Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"Searching for Gertrude" by D. E. Haggerty

Searching for Gertrude
by D. E. Haggerty

Searching for Gertrude by D. E. Haggerty

Searching for Gertrude by D. E. Haggerty is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other participating blogs as well.

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey.
Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position working at the consulate in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love.
Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.
How far would you go to find the woman you love?

As usual, the clerk rushed out of the room as soon as it was lunchtime the next day. Rudolf waited until the other administrative workers had left, and then he waited an additional five minutes to make sure no one was coming back. He didn’t sneak over to the clerk’s desk. He strolled over as if he had business to which he needed to attend even as his palms sweated and his heart beat erratically. He tugged on the drawer to ensure it was locked before pulling the letter opener out of his pocket. He looked around to ensure he was still alone before kneeling in front of the drawer and sticking the letter opener in the tiny lock. With only a bit of jiggling, the lock clicked open. As quietly as he could, Rudolf pulled the drawer open and peeked in. Sure enough, the cabinet keys were sitting in the tray on the top of the drawer. He slid the drawer closed and went to stand. That’s when he realized his mistake. The drawer had to be locked when the clerk arrived. Otherwise, he would immediately assume something was wrong.
Rudolf kneeled in front of the closed drawer and once again stuck his letter opener in the lock. If the letter opener could unlock the drawer, it stood to reason it could also lock it. It took quite a bit of fiddling made worse by his shaky hands before he felt a click. He heard the clacking of boots on tile and jumped to his feet while thrusting the letter opener in his pocket. The sound came closer. He didn’t have time to check the lock was engaged. He rushed in the opposite direction of the approaching person, entering the hallway on the far side of the office. He walked to the toilet and waited until he was locked in a stall before he dared to take a breath. He leaned against the stall door and took deep breaths while his heart slowly went back to its regular rhythm.
After he managed to gain some semblance of calm, he splashed cold water on his face before returning to his desk where he waited for the clerk to arrive. Was the desk drawer locked? Would the clerk know someone had tampered with the drawer even if it was locked? It took all of Rudolf’s willpower to not constantly glance at the clerk’s empty desk. When the clerk finally arrived, Rudolf tilted his chair in the clerk’s direction and waited with bated breath. But nothing happened other than the clerk unlocking his desk after sitting down. Rudolf waited for the man to notice things were amiss. It took several hours before he realized the clerk was not going to notice anything, and he could relax. He could breathe for the first time since lunch and got back to work.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“This WWII era story, set in Istanbul, is emotional, captivating and amazing. The author has obviously done her research, and she makes actual historical events an integral part of the story.” ~ Book Babble
“This story is just full of historical details that really give the reader a sense of the life that the people in Europe were leading during this dark time in history. It provides an excellent backdrop for this information that keeps the reader wondering what the two characters will discover next.” ~ Books a Plenty Book Reviews
“Searching for Gertrude is in two words spectacularly beautiful. It is emotional, beautiful, captivating and just engaging and so so amazing. DE Haggerty’s creates the environment of what Rudolf and Rosalynn are going through that is so palpable and real. She creates the historical emotion and happenings in such a realistic way in both situations and emotion.” ~ hello-booklover
“The entire story is entrancing, the setting is perfect, and the trials and tribulations our characters endure are believable. Historical events are a pivotal part of the story, instead of being thrown in as background noise, and they’re intelligently written. There’s never a lull, and the author puts you in that time and place. I was hooked from the beginning and just hated to put it down!” ~ CeeCee Lawson
“This was a really good book and well written. I was drawn into the story and could visualize all that was going on. This is a book that I am still thinking about and I will read again.” ~ T from Florida

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
The book begins in Germany, 1933, when sixteen-year-old Gertrude and her family are forced to abandon their home and move to Istanbul, Turkey, because they are Jewish. Her nineteen-year-old neighbour Rudolf is forced to watch his soulmate leave, and he vows to be reunited with her one day. Eight years later, in 1941, Rudolf finally makes his way to Istanbul, after studying and gaining a position as a foreign diplomat. There, he meets Rosalyn, a young Jewish woman who has recently arrived from New York - in the guise of becoming a nanny - to help the exiled Jews in any way she can. Rudolf and Rosalyn form a mutually beneficial relationship, meeting on a bench in the park to update each other on their search for Gertrude. But, as their feelings for each other grow, what will happen once their search for Gertrude is over?
The story is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Rosalyn and Rudolf. The chapters headed with a quote by Rosalyn are from Rudolf’s viewpoint and vice versa, so these quotes serve to provide a commentary on the events of the preceding chapter. It’s obvious the author has done extensive research to write this book. The inclusion of German and Turkish dialogue adds an authentic touch; however, it is never translated, and the meaning is not always apparent in context. Many real-life events are also incorporated into the plot; the account of the Struma, a ship carrying nearly 800 Jewish refugees, is particularly heartbreaking.
While the author builds suspense by foreshadowing trials and tribulations to come, these never eventuate, and things are often resolved quite easily. This leaves us with more of a sweet, historical romance than a thrilling espionage thriller.
An entertaining and informative read.

About the Author
D. E. Haggerty
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn't flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed.
College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear.
After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law.
But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. So, I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before followingd the husband to Istanbul, where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go.
But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague, where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
Searching for Gertrude is my twelfth book.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"The Princelings of the North" by Jemima Pett

The Princelings of the North
(The Princelings of the East Book 8)
by Jemima Pett

The Princelings of the North (The Princelings of the East Book 8) by Jemima Pett

The Princelings of the North, the eighth book in The Princelings of the East series by Jemima Pett, has just been released.

Follow the Facebook launch event for all the latest updates. Keep reading for an excerpt and a giveaway.

Princelings Dylan and Dougall, who live in the far northwest of an island off the northwest coast of the Realms, rescue an exiled prince, and battle against the odds to restore him to his birthright.
Irrepressible Dylan and steady Dougall are inseparable denizens of the tiny castle of Haunn, so far away from the rest of civilisation that it’s almost off the map. And maps are one of the key elements of this intricate adventure. Dylan finds a treasure map inside a bottle washed up on the shore – and he reckons he knows where X is. Instead of treasure, he finds the exiled Prince Kevin of Castle Deeping, antagonist in the Talent Seekers, bit-player in Bravo Victor, and mystery prince in Willoughby the Narrator. Kevin has had time to realise what a fool he’s been, and now wants vengeance and his castle back, which is just the sort of adventurous challenge that Dylan craves.
Lovers of the series will devour this latest adventure, but newcomers may find it best to start with the box set of books 1-3 or book 5; book 7 links to Kevin’s disappearance. This is a mystery adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 10 and upwards. The series is set to conclude with book 10.

Kevin’s exile

“It’s a map, look! A treasure map!”
Dougall looked at the scrap of paper his brother Dylan had smoothed out on their bed.
“How do you know it’s a map?”
Dylan sighed, and pointed out the lines. “There’s the outline of the island, and the rocky inlet where the boats go in, and the wiggly lines are where the creek goes into the marshes. And there’s an X for where the treasure is buried!” he finished, leaping off the bed. “Oh, why can’t we go now? It might rain tomorrow!”
“But where did you get it?” Dougall was not one to act without all the facts.
“It got washed into the tide pool down near the Ensay Burn. I fished it out. It was in a bottle. I saw it glinting green and bobbing about.  I thought it had a stick inside it, but it broke when I dropped it on the way back and I found the paper!”
“But why do you think it’s a treasure map?” Dougall had not yet caught his brother’s enthusiasm.
“It’s got an X on it, look!”
“It could mean anything, X.”
“Like what?”
Dougall thought for a bit. He wasn’t familiar with maps, except of the night sky, since he was one of the star-watching team at the castle.  He didn’t go out of the castle much, except onto the crags above to check the solar cells or the turbine flow. It was Dylan who went all over the island, running messages. He’d been most places.
“Have you been to this place?” he asked Dylan, wondering whether he really did know what he was talking about after all.
“Umm, not exactly.  It’s pretty much on the way to Tober Hold, but I usually go a bit further up the glen, and keep to the high ground.  This bit’s all wet.” He pointed to the network of lines he’d described as the creek.
“And there’s nothing there that could be marked as a cross?”
Dylan thought for a bit.  Then he looked at the map again and then at his feet. “There’s ruin on a rock. By the crossroads,” he mumbled.
Dougall looked closer at the map. “Well, nobody’s marked the roads going into and out of the cross. You might still be right. Is it the right place for the crossroads?”
It was Dylan’s turn to study the map closely. “Yes,” he concluded. He stared at it for a moment. “Why would anyone…”
“Mark a cross on a map and not the roads leading up to it?” finished Dougall, his eyes sparkling.  “How long will it take us to get there?”

Castle Haunn

Raising money for the Ulva Buyout Appeal #UlvaBuyout
The little island of Ulva is just to the south of the area where Jemima has placed Castle Haunn, Dylan and Dougall’s home on the Isle of Mull. The community of North West Mull have the opportunity to buy the island from the current landowner, and use it as a sustainable resource, securing their own futures. Jemima invites everyone to join in her part of the fundraising effort on her JustGiving page, where you can get more details. Anyone donating on her page will get a copy of a new novella written especially for the appeal, Dylan and the Lights of Ulva, with Jemima’s thanks.
Please help to promote this massive appeal for the small number (in the tens rather than the hundreds) of islanders.

About the Author
Jemima wrote her first book when she was eight years old. She was heavily into world-building, drawing maps, building railway timetables, and dreaming of being a champion show-jumper, until schoolwork got in the way. Then she went down the science path, writing research papers, manuals and reports, as well as editing the newsletters for her sports clubs. Forty years on, she started writing stories about her guinea pigs and their adventures in a fantasy world where everything ran on strawberry juice. Eventually The Princelings of the East took shape, originally intended as a trilogy, but the characters just wouldn’t lie down. The planned ending will now be with book ten.
Meanwhile, Jemima continues to enjoy the company of new guinea pigs in her home in Norfolk, UK. You can enjoy their blog George’s Guinea Pig World.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of 2 paperback copies of The Princelings of the North by Jemima Pett (open internationally) OR one of 2 ebook box sets of books 1-3 (open internationally).


Monday, January 29, 2018

"Smoke City" by Keith Rosson

Smoke City
by Keith Rosson

Smoke City by Keith Rosson

Smoke City by Keith Rosson is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.
Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been ... but how will he find her?
When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.
In Smoke City, Keith Rosson continues to blur genre and literary fiction in a way that is in turns surprising, heartfelt, brutal, relentlessly inventive, and entirely his own.

The years bled together. Each waking morning—or afternoon, truth be told, or evening—couched in a familiar bloom of panic. After that, after Vale realized where he was, who he was, came the rest: sickness, fear, assessment of damage, all of it stitched together with the fine red thread of guilt.
Art & Artists had once called him a “relentless avatar of our contemporary, post-nuclear unease.”
He woke to the alarm, studded in fresh bruises. New scabs on his knees and his teeth loose in his mouth. His lack of memory familiar in itself. Sunlight fell in the room in fierce, distinct bands.
He stood shivering in the shower, the water lancing against him while lava, hot and malicious, compressed itself behind his optic nerves. This pulsing thunder in the skull, and moments from the Ace High the night before came to him slowly, like something spied through a fun house mirror. He bent over to pick up a sliver of soap and with his trembling hand batted a rust-dotted razor lying on the rim of the bathtub. The razor slid down the tub, luge-like, and Vale reached down for it, trying not to gag as dark spots burst like stars in his periphery. He stumbled and stepped on the razor. The crack of plastic, and thin threads of blood began to snake toward the drain. It was painless.
“Oh, come on,” he croaked. “Shit’s sake.” He’d smoked nearly two packs of Camels the night before and sounded now like something pulled howling from a crypt. He tried to stand on his other foot to examine the cut and couldn’t manage it. He put his foot back down and stepped on the broken razor again, and now the floor of the tub was awash in an idiot’s Rorschach of red on white. He retched once and shut the water off, resigned to death—or at least collapse—at any second. The towel hanging from the back of the door reeked of mold, and he gagged against it and dropped it to the floor. He left bloody, shambling one-sided footprints to his bedroom.
Apart from the painting hanging above his bed (the sole Mike Vale original still in his possession), the fist-sized hole next to the light switch was the room’s only decoration. There was a dresser pitted with cigarette burns and topped with a constellation of empty beer bottles. An unmade bed ringed with dirty sheets. The alarm clock on the floor. Plastic blinds rattled against the open window.
He dressed slowly and stepped to the kitchen. Flies dive-bombed bottles mounded in the sink, on the counters. The light on the answering machine was blinking. He pressed the Play button, already knowing who it would be—who else called him?—and there was Candice’s voice.
“The only man in the country still using an answering machine,” she said. “Okay. This is me saying hi. Give me a ring when you discover, you know, fire and the wheel.” Her voice then became steeped in a cautious, thoughtful cadence, a measured quality he remembered more clearly from their marriage. “Richard and I should be heading up through there on tour for another Janey book soon. It’d be good to touch base, get dinner. Call me.”
It was September, the last gasp of summer. The apartment was explosive with trapped heat. A swath of sunlight fell across the countertop. Just looking at that glare hurt his eyes, his entire body, made him feel as if rancid dishwater was shooting straight into his guts. A nameless sadness, the sadness, the exact opposite of the Moment and so much more insistent, tore through him like a torrent. Like a rip of lightning, there and gone, and Vale sobbed. Just once. One ragged, graceless gasp. Pathetic. He stood sweating over the answering machine, ashamed of himself.
He was out the door five minutes later, blood wetting his sock, cold coffee and aspirin hammering a bitter waltz somewhere below his heart.
Time had once called him “a shaman of America’s apocalyptic incantations, one who catalogs our fears and thrusts them back at us in a ferocious Day-Glo palette.”
On his way to the bus stop Mike Vale, the shaman, the avatar—looking down in his shirt pocket for a cigarette—ran directly into a telephone pole, hard enough to give himself a nosebleed.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Rosson is a talent to be watched.” ~ Jason Heller, NPR
“A brilliantly haunting tale of forgiveness and redemption even in the face of abject failure ... Depravity and grace meet in a powerful, profound, and lavish banquet for the soul.” ~ Foreword Reviews (starred review)
“Rosson's talent is staggering, his craft is meticulous, and his story is one of the quirkiest, but most heartfelt I have ever read.” ~ Dianah Hughley, Bookseller, Powell's
“A surreal road novel about misfits on a journey to Southern California ... An offbeat, strangely satisfying adventure through a land of (literal) ghosts.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“[A] story about hope, about love and about the essential decency of people ... hugely satisfying ... the literary quality of Keith Rosson’s writing is truly remarkable and, at times, quite breathtakingly beautiful.” ~ Linda Hepworth, Nudge-Book Magazine

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Mike Vale is a brilliant artist who has fallen from grace into drunken obscurity. When his ex-wife dies suddenly, he feels compelled to travel to Los Angeles for her funeral. He picks up hitchhiker Marvin Deitz, who has been reincarnated and forced to die again and again as penance for executing Joan of Arc. Marvin is due to die again soon and is headed to Los Angeles in a last-ditch effort at redemption. Along the way, they pick up another hitchhiker - the ironically named Casper - a ghost hunter on his way to Los Angeles to make a reality show about “smokes”, the ghostly figures whose appearance in LA is becoming a regular occurrence. When these three lost souls come together, their lives will be changed forever.
The story is told from the points-of-view of Mike in the third person and Marvin in the first person, including entries from the journal he has been keeping over the centuries. Their accounts are interspersed with excerpts from newspaper articles, religious pamphlets, CDC pamphlets, and even a radio interview. The characters are perfectly flawed, and you will come to love each of them. And the way their stories converge is nothing short of amazing. The author sure has a way with words; his descriptions of Mike’s filthy apartment are so real that I am practically gagging right alongside Mike himself. His drunken bouts are also all too real, as are his hangovers.
Full of heartbreak and despair, this tale of friendship, love, and forgiveness is highly original and ultimately uplifting. Brilliant.
Warnings: coarse language, alcohol abuse, drug use.

About the Author
Keith Rosson
Keith Rosson is the author of the novels The Mercy of the Tide (2017, Meerkat Press) and Smoke City (2018, Meerkat Press). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. He is an advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.