Laughter is good medicine — snorts are even better. #FreeBook

Free laughs by the wonderful Teagan R. Geneviene

Teagan's Books

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pigs Road Moon unsplash compositeDeme & Honeybell, image by Teagan

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine.  So, wouldn’t be even better when something makes you snort?

I write all sorts of stories.  I’ve been told that I do some genre mash-ups.  However, there’s one thing you can count on with my stories — whimsy.  In the universe of Atonement, Tennessee, maybe in any of my story-verses, the most whimsical volume is The Glowing Pigs — Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee.  

Pigs collection cover bannerIt’s been hard for me to keep my spirits up during this pandemic.  I know I’m certainly not the only one.  Everybody could use a little “snort.”  So, this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday only, the Kindle version of this collection of short stories is free! 

Dyanna Wyndesong gave the collection this wonderful review.  It made spirits soar for Deme and Honeybell — and especially…

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FREE on March 24 and $.99 on March 25-26 “Politicians, Potholes and Pralines” by Colleen Mooney

I’m delighted to support a special promotion for Colleen Mooney, a writer colleague I have a lot of time for:
FREE on March 24 and $.99 on March 25-26, 2020 on Amazon

Politicians, Potholes and Pralines by Colleen Mooney

Amazon US Link 

https://www.amazon.com/Politicians-Potholes-Pralines-Orleans-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B07MWDNZFY/

Amazon UK link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Politicians-Potholes-Pralines-Orleans-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B07MWDNZFY/

Blurb

No good deed goes unpunished as they say.  In Brandy Alexander’s case, no good deed goes without finding a body and a crime to solve.  After work she joins her friend, Whit, to celebrate his Judge of the Year nomination. When she goes to return his jacket he left in the bar she finds herself smack in the middle of a crime scene.  The doors to his home and security gates are wide open, his dog is nowhere to be found, the safe is empty, an ex-wife standing is standing at  the top of the stairs and the Judge is facedown in a pool of blood. Loves, loyalties, friendships and lives are all at stake – and the clues might be gone with the dogs.

Colleen Mooney
Sisters in Crime; New Orleans    Chapter President 2017-2018
USA TODAY & Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author
The New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles
RESCUED BY A KISS Book 1
DEAD And BREAKFAST Book 2
DRIVE THRU MURDER Book 3
DEATH BY RUM BALLS Book 4
DOG GONE AND DEAD Book 5

POLITICIANS, POTHOLES & PRALINES Book 6

FIREWORKS, FORENSICS & FELONIES Book 7

Connect with Colleen:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8548635.Colleen_Mooney

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/ColleenMooneyAuthor/posts/?ref=page_internal

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/mooney_colleen

BookBub:    https://www.bookbub.com/profile/colleen-mooney

Website:    www.colleenmooney.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Colleen-Mooney/e/B00N9I5DMK/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Colleen Mooney

About Colleen Mooney

Colleen Mooney is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author.

Born and raised in New Orleans. she started going to parades and watched them from sitting on my Dad’s shoulders before she could walk. She’s been in Girl Scout parades, high school parades, St. Patrick’s parades, Mardi Gras parades, on dance teams in parades and just about any loosely organized group who deemed it necessary to parade. Colleen says, “I just can’t help myself. I love parades.”

She attended Loyola of the South in New Orleans so she wouldn’t be far from a parade.

Colleen spent 20+ years working for and retired from AT&T. She has worked and lived in New York City, Madison, New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama returning home for the big parade every year–Mardi Gras.
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Colleen says, “Before Katrina, I moved away and back three times, four if you count rebuilding the same house at the same address after Katrina flooded my home. I did miss a couple of parades that year.

I’m an avid sailor and Scuba diver for many years, and made lasting friendships from sailing and dive trips. I love travel and if the opportunity presents itself, I’m there. Except for a brief stint where I had to own and learn how to ride a motorcycle, I’ve been a water baby. When I am not enjoying fun with friends in all New Orleans has to offer- sailing and racing with friends on Lake Pontchartrain, Mardi Gras, parties and festivals- I head to Florida.

I am an ardent animal lover and direct volunteer breed rescue work as Schnauzer Rescue of Louisiana. I love to write and I write about what I know and love! You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can’t take the New Orleans out of the girl!”

Six books have been released in her series: Politicians, Potholes and Pralines is Book 6, Dog Gone and Dead is Book 5, Death By Rum Balls is Book 4, Drive Thru Murder is Book 3, Dead & Breakfast is Book 2 and Rescued By a Kiss is the first. Her second book in the series THE NEW ORLEANS GO CUP CHRONICLES placed in two categories in the 2014 SOLA Chapter of RWA’s Dixie Kane contest for Short/Long Series for Contemporary fiction and for Single Title Contemporary fiction. Book 7, Fireworks, Forensics and Felonies is due to release in September of 2019.

Feel free to get in touch with Colleen by visiting her website at http://www.ColleenMooney.com

Guest Spot : Judith Arnopp

I couldn’t resist to ‘steal’ this post from the wonderful Helen Hollick and her Discovering Diamonds blog

This is a re-blog from https://discoveringdiamonds.blogspot.com/2020/03/mid-week-guest-spot-judith-arnopp.html

Mid-Week Guest Spot : Judith Arnopp

Judith Arnopp is the author of twelve historical fiction novels written from the perspective of historical women from all walks of life, prostitutes to Tudor queens. Her non-fiction articles feature in various historical anthologies, magazines and historical blogs. She also gives talks on history and writing historical fiction.

Judith says:

My books feature people from history: well-known figures like Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, or aspects of Tudor history that are not often covered in fiction. I find all manner of Tudor women fascinating. The Winchester Goose is told from the perspective of a prostitute from Southwark while Sisters of Arden tells the story of three nuns who are turned out of their priory during the dissolution of the monasteries and  join the pilgrimage of grace.

All my novels encompass the problems women faced during this time; the oppression, the childbirth, and far too often, the loss of those children. In most cases, the challenges they faced were every bit as dangerous as the battlefield.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Tudor court. It is not so much the fancy clothing or jewels or the fabulous palaces but the psyche of the key members of Henry’s family. I attempt to answer the questions I’ve always asked myself: What made Henry VIII the way he was? Why has Margaret Beaufort such a bad reputation? Who was Perkin Warbeck? Why does Elizabeth of York take such a back seat?

I explore the Tudor world from the perspective of these main players. Seeing things in this way has brought me to some interesting conclusions.

Perspective fascinates me; the same person can be different things to different people. For instance, the character and motives of Margaret Beaufort alters depending on the stance of the author. Those who favour York see little good in her at all, and those who follow Lancaster cast her as a saint. In reality, she is more likely to have been somewhere in between – just as we all are.

I like to present as balanced a picture as I can. In A Song of Sixpence viewed from Elizabeth of York’s eyes, Margaret initially seems to be quite a negative person. There is usually some sort of tension between a new bride and her mother-in-law, and Margaret did hold a lot of influence and didn’t hesitate to interfere in the marriage. This could have been from the best of motives but I am quite sure Elizabeth would not have seen it like that. As the story progresses and they come to know each other better the two women are reconciled and become friends. In my series, The Beaufort Chronicle, in which Margaret narrates her own tale I’ve given her the opportunity to relate the extraordinary life she led. In The Heretic Wind, I do a similar thing for Mary Tudor, offering her the chance to vindicate her actions and shake off the inappropriate title of ‘Bloody Mary’. I haven’t tried to whitewash her though, but by allowing her to justify her decisions she emerges as more troubled than ‘bloody’.

One of the things I like most about writing historical fiction is the research. My house is full of books, medieval music, and  portraits (prints of course). I like to study the historiography of my subject to consider how he/she has been perceived by different generations. Part of my job is to visit the relevant castles, palaces, towns and even gardens that form the backdrop of the world I am conjuring. I have also adopted some medieval hobbies so I can understand how women of the era passed their time. I do (rather bad) medieval style embroidery; I make and dress up in Tudor clothes to see how they feel; how long it takes to put them on and how easy they are to rip off – ha ha!

I watch documentaries, dramas (the good and the bad), read contemporary poetry, plays etc. Research is never-ending but I love it. Only a tiny portion of the things I learn actually make it into the book but I put it to good use in my blogs, articles or talks and lectures.

My latest novel is The Heretic Wind; the story of Mary Tudor, Queen of England and it has been very well-received so far. I was intending to take a break from writing this year. Sometimes I feel really wrung out with the work but, less than a month since THW was published, and I am already plotting the next one which will be set during the time of Catherine of Aragon. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever run out of inspiration but Henry keeps me well supplied with stories.

Judith Arnopp

Judith’s books are available on Kindle, paperback and some are on Audible. For more information:

Webpage: www.judithmarnopp.com

Author page: author.to/juditharnoppbooks

Blog: http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/


Click HERE to find  Judith on Discovering Diamonds

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If your novel/s have been reviewed by Discovering Diamonds

and you would like to participate in our 

 Guest Spot

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Guest author: N. A. Granger ~ Torrent…a #writephoto story and news of The Last Pilgrim

I was lucky enough to meet N A Granger at a blogger’s bash in London. A sound academic, a fascinating and lovely woman. Looking forward to this!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Eliza finally had to stop their mad flight, putting her arms around her little brother, both of them panting for breath.

When Indians had attacked their home in Kentucke, near Harrod’s Town, her parents dropped her and her four year old brother Elias heard into a deep dug-out space beneath the cabin. The Indians hadn’t found her, perhaps because of the bed placed over the floor, but she nearly suffocated Elias when he started to whimper. The noise of ransacking luckily covered his crying, and she heard a struggle, accompanied by her mother’s screams. After that, there were footsteps overhead, pacing here and there. Then silence, except for the noise of the flames consuming the house. They struggled to breathe, as the smoke filtered down, and Eliza covered her brother’s body with hers to keep him from burning. Her back stung where her dress had charred.

They remained in the…

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#Bookreview – Deborah A. Bowman and Christoph Fischer

via #Bookreview – Deborah A. Bowman and Christoph Fischer

I never get tired of this review

 

This book was a wonderful insight into the world of alternative healing and the conflict between holistic medicine and Western medicine.  Maria Miller, aka Erika Whittaker, seeks out a previously famous healer, Arpan, after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Maria has already undergone chemotherapy, which has failed her, and, with a remaining life expectancy of only a few weeks, she has nothing to lose by investing her faith in Arpan. Arpan retired from healing twenty years previously and has been leading a life of austere solitude ever since. When he meets Maria, however, she is able to convince him to help her and he agrees to treat her.

Over the course of her treatment, Maria learns to face the internal fears and  emotional shortcomings that Arpan believes have lead to her cancer. The descriptions of the various treatments is very detailed and convincing and I really grew to like Arpan for his goodness and forgiving nature. I became very fond of Maria too as you view the intense healing process through her eyes and almost suffer with her.

As the book progresses, the reason why Maria changed her name prior to seeking Arpan help unfolds, together with Arpan’s reasons for retiring and dropping out of the public eye so many years previously.

I found The Healer to be a fast paced and well written book with a number of twists and surprises. The ending really surprised me.

I rated this book five out of five stars.

“Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo #review

Image result for girl woman other by bernardine evaristoI was keen to read the winner of the Booker Prize. “Girl, Woman, Other…”  is an ambitious book, a collection of women’s stories, spanning a variety of race, sexual orientation and identification. From poor to rich, from a Nigerian woman ending up as widow in London, where she never wanted to go in the first place, to her daughter, a woman banker in London, an old bitter teacher – black lesbians, gender fluid characters – this is as wide a range as you can imagine. Some of these stories interlink, sometimes unexpectedly at odd moments, but mainly it felt also like a collection of short stories to me.

Given  my personal preference for ethnic and foreign stories, those with links to other countries seemed most interesting. Heartbreaking moments, tough circumstances and amazing new perspectives are on offer.

I admittedly didn’t care for all the stories or characters, and I’m sure I was never meant to. The book was enjoyable, well written and constructed and I’m sure that many women will identify with the topics, from male dominance in the banking world, tough love from well meaning teachers, the conflict in families between immigrants and their assimilating offspring.

I pondered long what the title was all about without being totally sure; and how the book ended up winning the Booker prize in always fierce competition.
I certainly enjoyed the book and would recommend it, but it also left me a little wanting for more.

Blog Tour: Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal

Fabulous woman Ritu and her book – gotta tag on to this blog tour. Can’t wait to read this.

M J Mallon YA/Paranormal Author

I am SO EXCITED to be hosting my good friend the lovely, generous, amazing Ritu Bhathal on my blog today as part of her blog tour for her new release – Marriage Unarranged – which I had the pleasure to beta read. I can recommend 100% – in fact I loved it so much I read it twice! 

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LOVED this book, my 5 star review is here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/02/09/book-review-marriage-unarranged-ritu-bhathal-arc-review/

So without further ado, let me introduce Ritu to you…

Ritu Bhathal

Hello there, Marje, and Hi! to all your readers too! I am so honoured to be visiting your blog in order to promote my new book, Marriage Unarranged, just released yesterday, actually!

Now, the book centres around my main character, Aashi, and her journey after finding out her fiancé has been cheating on her. A key character in the story is her best friend, Kiran, and Aashi would really like to share…

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Guest article: “Fact in Fiction: Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile” by Inge H. Borg

Today I give the floor to a wonderful Internet friend of mine, the talented and charming Inge H. Borg. She’s written some amazing historical fiction and today she kindly allowed me to share this article with you about Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile (Book 1 – Legends of the Winged Scarab)

Fact in Fiction

Inge H. Borg, Author

Every movie lately seems to have “The Making of …” clips. Well, here is a little insight into “The Making of the Legends of the Winged Scarab” series.

Khamsin-Cover

With my historical saga, reaching back to 3080 BC, the question was how much research a writer should do on his or her chosen era. My answer: A lot. Next, how much “real history” should be incorporated into a novel. I’d say, 10% (unless writers want to emulate James Mitchener – still one of my favorite authors, by the way). These days, however, most of us must remember, it’s fiction. Readers want to be entertained rather than appearing to be lectured.

When I started my research into Ancient Egypt (and I mean, really ancient), the biggest confusion was over city names. It would have been easy to use Memphis, for instance. But that name – like most of the commonly used ancient Egyptian names – came from the Greeks, specifically the historian Herodotus who described many of the wonders he found in Egypt during his visit around 490 BC. At the time, Egypt was under Persian occupation in the 27th Dynasty – a full three-thousand years after my story takes place during the 2nd Dynasty in the Old Kingdom.

Therefore, I resorted to use the ancient Egyptian names (whenever I could find them). But, for my readers, I enclosed an appendix with both names and a map in the hope this would satisfy the more historically curious. In recent years, Egypt began to use Arabic names for its towns although many of the tourist sites still bear their familiar Greek names.

As to real people, I only used Aha, the Horus-King. He is documented as the second king of the First Dynasty. Its first king and founder of Egypt is usually said to have been Narmer (or Menes). There is also the mysterious Scorpion King of Dynasty Zero. Egyptologists’ opinions on dates vary greatly to the confusion of this lay person.

However, what “my” King Aha was or did stems solely from the figment of my imagination (although, he really did have a son called Djer; his successor). I did find proof that Aha was credited to have kept the newly unified kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt together as there are cartouches with him wearing the double crown indicating both regions.

I did use the Wadi Hammamat for a desperate flight from the Nile toward the Red Sea. No longer awash, this arid gorge was an ancient trade route connecting the two.

Wadi Hammamat

One of my biggest worry, however, was whether or not there were donkeys at the time. You think that’s silly. But I poured over volume after volume in hopes of finding a depiction of my desperately needed flea-ridden ass (camels and horses were introduced only much later). Since donkeys were used primarily by commoners and farmers, artists usually did not depict them on tomb paintings and stone reliefs.  At last, I found one rare picture of the lowly donkey. Phew. I quickly sent  up my thanks to Horus.

Donkeys

I could now have my fictional King Aha (riding in disguise) chafe his royal backside raw on a donkey. Perhaps he appreciated my ruse of escape from enemies’ spies, for his real mummy was eventually found buried with the remains of ten donkeys to accompany him into the afterlife. Would it have mattered if wild asses had not yet been domesticated? For authenticity’s sake, definitely. For instance, I read some Nile/Nefertiti novel in which the author describes a woman’s “strawberry-lips” and “apricot-cheeks.” No strawberries. And precious apricots were brought in from Lebanon only for the royal court – in their dried form. Imagine a supposedly beautiful maiden’s puckered brown cheeks.

I tried not to make a mistake like that. Still, an observant reader chided me for the use of the royal “bark” instead of “barque.” When I politely countered with an explanation about the 15th century use of the Portuguese word barque, she graciously upped her review to a glowing five stars. More thanks to Horus floated upward with some private gloating on my side. Mostly, though, it reinforced my belief that, when in doubt, check and double-check. Good advice even when one supposedly is not in doubt.

RoyalBark(PublicDomain)

In the end, while Historical Fiction must ring true to its time, it has to be clear to today’s reader. Loving or hating those characters, readers want to care about them. Oh, and do we writers love to invent hateful people. They are often the most intriguing of the bunch, such as my ugly vizier, Ebu al-Saqqara (how could he not be, with a death-foreboding name like his).

Lowly of birth, ambitious to the point of high treason and murder, there is an interview of al-Saqqara by the British best-selling Historical Fiction author Helen Hollick on my Blog: http://devilwinds.blogspot.com/2018/10/king-ahas-malicious-vizier.html

On Friday, February 21st, Ms. Hollick interviews another of my main characters, the High Priest of Ptah, Ramose (a “goodie” – most of the time), on her blog’s Novel Conversations with authors and their characters:  https://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com/

If you have read this far and if your interest has been peaked enough by this award-winning historical saga,

Khamsin (for Kindle) will be 99c/p on Amazon

February 24 – March 2, 2020

http://www.amazon.com/Inge-H.-Borg/e/B006QYQKUS

(The Print Version has already been reduced)

Inge H. Borg continues her Egyptian archaeological (and other) adventures around the globe in modern times with four more volumes:

4-Book-Banner.jpg

Review: “An Armenian Sketchbook” by Vasily Grossman

An Armenian Sketchbook (New York Review Books Classics)I had this book for ages, persuaded by an industrious book seller once to purchase it,  yet I lacked the impetus to get to it.
Admittedly the cover does not convey much fun. I took it on holiday with me – half thinking that I may leave it abroad if it turned out to be dry,
I’m glad to say I brought it back with me, having thoroughly enjoyed it. I do like good travel writing with a personal touch and some lovely insights and The Armenian Sketchbook is a prime example for one of those.

In 1962 Vasily Grossman spent two months in Armenia, translating a novel into Russian.  He warmly portrays the country, tells of his small adventures and manages to keep your interest without sensational revelations or dramas.

A writer at odds with the communist regime, having turned into an introspect and dealing with the effects of ageing, the sketchbook tells us a lot about himself as a person – and does so almost unfiltered and honestly.

The sketchbook is not edited for publication, polished to create an image, nor meant to present a story that sells. This has touches of a diary not meant to be seen by anyone else.

Having admired his journalistic talent and objective reporting as seen in his other work, I found it quite amazing to finally see behind the facade and get a glimpse of the person behind the writer.
Unbeknown to him he was already suffering from cancer and the unknowing references to the physical symptoms that soon after led to his demise contribute to the impact the novel had on me.

 

 

Review Re-blog of#DREAMLAND by Nancy Bilyeau A wild ride for lovers of historical fiction, amusement parks, and great female protagonists

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeu

Today I’m sharing Olga NM’s review  of

DREAMLAND by Nancy Bilyeau

While I haven’t managed to read the book yet, I’m a fan of Nancy Bilyeau’s historical fiction so am glad to share Olga’s review here.

What the papers say:
‘Achingly believable’ – Publishers Weekly

‘This fast-paced, engrossing novel from Bilyeau… gives readers an up-close and personal view of New York’s Gilded Age’ – Library Journal

‘Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Dreamland is a rollicking ride.’ – Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

‘A marvelous book!’ – Ellen Marie Wiseman, bestselling author of What she Left Behind and The Life she was Given

‘Bilyeau is at the height of her talents in the immersive and gripping Dreamland‘ – Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author

‘Bilyeau’s thrilling novel plunges deep into Dreamland’s maze of pleasure and menace’ – Marlowe Benn, bestselling author of Relative Fortunes

‘Nancy Bilyeau’s passion for history infuses her books’ – Alison Weir

Plot:
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating, and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class, and dangerous obsession.

OLGA’s review:

I thank the publisher, Endeavour Quill, for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for the launch of this book and for providing me an ARC copy of it, which I freely chose to review. This has in no way influenced my opinion.

I recently read and reviewed Bilyeau’s novel The Blue (you can check my review here) and loved it so much that I did not hesitate when I got an invitation to read her new novel and join the blog tour. Like the previous one, this book also successfully combines history with intrigue, adventures, mystery, a fantastic cast of characters, and a heroine who is trying to find her own way amid a society in turmoil due to changes in the status-quo and to international historical events.

As the description explains, the novel is set in New York and Coney Island in the summer of 1911. Peggy Batternberg, the protagonist (the author explains that she was inspired by the historical figure of Peggy Guggenheim when she created her main character), belongs to the upper class, although as she observes, her family is only a couple of generations away from very humble origins as immigrants, and they would not have figured among the very select of society a few years earlier. They are also Jewish (not very religious), and although their money protects them from the worst of prejudice and antisemitism, that does not mean it does not exist, as the novel exposes time and again. She is trying to lead her own life as a modern woman, but her family’s power and influence, and society’s double standards of morality for men and women make it difficult for her to break completely free, and she ends up having to leave her job at a bookstore and spend the summer holiday at a posh hotel near Coney Island. Of course, although the hotel is very close to the three amusement parks, including the Dreamland of the title, the clientele of both are separated by the chasm of money and social class.

Peggy is a fascinating character. She is very young, determined, and contradictory at times. She is strong but naïve, passionate and rushed, headstrong and totally unrealistic. She tries to be practical and become independent from her family, but she acknowledges that much of what she does is only possible because she has the support of her family, and she does not have to rely solely on her salary, like her colleagues at work. She lost her father when she was young, and she is aware of the kind of hypocritical behaviour the males of her family engage in, but no matter how she struggles against it, she is still trapped by the morality of the period. Following some fairly traumatic experiences with men of her own class (and the male sense of entitlement —especially of men of a certain class— runs through the novel as a theme, and unfortunately recent events only prove that things haven’t changed as much as we might like to think), it is unsurprising that she feels attracted to an artist, a futurist painter, a foreigner, and somebody who is genuinely interested in her as a person, and not as a rich heiress. I am not a fan of love at first sight (or insta-love) stories, but considering what we know of the character and of her circumstances, it is easy to understand the attraction, and let’s say that I was quite reconciled to it by the end of the story. The character is forced to question herself and her motives more than once throughout the novel, and she does grow and develop as a result.

The story is told, almost in its entirety, in the first person, from Peggy’s point of view, but there are many other characters that create a rich tapestry of both, the wealthy upper-class society of the era (there are some real historical characters that make brief guest appearances as well), and also the working class, the underclass, and the artists working at the fair. The author paints a clear picture of the Batternberg family, its power structure, the differences between male and female roles within the dynasty, and it makes for a sobering and absorbing read, especially because over the course of the story, Peggy discovers things are even worse than she thought, and the web of deceit, secrets, and false appearances is woven thick. The fact that this people of loose morals look down upon hardworking individuals without a second thought is highlighted by the murders that take place in close proximity to the hotel, and how nobody (other than Peggy) seems to care about the victims or their relatives, only about preventing anything from disturbing the elegant guests. By contrast, some of the lower-class characters, that have the most to lose if things go wrong, go out of their way to help, even at a serious personal cost.

I must admit to being quite taken by some of the secondary characters that appear in the story, and in many cases, I’d love to know more about them (the whole of Lilliput scene is amazing; Madame Kschessinska is very intriguing; the police detective; Stefan, of course; and what to say about Ben, Peggy’s cousin, a real puzzle), but I agree with many of the reviewers and Lydia, Peggy’s sister, is a favourite of mine as well. She knows her own mind, she is supportive of her sister, and she grows in strength and maturity through the story. With her like with most things and characters in the story, appearances can be deceptive.

The historical background is well achieved, and I loved the descriptions of Coney Island, the seaside hotels, the fast trains, the clothes, the incubators, the art, the buildings… It felt as if I was peering into that era, and even experiencing the heat, tasting the food, and joining in the rides. The descriptions don’t overwhelm the story but help create a realistic setting and increase our understanding of what the period and the place were like. This is a work of fiction, and although some characters and events are recreated, the novel does not claim to historical accuracy (in fact, Dreamland was no longer functioning in the summer of 1911), but I have no doubt that it will encourage readers to learn more about the period and about Coney Island.

As for the mystery side of things… There are red-herrings; there is misdirection, and several suspects, as it pertains to the genre. There is a fair amount of action, surprises, scares, and Peggy’s turn as an amateur detective is fraught with risk. Although she is neither experienced nor particularly skilled as an investigator, she makes up for it with her determination, persistence, and a good nose for choosing her collaborators. This part of the story is the one that requires a greater suspension of disbelief, but the novel is not intended to be a police procedural, and the intrigue fits well into the overall story arc and will keep readers turning the pages at a good speed.

I have already talked about the issue of gender and gender politics that is explored in the novel. Although things were moving and women were fighting for the vote, it was not easy, and if it was hard for privileged women to have a say on how their lives should be run, for working-class women it could get positively dangerous, when not lethal. The author also explores the issue of migration, the suspicion towards foreigners (despite the melting-pot mythos of the United States society), the prejudice of society and authorities towards newcomers, and this is also linked to international politics (and, of course, we readers know that the situation was about to get much worse and it would result in World War I). These subjects are well integrated into the fabric of the novel, elevating it beyond the typical historical adventure romp, and they make comparisons to current historical events unavoidable.

The writing style is compelling, with beautiful descriptions combined with a great skill in making us feel and experience the events first-hand, and a good pace, alternating between action and more contemplative scenes, without ever stalling the flow.

I’ve read some reviews that complain about the ending being somewhat rushed and sudden. It speaks to the skill of the author the fact that we don’t want the story to end, and although there are elements of it that I think could have been further developed, overall I enjoyed the ending, especially because it isn’t a conventional one.

In sum, I enjoyed the wild ride that is Dreamland. I wish I could have visited the real one, but lacking that opportunity, this is a close and satisfying second best. I congratulate the author for this great novel, and I look forward to the next.

 

What readers are saying about Dreamland…

If you enjoyed Downton Abbey and want something from that time, set in the US, but with a delicious murder mystery thrown in, you will love this book.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 *s

“I loved everything about this book and I will definitely look for more to read by Bilyeau! I enjoyed the pacing and character development so much and completely got wrapped up in the story.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 *s

“This suspenseful tale has every element of success: murder, deceit, love, corruption, perseverance, obsession, and redemption. A book that will keep you up at night rushing to the end but that will leave you wanting more once you’re finished.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 *s

http://geni.us/Kvfg9z

Here in Goodreads.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47812578-dreamland

Author Nancy Bilyeau. Credit Joshua Kessler

About the author:

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the historical thrillers “The Blue” and “Dreamland” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry.” She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada.

In “The Blue,” Nancy drew on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied History at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to “Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Bilyeau/e/B005XPJYDG/

You can read about the story behind this book and what inspired the author to write it in this blog post:

http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-journey-to-writing-my-novel.html