Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE TUDOR VENDETTA by C.W. Gortner: Guest Post & Giveaway

Elizabeth I: An Uncertain Beginning

by C.W. Gortner

In THE TUDOR VENDETTA, the third and final book in my Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy (Elizabeth’s Spymaster in the UK), I decided to focus on the first uncertain, tumultuous months leading up to Elizabeth I’s coronation. Although this novel is perhaps the most fictionalized of the three in the series, in that the mystery which Elizabeth’s private spy must uncover remains unsubstantiated by historical evidence, the setting I depict is not.
It’s almost impossible for us to believe now that Elizabeth Tudor faced an uncertain future upon her accession. Her forty-five year reign has been so cemented in our imagination as one of unmitigated triumph that we take it as a given. Her ability to steer past the shoals of religious discord and enmity of Catholic powers both abroad and in her realm, as well as her astonishing lack of compromise when it came to marriage, have made her an icon: the Virgin Queen, Gloriana, who once said she already had a husband, for she was “married to England.”
Nevertheless, the twenty-five year old princess who claimed the throne in November 1558 was, while superbly educated and politically savvy, still untried as a ruler. Indeed, she faced a myriad of issues that might have overwhelmed anyone but her. After her sister Mary I’s disastrous five-year reign—a portion of which is depicted in the second novel of the series, The Tudor Conspiracy— England teetered on the brink of ruin. Mary’s fervent persecution of Protestants had turned the country upside down, exiling or destroying many of the affluent merchants who upheld the Reformed Faith and formed the backbone of economic stability. Her ill-fated marriage to Philip of Spain had turned popular opinion against her, a tragic side-effect of her determination to see England restored to Rome, which annihilated the initial wave of support from her subjects that saw her to the throne. In addition, her economic policies had debased the coinage even further—an ongoing issue that had bedeviled her predecessors, and now fomented severe discontent, with the strife over the enclosure or sale of monastic lands begun under Henry VIII, a long-gnawed bone of contention between nobility and commoners.
Elizabeth thus inherited a legacy of intolerance, brutal reprisal, and financial chaos; she also was considered nearing her middle years, as surprising as this might seem to us, because of overall life expectancy in her era, and of her family, in particular. The need to marry and produce an heir was therefore paramount to her advisors, most particularly William Cecil, who had safeguarded her during the years before her accession. Marriage was deemed not only vital to shoring up her reign, but also to protecting her from foreign aggression, now personified by her cousin, Mary of Scots, the dauphine of France by virtue of her marriage to the French king’s heir. Catholics by and large believed Mary of Scots held the superior right to the English throne, based on the contention that Henry VIII’s marriage to Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, had been illegal. Many Catholics deemed Elizabeth a bastard usurper, including the pope himself.
Elizabeth’s famous motto of video et taceo ("I see, and say nothing") may have arisen as she began to realize just how tenuous her reign could be. She is renowned for not wanting to “make mirrors into men’s souls”. Perhaps this, above all else, was her most defining characteristic. She did not believe that prying into private matters, religious or otherwise, would serve her in the long run—a rare stance for any ruler, much less an untried one, yet one which, as history would show, served her well.
In THE TUDOR VENDETTA, we meet Elizabeth in the first weeks of her much-vaunted reign—here, she is a woman who has survived more in her youth than many experience in a lifetime, having navigated the seesaw of favor and disfavor, the stigma of illegitimacy, the scandals that marred her adolescence, and even a terrifying imprisonment in the Tower. But she is not yet the Elizabeth who will eventually emerge from the forge of trial-and-error; she is not the white-faced, oversize-gowned sovereign of legend.
She is still a new queen, determined but unproven, treading on thin ice. She dreams of being the savior of her nation, but her path to glory will be arduous—and she may lose everything if she fails to protect one potentially fatal secret.
I hope you enjoy exploring this exciting time in one of history’s most dramatic eras. To learn more about THE TUDOR VENDETTA and my other books, please visit me at

Please join C.W. Gortner as he tours the blogosphere for the release of the third book in his Spymaster Chronicles Series, The Tudor Vendetta, from October 20 – November 28, and enter to win a complete set of the trilogy!

Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Spymaster Chronicles
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.
Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.
The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

Praise for The Tudor Vendetta

“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series
“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud
“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

Buy the Book

About the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.
For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterest, andYouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books
Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Bookish
Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book
Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes
Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 5
Review at One Book at a Time
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More
Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club
Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog
Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast
Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, November 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story


To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview with Saylor Storm, Author of Sue's Seduction (Review plus Giveaway)

Does the fountain of eternal youth really exist? Tales of a spring that supposedly restores the youth of whoever drinks and bathes in it have been recounted for thousands of years. During the 16th century the legend of the miraculous water became particularly prominent: according to some apocryphal literature, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searched for the longevity fountain during his travels to the Caribbean. The legend remained, well, a legend. Like for the Saint Graal, nothing was ever found to substantiate the myth, but today scientists claim that the anti-aging miracle is possible, in the form of a revolutionary pill.  

In Sue's Seduction, book 1 of the Sue's Journey series, romantic suspense writer Saylor Storm takes an actual scientific premise (the 'youth pill', a powerful blend of complex botanicals and vitamins that could stop and reverse aging) and turns it into something imaginatively bold, positively entertaining, and altogether thought-provoking.

“According to science, the thing that ages us is the shortening of Telomeres [Editor's Note: telomeres are a DNA sequence that appears at the end of each chromosome. When cells divide, the telomeres get shorter and this is what causes the cells to age],” Storm explains. “And hypothetically, if you could reverse that shortening, you could potentially reverse aging. So I took that piece of reality, and exaggerated the possibilities. I had a lot of fun with it.”

Would you defy the laws of nature and use this miraculous supplement? Would you let exterior beauty and youth define you? Are you what you look like on the outside or are you the sum of your experiences, achievements, personal history, and spiritual path?

Middle aged, overweight, depressed, and lonely Susan Kent becomes part of an anti-aging clinical trial and is offered a lease on life. She swiftly transforms into a budding beauty. Her newfound tender age brings opportunities, lovers, and tragedy. Sue's youthful path takes her  on a journey that she never could have imagined and catastrophe brings sobering consequences. Compassionate attorney, Roger Grayson, enters her life and saves the day. In the end does Susan choose youth or the promise of love?

With its bite-sized chapters, accessible prose, and absorbing pace, Sue's Seduction pinned me down to my chair: a modern-day, chick-lit version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Saylor Storm's fascinating narrative provided me with a few hours of uninterrupted reading pleasure, leaving me, in its final pages, on a delicious cliffhanger. No worries, though. The sequel, Sue's Rapture, is now available on Kindle Amazon for $ 0.99. I'm hooked...line and sinker.

***Review copy of Sue's Seduction graciously offered by the publicist in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion

Interview with Saylor Storm

I am thrilled to have Saylor Storm on the blog with a great 'two-way' interview (Saylor's questions and my answers are at the bottom of this post) and a giveaway you don't want to miss. Saylor loves to interact with her readers, so don't be bashful...stop by and comment away!

Welcome to Mina's Bookshelf, Saylor! It's great to have you on the blog. Your novel, Sue's Seduction, was so easy to breeze through. I read your bio and you are quite the traveler - if we could conduct this interview face-to-face, in a place other than the blogosphere, where would we meet?

Thank you for having me here today, Mina, and thank you for taking the time to read Sue's Seduction. My favorite spot in the world is Fiji. We could meet there for a tete-a-tete, enjoy the magnificent beaches and be served fresh lobster and Australian wine by the friendliest natives in the world and after we could drop in on a local medicine man for a cava ceremony [Editor's Note: Kava is a crop used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout the Pacific. These cultures have a great respect for the plant and place a high importance on it. In Fiji, for example, a formal yaqona (kava) ceremony will often accompany important social, political, religious, functions.]

I've never met you. How do I recognize you? The adjectives that better describe you as a woman and an author.

Inspired easily, calm and collected, salubrious and straightforward.

How did you find your call as a writer of 'romantic suspense'? Or should I say 'romance'? Which category does your writing better fit in?

It's not easy to fit into a particular category; I believe that is why there are so many of them these days. I may have started out as a romance writer with some suspense, but feel that as time goes on it will be the other way around; a suspense writer with some romance.

Your Sue's Journey trilogy blends elements of romance, suspense, and science fiction. How did you get hooked on this particular combination of genres? Did any author/book/life experience influence you?

John MacDonald had a big influence on me, growing up I read every one of his novels and I think Travis McGee stuck in subconscious somewhere, hence my character, Arnie Darrow. The science fiction ideas are a fun way of taking something from real life and twisting into something surreal.

How did Sue's character come about? Is she inspired to a real story? What shaped your imagination?

To me, Sue is the typical middle-aged woman who is bitter and has given up on life. She takes no responsibility for her own happiness and blames everyone around her for her misery.  She buries herself in too much bad food and alcohol.

Can you share with us more details about this heroine's arc throughout the trilogy? Book 1, Sue's Seduction, was released last year; book 2, Sue's Rapture, will be next and there are plans for a third one. What made you decide to bring Susan Kent back?

In book 1, Sue's Seduction, middle aged, unhappy and overweight, Susan Kent, becomes part of a reverse aging clinical trial and goes from 55 to a 20-year-old model. In the beginning, her life is perfect, then reality sets in and it all starts to come apart.

Book 2, Sue's Rapture, finds Sue back to her real age and connecting with the love of her life, Roger Grayson. Life is idyllic until Roger becomes gravely ill. Desperate to keep her love alive and well, they experiment with the reverse aging product. Roger's disease dissipates, but Sue sees a new side to Roger that is dark and foreboding.

I had decided to kill Sue off at the end of the second book, but then decided that her character is key to the plot in the last book.

The third book, Sue's Legacy, will play out with Sue's daughter, Karen, having to deal with the aftermath of her mother's involvement with the reverse aging drug. The story unfolds with deception and greed and it is difficult to tell who can trust whom.

What is the most amazing fact you have discovered while researching and writing about beauty, youth, and aging? Did your own views about health, beauty, and science change somewhat as a consequence?

The fact that a reverse aging product is a real possibility in our lifetime; that right around the corner we may all be able to take a little pill that will make us look and feel like a 20-year-old until we die at a ripe old age of 120! I have implemented numerous practices for protecting the length of my telomeres (the endings of our  DNA) such as taking specific supplements, exercising moderately and meditation.

Saylor, you have a professional background in fashion. How do you incorporate your work experience into your writing? Do your past professional and your new venture as an author have anything in common, any trick or lesson that helped you navigate the writing and publishing world?

There are ideas that hold fast and true for any business and writing is a business just like any other. It all comes down to marketing and selling a brand. Every brand needs a recognizable logo for the public to identify with.

Twitter style, 140 characters, who should pick up your Sue's Journey Trilogy and why?

Follow Sue's Journey as she reverses aging 50 to 20, finds Sex, Love & Happiness? #intrigue #deception #romance

What are you currently reading? Any thing in particular on your nightstand or kindle?

I am reading The Science of Love by John Baines as research for a monthly article that I write about love for a soon to be released magazine called Cover It.  The author divides love into two basic categories: corrupt love and divine love. The book is based on the theories of Hermeticism. Hermes was the god of wisdom I ancient Greek mythology.

Absolutely fascinating! Thank you for gracing my blog with your presence, Saylor.

As I mentioned before, this is a 'two-way' interview: I'll be answering Saylor Storm's questions, but first, a few more details about this intriguing author and a treat for our readers.

About Saylor Storm
Saylor Storm takes something from real life and turns it into something fun, and perhaps a bit twisted. Reality becomes fantasy, or is that imagination turns into real life experience? Her stories include places where she has lived or visited from beaches of Malibu to Islands of Fiji and destinations in between, including the monastery in her novel, Dr. Selfish. Love and passion are at the root of her novels; after all isn't that what life is all about? Storm is a long-time resident of beautiful Lake Tahoe and n active member of the Romance Writer of America.  Saylor is currently working on several new books and loves to hear from her readers! Visit her at

Social links

About Sue's Rapture

At long last, seasoned and savvy Susan Kent finds the love of her life, compassionate attorney, Roger Grayson. The two create an idyllic life until Roger receives devastating  news that could change their lives forever. Unwilling to give up on her perfect love, Sue devises a new plan to get their lives back on track. Sue could never have imagined how her perfect plan could have gone so completely out of control. Will Sue be able to repair the damage and will she even want after she sees a darker side to Roger?

Buy links

Sue's Rapture (Sue's Journey, Book 2)
Amazon KINDLE EDITION, ONLY $ 0.99!!!

Sue's Seduction (Sue's Journey, Book 1)
Amazon / Barnes&Noble


An e-copy of Sue's Seduction is up for grabs. Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. The contest ends on November 1st.

Interview with Mina's Bookshelf

Saylor, thank you for your questions! Sometimes you don't know what's in your heart until you have to put it in writing. So, this is the woman behind the bookshelf...
How did you begin blogging?
My life-long passion for reading and reviewing books turned into a daily ritual in recent years. When authors and publishers started to reach out to me for feedback on Goodreads and other social media, I decided to give my thoughts an organic structure, a hub authors and readers could easily identify and refer to.
Do you have a special time to blog or how is your day structured?
There's a beautiful YA novel by David Almond whose title perfectly answers the question: "My Name Is Mina And I Love The Night." As a single mother of two young children, blogger, book editor and contributor for an e-magazine, I make the most of any available moment during the day to read, analyze, and research. But it is at night, when the kids are asleep, that I find the perfect conditions to put all the fragments together and write.
What motivates you?
Love of knowledge.
Why do you blog?
To share my knowledge with readers who rely on reviews and word of mouth to choose their next read. Blogging is a conversation I have with myself and with an audience of people who share my passion.  That sense of community is what keeps this blog going.
How do you use facebook?
Daily. I am active user. On both pages, personal and public (
What challenges have you set for yourself?
Being the best mentor and guide for my children.
Are you a brand?
I think I am, in my own little way. I offer a service. I create a value (albeit intangible) that has its own peculiar, unique characteristics.
What do you read, and how do you read it?
My reading taste is quite diversified. I like variety. Historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, chick lit, self-help, psychology, parenting, business...anywhere, anytime.
What are you grateful for?
The list is long. My family and friends above all else.
What are you good at?
Anything I put my heart into.
What would you most like to learn on your own?
A fourth language.
Who inspires you?
Human rights advocates and the people I love.
What have you done to earn money?
I started working when I was 16. I've been a cashier, a sales rep, a private tutor, a translator, a tour guide, a park greeter, a Fellowship Ambassador, a cultural rep, guest relations officer, customer service expert, account executive, export manager, freelance illustrator and writer.
Where is the line between truth and fiction?
Hard to see  a blurry line...fiction is laced with truth and there's not such a thing as one, unalterable truth.
How productive and organized are you?
I am creative and I value quality over quantity. Organized chaos can be very productive.
When have you ever failed at something? What happened as a result?
If you learn from your mistakes, failure is the key to success. I call it 'experience'. I have never failed at anything.
How full is your glass?
What do you want out of life?
Be happy. Be helpful.
What will make you feel successful?
Doing what I love to do at the best of my abilities.
What makes you happy?
My kids, a good book, a cup of tea.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BITTER GREENS by Kate Forsyth: Review & Giveaway (US only)

02_Bitter Greens 
A Novel
Kate Forsyth

Publication Date: September 23, 2014 | Thomas Dunne Books | Hardcover; 496p | ISBN-10: 1250047536

Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Fairy-Tale Retellings

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The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love. French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens... After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition. Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does. Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

My Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Fairy tales have existed for millenniums. Many of them evolved from centuries-old stories that have appeared in multiple cultures, simultaneously or separately. The variations mirror the different historical and environmental imprints, but these fairy tales remain fundamentally similar in their symbolic and ideological texture. It's a phenomenon known as cross-cultural transmission, particularly difficult to trace given the oral nature of this genre and lack of a real literary documentation prior to the XVIIth century. Common narrative elements (archetypes, plot, motifs) have spread over time and space, either stemming from a single source or  originating from common human experiences and appearing separately in different centuries and distant countries.

The Grimm Brothers' story of "Rapunzel", published in 1812, is an adaptation of Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force's "Persinette", a fairy tale written by the French noble woman in 1698 while she was locked away in a nunnery as a punishment for her scandalous affairs and writings. The first known version of Rapunzel's story, though, is "Petrosinella" ('Little Parsley') by Italian writer Giambattista Basile (1575-1632), a tale published in Neapolitan dialect posthumously (1634) and translated in French only after de la Rose's death. What has been puzzling the fairy tale scholars for ages is how the French writer could have come to know about Basile's fairy tale, considered the lack of contact between the two writers due to language, time, and space barriers: to our knowledge, Mademoiselle de la Rose never travelled to Italy and, although exceptionally educated for her time, she didn't speak any of the Italian dialects. The key to unlock the mysterious connection between de la Rose's version of Rapunzel and Basile's original fairy tale may be hidden within the cold stone walls of  the Abbey of Gercy-en-Brien, the Benedectine convent where the French novelist was forcefully taken to in 1697 in order to put an end to the scandalous rumors swirling around her.

In Kate Forsyth's beautifully mannered and lyrical novel, Bitter Greens, the original tale of that innocent girl who was sold by her parents for a handful  of bitter greens (parsley), and locked away in a tower by a beautiful witch, is re-imagined in a three-story arc and re-told through a trifold range of voices: the moving, heart-rending, and haunting perspectives of de la Rose (the storyteller), Margherita (the original inspiration for the character of Petrosinella/Persinette/Rapunzel), and Selena Leonelli (the sourceress who used magic and innocent virgin's blood to preserve her beauty) are braided together in a multi-layered and flowery ensemble that merges elements of historical truth, folklore, magic realism, and pure fantasy.

To my greatest delight, while crafting her elaborate and yet accessible narrative construction, Forsyth delivers a metaphorically powerful message -- in the fashion of all good fairy tales. Women's eternal struggle to preserve their sense of self under the weight of historical circumstances and cultural boundaries that strongly limit their quest for happiness, self-expression, and independence is distilled, narrative thread after narrative thread, into an underlying theme of abuse and violence: de la Rose is punished for using her sharp wit and bold penmanship, and is literally 'imprisoned' among nuns by King Louis XIV of France, stripped of her assets, forced to embrace a vocation and lifestyle that utterly clash with her personality and talents; Margherita is sold by her parents, kidnapped by a witch, torn away from the love of her life; Selena is victim of her own obsession with youth and beauty as the only available tools she has to assess herself and exert her power in a society that harshly underestimates women's value and function.

The author's compassionate and emotional concern with such issues was for me so humane and fresh that all characters and themes, although portrayed in the frame of by-gone eras, felt timeless and engrossing. And that is the hallmark, the meaning, and importance of fairytales -- the beautiful thing about them is that they are like secret doors... "you can open [them] anywhere, any time".

***Review copy graciously offered by the publicist in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion

Do you have a favorite fairy tale re-telling? Please, become a follower of this blog (GFC, Bloglovin, G+, Facebook, Twitter) and leave your comment along with your email address in the section below for a chance to win a copy of BITTER GREENS. The contest is open to US residents only. Good luck!

Praise for Bitter Greens

“Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens is an enthralling concoction of history and magic, an absorbing, richly detailed, and heart-wrenching reimagining of a timeless fairytale.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival

“See how three vividly drawn women cope with injustice, loneliness, fear, longing. See how they survive—or perpetrate—treachery. Surrender yourself to a master storyteller, to delicious detail and spunky heroines. Bitter Greens is a complex, dazzling achievement.” —Susan Vreeland, New York Times bestselling author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany and Girl in Hyacinth Blue

“A magical blend of myth and history, truth and legend, Bitter Greens is one of those rare books that keeps you reading long after the lights have gone out, that carries you effortlessly to another place and time, that makes you weep and laugh and wish you could flip forward to make sure it all ends happily ever after—but for the fact that if you did so, you might miss a line, and no line of this book should be missed.” —Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The Ashford Affair

“Kate Forsyth wields her pen with all the grace and finesse of a master swordsman. In Bitter Greens she conjures a lyrical fairytale that is by turns breathtaking, inspiring, poetic, and heartbreakingly lovely. Set like a jewel within the events of history, it is pure, peerless enchantment.”—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

“Bitter Greens is pure enchantment–gripping and lyrical. From the high convent walls where a 17th century noblewoman is exiled, to a hidden tower which imprisons an innocent girl with very long hair, to the bitter deeds of a beautiful witch who cannot grow old–Kate Forsyth weaves an engrossing, gorgeously written tale of three women in search of love and freedom. A truly original writer, Forsyth has crafted an often terrifying but ultimately redemptive dark fairy tale of the heart.”—Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award-winning author of Claude & Camille

“Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens is not only a magnificent achievement that would make any novelist jealous, it’s one of the most beautiful paeans to the magic of storytelling that I’ve ever read.”—C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

"Threads of history and folklore are richly intertwined to form this spellbinding story. Kate Forsyth has excelled herself with Bitter Greens. Compulsively unputtdownable."—Juliet Marillier, national bestselling author of Flame of Sevenwaters and Heart’s Blood

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Kate Forsyth 1 About the Author

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia's Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called 'one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world. Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called 'The Wild Girl', which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world's most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, 'The Wild Girl' is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013. She is probably most famous for 'Bitter Greens', a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. 'Bitter Greens' has been called 'the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter', and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award. Her most recent book for children is 'Grumpy Grandpa', a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem. Since 'The Witches of Eileanan' was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She's also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with 'The Gypsy Crown' - which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, 'The Lightning Bolt', was also a CBCA Notable Book. Kate's books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing. Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, 'A Mother's Offering to her Children'. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books. For more information please visit Kate Forsyth's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Bitter Greens Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, September 16
Review at Kinx's Book Nook
Review & Giveaway at Bookish
Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Literary, etc
Review & Giveaway at Book Drunkard
Thursday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at Build a Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Friday, September 19
Review at The Maiden's Court
Review & Giveaway at Icey Books
Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Book Dilettante
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at SurLaLune
Wednesday, September 24
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Ink Gypsy
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, September 25
Review & Giveaway at No BS Book Reviews
Interview & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Friday, September 26
Review at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Review at Must Read Faster
Monday, September 29
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Bookworm Blues
Tuesday, September 30
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Review & Excerpt at Books-n-Kisses
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, October 1
Review at One Book at a Time
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, October 2
Interview at Layered Pages
Review & Giveaway at Oh Magic Hour
Friday, October 3
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Giveaway at Gone Pecan
Sunday, October 5
Review at Carole's Ramblings
Monday, October 6
Review at Book Babe
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Harlequin Junkie
Tuesday, October 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at The Pretty Good Gatsby
Wednesday, October 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at My Friends Are Fiction
Thursday, October 9
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, October 10
Review at Mel's Shelves
Review & Giveaway at No More Grumpy Bookseller
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, October 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Layers of Thought
Tuesday, October 14
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Beth's Book Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Review at Crossroad Review
Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Thursday, October 16
Review at Cheryl's Book Nook
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, October 17
Review at Mary Gramlich
Review at She Reads Novels
Monday, October 20
Interview & Giveaway at The Reading Frenzy
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