Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Fascinating and insightful. With her usual skill, Katherine Howe navigates the winding path leading to Salem’s hysteria and beyond. A must-read for anyone who wants to know not only what happened but also how and why.

—Brunonia Barry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lace Reader

Enter here for a chance to win a copy of this book until October 7.

USA and CANADA ONLY please


Edited by Katherine Howe

Publishing in time for Halloween, Penguin Classics is proud to present an original collection of chilling real-life accounts of accused witches, from medieval Europe through colonial America

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES (A Penguin Classics Original; On-sale September 30, 2014; $17.00; ISBN: 978-0-14-310618-0), edited and with an introduction by Katherine Howe, the New York Times-bestselling author of several novels about witches and a teacher in the American Studies program at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends.

Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.

Ideal for fans of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, the Harry Potter series, and Half Bad by Sally Green, THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES is sure to thrill, fascinate, and perhaps even frighten readers of all kinds.


This comprehensive collection of carefully selected documents and published primary materials, coupled with judicious and informative introductions, will help modern readers understand the seemingly inexplicable and persistent popular phenomenon of belief in witchcraft from the seventeenth century into more modern times.”

—Mary Beth Norton, author of In the Devil’s Snare

An informative and engaging series of texts that Katherine Howe introduces in a crisp and well-informed manner. The chronological breadth is unusual, but it allows us to grasp more fully the continuities that mark the history of witch-hunting on both sides of the Atlantic.

—David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School

About the Editor: 

KATHERINE HOWE, the direct descendant of three accused Salem witches, is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, The House of Velvet and Glass, and the young-adult novel Conversion, a modern-day retelling of The Crucible set in a Massachusetts prep school. She teaches in the American Studies program at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. You can visit her website at www.katherinehowe.com.

Katherine Howe ▪ A Penguin Classics Original ▪ $17.00
On-sale September 30, 2014 ▪ ISBN: 978-0-14-310618-0


Monday, September 29, 2014

Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen Is On Sale Now

The wait is over!   

Juliet’s Nurse has hit the shelves and the critics have taken notice.

Do YOU have your copy?  Thanks to David Brown of Atria Books, I have one.  :)


What makes this prequel and retelling of Romeo and Juliet such a great read?

Take a look:  Named one of the TEN FALL/WINTER TITLES TO READ NOW by EarlyWord.com, which calls Juliet’s Nurse “a sure bet for fans of Geraldine Brooks,” noting, “To Leveen’s wonderfully crafted plot, add lovely language and a cast of truly complex characters.” Read the full review here

Library Journal says Juliet’s Nurse is “beautifully written…Leveen’s intricate storytelling is impressive.”

HistoricalNovels.info  says,”Earthy, witty, emotionally vibrant and all too human, Angelica makes Juliet’s Nurse a compelling read, sometimes delightful, sometimes heart-wrenching.”

BookTrib.com  described Juliet’s Nurse as “Sumptuously researched” promising “you’ll never think about Romeo and Juliet quite the same way again.”

Read an excerpt of Juliet’s Nurse to see why the reviewers have fallen in love with Leveen’s writing.
Learn more about Juliet’s Nurse at Lois’s official site and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Get a behind-the-scenes look by reading Lois’s reflections on why Shakespeare remains so popular on ReadingThePast.Com  and check out the latest interviews with Lois from The Bainbridge Island Review, Romance at Random, the Oregonian, and Portland Monthly.

What did you think? Share your reviews of Juliet’s Nurse with us at:




Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet.  Her work has appeared in numerous literary and scholarly journals, as well as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Bitch magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and on NPR.  Lois gives talks about writing and history at universities, museums, and libraries around the country.  She lives in Portland, Oregon, with two cats, one Canadian, and 60,000 honeybees.

Visit her online at LoisLeveen.com and Facebook.com/LoisLeveen.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ruth's Journey by Donald McCaig

Who can forget Scarlett O'Hara, Tara, and of course beloved Mammy.  Ruth's Journey is a tale of Mammy.

Mammy was born in the Caribbean Islands, was the only survivor of an attack on her household, and made her way to Savannah with the Forniers.  As their "child" she was treated well, but was sold to another family.

Mammy Ruth moves from one famous Southern family's ​home to another as we the reader follow her and find out what made Mammy the mammy she was.  There are many happy situations, but there are also many sad ones.​  The O'Haras are mentioned throughout the book ​and,​ of course​,​ that is where ​Mammy ends up.

RUTH'S JOURNEY was very well researched, but unfortunately difficult to follow and enjoy until the book was almost over.​

I loved GONE WITH THE WIND, but RUTH'S JOURNEY had something to be desired.  It didn't get interesting until way into the book, and most specifically not until Mammy got to Tara with the O'Haras.  Visualizing Tara and hearing chararacters' names from GONE WITH THE WIND made the wait worthwhile.

I enjoyed learning about Mammy, but RUTH'S JOURNEY wasn't a favorite read...it was a bit tedious even though the writing was outstanding.

You will love Mammy Ruth and feel sorry for her, and ​you will love learning about ​her strong will​ and her love and loyalty for the people she cared for and ​kept her going on through all her many losses.  Mammy Ruth was an interesting person, and a character​ everyone most likely loved and will never forget especially in her dealings with Scarlett.​ ​  3/5

​This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.​

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review of The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith

THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA is beautifully written with exquisite prose.​  

The main character is Helen whose story is told before and after her death along with the tale of her husband, her father, her daughter, and Moll, a slave from the plantation and Helen's friend.

You will follow the characters through their lives on a plantation, on a ship, and in a regular household.  The characters are an odd sort but ones with depth and with feelings that ooze through the pages simply because of Ms. Smith’s elegant writing style. 

THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA takes the reader through complex situations with the reader being put directly into the story and being carried along with the characters and feeling every emotion especially their pain of loss. 

I was a bit confused at first, but Ms. Smith writes so beautifully and so poignantly that you can't help but want to continue. THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA is a book unlike any other I have read simply because of the storyline and the time in history.​

​The confusion came about because of the time frame and order of dates.  The book moves back and forth from past to present day in Helen and John's life but seemed to be out of order.

Despite the confusion, the book definitely will keep your interest and will keep you reading.  Ms. Smith has written a thoughtful book in a time period that I wasn't familiar with and therefore  made THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA even more intriguing and interesting.

I would recommend this book solely on the premise of the marvelous writing style Ms. Smith has and the background she gave as to why she wrote the book.  The beauty of the reason Ms. Smith wrote the book makes THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA a stunning debut.  4/5 (See her video below)

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.​

The Author's Website:  


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Was it her husband, her lover, or an intruder that took Ella Mae's last breath?

Regardless of who the guilty party was, her husband, Ray Andrews, was convicted and sent to prison for sixteen years.  Ray was now on his way home but not because he had served his sentence but because he was dying of cancer. Will his children be there to greet him or have they forgotten him as they did when he was in prison?

THE LAST BREATH moves from past to present telling the story of Ella Mae's life before she was suffocated with Saran Wrap and her daughter's life as her father comes home.

While Gia Andrews struggles with coming home and having to face the shame of what happened sixteen years ago and finding out if her father really did kill her mother, you also follow her through her sexual romps.   Her mother's romps with her lover were also part of  storyline and definitely were a part of solving the mystery.  These descriptions aren't graphic, but I had to give a warning.

As Gia investigates, she questions her uncle who was her father's attorney about his defense and if everything was truly done to prove Ray's innocence. Could the evidence all have been false or contrived and the real killer still be free? 

Gia had to know. Would the professor writing a book about her father have the real facts or would it all be water under the bridge for now?

The book was tense and made me anxious to find out the truth and oh so good​ because you can't figure out who the guilty party really was.  You think you have it and then you change your mind.

The ending has a surprise, and it is an ending that I really liked.  :) 4/5

If you read the book, please let me know what you thought.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Storytelling and helping others was what Lakshmi did best along with her cooking and work ethics.  Her life was a story to tell, and she had Maggie to listen and to learn from her stories.

THE STORY HOUR takes the reader through the lives of Lakshmi and Maggie...one the patient and one the doctor.  The women met when Lakshmi tried to commit suicide.

Maggie broke the rules of patient/client protocol, but Maggie couldn't help it because she and Lakshmi were meant to be friends and confidantes.  Maggie truly helped Lakshmi feel more confident as she tried to fit into the American way of life, and at the same time Lakshmi helped Maggie as she was struggling with "demons" of her own that stemmed from her childhood.

Ms. Umrigar has written another marvelous novel about an Indian woman trying to fit into her lonely, boring life with her American husband who really didn't love her.  She also touches on infidelity issues with Maggie and what damage it does.

The book smoothly moved back and forth from past to present telling about the lives of both women and how their backgrounds shaped them into the woman they were today.

You will love Lakshmi just because she was a warm, caring, genuine person that you will feel sorry for but also one that you will cheer on as she struggles to overcome her shortcomings and feelings of worthlessness.  Maggie on the other hand was a bit more difficult to like because she had it all and couldn't grasp how her infidelity would change things.

The writing was beautiful as well as the storyline.   I would recommend THE STORY HOUR for book clubs.  It has many issues,  situations,  and meanings worth discussing.  4/5

You have to read THE STORY HOUR in order to feel the full impact and the power of this marvelous book.

You will be immersed in cultures, food, friendships, and determination.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown

Living in a structured house, living in a wetu.

Having enough food, always hungry.

Not showing love to your children, cherishing your children.

Living a strict Puritan existence, living carefree.

Never experiencing the pleasure of nature, hearing every little part of nature.

All those statements show the differences Mary Rowlandson found when comparing her Puritan life to her life in Indian captivity.

Which way would you want to live?​

Mary Rowlandson and many others were captured by Indians and were forced to live within the Indian community.  It was a harsh life for her as well as the entire Indian community.  Despite the hardships, Mary blended in well and was protected by an Englishman.

You will follow Mary as she transforms from a Puritan English woman into an Indian woman. She loved her transformation and found the link to nature and peace that she didn't have as the wife of a strict Puritan minister.

FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW was very well researched and held my interest.   At first I didn't realize FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW was based on an actual person.  Once I found that out, the book became even more intriguing.

I have never read any book about this time period in American history, but want to find out more.  FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW ​is a gripping account of Early America, and history buffs will not be disappointed.​

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-researched, historical novel.

I can't divulge any more without telling the story, but take the time to read FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  4/5​

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.​

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

THE GARDEN OF LETTERS sounds wonderful.  I have this book but have not been able to read it yet.

Alyson Richman’s previous novel The Lost Wife dazzled on national bestseller lists and was praised by author John Lescroart as being “the Sophie’s Choice of this generation.”

Praise for The Garden of Letters

“The Garden of Letters demonstrates artistry of the highest order. Lyrical and compelling, Alyson Richman’s novel of a cellist coming of age in wartime Italy is as layered as a symphony. Exquisite.”

Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty

“Lyrical and rich…filled with beauty and tragedy, romance and heartbreak.”

Jillian Cantor, author of Margot

“Bottom line: you should read The Garden of Letters.”

Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us

Best-selling author Alyson Richman has received both national and international praise for her work, including 15 language translations and honorable nominations such as the Book Sense Notable Pick in 2006. Following the success of her first three novels, Richman’s latest book, The Lost Wife, was critically acclaimed, chosen as a Jewish Book Council selection and winning the Long Island Reads Pick in 2012, praised by booksellers, bloggers, and media all around the country.

Now, Alyson Richman explores the life of a young musician swept into the Italian Resistance during World War II in THE GARDEN OF LETTERS (Berkley Trade Paperback; September 2, 2014; $16.00).

Accompanying readers back to the tumultuous times of the 1940’s, THE GARDEN OF LETTERS follows Elodie Bertolotti, a young cello prodigy. When Mussolini’s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller, and as the occupation looms she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.

But forced to escape to the small coastal village of Portofino, Elodie is scared and alone as she steps of the boat.  Fortunately, she is rescued by Angelo Rosselli, a young doctor shackled to guilt and haunted by his past. Attempting to escape her own tragedies, Elodie uses her musical talent to mount her courage and help others who suffer in the same way. In doing so, Elodie reawakens a spirit in Angelo he thought he’d lost, which ignites a spark between the two that changes the course of their lives forever.

THE GARDEN OF LETTERS is an incredible story of love, courage, and the power of the human spirit to find hope against the backdrop of war.

Alyson Richman is the bestselling author of The Mask Carver’s Son, The Rhythm of Memory, The Last Van Gogh, and The Lost Wife.

by Alyson Richman
Berkley Trade Paperback
On-sale: September 2, 2014
$16; ISBN: 978-0425266250

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Lightkeeper's Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson

A seaman's life for me.

Hannah was worthy to be a seaman, and Annie/Blue turned into a seaman as well as a pirate​.

Hannah and Annie knew nothing about each other, but they had things in common:  both​ were headstrong for women of the 1800’s and they both loved the sea.

THE LIGHTKEEPER'S WIFE goes back and forth between Hannah's life and Annie/Blue's connecting both characters’ lives without their knowing.

THE LIGHTKEEPER'S WIFE is about enduring life and living a passion.  You will feel Hannah's frustration as she tries to keep up the lighthouse after her husband has gone missing and only has Billy to help her.

The descriptions Ms. Johnson has of boat rescues and being at sea are amazing.  Great detail in the telling of the story and the book's events keeps you reading.

I enjoyed THE LIGHTKEEPER'S WIFE.  If you enjoy the 1800's and seafaring content, you will enjoy THE LIGHTKEEPER'S WIFE.  

Gorgeous cover, fantastic writing, and great research, but my rating is going to be a 3/5 because of the disconnection with some parts of the book and for the length of time it took me to figure out what was going on and the length of time it took me to figure out who the characters were.
I received this book free of charge and without compensation from the publisher in return for an honest review.​