Monday, February 29, 2016

Today is a very special day here at Baer Books. I am honored I was be able to read, review, interview a couple of the authors, and offer a Rafflecopter Giveaway sponsored by William Morrow Publishing for........
The Fall of Poppies
Stories of Love and the Great War
Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.
A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…
A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…
A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great
War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.
Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.
Author Info:
Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, an epistolary love story spanning an ocean and two wars. Named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2013, Letters From Skye has been published in seventeen countries.

Website  | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads
Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets. She writes regularly for the national press, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.
 Evangeline Holland is the founder and editor of Edwardian Promenade, the number one blog for lovers of World War I, the Gilded Age, and Belle Époque France with nearly forty thousand unique viewers a month. In addition, she blogs at Modern Belles of History. Her fiction includes An Ideal Duchess and its sequel, crafted in the tradition of Edith Warton.
Marci Jefferson is the author of Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart, which Publisher’s Weekly called “intoxicating.” Her second novel, The Enchantress of Paris, will release in Spring 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books.
Kate Kerrigan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island trilogy. In addition she has written for the Irish Tatler, a Dublin-based newspaper, as well as The Irish Mail and a RTE radio show, Sunday Miscellany.
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and international bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. She holds a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.
Heather Webb is an author, freelance editor, and blogger at award-winning writing sites and Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and she may also be found teaching craft-based courses at a local college
Beatriz Williams is the New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and A Hundred Summers. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. William Morrow will publish her forthcoming hardcover, A Certain Age, in the summer of 2016. 
Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

From “Something Worth Landing For” by Jessica Brockmole
I first met her, crying, outside of the medical department at Romorantin.
She’d been there, hunched on the bench in the hall, when I arrived for my appointment and was still there when I stepped from the doctor’s office. She wore the same bland coveralls and white armband as the other women who worked in the Assembly Building and I might have walked straight past. I always managed to make a fool of myself in front of women— on one memorable evening with an untied shoe and a bowl of chowder—  and was sure today would be no different. After all, I’d just been standing stark naked in front of another man and was still a little red in the face.
But she chose that exact moment to blow her nose, with such an unladylike trumpet that I couldn’t help but turn and stare.
I’d never heard such an unabashed sound from a woman. She didn’t even seem to care that she sounded like an elephant. She just kept her head down and her face buried in an excessively crumpled handkerchief.
She looked as healthy as a horse to be sitting outside the medical department. Not as scrawny as the other French girls around here. She had dark hair parted on the side and pinned up in waves, but her neck was flushed pink. I wondered what kind of bug she’d caught to leave her so stuffy.
She looked as healthy as a horse to be sitting outside the medical department. Not as scrawny as the other French girls around here. She had dark hair parted on the side and pinned up in waves, but her neck was flushed pink. I wondered what kind of bug she’d caught to leave her so stuffy.
“Hello. Are you waiting for the doc?” I asked. The army doc wasn’t much— despite the file in his hand, he’d insisted on calling me “Weaselly” instead of the “Wesley” on my paperwork—  but he could probably give her some silver salts or, at the very least, a replacement handkerchief.

She lifted her head and blinked red, wet eyes. I could have smacked myself. I was a dope. She wasn’t sick. She was miserable and sobbing and I had no idea what to do.

If I’d had a sister or a girlfriend or a mother with a heart made out of something softer than granite, I might have known how to handle a teary woman. I’d never gotten as far as breaking a girl’s heart.

Regardless, a clean handkerchief would be a start, and I dug in my pockets until I found a slightly wrinkled one. I held it out, but between two fingers, like feeding a squirrel.

She looked surprised at my offer, though I wasn’t sure why. A nice- looking girl like that, surely she was used to kindness. She stared at me, then the square of cotton, then me again, considering.
I thought to add a few words of eloquence to my offer. “Go on,” I said instead. “I have dozens.” It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it must have been enough.

She swallowed and took it with a watery “Merci.”
That probably wasn’t enough. Chaplains and grandmothers always had a reassuring word or two. I wondered if I should take a cue from the padre and go with a pious Trust in Godor an old-fashioned There, there. I realized, belatedly, that I knew how to say neither in French.

She saved me from having to make a decision. “I am fine, really,” she said in quite excellent English. Tears welled up fresh in her blue eyes, but she nodded, almost too vigorously.
“Yes, never better.” She crushed the handkerchief to her eyes.

I didn’t believe her.  People who were fine didn’t cry uncontrollably in the hallway. “Bad diagnosis?” She looked healthy enough, with those pink cheeks and bright eyes, but I was no expert. Maybe she had just found out she had a week to live.

She blew her nose again, thunderously. “Bad, good, maybe both.”

This was mystifying, but I suppose that was the way of women.
And now without further ado, my author interviews of Evangeline Holland and Heather Webb. Ladies, thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to let your readers get to know you better!
Top Ten Questions for Two Authors of Fall of Poppies:
Evangeline Holland responds..........
1) When did you realize you wanted to write professionally?
I would say that my commitment to writing professionally has been sporadic due to various reasons. I figured it was best for my sanity if I let this writing thing flow rather than pour my every waking hour into it.

2) How many unpublished manuscripts, partial or full are sitting in a drawer somewhere?
Only two or three.
3) What are the reasons they hidden away in the drawer?

They're more in hibernation than hidden away. I tend to juggle multiple manuscripts at once, or I'd get bored!

4) What is your best advice for dealing with rejection?

Allow yourself to grieve, even if it's in private and you make yourself show the world a happy face.

5) Growing up, what were your favorite books and authors?
Baby-Sitters Club, Lois Duncan's creepy suspense, Virginia Hamilton's glorious African-American folklore Sweet Valley High/Twins, and the American Girl Doll books. Ann Rinaldi is when I fell in love with historical fiction.

6) Did that early interest in those books/authors influence your writing/genre?
Possibly only Ann Rinaldi. And since I am contemplating writing middle grade historical fiction, I suppose she's a major influence on this decision!

7) What hobbies or interests do you have?
History, history, and more history. Anything related to this, whether it be traveling to sites, visiting museums, sewing vintage clothing, watching documentaries, running a history blog, etc. I'm a nerd for the topic.
 8) What are some of the jobs/careers you held before becoming an author?
Retail hell. Luckily, my new career allows me to engage directly with history through museums and archives!
 9) What are some of your favorite destinations that you've traveled to & why?
I grew in the DC area, so I've always loved everything about the region, from the Presidential history, to the amazing historic events held at the Lincoln Memorial (MLK and Marion Anderson to name a few), the Smithsonian museums, Old Town Alexandra, the battlefields and plantations. 
10) If you could live in another era or place what would it be?
I'd want to go back to 1920s Harlem and Paris, so I can see Josephine Baker and Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's Running Wild in person, instead of reading about their performances!
Heather Webb responds.........
1) When did you realize you wanted to write professionally?
I taught high school for almost a decade before I started writing. My first subject, Josephine Bonaparte, came to me in a dream. I knew nothing about her, but I read a biography of her and didn’t even finish it before falling madly in love with this woman and her life. I was hooked. At this point, I was resigning from teaching to stay home with my infant and toddler.

2) How many unpublished manuscripts, partial or full are sitting in a drawer somewhere?

3) What are the reasons they hidden away in the drawer?
I’m one of the fortunate whose first novel was picked up and published. That being said, I have many, many ideas and pitches I’ve tinkered with that are languishing in a file. I may still come back to them.
4) What is your best advice for dealing with rejection?
Wallow for 24-48 hours to get it out of your system. Drink wine, complain to writer friends, and then move forward. Work on the next sparkly idea. The only way to get over it and be at the next level where you strive to be is “through”, I like to say. It’s very painful, but rejection needs to be put in its place. We must show it who is boss.

5) Growing up, what were your favorite books and authors?
I read Mary Higgins Clark mysteries, Agatha Christie, and any Harlequin historical romance I could get my hands on. But I also loved the British literature classics that so many of us did such as Henry James, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and the Bronte sisters. I walked to the library every Saturday afternoon, so excited to check out what was next.

6) Did that early interest in those books/authors influence your writing/genre?
I would say so, yes. The classics stirred my interest in history and settings that were foreign to me, and I’m told my books are fast-paced and plot-driven so the mysteries undoubtedly play a part in that aspect of my writing.

7) What hobbies or interests do you have?
Beyond all things books, I’m an amateur foodie and wine connoisseur. There’s nothing I love more than a delicious and beautiful plate of food accented by the perfect glass of wine. I also enjoy traveling enormously, studying pop culture trends, beach-combing, Broadway, film, and browsing art galleries.
8) What are some of the jobs/careers you held before becoming an author. 
Working in a restaurant as a bartender and server while I was a student, working for a temp agency in a variety of numbing office jobs, and most importantly, teaching high school and coaching. I adored teaching, but it was time to move on. I couldn’t be happier that I did.
9) What are some of your favorite destinations that you've traveled to & why?

I like to think of the U.S. as my home and France as my country so I try to get over there as often as I can. I love it there. Something inside me sings while I’m in France. But I really like all the places in Europe and the Caribbean to which I’ve traveled. As for the U.S., New York City has to be one of the greatest places on earth, but I also enjoy the California coast, and anywhere in New England. I recently visited Richmond as well and fell in love with its historic and charming downtown center. In other words, travel, travel, travel! I enjoy so much of it.
10) If you could live in another era or place what would it be?
Interesting question as I wouldn’t want to be a woman in most other eras. If I could choose my gender, I’d like to hop from one court to another as a nobleman and compare them all—Tudor-era England, Francois 1st, Louis XIV Versailles, the Italian court of the Medicis and the Borgias, and Marie Antoinette to Napoleon’s court, bien sûr. As a woman, I’d really enjoy the Edwardian era in London or Paris when servitude is shifting out of style and women’s rights are all ablaze. Not to mention, I’d dearly like to witness how all of those inventions changed their lives first hand. Oh, but the Belle Epoque in the art world, and the roaring twenties in Harlem and New Orleans….I could go on and on.

My review on Goodreads. Find me and friend me.....

Phenomenal list of authors contained in one collection of short stories about WWI and the Armistice. All of these authors are top historical fiction writers and each story is a gem.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...

I was hooked from the first story and completed the reading of this lovely anthology wiping tears from my eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed each author's idea or subject for their part of Fall of Poppies. No two stories are the same. Each author's voice is distinct.

It was such a time of tragedy, young lives lost, soldiers and their families irreparably harmed physically and mentally from the Great War. The time following the war was a time of renewal across the globe and the tragedies ushered in a new spirited era.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

My last blogpost was all about thrillers.This time I switched gears a bit and found several really good books of historical fiction at the top of my TBR. You'll have to be a little patient for the reviews, as I want to post closer to their release dates. 

The last few titles I read were:

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable (she's on a book tour now for

Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop (courtesy of BookSparks #mywinterisbooked promo)

A Girl Like You by Michelle Cox (debut author, releasing April 19. Review to follow later hopefully with author interview)

Remember the Ladies by Gina Mulligan (debut author, releasing May 18. Review to follow later, hopefully with author interview)

Fall of Poppies (multi-author. I will review in a later post here for Tasty Book Tours featuring spotlight and author interview)

Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook

Annabelle Lee by Mike Nappa

While A Paris Apartment is chick-lit, there was a touch of history to the story that had its basis in a true story.

 Fascinating story based on a true story. It's 2 tales woven together. Present day auctioneer April is sent to Paris to catalog the contents of the apartment of Madame de Florian, a courtesan from the 19th century. The place has been closed up since just before WWII, and April finds it filled with treasures. She also find Madame's diaries, which almost more interesting that her things. April begins to read the diaries and that's one tale that you will read. The second is April's story, her troubled marriage, her attraction to the handsome French lawyer representing Madame's estate and the reason she loves old treasures so much.

Losing the Light I read and reviewed for Booksparks, part of their #mywinterisbooked author and book promo. Releasing tomorrow. Plus there's a giveaway on Goodreads.

Losing the Light is a story of betrayal and manipulative friendships. Brooke finds herself in trouble with the dean of her California university when word gets out she's sleeping with one of her professors. In order to keep the scandal to a minimum they offer to send her to France for a semester, where she'll study French and other subjects in Nantes. Another girl, Sophie, is also going and though she and Brooke don't know each other, they become fast friends prior to leaving the U.S. The girls are staying in separate host homes, but wind up spending many hours together in class and after class socializing in the bar, restaurants, and lounges. They both make a tacit agreement to immerse themselves in the culture and not hang around too much with the other Americans. They become friendly with Veronique during a conversational mixer. She invites the girls to a party she's hosting where she introduces them to her cousin Alex, a photographer from Paris, slightly older the girls. After the party the 3 girls start socializing regularly and that includes Alex when he's in town. Brooke finds herself falling in love with Alex, but always feels shadowed by Sophie's confidence and beauty. I loved this line towards the end of the book as the friendships start to unravel, Brooke realizes Sophie is the most interesting thing about her. Meaning Brooke feels she is nothing without Sophie. There are several unexpected twists at the end and the author leaves us to decide a bit on the outcome of the relationship between Brooke, Sophie, and Alex. The book has a nice, dark, feeling as I was reading it, as though things are not what they seem. 

Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook is a lighthearted story. The second of her fiction offerings that I have read. Claire is a multi-talented lady. She has written 2 nonfiction, Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention and Shine On: How to Grow Awesome Instead of Old. I just love were personal story. She wrote her first novel in her minivan while her kids were at swimming practice, at 50 she walked the red carpet when her second book was made into a movie. She thinks it's never too late for anyone to follow their dreams! There's a lot of great information at her website:

Lastly, my review of Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa. Plus there's a giveaway on Goodreads:

This was my first book by Mike Nappa. I did not know going in that he was an author of nonfiction and inspirational books or that he had published two other mysteries under a female pen name (supposedly a housewife from Florida!), because no one would take him seriously! Well, this was seriously a well written mystery. I read a lot of mysteries and I know what I like in mysteries and what works in mysteries. This has all the elements and it appears that it's going to be a series. Trudi Coffey is a smart, tough, and pretty P.I. Her ex-husband Samuel, is a CIA operative. Some of the great things about this book are the multi-faceted characters. These two still have a spark of attraction or love interest which makes for a good story. They are searching for the niece of a another CIA operative, who has been killed in an ambush on his farm. The clues to her whereabouts are hidden in one of Trudi's possessions. There are others seeking those clues and the little girl, but they have evil motives. Trudi and Samuel, with the aid of The Mute, a highly trained ex-Marine work together to find the girl before Dr. Smith and his mercenaries do. The book is fast paced and action filled. I found the story had elements of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and I liked the way the author tied Edgar Allan Poe into the story and clues. Thank you to the author and publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, February 8, 2016

What's new since my last blog post?




I was on a bit of thriller kick, as you could see from my last post. I continued in that vein with Perfect Days and I felt there was a strong tie in to two books I read in 2015.

One of the more interesting books I read was Perfect Days by Raphael Montes. It was translated from Portuguese, as Montes is from Brazil. It is an Amazon Best Book of February pick. The book is currently available for pre-order and the publication date is February 16. My review below and a comparison to another creepily, twisted book, You by Caroline Kepnes, along with my review of that book.

This book was quite intriguing. It reminded me a bit of Caroline Kepnes, You. Teo of Perfect Days was a bit like Joe from You. Teo is a socially awkward medical student living with his widowed mother in Rio. He meets Clarice at a BBQ and becomes obsessed by her carefree, bohemian ways. He sets out to make her his girlfriend, but rather than call her up and ask her out, he begins to follow her and eventually kidnaps her. The story was a little slow going in the beginning, but once he's got Clarice things move along at a fast clip. Teo doesn't see anything wrong with the "relationship" he has with Clarice. He even begins to dislike much of the things that initially attracted her to him. Teo is just normal enough that people don't suspect him of anything. Teo is forced to kill and maim for his love, but it's all okay, as long as he has his love, Clarice in the end. Thank you to Net Galley and Penguin Press for the early read.

Wow, this was an interesting book. Did I ever think I'd be feeling sympathetic for a creepy stalker who kills 2 people, one by adding peanut oil to a soy latte (victim a pathological liar, who said he was allergic to peanuts!)? No way, but that's exactly what happened, I often felt bad for Joe Goldberg. He just wants to be loved, even if that means he must remove all impediments between himself and Beck. I think anyone who liked Gone Girl or Girl on the Train will enjoy this book. Comparisons have been made to Misery. Joe, Beck, Peach and friends are special kind of odd. Plenty of twists and turns to keep you wondering what's going to happen next. I guarantee you will be creeped out when you realize all the things that Joe can find out by monitoring Beck's online activity. Hopefully you will think twice about posting every moment of your life on social media after reading You. If there are people that are such complete sickos, I hope I never come across any. I'm happy to be entertained by them in fiction, though.

Joe is back in Hidden Bodies. Expected publication date for Kepnes second book in the You series is February 23. Here is my review of the ARC I received from Net Galley:

Book two, following the serial killer you can't help but like. We open with Joe still working at Mooney's Rare and Used Books and he hires a new assistant, Amy, to fill Beck's place. Well, not to give away too many spoilers if you have not read You, but let's just say Beck, Joe's girlfriend/assistant didn't make it to book 2 along with a few other friends from Beck's life. Joe and Amy have a super sizzling romance, plenty of steamy, hot, sex scenes (this book is not for you if you are not okay with that) and they seem to have a mutual love of books and a certain respect for each other. Maybe Joe will finally turn over a new leaf or maybe not. Amy gives Joe the slip and takes off with $23,000 worth of rare books and Joe's hot on her trail. The trail leads to Los Angeles and New Yorker Joe is like a fish out of water. He works hard to fit in while searching for Amy. Things take a turn for the worse when serial killer Joe, emerges to take out a few more people, a notable stand-up comedian who may be dating Amy, his neighbor in the transient apartment where he sets up his home, and even a cop. One or two people he really wants to kill, get away, but in all this Joe finds Love with a capital L! The story has an unexpected ending and it seems like Joe will be back with his Love, if he can get out jail.

Next, I'm taking a slight turn into historical fiction as I read A Girl Like You, Fall of Poppies, and will be reading a few more historical fiction before my next post. Signing off to go grab my dinner and continue with my light chick-lit reading of Claire Cook's, The Seven Year Switch.

Happy Reading..................................   :-)