Saturday, November 30, 2019

Book Feature: Holly Banks Full Of Angst

TITLE: Holly Banks Full Of Angst
PUB: Lake Union Publishing
PUB DATE: December 1, 2019
Series: Village of Primm #1
Paperback 378 pages


Holly Banks could not have made a worse first impression on the seemingly perfect moms in her new affluent community, the Village of Primm. Turns out wearing pink piggy pajama bottoms while dropping off her kindergartener late to the first day of school wasn’t her best look.

Not to mention Holly’s worried her husband may be having an affair, she can’t get her daughter to stop sucking her thumb, her hard-won film degree is collecting dust, and to top it all off, the power-hungry PTA president clearly has it in for her…

To make matters even worse, Holly’s natural eye for drama lands her smack-dab in the middle of a neighborhood mystery—right as her own crazy mother shows up in Primm “to help.” Through it all, Holly begins to realize her neighbors may be just as flawed as—and even wackier than—she is, leaving her to wonder: Is there such a thing as a perfect mom?


Thank you to Julie Valerie and Lake Union Publishing for the advanced electronic copy of this amazing debut book that gave me so much joy and happiness the entire time I was reading.
I felt like Julie Valerie entered my brain and knew exactly what all my hidden insecurities were about taking on the most important job in the entire universe, and that is becoming a mother. Holly Banks Full of Angst is a definite must read. You will enjoy the story line, and the many laugh out loud moments that Holly finds herself in. I am certain you will be able to relate. I guarantee it.

Holly is everyone of us trying to navigate our multiple hats every day - a mother, a wife, a daughter, a member of our school community and a neighbor in an upscale community. For Holly, that would be the community of Primm –perfectly lined homes with Pinterest worthy porches, manicured lawns and topiaries, and of course, every family’s dream is the amazing school system where everyone is dying to get their child into. Julie Valerie was able to connect and creatively write all these pressures we put on ourselves in such a glorious and hilarious way.

Julie Valerie wrote such an amazing cast of characters too that surround Holly’s life. There is Mary-Margaret St. James, the PTA president, who is someone you will love to hate. Greta, Holly’s mother, who needs some rescuing from time to time, but the love for her daughter and grand-daughter is some of the sweetest parts of this book. And let us not forget about the psychic reader, and their out of this world email exchanges. There are so many more like the peahen, the apple brigade, the realtor, and others you will enjoy getting to know.

This book was an absolute delight of a read and was truly an escape for me. It was fun and funny, it was light-hearted, and heart-warming too. I loved the pacing – it read very quickly and you will not want to put this book down. The dialogue was so creative including the non-curse words, the dash lines for when you are talking and no one hears you situation for example, and the different scenarios Holly ends up in. How can you not root for Holly who is trying her best to keep it all together?

Pick this book up when it releases Dec. 1st and be ready to have a great time with Holly and her posy. I look forward to the next book in this series.

Author Spotlight:

Holly Banks Full of Angst, Book One in the Village of Primm series, is Julie Valerie's debut novel, available now for pre-order, publishing December 1, 2019, with Lake Union.

Julie is the founder of the 85K Writing Challenge and serves on the board of directors of James River Writers. She earned an editing certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School and has a master's degree in education, a bachelor of fine arts in fashion, and certification in wilderness first aid. She enjoys books, the study of wine, hikes on the Appalachian Trail, and travel. Julie married her college sweetheart, and they live in Virginia with their four children and two English labradors.

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PUB DATE: 21st September 2018

The Perfect Fit

'A wonderful book with a great story and a sparky, unusual voice. I loved it!' KATIE FFORDE

Escape to the frost-sparkling Yorkshire Dales for some festive fun under the mistletoe! A saucy comedy-romance with more than a sprinkle of Christmas spice – this will lift your spirits and your excitement level!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for costume shop owner Becky Finn. Leaving London to move back home to the twinkly rural village of Egglethwaite, she plans to build a new life for herself with fiancé, Cole.

Keen to raise funds for the struggling village hall she loved as a child, Becky finds herself at the head of a colourful group aiming to revive the Egglethwaite Christmas pantomime. But when that festive feeling sets in, she discovers there's more to panto than innuendo and slapped thighs.

Falling in love was not in the script! But as opening night grows closer, she starts to wonder if the panto will ever make it to the stage and, with handsome co-star Marcus on the scene, if she has chosen her right leading man...

The perfect stocking-filler gift!


Becky Finn moves back to her home town, the village of Egglethwaite from London. Her fiancée Cole has a rather hard time adapting to country life, and feels like an outsider. Becky is hoping that moving back home would be an ideal situation for her future being married and having children. Becky is adjusting well to life in the village and gets involved with helping raise funds for the community hall by bringing the panto back to life, a memory that Becky remembers well from her childhood.

When I started reading this book, I was not aware of the British pantomime or panto. My understanding of pantomime being an American, are clowns with white painted faces who do not speak a word and entertain audiences with the invisible mirror as their main act and usually done as a solo show. The panto that is described in this amazing story is actually the opposite, where it is a winter musical comedy theater that is raucous, rowdy, silly and loud. The panto has very deep roots, drawing on the 15th and 16th century traditions with characters that include the boy, the dame, a sidekick, lots of audience participation and of course enough innuendos to keep the grown ups entertained as well.

This is the first book I have read from author Mary Jayne Baker, and is the second book of the Love in the Dales series, and it worked for me well as a standalone. I love how funny and sweet the story is and the writing is absolutely amazing and highly entertaining. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments and I loved that this book I am enjoying after a series of thrillers I have been reading. I also enjoyed the characters and the love triangle trope between Becky, her fiancée Cole and the ever so handsome Marcus.

Baker has such a knack for amazing characters and writes a beautiful village life full of funny antics and dialogue that is highly entertaining and also heartwarming. “The Perfect Fit” is an amazing book that I recommend for a fun, hilarious and heart warming read that will put you in a great holiday mood.

Author Bio 

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country... and she's still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them. More information can be found about Mary Jayne on her website at

 Social Media Links 




Friday, November 29, 2019

Gold Digger, The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor

TITLE: Gold Digger, The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor
PUB DATE: 28th MAY 2019


One look at Baby Doe and you know she was meant to be a legend! She was just twenty years old when she came to Colorado to work a gold mine with her new husband. Little did she expect that she’d be abandoned and pregnant and left to manage the gold mine alone. But that didn’t stop her!

She moved to Leadville and fell in love with a married prospector, twice her age. Horace Tabor struck the biggest silver vein in history, divorced his wife and married Baby Doe. Though his new wife was known for her beauty, her fashion, and even her philanthropy, she was never welcomed in polite society.

Discover how the Tabors navigated the worlds of wealth, power, politics, and scandal in the wild days of western mining.

“Rosenberg’s rollicking Western adventure strikes gold with a gutsy, good-hearted spitfire of a heroine and action aplenty.”
—THELMA ADAMS, bestselling author of The Last Woman Standing

Gold Digger tells the true story of Lizzie “Baby Doe” Tabor, a beautiful young woman who in 1878 marries the son of a wealthy miner in order to save her family from penury. Shrewd and stubborn, Lizzie fights back-biting Victorian society, wins and loses vast fortunes, and bests conniving politicians in her larger-than-life story. A twisting tale worthy of Mark Twain, with a big-hearted heroine at the center.
—MARTHA CONWAY, author of The Underground River


An Amazing Historical Fiction deserving of all the stars!

I love Rebecca Rosenberg! I enjoyed The Secret Life of Mrs London, and this one was just as amazing and a 5 star read for me.

Gold Digger is a wonderful story about a beautiful young woman, originally from Oshkosh Wisconsin Lizzy “Baby Doe” Tabor, a legend in her own right, and a woman well ahead of her time. From a very poor family, she marries into money and immediately leaves her struggling  family to trek the Wild West and try to strike gold in Colorado, a mine given as a wedding present.
The harsh conditions working in the mine leaves her husband to go back home to his sheltered and privileged life, leaving and abandoning Baby Doe pregnant and alone to manage the mine. Through some exceptional friendships she has made, her life saved many times, she survives many ups and downs.

Horace Tabor has been unlucky in the mining prospects, and became an owner of the general store. Not accepting that as his lot in life, and against the better judgment of his wife and family, he continues to secretly prospect and one day had a lucky strike in discovering one of the biggest silver vein in history.

It was such a delight to learn the amazing history of the western mining and the details of how people then navigated the hardships, the role of the Chinese in these dangerous mines, how success goes hand in hand with wealth and politics, their philanthropic activities and societies that developed hotels and opera houses.

What a delightful read and a Historical Fiction at its finest!! My attention was captured from the very first page!!


2019 Gold Medal IPPY Winner, world's largest book competition!
GOLD DIGGER, The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor
“Rosenberg’s rollicking Western adventure strikes gold with a gutsy, good-hearted spitfire of a heroine and action aplenty.”
—THELMA ADAMS, bestselling author of The Last Woman Standing

Gold Digger tells the true story of Lizzie “Baby Doe” Tabor, a beautiful young woman who in 1878 marries the son of a wealthy miner in order to save her family from penury. Shrewd and stubborn, Lizzie fights back-biting Victorian society, wins and loses vast fortunes, and bests conniving politicians in her larger-than-life story. A twisting tale worthy of Mark Twain, with a big-hearted heroine at the center.
—MARTHA CONWAY, author of The Underground River

GOLD DIGGER, the remarkable Baby Doe Tabor.
1878, Colorado. When Lizzie Doe’s family loses everything in a fire, the twenty-year-old is forced to marry and go west to prospect a gold mine in Colorado, hoping to send money home to her parents. Miners, unaccustomed to such delicate beauty, nickname her Baby Doe, after a newborn deer.
But Baby Doe proves herself tougher than they imagine when she finds herself abandoned, pregnant and running the mine alone. Her pluck gains the admiration of Silver King Horace Tabor, married and twice her age, and running for U.S. Senator. In Tabor, Baby Doe finds devotion and true passion. When scandal and economic ruin threatens Tabor’s life, Baby Doe must make a painful choice.
Baby Doe Tabor was a real-life, deeply complex heroine, rising and falling and rising again with beguiling grit and stubborn spirit.

Rebecca grew up in Colorado exploring old mines, ghost towns and honky-tonks with her family, sparking her life-long love of the Rocky Mountains and obsession with the Tabors. Now, Rebecca lives and writes on her lavender farm in Sonoma, California.

Rebecca Rosenberg
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Booksparks Book Tour

Make Your Moment: The Savvy Woman's Communication Playbook For Getting The Success You Want

Award-winning ABC news anchor Dion Lim gives women the inside track on communications strategies that make or break careers
If the workplace is a battlefield for women, this is the playbook they need. Women face unique circumstances on their road to success, no matter age or experience, what their goals are, or industry. Make Your Moment addresses a wide range of career and workplace scenarios and "microinteractions" you must master if you care about succeeding in business. This book covers crucial career skills including:
-Thinking on your feet in the tough situations-Networking beyond your league -Handling awkward conversations with grace and confidence-Making online life work for you, including shutting down bullies and growing your audience-Building inner confidence-Communicating your personal brand-Turning mistakes into opportunities-Choosing which battles are worth fighting - then winning them! Along the way, you'll learn how the author found her own voice as an American-born Chinese woman in a traditionally white industry, how she rose to national fame, and the unexpected personal discoveries that have come with it.
It's those day-to-day interactions that nobody teaches about in school or in corporate training that can make or break a woman's career. Make Your Moment helps you master every interaction you'll face, for ultimate career success.


This is an amazing book that can help anyone who want to be successful in their career - whether you are just starting, fresh out of college, or looking to move up in your current professional role, feeling stuck, or lack the business acumen to push yourself to your full potential. This book should be required reading for anyone who want to succeed in business or in their professional career. The book is very easy to read and provides an amazing guide on how to handle potential issues, and problems and more importantly is how to tackle problems you may encounter and what to do about it.

As women, we often are very afraid to speak our minds and say what we really want to say. This book will help how to encourage and build confidence, and guide on how to communicate with people in the professional environment. You may be in a field that is male dominated and need to find your way to finding success without feeling intimidated or afraid.

This book is very well written and will definitely help in achieving success in your professional career and in business. This is a must read and I highly recommend this book to every woman I know.


Dion Lim is a Emmy Award-winning TV news anchor and reporter at ABC7/KGO-TV in San Francisco, CA. She has made her mark as a minority climbing the competitive TV news ladder. But she stands apart as a professional journalist who is willing to share her own stories with viewers and readers, as well. (Just ask her about the time she anchored an 11pm newscast with a chicken wing bone stuck in her neckline!)

A sought-after speaker and emcee, she has hosted events with everyone from news legend Dan Rather to Hollywood celebrities like Patrick Dempsey and community groups, such as a leadership summit of 600+ attendees for immigrant women. She has contributed to the Huffington Post by Arianna Huffington’s personal invitation and has also written a series for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. She has been named one of America’s Top 18 Leaders in TV Under 34 by Broadcasting & Cable Magazine.

In her new book, coming out in 2019, Dion will share her stories — and the crucial lessons for women that she has learned along the way.

When she’s not writing, Dion and her husband, a professional poker player, are adventurous travelers who share a love of food, dachshunds, and the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Booksparks Book Tour

THAT'S MENTAL: Painfully Funny Things That Drive Me Crazy About Being Mentally Ill

PUB DATE: 6th November 2019
AUTHOR: Amanda Rosenberg

Award-winning Asian British comedy writer Amanda Rosenberg presents an intimate memoir of confessional essays about the hilarious, inappropriate, and often difficult side to being mentally ill.

That’s Mental breaks down myths and misconceptions about what it means to be a millennial with mental illness in a darkly funny, but relatable way. In her new book, Rosenberg addresses the overlooked and offbeat issues of mental illness, shedding light on topics that are off-limits, uncomfortable, or just downright embarrassing. This book details every challenging and awkward stage of Amanda’s journey with mental illness and how she manages what she calls her, “garden variety crazy.” These pages are a look at the everyday realities of mental illness - the particular kind of torture that is finding a good therapist, the challenges of figuring out the elusive correct mix of medications, and the appropriate responses with how to deal with the friend who insists ‘but you don’t look depressed’.


5 stars

This book was absolutely brilliant and down right hilarious!
As a nurse, my favorite rotation was in psychiatric and mental health. I have always felt a connection with my patients.
This book was able to look at mental illness and gloriously shines a light to the stigmas. It helps us become more understanding, and have better awareness about the importance of mental health.
This is a must read!

ARIA Blog Tour: The Child from the Ash Pits

In the aftermath of the General Strike, times are tough for coal miners and their families. Can little Cally break free from poverty, and forge a successful life for herself?

When Cally loses her beloved mum, she hopes her father will comfort and protect her. But instead she soon acquires a cruel and vengeful stepmother, and Cally begins to fear that she is on her own.

Through uncomfortable years in service, to a terrifying brush with the streets, through hard work and determination, Cally finally finds a place for herself. She even trusts enough in the future to create her own family, despite being so cruelly abandoned by her own.

At last in a place of peace and contentment, Cally has all she ever hoped for, but with World War 2 looming, how long can she hold on to the people she loves?

Taking us from 1926 all the way to end of the Second World War, Chrissie Walsh has written a heart-breaking tale of love and survival, perfect for fans of Dilly Court and Lyn Andrews.


This is a truly amazing historical fiction that had me rooting for Caroline “Cally’ right from the start. Cally’s life begins with such an emotional hardship when her mother and unborn sibling dies, when she witnesses her father’s indiscretions, and when she experiences having a step mother who hates her to the core. In her growing years, she yearns for the love of her parent.

However, her father buried in his own guilt and grief was not able to provide any love or attention she needed and craved. Worse yet, as she buried herself in doing well in school she was denied by her step-mother the opportunity to further her studies. Instead, her step-mother sends her away to work in a home where the master is known to take advantage of young women.

The story goes through history from 1926 through WWII, and the hardships of the laborers in the mine, the country and the injured soldiers. As the saga of Cally’s life continues, we see her through her marriage and family, her life continues to be tested. But because of Cally’s strength and resilience we are rewarded with a satisfying story where difficulties and challenges are a part of life.

Walsh is an exceptional storyteller that has brilliantly delivered an amazing life story of how a girl finds her way and picks herself up from the ash pits.


Cally pressed her back hard against the sharp brick of the ash pit wall, the scratchy feeling through her old winter coat nurturing her frustration. Mam would be lying in bed upstairs full of aches and pains, waiting for Cally to go up and see her… and downstairs… she wondered what her dad and Annie were doing at that very moment.

She’d been thrilled when Mam first told her about the baby, a little brother or a sister to play with, but she didn’t feel like that now. It’s the baby’s fault Mam’s poorly and Annie’s staying to mind the house, she silently told the distant slag heaps. All I want is for Mam to get back to the way she used to be and for Annie to go away.

Her thoughts black, and her bony little bottom chilled from sitting on the cold flagstones, Cally wandered onto the wasteland in search of something pleasanter to occupy her mind. Trailing vetch and fescue grasses tickled her ankles and a film of white blossom iced her crow-black hair where it grazed the tallest parsley fronds. In a bedraggled thorn bush a pair of robins flitted from branch to branch. Cally stopped to watch them, their beady little eyes twinkling back at her and making her giggle. Close by the bush a cluster of aconites sprouted amongst the weeds. Cally plucked them, her fingers nimble with impatience. She’d take them home for Mam; Mam liked flowers.

Then she remembered. Her dad had locked her out. She badly wanted to go to her mam but she didn’t dare go back home until her dad called her. Tightening her grip on the bunch of aconites, she crushed the sappy stalks to slime before tossing the wilting posy into the air: Babies! Pit strikes! Annie! They all stank!


Meanwhile, in the larger of the two bedrooms in number eleven, Jackson’s Yard, Ada Manfield wakened from an uneasy sleep. Gazing up at the ceiling, she solemnly assessed her situation. She hadn’t suffered like this when she was expecting Cally; she had positively bloomed in her first pregnancy. Not even the three brief miscarriages that followed had caused this much grief. Now, her limbs swollen with fluid and every breath agonising, she feared death might easily find her. And if that wasn’t enough to contend with, she was now faced with the George and Annie thing.

Through closed eyes Ada recalled the day Annie had arrived at the door of number eleven, begging to be taken in. At first she hadn’t recognised the trollopish young woman standing there, a battered Gladstone bag at her feet. It wasn’t until Annie had thrown herself against Ada’s chest gabbling a tale of woe that Ada had realised this was the sister she hadn’t seen for seven years.

And I was pleased to see her then, thought Ada, tossing back the bedcovers. I even thought it propitious that she should arrive just when I needed someone to help run the house and care for Cally whilst I was laid up. How wrong was I?

But I had no way of knowing she had grown into a devious, spiteful young woman, thought Ada. After all, she was only a child when I last saw her. And now she’s a brazen seventeen-year-old vamp with an eye for your husband, urged an inner voice, and he, the fool, seems happy to play his part.

Ada heaved herself to the edge of the bed, thinking back to the first time her suspicions had been aroused. Then she had contented herself with the idea that it was her condition making her unusually sensitive. She had come downstairs unexpectedly, to find Annie in George’s arms, their lips almost touching. ‘She’s got something in her eye,’ George had blustered, Annie twittering that a spark had shot out from the fire whilst she was tending it. And I wanted to believe them, Ada told herself, planting her feet on the floor and struggling upright.


About the author


Born and raised in West Yorkshire, Chrissie trained to be a singer and cellist before becoming a teacher. When she married her trawler skipper husband, they moved to a little fishing village in N. Ireland. Chrissie is passionate about history and that passion and knowledge shine through in her
writing. The Girl from the Mill is her debut novel.

Follow Chrissie: 

Twitter: @WalshChrissie

Facebook: N/A

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Bittersweet Tapestry by Kevin O'Connell

Publication Date: November 1, 2019

Gortcullinane Press

eBook & Paperback

Series: The Derrynane Saga, Book Three

Genre: Historical Fiction

A dramatic decade has passed since sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell first departed her family’s sanctuary at remote Derrynane on the Kerry coast to become the wife of one of the wealthiest men in Ireland and the mistress of John O’Connor’s Ballyhar – only to have her elderly husband die within months of the marriage.

Unhappily returned to Derrynane, within a year, under the auspices of their uncle, a general in the armies of Maria Theresa, Eileen and her sister, Abigail departed for Vienna and a life neither could have ever imagined – one at the dizzying heights of the Hapsburg empire and court, where Abigail ultimately became principal lady-in-waiting to the Empress herself, whilst Eileen, for nine momentous years, served as governess to the Empress’s youngest daughter – during which time Maria Antonia, whom Eileen still calls ‘my wee little archduchess’, has become Marie Antoinette, dauphine of France, though she continues to refer to her beloved governess as “Mama”.

As Bittersweet Tapestry opens, it is the High Summer of 1770. Having escorted the future Queen of France from Vienna to her new life, Eileen and her husband, Captain Arthur O’Leary of the Hungarian Hussars, along with their little boy and Eileen’s treasured friend (and former servant) Anna Pfeffer are establishing themselves in Ireland.

Their ties to Catholic Europe remain close and strong; in addition to Abigail and her O’Sullivan family and General O’Connell, his wife and young daughter in Vienna, their brother Daniel is an officer in the Irish Brigade of the armies of Louis XV, whilst their youngest brother, Hugh, is studying at École Militaire in Paris, his path to a commission in the Dillons’ Regiment of the Brigade. His gentle Austrian friendship with Maria Antonia having inevitably waned, Hugh’s relationship with the strikingly-beautiful young widowed Princess Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy is blossoming.

Though happily ensconced at Rathleigh House, the O’Leary family estate in County Cork, being prominent amongst those families which are the remnants of the old Gaelic order in the area, Eileen and Art find that the dark cloud of the Protestant Ascendancy hovers heavily, at times threateningly, over them.

Bittersweet Tapestry is a tale of stark contrasts – between Hugh’s life of increasing prominence amidst the glitter and intrigue of the French court and Art and Eileen’s in English-occupied Ireland – especially as the latter progresses into a dark, violent and bloody tale . . . ultimately involving an epic tragedy, which along with the events leading up to it and those occurring in its dramatic wake, will permanently impact the O’Learys, the O’Connells – and their far-flung circle of family and friends in Ireland and across Europe.

With his uniquely-descriptive prose, Kevin O'Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful fabric affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe as well as English-ruled Ireland. As the classic story unfolds amongst the O’Learys, the O'Connells, their friends and enemies, the tumultuously-dangerous worlds in which they dwell will continue to gradually – but inexorably – become even more so.

Bittersweet Tapestry joins O’Connell’s well-received Beyond Derrynane and Two Journeys Home as The Derrynane Saga continues – an enthralling epic, presenting a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant – and, in the case of France – violent change.


I am in awe of the talent Kevin O'Connell has in writing such a rich and detailed story with utmost care of historical accuracy in these three magnificent books. I cannot stop talking about them to whomever asks for an amazing Historical Fiction read. This epic saga is one for the movies or even an amazing series to be seen by all in either Amazon, Netflix or HBO. I am in such awe of the talented and the work invested into this. The writer is an absolute genius and master of this time period. These books are a must read. Though this book may be read as a stand alone, having some background on the other two books helps with learning more about the fabulous characters and their back stories.

In Book 1 Beyond Derrynane we see Eileen O'Connell, a sixteen-year-old, arranged to marry John O’Connor, one of the most influential and wealthiest man in Ireland and also fifty years her senior, becoming the mistress of Ballyhar. O'Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage.
Eileen ends up in the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna with her elder sister Abigail experiencing the Habsburg Empire far away from Derrynane.

In Book 2, It’s now 1767, and Eileen O’Connell travels back to Ireland and returns to Derrynane as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court, and her sister Abigail becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa. Eileen for nine years served as governess to the Empress’s youngest daughter – Marie Antoinette, dauphine of France.

In Bittersweet Tapestry, Book 3, it is now 1770, and Eileen with her husband Captain Arthur O’Leary of the Hungarian Hussars, their little boy and Eileen’s treasured friend Anna Pfeffer are back in Ireland. Their ties to Catholic Europe remain close; Eileen and Art find that the dark cloud of the Protestant In the English occupies Ireland. The story takes a very dark turn and becomes a violent and epic tragedy to some of the characters we have grown to love.

Kevin O'Connell literally weaves threads of historical fact and creativity in an extremely well researched and masterful understanding of the Eighteenth Century Europe to create an amazing and detailed unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe as well as English-ruled Ireland.

This epic story beautifully wraps up Bittersweet Tapestry, Beyond Derrynane and Two Journeys Home as The Derrynane Saga weaves to an epic story and an amazing completion.


Available on Amazon

About the Author

Kevin O'Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O'Connell's own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For much of his four decades-long legal career, O'Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.


Why Does One Write Historical Fiction?

            As the question, “How d’you do it?” –– in terms of thinking up and then writing stories, is frequently asked of me, so too is the question “Why d’you do it?” – regarding ones motivation to work in this particular genre, to be enamoured of the past.
 This is not something upon which I’ve dwelt, but having been asked this  question more and more frequently recently, it’s become one which I thought it might be interesting to ponder.
How and why does one finds oneself drawn to writing of the past – no matter how distant? What is it one finds fascinating – because a writer really does need to be fascinated with her topic or subject – in order to do the best job.
I have written recently that there are probably as many ways to “write correctly as there are writers” – and it is probably true when one ventures into this type of introspection that each person who writes history – whether fact or fiction – has his or her own reasons for being drawn to the topic – especially if one remains with it.
Whilst the reasons would probably be fascinating to psychiatrists and psychologists,. I write solely as a lay-person as to these disciplines . . . so I shall share only what are/have been perhaps my own motivations:
Reflecting on this, I cannot remember a time when I was not interested in the past.
From childhood on, running throughout the entire experiences I speak of below, I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family conscious of the past – of Ireland, especially in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, being aware of some of its least-known people, of where and how they lived, and what they did to survive – and, in some cases, thrive, knowing at least to some extent who was who back a number of generations.  The downside (it seems there is always a downside to things Irish!)  of this – truth be told – is that more than a few of the O’Connells were and are snobs, at times rightly-characterised as being “West Brits” – not to mention being, stubborn, arrogant and prideful.
Ah, but I digress –
So then I grew up with a great deal of family history and lore – and with and as a result of it – developed a fondness for the Eighteenth Century on both sides of the Atlantic, first in Ireland and Britain, France and “Catholic Europe” – leading to a fascination with  the “Wild Geese”  and the Irish Brigade of France, as well as members of the fallen Gaelic Aristocracy serving Catholic monarchs in Austria, Spain – even the Russian Czars and Catherine the Great
I believe it’s fair to say that none of this has ever left me, and indeed much of it has served as the basis for the Derrynane Saga.
I grew up in an area where the American Revolution was “The War”.  Even as late as the 1950s relics of Washington’s army’s presence in the area were still being found – a belt buckle, musket balls lost during a hasty departure, shards of salt-glazed pottery. I do not remember when it was – I was a very little boy – but the first time I walked on the grounds of the Old Paramus Dutch Reformed Church, knowing already, but hearing my father again point out that here – right here where we are – Washington and his ragged army had stayed, here – in the church itself – he plotted his escape across the Jerseys with his officers – and it thrilled me beyond belief.
So very early-on I went through a “Revolutionary period” – a family visit to Williamsburg yielded a tricorn hat and further enchantment with the period.  Children’s books – there was a wonderful series of biographies of historical European and American figures called Signature Books – I believe I wound up owning most of them – and eventually “real” history books became a part of my life from about age eight or nine. By the time I was perhaps a sophomore in high school I had slogged my way through all seven volumes of Douglas Southall Freeman’s magnificent George Washington, a Biography. Almost every time I was in Washington and Virginia  as a child with my parents – which was frequently – I made sure we’d occasionally drop by Mount Vernon – or Arlington House, or Woodlawn Plantation (home of Washington’s step-granddaughter – who with her husband, his nephew, became an early Virginia abolitionist).
As I contemplate continuing the Derrynane Saga, and considering various possible story lines, it well may be that much of my “Revolutionary period” could  become a valuable resource.   
Speaking of Northern Virginia leads me to the fact that horses have always been a great part of my life, as my mother – and  I – were both active equestrians, a not insignificant amount of time was spent in Northern Virginia – particularly around Middleburg, in Loudoun County.
It goes almost without saying that the American Civil War was in many ways fought primarily – and decided – in Virginia. Thus, my “Revolutionary period” was followed by a very intense “Civil War period” – as there is history – for good or for ill – almost literally around every corner in this area where I spent so much time. Indeed, what is now called the “Mosby Heritage Area” includes all or parts of five counties in the Northern Virginia Piedmont and lower Shenandoah Valley, including : Loudoun. Named for John Singleton Mosby, a colourful local Confederate “raider,” (who before the war a lawyer in Warrenton) and whose activities against the Union forces and especially their supply trains, led to the area being referred to during the conflict as “Mosby’s Confederacy”.
I have walked the battlefields at Manassas and Sharpsburg, at Chancellorsville more than once – as well as many others, I read voraciously, both children’s books and adult,  yet immersing myself in Mr. Freeman’s work, his four volume R.E. Lee, A Biography as well as his classic multi-volume Lee’s Lieutenants. Shelf upon shelf of books of this era remain with me – stories of battles and campaigns, leaders and average people – black and white.
I think it’s fair to stay that – from childhood, boyhood and even as an adult – riding – whether across the open country in Loudoun County or in New Jersey or in competition – it was easy for me to feel a connection with the past – no tricorn hat, of course, but being one with the horse, clad in snug-fitting breeches, tall boots, the creak of the saddle beneath one’s bum, against one’s thighs – the basics are little different today than they were in the Eighteenth Century. In Virginia, it was especially easy to imagine, to “make believe” as a lad,  or even as a man – that Washington or men like him were perhaps ahead or around that corner – as they may well have been – more than once!
If one has not already surmised it, I admit to being something of a romantic – perhaps one cannot do what I do, write what I write without having a strong sense of romance – for the lifestyles, the lives, even the clothing of the past.
Similarly – be it some form of romanticism or no – one must have a genuine interest in how different people led their lives at this time and in these places of which I write  - including the very basics of food preparation and eating, dressing, travel, manners  and mores, as well as entertainments – books and music and education. An interest in how things worked and were done, even being fascinated by the reality that during her years in Vienna Eileen O’Connell could neither dress nor undress herself – not necessarily because she wanted to be pampered but because she literally could not put on and remove her clothing without help. Eighteenth Century men – whatever their station – appear to have had it easier!
As one delves into a particular period, in my case the Eighteenth Century, one must reconcile oneself to, at least to some degree, accepting what I would characterise as being uncomfortable, even horrible, realities – violence, danger, slavery, discrimination – as they existed at the time. This is rather critical in writing historical fiction, as uncomfortable as it may be to the author  – one cannot do justice to the historical part of this form of fiction by railing on about “equal rights” or by having one’s hero or heroine be little more than an enlightened Twenty-first Century person in a frock coat or flowing robe – it simply doesn’t “work”.  Thus, throughout the Saga, whilst Eileen O’Connell is clearly far from being the typical meek and pliant women of her time in history and her class, she was also a staunch royalist, a believer in the system of absolute monarchy, despite her distaste for the Sassenach occupiers of her native Ireland, and a traditionalist in terms of marriage, family.
I have been soundly (and not necessarily unfairly) criticised for some of the violence, especially in Beyond Derrynane, as well as some – particularly one –  characters’ proclivity to perhaps all-too frequently resort to self-help in the form of shooting people. Though the Habsburgs maintained a rather modern-style police force, at least in and about Vienna, the other settings for the story, particularly Ireland, were barely policed at all – and there was considerable violence – both offensive and defensive. Again, the reality of the time.
So, yes, gentle reader, I do find the past – especially the period and the people and places of which I continue to write – all bloody fascinating, absorbing and, indeed, more than a wee bit of an escape from the unpleasant realities of our own place in Twenty-first Century history.

And all of this this is why I write historical fiction!

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Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, November 1

Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Sunday, November 3

Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, November 4

Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Wednesday, November 6

Interview at The Writing Desk

Feature at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, November 8

Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, November 11

Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 13

Review & Guest Post at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 15

Guest Post at Before the Second Sleep

Sunday, November 17

Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, November 18

Review at Books and Zebras

Tuesday, November 19

Feature at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, November 20

Review at Al-Alhambra Book Reviews

Friday, November 22

Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, November 25

Review at Hooked on Books

Tuesday, November 26

Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Review & Guest Post at Nursebookie

Wednesday, November 27

Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, November 29

Review at Broken Teepee

Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Sunday, November 24, 2019

11/24/19 RRR BOOK TOUR: Lottie Sparkles Magical Discovery

Lottie Sparkles Magical Discovery
PUB DATE: 30th August 2019
PUBLISHER: Austin Macauley Publishers, ltd. 
Hardcover, 30 pgs

Who wouldn't like a magical jacket?

Lottie Sparkles is a little girl who loves everything sparkly,mainly clothes. Anything plain or dirty is a disgrace in Lottie s mind! When Lottie is sent to spend time with her lovely grandparents in the countryside, she is furious because that essentially means smelly animals, lots of puddles and hard work!But what she certainly didn't count on was coming face to face with a magical object.

Lottie for her two week holiday will be spending with her grandparents Grandma Ada and Grandad - George who lived in a tiny village called Nosegobbled. Lottie is a young lady who enjoyed everything sparkly and beautiful, and her thoughts about spending with her grandparents seem quite dull and anything but fun or sparkly. Her first week in the farm was absolutely disastrous! she was covered in mud and the farm animals took her clothes from her. In the second week, her grandad takes her up to the attic where she discovers a treasure trove and her Magical Discovery makes her second week stay with her grandparents exciting and lifts her mood. In the end, her visit with her grandparents ended up being such an amazing and magical experience.

This story was cute and certainly would be enjoyed by our young readers as they would love Lottie and her Magical Sparkling world. Pick this up for a fun and enjoyably sparkling read.

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Author Bio – 

The author loves everything sparkly and glittery but hopefully,she says, she is not a diva like Lottie from her book. Aside from all the glitz and glamour,she is a collector of magical books, tea sets, movies and a huge fan of chocolate. She has two little girls also known as "The Little Book-Fairies" with a BIG imagination.
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Giveaway to Win 1 x signed copy of Lotties Sparkles Magical Adventure (UK / Europe Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK / Europe entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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­­­­­TITLE: My CHRISTMAS Fake Fiance
PUB: Independently Published
PUB DATE: 9th October 2019

He needs a fake fiance to seal a deal.

She needs a Christmas miracle to save her home.

Devlin is a sexy billionaire with a successful company that supplies boxes to Bamazon. Allie is an activist trying to save the trees. When these two opposites are forced to strike up a deal the fickle snow flurries of fate send them down a destined road they never expected.


There is something about "enemies to lovers" trope that I enjoy so much. This one is certainly not to disappoint. Linda West delivers a story that is anything but typical and her writing is both entertaining, sexy and un-putdownable. You will have this story filling up all your cravings for a love story sure to make your heart flutter. I enjoyed this fantastic read with absolute delight and pleasure. Thank you Linda West for an amazing Christmas story that is absolutely romantic, funny, and heartwarming.

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Author Bio 

Linda West is the best selling author of the adorable and enchanting "Christmas Kisses and Cookies." It is a delightful series of holiday romances based around the town of Kissing Bridge and the magical Landers sisters who are the reigning blue ribbon cookie queens thanks to their mothers' 'special' recipe book.

Linda was the owner of Mayberry - a celebrity-filled restaurant in Malibu where many of her recipes enchanted the regulars such as Tom Hanks and Anthony Hopkins to name a few. Her recipes are sprinkled throughout her fiction books much to the delight of her fans.

Her newest venture is in the cozy mystery and humor genre. With - Death by Crockpot - the first in her newest series -Linda takes her favorite known characters from Kissing Bridge and throws them into some side-splitting funny adventures.

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PUB DATE: 10/10/2019
GENRE: Historical Fiction


1942 – The war rages on and Ellie must do her bit!

Ellie Simpson isn't your usual Spitfire pilot, but then with the world at war nothing is quite as it used to be! The ATA is calling upon its most expert and trusted pilots to deliver the precious bombers wherever they're needed, and Ellie, who can fly a Spitfire as well as the boys on the frontline, is their newest recruit.

Giving her all to a job she loves leaves Ellie precious little time for Squadron Leader Jack Reynolds. And while Ellie is brave enough to take the controls of a Spitfire, it takes a different kind of courage to open her heart to love once again. With her friends and family in constant danger she realises that their love is strong enough to stand the test of all the hardship the war can throw at them.

An emotional historical fiction that tells the story of friendship, camaraderie and triumph over adversity.

This is a very well written book that will keep you engrossed right from the first page to the very last. I enjoyed this book thoroughly for the amazing characters - like Ellie Simpson, who is every bit as capable and skilled as any of other pilots, as a woman I am in awe. I enjoyed that the setting is in the early 40's, and finding love during the most chaotic time in the middle of war is very compelling to me. 

The characters were written with so much care in their complexities and in dealing with grief, the war and their family life. I love how the characters were introduced and highlighting the role women played at that time was pretty amazing and everyone should really know the bravery of this women during the war. 

Book Extract:

Frankie was the best-looking guy in the ATA – he seemed oblivious to his charms and Jack had rarely seen him in the company of any of the hopeful young ladies who swarmed around him.

It was only twenty miles or so to Oxford and the worst of the snow had been cleared by the soldiers who had very little to do at the moment. As soon as Reg had mentioned it being hush-hush, he’d guessed what this was about.

Joe Cross, his uncle, had given him Glebe Farm Aero Club just before the war started, and had been involved in dodgy dealing. Joe had died two years ago in jail and Jack was no longer in contact with his aunt. He had never known exactly what his uncle had been incarcerated for – but he was damned sure it was something to do with blackmail and Mosley’s lot. All the fascists had been rounded up now as far as he knew.

Ellie’s mother had buggered off to live with her own father, Sir Reginald Humphrey, and she and Fred had been divorced. He was now happily married to Mabel and since Ellie’s eldest brother Neil’s funeral none of the Simpson family had had any contact with the fascist bastardHumphrey.

At one point everyone at Glebe Farm had expected to be arrested but fortunately this hadn’t happened. The more he thought about it the more convinced he was that this unexpected summons to Oxford was something to do with what had happened back then.

He frowned. There was another brother, George, who had sided with his grandfather and mother – he hoped for Ellie’s sake her estranged family weren’t going to drag her into something unsavoury. He didn’t give a damn about his reputation, but if the woman he loved was damaged by something his uncle had set in motion he would be appalled. Perhaps it would be better for both of them to stop seeing each other until whatever was going on was sorted.

There were very few private cars on the road nowadays – petrol rationing had seen to that. Therefore, apart from military vehicles of various sorts he didn’t see much traffic and the vehicle entered Oxford sooner than he’d expected.

He looked around with interest, never having been to this university town before. Students on bicycles, their black gowns flapping behind them, showed that life went on more or less as usual here. The car pulled up in front of an impressive archway.

The driver jumped out and opened the door for him as if he was someone important. If the guy only knew the real reason for his being here, he wouldn’t be so polite. The car roared off leaving Jack standing in front of the college, not sure where he should be.

A young man in mufti rushed up to him. ‘Squadron Leader Reynolds? Excellent, please come with me. I apologise for not being here to greet you but you’re earlier than we expected.’

Jack followed and was led across the quad and into the hallowed hall itself. Strangely there were students and professors wandering about the place as well. If this was the home of some secret service or other it seemed odd that they were sharing the accommodation with regular guys.

‘It’s the third door on the left, sir.’ His guide vanished, leaving him to make his own way, and he was still none the wiser as to why he was there.


Fenella Jane Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker,hotelier,chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer.

She has over twenty five Regency romantic adventures published plus one Jane Austen re-telling and one YA romantic fantasy.

12/5/2022 WITCHA GONA DO By Avery Flynn

  Publisher: Berkley (December 6, 2022) An unlucky witch and her know-it-all nemesis must team up in the first of a new, hot romantic comedy...