Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan









Author: Ellen Horan

About the book from Harper Collins:

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell in his opulent Manhattan town house? 

At once a gripping mystery and a richly detailed excavation of a lost age, 31 Bond Street is a spellbinding tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics in 1857 New York. Author Ellen Horan interweaves fact and fiction—reimagining the sensational nineteenth-century crime that rocked the city a few short years before the Civil War ripped through the fabric of the nation, while transporting readers back to a time that eerily echoes our own. 

Though there are no clues to the brutal slaying of wealthy Dr. Burdell, suspicion quickly falls on Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed his house and servants. An ambitious district attorney seeks a swift conviction, but defense attorney Henry Clinton is a formidable obstacle—a man firmly committed to justice and the law, and to the cause of a frightened, vulnerable woman desperately trying to save herself from the gallows.


My Thoughts:

31 Bond Street is a gripping debut historical  mystery novel. What I found fascinating is that Ellen Horan, based the novel on a true crime story, of a brutal murder of a despicable man, a desperate mother and house mistress all set in the backdrop of society in  New York City in the late 1800's.  A wealthy doctor is murdered and suspicion immediately falls on Emma, a woman who is known as a widow and  mother who is his house mistress.  Politics and greed set in as the district attorney seeks to take control and hopes to convict Emma. Fortunately, Emma reaches out to Clinton, a strong defense attorney who has integrity and commitment to following justice and the law. As a reader you are taken through this story mainly from the points of view of Emma and Clinton, before and after the trial that ensues. 31 Bond Street is richly layered in details of the events, characters and weaves a strong story that involves, murder, greed, politics, slavery, child labor and so much more.  The clues are there to find as a reader and I enjoyed the process of the trial and subsequent piecing together of the story to it's final conclusion. I highly recommend 31 Bond Street for those who enjoy historical fiction and mysteries. This would be an excellent book to discuss with a book club as well. There is an interview with the author at the back of the book as well as information on the actual murder trial and how the author came to write the book.

Check out Ellen Horan's Guest Blog in which she shared share what helped the characters from 31 Bond Street come alive after she had done all the research.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours  for providing me an opportunity to be part of the book tour for 31 Bond Street and to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the trade paperback for review. 




Monday, March 28, 2011

Guest Post with Ellen Horan Author of 31 Bond Street




I am honored to welcome Ellen Horan, author of 31 Bond Street to Redlady's Reading Room today. I will be posting a review of 31 Bond Street tomorrow and this is a must read, gripping historical mystery that will hold your attention from start to finish.





About the Book from Harper Collins:

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell in his opulent Manhattan town house?

At once a gripping mystery and a richly detailed excavation of a lost age, 31 Bond Street is a spellbinding tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics in 1857 New York. Author Ellen Horan interweaves fact and fiction—reimagining the sensational nineteenth-century crime that rocked the city a few short years before the Civil War ripped through the fabric of the nation, while transporting readers back to a time that eerily echoes our own.

Today, Ellen Horan will share what helped the characters from 31 Bond Street come alive after she had done all the research......


Taking Your Character for a Walk by Ellen Horan

My novel 31 Bond Street is based on an actual murder and trial that occurred in 1857 in
New York City. I discovered the case from a newspaper clipping that I found in a print
shop. After researching the trial, I decided to write a fictionalized version of this case. I
had already met my characters from the actual newspapers: there was the murdered man,
a dentist,  Dr. Burdell, who lived in a genteel neighborhood; he was killed at home by
someone who entered his office, stabbed him and nearly decapitated him, and left without
a trace. It turns out that he was something of a cad and an unscrupulous businessman, but I didn’t have to worry too much about at first, because, as the book opens, he is already dead.
 Then there was Emma Cunningham, a young widow who lived upstairs in his house. She
was an attractive housemistress hired to manage his servants. She was something of an
enigma because she admitted to a romantic relationship with Dr. Burdell and therefore
quickly became a suspect. Her lawyer advised her not to talk, which only intensified the
mystery surrounding her.
Her defense lawyer, who takes on this murder case, was a prominent lawyer named
Henry Clinton. He wrote about his strategies in a book called “Extraordinary Cases,”
which I used for research.

So I had plenty of facts—and I already had characters, with quite a bit of tension between
them. But the problem arose of how to flesh them out. Fiction has its own demands, and
often the facts can’t do the job.

One trick I discovered when I was stumped by a scene – particularly one where I needed
to move the timeline along but the character wouldn’t budge, was to take my character
for a walk. Literally—I would go outside, (to the streets of New York City, where I live)
and start walking. When you are in a city, it is fascinating to watch others walking. They
are walking quickly to get somewhere, usually to work, or hurrying to meet someone, and
you will see how people are set in their ‘inner’ heads. Their closest concerns and thoughts
are just under the surface. Sometimes they seem to be concentrating on a conversation going on within. Each person has a unique ‘inner voice’ – even when alone, they are
talking to themselves all the time.

When I took my characters for a walk, their voices would talk to me from the inside,
which helped me to understand inner motives and point of view. What would Emma
Cunnigham be thinking or worrying about as she hurried about the city, shopping, and
doing household errands? Would she be concerned about the difficult servants, or about
her teenaged daughters? Having been recently widowed, would she be worrying about
how to keep a roof over her head?

As for the defense lawyer, Henry Clinton, what would be going through his head as he
pondered taking on a sensationalist but thankless case, against the wishes of his law
partner? He had a nemesis in the District Attorney and perhaps he wanted to cross swords with him to even out past scores. Was he worried what his beautiful wife, Elisabeth would think? Was he worried that he might lose her respect if he risked everything on this case and failed?

So, taking my characters for a walk is how they became more alive to me. One day,
taking a break from the computer, I went for a walk and reached the corner of Broadway
and 10th St. just a block from my apartment. A sentence popped into my head: “New
York was a walking town, and walking allowed him time to think.” I placed that line
on p. 62. In fact, Dr. Burdell’s service was at Grace Church, which, today, is still at that
spot. I assigned that line to Henry Clinton who was leaving the murdered man’s funeral.
He is heading home to consult his wife about taking on the defense of Emma Cunnngham
– to make a decision that will test them both, and change their lives forever.

(An essay “The Story Behind the Book” can be found in the PS Section at the back of the
paperback and on my website, www.31BondStreet.com)

Check out the book trailer:




About the Author Ellen Horan:


Ellen Horan has worked as a studio artist and as a photo editor for magazines and books in New York City. She currently lives in downtown Manhattan, the setting of her first novel, 31 Bond Street.

Find out more about Ellen and 31 Bond Street at her website. Add Ellen as a friend on Facebook.







Mailbox Monday- March 28








Mailbox Monday~ 
is hosted by Laura at I'm Booking It during the month of March
We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week.


MAILBOX MONDAY
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here).



Russian Winter: A NovelDreams of Joy: A NovelSecret Daughter: A Novel


Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay  for a TLC Book Tour from Harper Perennial

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See from Random House

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda from Harper Collins



Friday, March 25, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Flavors by Emily Sue Harvey






Title: Flavors




Emily Sue Harvey’s first novel, Song of Renewal, was praised by New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis as “an uplifting, heartwarming story,” by bestselling author Kay Allenbaugh as a work that will “linger in the memory long after readers put it aside,” and by Coffee Time Romance as “a must-read book for anyone doing a little soul searching.” New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry said, “It captures your attention, and whets your appetite for more,” while Peeking between the Pages called it “quite simply a beautiful book.”

Now, in Flavors, this master storyteller of the human heart sweeps us along with twelve-year-old Sadie Ann Melton as she enters a life-altering season. The summer of 1950 will change everything for her. For in that summer, she will embark on an odyssey at once heartbreakingly tender and crushingly brutal. At times, she will experience more darkness than she has ever witnessed before. At others, she will thrill to lightness and joy she never imagined. By summer’s end, the Melton women in Sadie’s journey – loving her, coaxing her, and commanding her – will help shape her into the woman she becomes. And they will expose Sadie to all of the flavors of life as she savors the world that she brings into being.


My Thoughts:

Flavors is a sweet coming-of-age story about a 12 year old girl named Sadie Ann. The story is told during a summer in the 1950's  in the South, when Sadie Ann and her little brother must spend the summer on the farm of their grandparents. The Melton's are a large family, living on a farm with simpler living conditions and a large extended family including aunts and uncles that are close in age to Sadie Ann.  Flavors is a novella, a short book of 115 pages. The book started a bit slow for me until about halfway through the book, I grew attached to Sadie Ann as she grows into adolescence and self awareness. Many of the experiences she goes through both good and bad help to form her identity and a life long connection of friends. The author wove into the story a connection between flavors and Sadie Ann's experiences of life from moods, emotions, family life, farm life, and connection to nature and animals. I liked the concept of connecting flavors to Sadie's life although I found some of the connections a bit lacking and they just didn't flow that smoothly into the story line. I found the theme of the importance of enjoying life even in the bitter sweet moments to be a relevant message to the reader.



About Emily Sue Harvey:




Emily Sue Harvey, author and speaker, writes to make a difference. Dozens of her upbeat stories and articles appear in Chocolate for Women, Chicken Soup for the Soul, women’s magazines, websites, and other anthologies. Her first hardback novel, Song of Renewal, was released by The Story Plant in July, 2009. An expanded paperback version of Song of Renewal, plus three novellas and two more full-length novels (Homefires and Unto These Hills) will come from The Story Plant in 2011.

To find out more about Emily visit www.renewalstories.com or www.emilysueharvey.com





I  am reviewing this book as part of the Flavors Virtual Book Tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book. Thanks to The Story Plant for sending me a copy of this book for review.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mailbox Monday- March 21, 2011







Mailbox Monday~ 
is hosted by Laura at I'm Booking It during the month of March
We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week.

MAILBOX MONDAY
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here).
 


The American Heiress: A NovelThe Upright Piano Player. David AbbottThe Paris Wife: A Novel








Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giveaway: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain






Yesterday, I posted a Book Spotlight and Guest post on The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I am thrilled to tell you that  I am able to give away a copy of The Paris Wife to one lucky reader!  Thanks to the generosity and kindness of  Cheryl from Pump Up Your Book Promotion and Random House.



*GIVEAWAY DETAILS*

I have one copy of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain to give away complements of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and Random House.

To Enter:   

For 1 Entry: All you have to do is leave a comment about my post Book Spotlight and Guest post on The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. (click here, to read the post) what do you find interesting from the description of The Paris Wife or from the  Guest Post by Paula McLain? Make sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you are a winner. Otherwise, I won't be able to include your name in the drawing. 

For a 2nd Entry (Separate Comment):  Follow my blog, you can follow through Google Friend Connect to the left in my side column. If you already do, thank you, and please  make sure to let me know in your comment so I can pass the entry on to you as well. Make sure to include your email address.

For a 3rd Entry (Separate Comment): Spread the word about this giveaway and Retweet, retweet button below my name at the end of this post. Make sure to include your email address.


Open to US and Canada only.


Enter by April 6, 2011.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Spotlight & Guest Post: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain







THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time—Paris in the twenties—and an extraordinary love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

In Chicago in 1920, Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and finds herself captivated by his good looks, intensity, and passionate desire to write. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group of expatriates that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

But the hard-drinking and fast-living café life does not celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy. As Hadley struggles with jealousy and self-doubt and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the great romances in literary history.



When I first read about The Paris Wife by Paula McLain in my local newspaper, it grabbed my interest right away. A novel related to Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson and written from her point of view and add to that a life in Paris and the background and atmosphere of the beginning of Hemingway's writing career. I am looking forward to reading The Paris Wife and I am interested in reading more about Hemingway and his novels. I've visited the Hemingway home in Key West Florida, and had a peek into his life. I found out that Ms. McLain is a local author and that was another draw for me. I missed out on her local readings and book signings but I'm keeping an eye on her events schedule on her website to see if she has any other local events  in the area.


For a list of where to purchase The Paris Wife, go here.






Paula McLain received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and hasbeen a resident of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She is the author of two collections of poetry, as well as a memoir, Like Family, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives in Cleveland with her family. You can visit Paula McLain’s website to learn more about The Paris Wife at www.pariswife.com.










Guest Post by Paula McClain

There’s a moment in A Moveable Feast, when Ernest Hemingway and his new
wife, Hadley, have just moved to Paris, where he’s hoping to earn his stripes
as a writer. It’s 1922. Winter has settled grimly in, and Hemingway, sitting
in a café after a day’s writing, watches a cold rain falling and feels the grip
of melancholy and emptiness. He orders a dozen portugaises and dry white
wine and as he eats the oysters, “with their strong taste of the sea and their
faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the
sea taste and the succulent texture,” something happens. The emptiness
he’s feeling is washed away, too. It occurs to him that he and Hadley could
leave Paris for a holiday in the Swiss Alps, where there would be lovely snow
instead of rain. He rushes home to tell Hadley of his plan and she agrees
wholeheartedly. Within days they’re tucked into a cozy chalet in Chamby,
Switzerland. They teach themselves to ski and, at night, lay tucked into the
featherbed with their books and a fire roaring nearby, and everything is
better than good. It saves them.

Researching Hemingway and Hadley’s life together for The Paris Wife, it
struck me that the overwhelming success of this trip to Chamby set a tone
for their marriage. For the next five years, as Hemingway was becoming
the writer we know now, arguably the most influential of his generation, he
and Hadley lived in Paris and traveled with increasing relish—from the ice
glaciers of the Austrian Vorarlberg to the hot cobblestones of Pamplona and
everywhere in between: Milan, Rapallo, Lausanne, Antibes, Madrid, Valencia,
San Sebastian. They had an endless appetite for a fresh view, exotic dish,
unfamiliar wine—for life, really. And as I worked on The Paris Wife, tracing
their journeys imaginatively, living with them in these amazing places, I was
literally swept away.

I wrote nearly all of the first draft tucked into a brown velveteen chair at
Starbucks in Cleveland, where I live. Hardly a Parisian café—and yet it
didn’t matter. Outside the fogged glass, it was October, then December,
then February. Snow fell, melted, fell again—but I didn’t really feel it. I had
slipped through a miraculous portal to San Sebastian and the blinding white
sand beach of La Concha, or to the first riotous night of Fiesta in Pamplona,
complete with chirping fifes and fireworks and riau-riau dancing.

When I finished the book, late in May, I almost couldn’t let it go. Living inside
their story was such an incredible voyage—and because I’ve been very lucky
indeed, it hasn’t ended. This past summer I traced the Hemingways’ route
through France and Spain—Paris to San Sebastian to Pamplona, to Antibes.
It was a life-changing trip and it began with a plate of perfect oysters,
portugaises, and dry white wine at one of Hemingway’s favorite Parisian
cafés, the Closerie des Lilas. They tasted of the sea, yes, and also of history
and memory. Of sweeping love, and life lived to the fullest. They tasted of
Hemingway’s Paris and my own extraordinary good fortune—and I savored
every last drop. 

Check out this excellent interview with Paula McClain from Cool Cleveland:






Monday, March 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday- March 14, 2011







Mailbox Monday~ 
is hosted by Laura at I'm Booking It during the month of March
We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week.

MAILBOX MONDAY
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here).

The Peach Keeper: A NovelNight Road