met her future husband. Three sons later and six countries she called home, she finally felt ready to write a novel.

Words have always played an important part in Vivienne’s life whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English to foreigners, or just picking up a good book. In preparation for her novel, she read intensively on the skills needed to write well and did an enormous amount of research which she greatly enjoyed. Having three sons was helpful when she came to write about the characters, Tristan and Nicolas. All those squabbles she had to deal with came in very handy. She also used her husband and sons as guinea pigs for her Tudor cookery attempts with varying degrees of success (abuse).

Seeing ‘A Phoenix Rising’ in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, September 26
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Friday, September 27
Excerpt at Beady Jans Books
Review & Excerpt at Nursebookie

Saturday, September 28
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Tuesday, October 1
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Guest Post at On the Tudor Trail

Wednesday, October 2
Excerpt at The Writing Desk

Thursday, October 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, October 4
Review at Jessica Belmont

Monday, October 7
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, October 8
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 9
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Thursday, October 10
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Friday, October 11
Review at Donna's Book Blog
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of A Phoenix Rising! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

A Phoenix Rising

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


TITLE: The Secret Life of Mrs. London
AUTHOR: Rebecca Rosenberg
PUB DATE: Jan 30, 2018
PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing
PAGES: 348 pp

SYNOPSIS: The setting is the beautiful Glen Ellen Ranch and San Francisco, California from Sept 1915 through 1917, where Charmian London's life is chronicled as the dedicated wife of famed novelist Jack London's and the friendship that forms with Bessie and Harry Houdini, the magician and famous escape artist.

THOUGHTS/REVIEW: "The Secret Life of Mrs London" by Rebecca Rosenberg is a brilliantly told historical-fiction based on the real life story of  the famous couples that are fictionalized characters Jack and Charmian London, and Harry and Bessie Houdini. The story actually follows actual events in both the Londons' and Houdinis' lives in a 2 year period in 1915. 

The story centers on Charmian and her life as Mrs. Jack London. We find in this story that Jack's success as a renowned author is not without Charmian's support. She transcribes 150 words/min, edits his work and keeps him writing at least 1000 words per day to keep up with the deadlines with the publishers. Additionally she also provides him with inspiration as she tells him his thoughts which he is able to translate into beautiful prose in his writing. In this fictional tale, we see the back story of Charmiane's amazing dedication and love for Jack that she sacrifices, dedicates and even allows Jack to overshadow her talents as a writer. 

Jack London is a talented man who has his demons - over spends on his horses, ranch and home, abuses alcohol and has affairs with younger women. Jack's health is deteriorating with his kidney, depression and addiction. Charmian also tolerates the difficult and complex relationship with Jack's first wife and his two daughters who pretty much uses Jack to maintain their lavish lifestyle and private education. 

Just when you think the Londons' life cannot get more complicated, enter the Houdinis. Charmian and Houdini are brought together by the challenges they both have with their marriage and brings their attraction to each other stronger. 

The book is written so eloquently and highlights interesting points in their lives that keep the reader glued as the layers of their lives start to reveal itself. The setting of the story was described so beautifully as well as the political climate at the time with impeccable attention to the details of what is important at that time. The book is well written and Rosenberg is truly an expert on the Londons' writings, life and back story. It was such a fun read and the creativity of the story is quite intriguing and the dialogue eloquent that I could not put this book down. A true literary fiction.


Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, California   November 1915
Love cannot in its very nature be peaceful or content. It is a restlessness, an unsatisfaction. I can grant a lasting love just as I can grant a lasting satisfaction; but the lasting love cannot be coupled with possession, for love is pain and desire, and possession is easement and fulfilment.
—Jack London, The Kempton-Wace Letters
I know how magic works—all smoke and mirrors, suffocating doves, and defecating rabbits. Of course, Jack knows these things, too. He rails against the cruelty of using trained animals in vaudeville. But his adoring Crowd from Carmel (that whole arty, hashish-smoking Bohemian clan) insists Jack join them for the Great Houdini show. Front-row seats, they say. The most famous magician in the world, they say.
“We need a little magic in our lives,” Jack says, and I can’t argue with that.
The Orpheum is morbidly gaudy with flocked velvet walls, tooled woodwork, and gilt, lots of gilt. Jack sports his rumpled khakis du jour, while he asked me to dress like a heroine from Martin Eden: chartreuse taffeta suit shimmering with purple undertones in the theater lights.
But this confounded waistline cuts into my expanding middle like a butcher pinching off sausage casing. I don’t know why I haven’t told Jack my good news when I’ve known for a while. That’s a lie. I hold back because he’ll count the months and wonder, like I do.
The Crowd blow kisses to each other in a cloud of pheromones and cigar smoke. They pass the silver flask of gin under my nose, and the odor stretches my brain like the taffy puller in the lobby.
George Sterling slides his lanky frame into the seat next to mine, reeking of patchouli and cannabis. “Looks like this is just what Jack needed to forget about Wolf House burning down.”
“Nothing will make him forget that night.” My head reels around to see Jack deep in conversation with Anna Strunsky. They only talk deep. That young actress Blanche hangs on his arm, pretending she understands. She doesn’t.
“Wolf says Lawrence burned it down and ran off.”
“You’re such a liar,” I say, but maybe it’s true. I haven’t seen or heard from Lawrence since I left him by Wolf House.
“You and Wolf should pick your friends more wisely.” Sterling grins like Satan.
“Funny, I was thinking the very same thing. But unfortunately, Jack likes you.” I make a face.
Thankfully, the sixteen-piece orchestra fires up below us in the pit, and Sterling slinks back to his seat. Brass trumpets glint in the crossing spotlights and raise my spirits with their triumphant sound.
Jack sits next to me, puffing his Imperial. I can’t break his mood no matter how many times I tell him nothing happened with Lawrence.
Nothing I care to share, that is.
The Great Houdini appears in a spotlight and high-steps onto the stage, keeping time with the music, striking in his immaculate tuxedo and gleaming black hair. When the song ends, he marches right in front of the footlights and welcomes the audience, impossibly white teeth flashing, announcing his opening trick.
Women’s mouths drop open. Men scoot to the edges of their seats. His voice, harmonic and commanding, vibrates through the charged air and holds them awestruck. Houdini’s powerful arm points at Jack. Heavens.
“Mr. Jack London, ladies and gentlemen.” Spotlights flood our faces.
How does he recognize Jack?
“Won’t you join us on the stage, Mr. London?” Houdini calls, and the Crowd starts chanting: “Wolf, Wolf, Wolf . . .” Jack holds up his palms in protest.
The magician persists. “If not you, how about your lovely wife? I promise to take great care of her.”
The Crowd jeers for me to go up, already too much gin passed between them.
Jack leans over and whispers, “My feet are killing me. Take this one, will you?”
I see my redemption in his pleading eyes. But I feel like a bratwurst. I can’t go up there.
“Buck up your courage, Mate.” Jack pushes me to a stand. “The Crowd will get a kick out of it.”
My heart sinks as I make my way to the stairs. He wants to entertain his worshipping Crowd at my expense. Blanche swoops into my vacant seat, snuggling his arm. I yank the pearl buttons choking my neck and one pops off, rolling into the orchestra pit. Lifting my stiff taffeta skirt and crinoline petticoat, I step up, but my foot slips off.
Two strong hands circle my waist and sweep me onto the stage with the grace of a waltz. Black eyelashes rim his eyes with mystery, but kindness crinkles at the edges.
“Trust me,” Houdini whispers, smelling of wood-spice cologne. Then his voice booms out to the audience, “Let’s give the brave Mrs. London a round of applause, shall we?”
A child enters from backstage dressed in tights and velvet knickers, a fluffy beret mushrooming over his jet-black pageboy.
Houdini smiles and holds out his arm. “And another hand for my beautiful wife and assistant, Bess Houdini.”
My stomach hitches, and I look again. The elf bows with a flourish and lifts her face with a wide grin, dimples circled with rouge, throwing kisses to the audience. The miniature woman steals the show with her boyish figure in sequined tights, round eyes that flash and roll and wink and hold us spellbound no matter what Houdini is doing. I would have bought the ticket to watch her.
The magician steps into the spotlight, and the audience hushes. “And now, on this very stage, we will perform our most renowned illusion, the one and original, Metamorphosis! Pay close attention to catch any sleight of hand or cheat, for you will see none. With your very own eyes, you will witness myself, bound, handcuffed, and locked in a trunk, only to be magically transformed into my beautiful assistant, Bess.”
The audience buzzes with excitement while Bess Houdini rolls a steamer trunk to center stage. “Mrs. London, tell the people in the crematorium, have we ever met before?” she asks in falsetto.
“Auditorium?” Confused and tongue-tied looking out from the stage to three hundred San Francisco elite . . . “No, we haven’t met.”
“And have you ever laid your eyes on this trunk before?” Jack would say something witty, but my mind draws a blank. “No.” The burning footlights blind me mercifully from seeing his disappointment in the front row.
“Will you examine the trunk for any tomfoolery?” She waves her birdlike limbs theatrically, reeking of gardenias.
I unbuckle the leather straps and peer inside the trunk. Feeling along the edges, banging the sides. “No trick doors, if that’s what you mean.”
“I understand you’re an excellent sailor, Mrs. London.” Houdini cocks an eyebrow. “And quite an expert with knots.”
“How would you know that?” I shade my eyes to see Jack and damn if Blanche isn’t canoodling his ear. “I won first place at the yacht club for my knots.”
“Impressive, but can you tie a knot from which the Great Houdini cannot escape?”
“Absolutely.” Jack says it’s over with Blanche yet dangles my dalliance over my head like a noose.
Houdini takes off his jacket and rolls up his shirtsleeves, crossing his muscular wrists together.
Mrs. Houdini hands me the rope and whispers, “Tie a slipknot.” She winks a blue eyelid. So that’s their game.
Mutiny tingles in my fingers. Like hell, slipknot. I tie an anchor hitch that would secure a yacht in a typhoon.
Pulling the sack up over him, Mrs. Houdini leans to kiss him. My God, their mouths open and move like the French. His sensuous lips suck hers like she’s a juicy plum. My belly clenches. How long has it been since Jack kissed me like that?
Mrs. Houdini pulls the feed sack over her husband’s head and winks at me again. But I tie my strongest knot on the bag, a double bowline, tight and secure.
Bess Houdini’s chirp pierces my eardrums. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll place the Great Houdini in the steamer trunk for all intensive purposes and lock it up.”
We padlock the trunk and wrap it profusely with rope. Feeling smug now, I tie yet another sailing knot: double square knot this time. No way can this trickster get out.
Mrs. Houdini closes heavy velvet curtains in front of the trunk. She smiles at the audience, and her theatrical makeup cracks around her eyes; she’s no child herself. “Mrs. London, do you feel very certain the Great Houdini cannot excape your knots?”
Jack punches his fist in the air and calls out, “Her knots have secured sailing ships from here to Borneo!”
A pang riddles my gut. What if I truly bring down the Great Houdini? The kettle drum rumbles and spectators choose sides, placing bets, laughing nervously.
Mrs. Houdini lifts her arms over her head and claps her hands together three times, accentuated by a clash of cymbals that echoes through the cavernous theater. Spotlights crisscross the frescoed ceiling. The timpani stops abruptly and pandemonium ceases. The audience leans forward.
Spotlights swing to center stage, revealing the Great Houdini stepping through the velvet curtain, fists held high in triumph. The orchestra blares.
My every nerve ending is burning, screaming. No, no, no, no. It’s impossible.
The magic man takes my hand and holds it high, a current charging from his grasp down my arm. The audience explodes with enthusiasm. He smiles intimately at me as his confidant. But I feel betrayed. He’d said, “Trust me,” yet I haven’t an inkling what just happened.
“You’re a natural.” Houdini bows and bows to the relentless applause. When it finally dies down, he looks around the stage.
“Mrs. London, where is my dear wife?”
I turn to where Mrs. Houdini was standing, but she’s gone. “She was right here.”
He taps his index finger on his cheek. “Oh, Mrs. Houdini? Are you back here?” He draws open the velvet curtain, which reveals only the steamer trunk with all my knots intact. How is that possible when Houdini stands beside me?
“Mrs. London, can you untie your knots?”
My chest crackles with curiosity as my fingers struggle with the rope, every knot as secure as I tied it. The oboe plays a sinister tune, which twists my insides.
When all the knots are finally undone, Houdini opens the trunk. Inside, the burlap sack bumps and moves.
“What have we here?” Houdini cuts the bag open with a shining saber, which appears from nowhere.
Bess Houdini pops out, all five feet of her, hands tied behind her back. She cackles like a maniac, then curtsies to the stunned audience.
The orchestra strikes up a rousing number, and the audience cheers and whistles.
The Houdinis take my trembling hands, and we bow together. They step aside, presenting me. My cheeks Options
grow hopelessly hot as I force myself to raise my eyes to the frenzied theater and let the applause wash over me.
The Crowd chants my name from the front row. But Jack scribbles in his ever-present notebook, oblivious to their revelry. 
Oblivious to my moment in the spotlight.
Yet I’m gratified. I’ve given him a fresh topic to write about.

THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON has won a Gold Medal IPPY, world’s largest book competition in the world, American Fiction Awards FINALIST, and Goethe awards FINALIST. 

THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, the love triangle between Houdini, Jack and Charmian London.   Free on kindle unlimited!


Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“An impressively original and exceptionally well-crafted novel by an author who is a master of character- and narrative-driven storytelling, Rebecca Rosenberg’s The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an inherently riveting and thoroughly reader-engaging story from beginning to end and feature[es] many an unexpected plot twist and turn.” —Midwest Book Review

“Interesting, and based on the actual lives of the participants…Learning more about Jack London was enjoyable, as well as seeing early feminist examples.” —Historical Novel Society

“…Rosenberg paints an immensely intriguing portrait of a marriage and tells it in an accomplished lyrical prose that captures each moment with poetic intensity.” —Prairies Book Review

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the marriage of Jack and Charmian London, both fascinating and complicated characters with rich inner lives that Rosenberg conveys in crisp yet poetic prose. This contemporary historical fiction raises questions that are still relevant today about what makes a good marriage, and whether creativity and stability are incompatible. A rich, resonant, deeply satisfying novel sure to delight and leave readers thinking long after they put it down.” —Malena Watrous, author of If You Follow Me and Sparked!, and director of the Stanford Continuing Studies Program in Novel Writing

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel

“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry
About the Author

Interview with Rebecca Rosenberg

1. Can you describe The Secret Life of Mrs. London in three words?

Genius! Magic! Provoking!

2. What would you like your readers to know about you, outside being an expert on the Londons and Lavander. I am very excited to be replanting a totally original and exciting three-acre lavender garden right now, since our lavender farm burned down two years ago- our house and barn with it! This new garden can be viewed from a rooftop “perch” to get the full effect of concentric circle of many different species of lavender and lavender colored plants! I imagine doing book events there in the future, so sign up for notice at

3. What compelled you to write about the Londons and The Houdini’s? Charmian and Jack London were dynamic, adventurous writers who, in 1906, built a 46 foot boat and set sail around the world, writing books about the natives they found in Hawaii, Fiji, the Soloman Islands. Charmian helped Jack write 50 best-selling novels in 15 years. They had a passionate, modern relationship—so why and how did she have an affair with the most famous illusionist and escape artist in the world? I had to find out, and tell the story of these two iconic, and complex couples.

4. What is your favorite Jack London book and why? I like Valley of the Moon, because Jack wrote it about Sonoma Valley where he and Charmian had Beauty Ranch, and where I have lived for 30 years. It is about a hard-working young man and woman and heir search for a beautiful agrarian life, instead of the drudgery of factory work.

5. Besides Jack London, what author(s) do you like to read? What is your favorite Genre? I love historical fiction, and like to read Petra Durst Benning, Camille Di Maio, Thelma Adams, Martha Conway—I read TONS of non-fiction for research, and enjoy learning so much! Now, for my novel in progress, I am reading about Napoleon, early Wine Making, fashion that kills with caustic dyes!

6. What does your writing process look like? Do you have a favorite writing spot? Routine? Quirks? For example, with the Secret Life of Mrs. London, I was lucky enough to write a lot on the Jack London ranch itself, in their little wild-flower garden with a pond, where the London’s would box each other in the morning! It is rich to be able to write in the locale that the novel is set. I make notes about the smells, sounds, sights for later when I am writing at home. I write mostly in the morning about 4am-10am—in the dark, dream-state, my imagination can be with the characters and story. I always light candles.

7. What do you do when you are not writing? I play Mahjong with the Mahjong Majesties every Friday afternoon! Mahjong really keeps your mind working, and it is wonderful to have girl-time with friends.

8. Do you have any advice to aspiring writers? Write 1000 words a day, like Jack London. That seems to be the ONLY rule he followed in his life! 1000 words is a scene— I would like to follow his advice!

9. Can you tell us about any upcoming books or projects? GOLD DIGGER, The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor is just out. The true story of a twenty-two year old girl who comes west with her husband for a gold mine, and finds herself abandoned and pregnant and working the gold mine alone! She meets an old prospector, twice her age and married, falls in love. He strikes the biggest silver vein in history, buys up hundreds of mines, becomes a US Senator, divorces his wife, and the two marry in Washington DC with President Arthur in attendance! The Tabors become the richest, most scandalized couple in America, until they lose everything in the Silver Crash of 1893—It is a smashing story of passion, fame, and riches, and the meaninglessness of it all!

10. What are you currently reading and what books are on your nightstand currently.

Assymetry, by Lisa Halliday A modern novel recommended to me, very different than what I usually read.

11. Can you share with readers, what is the best way to reach you and where to learn more about you and your books?






Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 3 signed paperbacks + swag and 7 eBooks! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Wanders Far by David Fitz-Gerald

Publication Date: May 11, 2019
Outskirts Press
eBook, Paperback, AudioBook; 197 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Wanders Far lived in dangerous times and was faced with one difficult challenge after another. He was a skinny, quiet boy who was raised on the banks of a tributary of New York State’s Mohawk River, hundreds of years before colonists arrived. One lifetime was not enough for Wanders Far’s old soul.

From a very young age, his wanderlust compelled him down one path after another. No village could contain him.

He was happy living a simple life in the physical world during challenging times. The spirit world had other plans.

A wise, enigmatic shaman mentored Wanders Far and helped him cultivate the supernatural visions that haunted him. His guide could only help him so far.

He set out to become a runner, carrying important messages across the lands of his people and their enemies. He ended up fulfilling a much greater destiny than he ever imagined.

"This engrossing, well-written novel tells the story of a pivotal moment in Iroquois history through a well-traveled protagonist." - Kirkus Reviews


I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing book by David Fitz-Gerald, Wanders Far - An Unlikely Hero's Journey. Reading this book felt to me like I was reading an epic adventure story, yet is told so brilliantly in just 187 pages. The genre of this book is Historical Fiction but has definite elements of the supernatural and also some suspense and mystery within the story. Though this is an Adult Fiction, those who enjoy Young Adult will definitely enjoy the themes in this book. The book certainly moved fast and followed the very exciting life of Wanders Far. The book is set in current day upstate New York in the beautiful Adirondack region. 

Right away you know that Wanders Far is a very special child. He has definite gifts of photographic memory and we realize that he is given a lot more gifts which will be important for their tribes and future survival. He is able to discern subtle differences in rocks and trees and will never get lost. At the young age of 8, Wanders Far travelled miles, and survived the dangers of the wild, not just from the natural elements and bears, but from neighboring enemy tribes. His gift of travelling to different areas easily and quickly, became the bridge to unify people. The art of storytelling is also a huge part of how information traveled between the tribes. His stories and adventures helped with this unification process. 

Wanders Far is from the Bear Clan Village of the People of the Flint (Mohawk tribe) that is lead by his mother, Bear Fat. The other tribes include Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca which will eventually form The Iroquois (Confederacy of Five). Bear Fat is an amazing leader that thoughtfully leads her tribe fairly and democratically. 

Fitz-Gerald writes of a well researched novel in this beautifully imagined world full of interesting cast of characters, though it is centered around Wanders-Far. No detail is left out. Through reading this book, I became fully immersed in their day to day life and goings on. The story spanned from the year 1125 through about 1192. I enjoyed the beautiful detailed descriptions of the beauty of their surroundings as well as their long houses, their crafts and specialties independent of the tribes, their traditions and beliefs, the display of matriarchal democracy, and the importance of family bonding. Of course there are also a lot of adventures and difficulties when the tribes were warring with each other. Some of the lifestyle and the way of survival during the 1100's could be a bit graphic and at times even violent. 

If you enjoy learning about different cultures and enjoy stories about Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse or Geronimo, then Wanders Far is a definite must read for you. I am pleasantly surprised that I would enjoy this very much! The storytelling and immersion into the characters are brilliantly told and the story flowed very well for me. I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from the author and this review is voluntary. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.

Watch the Book Trailer HERE

About the Author

After a chaotic day as a business person, Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing.

Wanders Far—An Unlikely Hero’s Journey is the first in a series of books in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

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During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Wanders Far! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Wanders Far

12/5/2022 WITCHA GONA DO By Avery Flynn

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