Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. JohnLady of the Tower
by Elizabeth St. John

Publication Date: January 30, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 246 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as “the most beautiful of all,” defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty. Lucy catches the eye of the Earl of Suffolk, but her envious sister Barbara is determined to ruin her happiness. Exiling herself from the court, Lucy has to find her own path through life, becoming mistress of the Tower of London. Riding the coattails of the king’s favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, the fortunes of the St.Johns rise to dizzying heights. But with great wealth comes betrayal, leaving Lucy to fight for her survival—and her honor—in a world of deceit and debauchery. Elizabeth St.John tells this dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family’s surviving diaries, letters and court papers.

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Praise for Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John

“Elizabeth St.John has brought the early Stuart Court in the years before the English Civil War vividly to life.” – Historical Novel Society Review

“Elizabeth St.John offers great drama and intrigue in her compelling debut novel The Lady of the Tower.” – M.K. Tod, author of Lies Told in Silence

“The Lady of the Tower is a good combination of a historical romance that is well researched, with the added spice of the author being directly related to the heroine.” – Tobsha Learner, best-selling author of The Witch of Cologne

Interview With Elizabeth St.John

T.R.: Please tell us something about the book that is not in the summary.  (About the book, character you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)

E.S.J.: The Lady of the Tower is based on a diary from the 1660s that I discovered many years ago in Nottingham Castle. Written by the heroine’s daughter, the vivid story of her mother brought my ancestors to life, and I was determined to honor the truth of her account of my seventeenth century family. As I researched more, I made the decision to only use contemporary sources to inform my fiction, and so as I read letters, court pleadings, despatches, their voices started to come alive. And, as I immersed myself more in their world, they became part of my life. Because they were real people, and connected to me, I felt I had an obligation to interpret their lives authentically, while at the same time describing human behaviors that transcend time and place.

T.R. Describe the room you are sitting in as though it was a scene in one of your books.

E.S.J: Through the window to her herb garden, Lucy watched a chaffinch gathering seeds to take back to its young in the nest. So you too are responsible for your children, alone, carrying a burden that should be shared. She looked at her well-stocked bookshelves, the elegant furnishings, paintings and tapestries. So many riches. And yet, empty, meaningless, with her husband away on yet another mission for the king. Her gaze returned to the verdant garden, purple lavender and blue-flowered rosemary flourishing. No time for regrets. There was work to do.

T.R.: What words do you use over and over that drive your editor crazy?

E.S.J. Grey. I think it’s the English weather. Grey. Grey. Grey.

T.R.:Which character do you love to hate?

E.S.J.: Well, not Barbara, who is the natural antagonist in the book. She was delicious to write. I think Aunt Joan. The diary described her as “ so ill-natured in her jealous fits…that her cruelties to my mother exceeded the stories of stepmothers.” That made me furious, that she could treat a little girl that way. I delighted in making her as nasty as I could.

T.R. Using the title of your book as an acrostic, describe your work or yourself.

E.S.J.: That’s a long one. Here’s how I feel about my work / the process I went through – and I picked the first words that came into my head!

T ruthful
H eartfelt
E xciting

L oving
A dventurous
D espairing
Y earning

O ptimistic
F earful

T entative
H eroic
E nterprising

T ender
O bservant
W inning
E picR edemptive

T.R.: Using only adverbs, describe the writing process for you.

Ha! I can never remember parts of speech, so I downloaded a handy dandy adverb mat. Here are the adverbs I chose! That was fun.

How – joyously
When – often
How Often – constantly
Where – everywhere
How Much – completely

T.R. You are sitting in a coffee shop. What does your writer mind see?

E.S.J.: Stories. People with stories. Faces that should be read. Conversations to eavesdrop. Gestures. Emotions – boredom, nerves, anxiety, happiness, sorrow, loneliness, friendship. Welcomes. Farewells. Meetings. Breakups. And people outside the window, intent on their destination, never seeing me as the observer. Spend a morning in a coffee shop and the whole world passes by.

T.R. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

E.S.J.: My favorite scene is set at Fonmon Castle, Wales, and it is when Allen returns to Lucy, realizing that she has captured his heart and he has to marry her. She is forced to consider his proposal and make the biggest decision in her life. I wrote this during a difficult time in my life, and have always gone to the sea to think things through. This drew on the actual account of Lucy and Allen’s courtship, fictionalized by my own experiences of decision making by the ocean. It is also set in one of my favorite parts of England, that I know well, and it was a joy to revisit it in my imagination as I wrote this scene.

T.R. What draws you to the historical fiction genre? 

E.S.J.: As a child growing up in England, history surrounded me, and my ancestors were my family. My parents loved history and reading, visiting churches and castles, and exploring our rich history. I never remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about or reading historical fiction.

T.R.: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

E.S.J. Mmm..that’s easy – I’m just waiting for the call from Hollywood! Colin Firth as Allen, and Cate Blanchett as Lucy.

T.R.: How much time and effort went into your research for the book?

E.S.J.: About twenty years of general research as a hobby, and two years of concentrated research to create and support the story.

T.R.: If you could be somebody else for a day who would you choose and why?

E.S.J.: Lucy Worsley, curating at HRP or making a series at Hampton Court or the Tower. I think she has one of the best jobs in the world!

T.R. What do you do when you are not writing?

E.S.J.: I am a management consultant in biotech providing support and education programs for patients with chronic health issues, which I find incredibly rewarding. I also love to spend time with my husband, dog and two cats, and read, swim, hike, cook, travel, entertain friends and visit my daughter who’s at Uni in England.

T.R: Thank you so much for being our guest today Elizabeth. 

About Elizabeth St.JohnLady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and sites from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and the British Library to Castle Fonmon and The Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…

Elizabeth is currently writing a sequel to The Lady of the Tower, following the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War. The working title is “By Love Divided”, and it is due to publish in early 2017.

For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John’s website. You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and Goodreads.

Giveaway Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John

This giveaway it is for one copy, paperback or eBook (winner’s choice). Print copies are open to US addresses only. Ebooks are open internationally. This giveaway ends on August 26, 2016 midnight pacific time.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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Tour Schedule for Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John

Monday, August 8
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Tuesday, August 9
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Wednesday, August 10
Review at A Holland Reads

Thursday, August 11
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, August 12
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Saturday, August 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Sunday, August 14
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, August 15
Review at A Book Drunkard
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John

Obama's OdysseyObama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House by Connie Corcoran Wilson

My Thoughts

Connie Corcoran Wilson was a journalist with Yahoo back when they had independent journalists.  She was sent to cover the 2008 presidential race and she covered it from all angles.  All of her articles were posted on Yahoo and she even won Yahoo’s Content Producer of the Year for Politics for 2008 with over 3 million hits, for all of her excellent coverage.  Then, with very little warning, Yahoo sent an email to all content producers telling them that their services were no longer need and that all of their hard work was going to be removed.  Connie didn’t want to lose all of the articles she had written so she actually hired people to help her download all of her 2008 presidential election coverage.

The result of this work is ‘Obama’s Odyssey’ volumes I and II.  Volume I covers the primaries and caucuses, etc.  Ms. Wilson is a professed Democrat/ Independent so I have to say how much I admire her for covering both sides of the fence with such style and grace.  Her writing is fresh with a biting sense of humor.  As a retired teacher and grandmother, I have to wonder where she got all her energy from.  She criss-crossed the U.S. for days on end.  How did she keep up?

Some may complain that ‘Obama’s Odyssey’ seems a bit choppy because it is a

Obama's Odyssey by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Connie C. Wilson With Joe Biden, 2008

compilation of her articles from her coverage of the 2008 race however, I don’t see it that way.  There are many books like this that are compilations of an authors previous articles and/or essays.  Malcolm Gladwell is just one example of that.  Ms. Wilson also included a somewhat lengthy introduction explaining why she wrote the books.  I often find introductions of non-fiction books to be on the dry side but her introduction was not that at all.  It was one of the most entertaining introductions I have read in a long time.  So, don’t skip it!

I really enjoyed Volume I and look forward to reading Volume II.  It is the perfect series to be reading during the present day race for the White House.  It really is a must read, especially for political junkies such as myself but for anyone who is interested in the U.S. democratic process.

I know I am a bit early in saying this but get out and vote in November.    You have no right to complain, if you don’t do so!  But Teddy, you live in Canada.  Yes, I do but I am also a U.S. citizen.  I have dual citizenship. I was born and raised in the U.S., St. Paul, Minnesota to be exact.  I have a civic duty to both countries.


I received the ebook version for my honest review.

Interview with Connie Corcoran Wilson, Author of Obama’s Odyssey

TR: What is it like being on different sides of the political fence with your family?

CCW:  We have the “no bumper sticker” rule. (Neither of us can put a bumper sticker on top of the other person’s bumper sticker.) Holidays are interesting. At Thanksgiving, one person (who shall remain nameless) told me they were going to move to Cabo San Lucas if a certain candidate (who shall remain nameless) were elected. I chose not to argue with this misinformed individual. So far, we’re doing better than Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and Maria (Schriver); if we can hang on for 2 more years, we’ll hit a half century of marital bliss and differing opinions on politics.

TR: It seems to me that you would make the kind of politician we sorely need again in the U.S.  One who would cross the aisle and collaborate with the other side.  If you were to run for any political office, what would your slogan be?

CCW: I did run for political office (1st Ward Alderperson in East Moline, Illinois.) I won the popular vote, despite incorrect reports in the morning paper, but my opponent cheated. It cost me $8,000 to prove the other side had cheated on the absentee ballots. However, there weren’t enough absentee ballots cast to overturn the outcome of the election. I selected pink and black as my campaign colors. I was too busy proving my opponent had cheated to think up a slogan. I went door-to-door to every absentee voter’s house with an attorney (my brother-in-law) gathering information and notarized signatures to prove the corruption and this case was not thrown out of court, when we appeared before a judge. The blog articles I wrote about the cheating in Rock Island County, Illinois made the papers in Orange County, California and across the nation, so that was rather cool. It was a one-time run to help the incumbent Mayor, but the other side cheated him out of re-election, too, although he was smart enough not to waste any money fighting it. The deck is stacked against the challenger, as the county has already printed the ballots and doesn’t want the expense of having to print new ones.

TR: You have reported in both the political and film arenas.  Do you see any similarities or common recurring themes?

CCW:  Well, John Kennedy, Jr., started his magazine (George) back in the day because he definitely saw a correlation between the world of politics and the world of Hollywood. I can’t disagree.

TR: This may not be very politically incorrect of me to say, but I had a crush on John Edwards during the 2008 race.  (Before we knew about the affair).  However, I wasn’t convinced he was necessarily presidential material.  What are your thoughts?

CCW:  I was with you on the crush. I did think that John Edwards was presidential, at the time (pre-affair fiasco). I tell the story in the first volume of how I told him to “pretend you’re having fun” when our picture was being taken together. The irony should not escape our readers.

TR: Connie, thanks so much for taking the time and stopping by today.  I really admire how you covered both the Democratic and Republican races, rather than just sticking to your party of choice.

CCW:  Thank you, Teddy. I was not able to put up with following this year’s crop of Republican candidates, so I had to pack it in for 2016, but, yes, I did follow the candidates of both parties in 2004, 2008 and 2012—even the Sarah Palins of the day. Lots of material this year. Canada is looking better than ever.


Watch Connie Corcoran Wilson Talk About Obama’s Odyssey Vol. 1 and 2

About Connie Corcoran WilsonConnie Corcoran Wilson

Connie Corcoran Wilson is the award winning author of ‘The Color Of Evil’ series and the ‘Hellfire and Damnation’ Series. Book 3, ‘Khaki=Killer’ was named one of the Top Indie Thrillers of 2015 in the Dec./Jan. issue of Shelf Unbound magazine from among 12,000+ entries and one of her children’s books was named one of the Best  Books of 2014 by the Chicago Writers’ Association, while the Chicago chapter of the Illinois Press Women named Wilson their Silver Feather winner in 2012 and 2014.

Wilson is a University of Iowa grad in Journalism and English (additional study at Western Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, the University of Chicago and Berkeley) and a college professor with 6 decades of writing experience. She has written for 5 newspapers and many blogs, founded 3 businesses, plays 4 musical instruments, and has 2 children (born 19 years apart).

She followed the ’04, ’08 and ’12 presidential campaigns “live” for Yahoo, which named her its Content Producer of the Year for Politics in 2009. She is sometimes referred to as T.Q. (Trivia Queen) from her misspent hours in the British Pub Quiz room on AOL. She blogs at www.WeeklyWilson.com and maintains 4 ongoing fiction series while also writing about nonfiction subjects.(politics and movies).

Connie also has 7-year-old twin granddaughters who are great fun and for whom and with whom she writes the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

Connie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnieCWilson
Connie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Connie-Corcoran-Wilson/275020829241869
Connie on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/conniecwilson/
onnie of Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101447920077310676402

Buy Obama’s Odyssey by Connie Corcoran Wilson

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Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus April 15 Giveaway

BJ April 20 Review

Teepee12 (Serendipity) April 20 Review

Teepee12 (Serendipity) April 20 Interview

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BookSpin April 21 Review

Andrea D. April 22 Review

Sees Beyond April 22 Review

Mandy Apr 26 Review

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Apr 27 Review

Dr. Bill’s Book Bazaar May 2 Review

I feel so unnecessary May 5 Review

Obama's Odyssey by Connie Corcoran Wilson

A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna CalkinsA Death Along the River Fleet (Lucy Campion Mysteries #4)
by Susanna Calkins

Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Minotaur Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery

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Lucy Campion, a ladies’ maid turned printer’s apprentice in 17th-century London, is crossing Holborn Bridge over the murky waters of the River Fleet one morning when, out of the mist, she sees a specter moving toward her. Frightened at first, Lucy soon realizes the otherworldly figure is in fact a young woman, clearly distraught and clad only in a blood-spattered white nightdress. Barely able to speak, the woman has no memory of who she is or what’s happened to her. The townspeople believe she’s possessed. But Lucy is concerned for the woman’s well-being and takes her to see a physician. When, shockingly, the woman is identified as the daughter of a nobleman, Lucy is asked to temporarily give up her bookselling duties to discreetly serve as the woman’s companion while she remains under the physician’s care.

As the woman slowly recovers, she begins—with Lucy’s help—to reconstruct the terrible events that led her to Holborn Bridge that morning. But when it becomes clear the woman’s safety might still be at risk, Lucy becomes unwillingly privy to a plot with far-reaching social implications, and she’ll have to decide just how far she’s willing to go to protect the young woman in her care.

Susanna Calkins has drawn a richly detailed portrait of a time in history and a young woman struggling against the bounds of her society in her next absorbing Lucy Campion mystery.

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Lucy Campion Mystery Series

Book One: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate (April 2013)
Macavity Award Finalist Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award (2014)
Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Selection (“Mystery Pick” and “Featured New Arrival”)
Chicago Book Review – Best Books of 2013

Book Two: From the Charred Remains (April 2014)
Short-listed for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award (2015)

Book Three: The Masque of a Murderer (April 2015)
Nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award
Nominated for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery (Lefty) Award

Interview with Susanna Calkins

TR: What compelled you to write a 17th century mystery?

SC: The idea for my first novel, A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate, came to me when I when was doing research for my doctorate in history. I had come across a fascinating collection of ballads that would tell the story of different murders. For years, those stories were in the back of my mind, and finally I began to write the story.  I honed in on the 1660s because I was fascinated by the plague and the Great Fire of London, and how those two cataclysmic events were simultaneously horrific for those who suffered through them, while at the same time offered unheard of opportunities for others. The widespread destruction of community bonds meant that people could steal more easily from one another (whether it was property, title or identity) or would cast a blind eye towards a woman who becomes a printer’s apprentice, like my protagonist Lucy Campion.

TR: Where do you get the names for your characters?

SC: This is an interesting question—I don’t think I’ve ever been asked this one! Mostly, I select names that come from the penny press of the period, or I follow the most common naming practices from the period, which was to use Biblical names.  However, the name needs to feel right to me as well. Interestingly, since you ask, I realize now that my main character, Lucy Campion, carries both light and heroism (champion) in the sound of her name. I think that fits her character, which is a decision I must have made subconsciously. Sometimes as a game I will work interesting names into my novels at the request of my friends. For example, several of my characters have the names of my friends’ streets as their last name (e.g. Greenleaf, Sheridan).  Lastly, and maybe most interesting, I named the barrister in my books, Wolcott Chalmers, for two small towns I used to pass through on 1-65 in Indiana. They just sounded like a great character name!

TR: Please tell us something about the book that is not in the summary.  (About the book, character you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)

SC: I really enjoyed writing about the medical practices of the day, and the tensions between those who follow the Galenic humors, and those who believe that soothsayers can rid a body of evil.  The woman that Lucy discovers not only has knife wounds on her hands, but it is also clear that someone has been performing bloodletting on her as well. She has an amulet around her neck, full of rosemary.

TR: How much time and effort went into your research for the book?

SC: Well, I spent a lot of time research my books well before I began writing them (a decade before) while I was completing my Ph.D. So I already had a strong sense of political, cultural, and social trends, as well as the general historical frameworks that serve as the backdrop of my stories. But I definitely research as I go, either referring to scholarly sources about the Great Fire and its aftermath, or using maps and other resources available online.  Sometimes if I’m a roll when I’m writing, I’ll just leave a footnote to myself to remember to look up the detail later. But if I need something to inspire me, I will do a little research to help me maintain momentum.

TR: Describe the room you are sitting in as though it was a scene in one of your books.  (Hmmm…not sure what you meant by this one, but I gave it a try- SC)

SC: Well, the marks of the Devil clearly abound throughout this largish room. Disembodied voices come from a great box in front of me; my good husband is clearly enchanted, though I bid him to be wary. There are other objects here that speak of deviltry, but several shelves of books that I verily believe will becalm my senses. A black cat sleeps, though I do not fear her crossing my path.

TR: What do you do when you are not writing?

SK: Ha! The question should be the other way around. I have a full time job at Northwestern University (helping faculty improve their teaching) and I teach classes on top of that job. I also have two children, who I try to attend to with some regularity 😉 I do actually enjoy reading, so I try to read novels when I can. Sometimes I feel like I can barely get any writing done, with everything else that goes on in my life!

About Susanna CalkinsA Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins

SUSANNA CALKINS became fascinated with seventeenth-century England while pursuing her doctorate in British history and uses her fiction to explore this chaotic period. Originally from Philadelphia, Calkins now lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two sons. A Death Along the River Fleet is her fourth novel.

For more information and to subscribe to Susanna Calkins’ newsletter please visit her website. You can also follow her blog, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway of A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins

This giveaway is for one print copy and is open to the U.S. only.  This giveaway ends on May 6, 2016 at midnight pacific time.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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Tour Schedule for A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins

Tuesday, April 12
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, April 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, April 14
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Interview at The Book Connection

Friday, April 15
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, April 18
Review & Giveaway at A Holland Reads
Interview at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Tuesday, April 19
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, April 20
Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Thursday, April 21
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Saturday, April 23
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Monday, April 25
Review at Diana’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 26
Review at The Editing Pen

A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins