DRAGONFLY by Leila Meacham – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Dragonfly cover

DRAGONFLY

by

LEILA MEACHAM

Genre: Historical / WWII / Espionage
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date of Publication: July 9, 2019
Number of Pages: 576

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Synopsis

 

Dragonfly 3d coverFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Roses comes a gripping new novel about five young spies embedded among the highest Nazi ranks in occupied Paris

At the height of World War II, a handful of idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the government, asking them if they are willing to fight for their country. The men and women from very different backgrounds-a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and a wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer, and a ravishingly beautiful female fencer-all answer the call of duty, but each for a secret reason of her or his own. They bond immediately, in a group code-named Dragonfly.

Thus begins a dramatic cat-and-mouse game, as the group seeks to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and the firing-squad execution of one of their team. But … is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft?

 

PRAISE FOR DRAGONFLY:

“Meacham’s impeccable pacing and razor-wire tension evoke the daily drama of life under a Reich whose French reign might have lasted little more than four years but felt like the thousand years that it threatened to endure.” ―Bookpage

“Meacham ratchets the suspense ever tighter while providing fascinating backstory on the intrepid five [American spies] as well as delivering a detail-rich portrait of Paris during the Occupation.” ―Booklist

 

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Review_preview

Dragonfly bookstagramI’m declaring it now, Dragonfly is one of my Top Five Reads of 2019. That’s saying something because as of this writing, I’ve already read 120 books. Utterly engrossing, highly suspenseful, and deeply evocative, this superbly-written book deserves a plethora of superlatives for how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed reading it. For two consecutive days, I had to drag myself to bed at 4 am because I couldn’t put it down. I kept saying, “One more chapter. Just one more.”

With a dual timeline of 1962 and 1942-1945, multiple major characters using three sets of names, varied secondary characters, several locations in the US and Europe, this novel could have gotten out of control, but Ms. Meacham masterfully crafted an engaging story of friendship, bravery, service, and love amidst the ugliness of war. Characters are fully fleshed-out, protagonists and antagonists clearly delineated, plus a couple of enigmatic ones who are neither. The young Americans were written so sympathetically, it is easy to feel for them as they embarked on their mission. Throughout the book, I feared for the members of Dragonfly, I cheered them on, and I teared up in the end as their story came full circle.

Dragonfly is by no means flawless. The book, although well-researched, requires the reader to suspend disbelief in some parts that I forgave and attributed to artistic license. I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel is optioned to be adapted to film. The gorgeous cover and the fantastic narration really take you where the action happens. For giving me many enjoyable hours of reading, Dragonfly receives five stars.

5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor Leila Meacham

 

Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of the bestselling novels Roses, Tumbleweeds, Somerset, and Titans.

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TWO SIGNED COPIES OF DRAGONFLY
August 7-17, 2019
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8/10/19 	BONUS Audio Review 	Hall Ways Blog 
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8/13/19 	Guest Post 		Chapter Break Book Blog 
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A RUMORED FORTUNE by Joanna Davidson Politano – Book Blog Tour Review/Giveaway

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A RUMORED FORTUNE

BY

JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO

Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: July 31, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

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Synopsis
MyDDDxMQWelcome to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England. Tressa Harlowe’s father kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it.

Now Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune—before someone else finds it first.

 
Review_preview

I don’t normally read Christian Romance, finding some of them too forceful in preaching, but I made an exception for A Rumored Fortune and I did not regret it. Joanna Davidson Politano’s faith and the faith of her main characters Tressa Harlowe and Donegan Vance shone throughout the book and is essential to the growth of the hero and heroine and the development of the story.

Almost allegorical in its story-telling, A Rumored Fortune is a fascinating novel. The descriptions of the settings and characters, the dialogues, the conflicts, and the narration take the reader in a journey of intricate family relationships, class warfare, historical societal norms, viticulture, mystery, and romance.

I appreciate the deft way Ms. Politano drew her characters. They’re real and relatable. Tressa is kind, intelligent, and artistic but she has prejudices too. Donegan is forthright, but is also deceptive. Even the secondary characters are rounded out: Lucy, Tressa’s mother, Andrew, Margaret, Dr. Caine, Neville and Ellen, Mr. Prescott. They’re not caricatures and have reasons for their behaviors.

With its unpredictable twists and turns and affecting lessons in the practice of trust and acts of charity and sacrifice to demonstrate faith and love, A Rumored Fortune is a highly engaging read.  I give it four stars. ✩✩✩✩

 

PRAISE FOR A RUMORED FORTUNE:

7ZN2R6-w“Everyone loves a treasure hunt—pair it with a heroine you can’t help but love, a hero you can’t help but swoon over, and a family mystery that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, and you end up with A Rumored Fortune. This book is a treasure in itself and one you won’t be able to put down!”—Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of the Ladies of the Manor series and Shadows Over England series

“Politano combines romance and mystery with great skill to create plot twists that will keep readers captivated until the very end.”—Publishers Weekly

“The author has done a great job, offering up a plot filled with wit, charm, action, and a lot of female strength.”—Suspense Magazine

 

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AboutTheAuthor

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Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears. She freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her.

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GRAND PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune + Novel Teas (box of 25 tea bags) + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
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September 11-20, 2018

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THE WAY OF BEAUTY – Camille Di Maio Blog Tour/Giveaway/Guest Post

BNR The Way of Beauty JPG

THE WAY OF BEAUTY

by

Camille Di Maio

Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary

Publisher: Lake Union Press

Date of Publication: May 1, 2018

Number of Pages: 384

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Synopsis

cover HI RES The Way of Beauty_previewHearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.
Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it. Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

 

PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

“The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.”

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GuestPost_preview

Inspiration for Writing The Way of Beauty
Guest Post by Author Camille Di Maio

It’s funny, for me at least, how a book starts and how it ends up.

The idea for The Way of Beauty came while I was sitting on my bed and my then-15yo daughter came to sit with me. She’s got a good creative head, so I asked her if she wanted to brainstorm with me.

We were all over the place. There was a secret diary, a father/daughter story thread, dual time periods, you name it.

But in the end, it was an image that came to my mind that became the foundation. I had this concept of a soldier kissing his girlfriend goodbye in a train station. He was in a WWII uniform and sunlight streamed through the cathedral-like windows making the dust look like sparkling diamonds.

The train station image stayed with me, so I began to do research. I knew I wanted to set it in New York, and as I was familiar with Penn Station, I started there.

I searched for pictures, and most of what came up was this beautiful, soaring structure. My first thought was, “I’ve been to Penn Station many times, but I must not have been upstairs. I’ve never seen this!”

What I did not know was this: it doesn’t exist anymore.

The gorgeous, marble, soaring, majestic train station I was seeing on the internet was torn down in the 1960s to build Madison Square Garden.

I dove into some research, my favorite part of writing historical fiction. And I learned that the station was the brainchild of Alexander Cassatt, the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. And coincidentally, the brother of Mary Cassatt, the famous painter.

In 1900, Cassatt was frustrated that all train travel toward New York ended in New Jersey, where travelers would then take a ferry over crowded waters to Manhattan. So he began a project to build tunnels underneath the East and Hudson Rivers. He traveled to London and Paris to study some of the world’s greatest train stations and endeavored to make his bigger and better.

I researched the sandhogs – the men who dug those tunnels at great peril, and I read about the strangers Cassatt hired to secretly buy up buildings in the Tenderloin so that they could demolish them and build the station.

Penn Station was magnificent when it was completed in 1910 and it was expected to last centuries. But in the 1950s, as air and car travel increased, railroad companies fell into financial trouble. And Penn Station was sold.

The arc of the station – its creation, heyday, and destruction was fascinating, and I knew that this would be the backbone of my story. I created the characters of Vera, Angelo, Pearl, Emmett, Alice, and William and how their lives and loves paralleled the story.

All of this was planned out, the frailest of outlines laid out as a framework. But the joy of the writing – for me, at least – is putting meat on those bones.

The biggest surprise in my writing was how captivated I became by the suffrage movement. I vote in every election – midterms, local ones, presidential ones, you name it. So I wouldn’t say that I take the right for granted, and I appreciate those who’ve fought and died for that right. But that makes me think about the military. I hadn’t given significant thought to the women who championed that right a century ago. The character Pearl was a firecracker from the start, but her involvement in the suffrage movement became deeper and deeper and as I learned the extremities that some of the women went to – even going as far as having hunger strikes – and I knew that she needed to get that involved. Her storyline – initially meant to be somewhat secondary became much larger. A cornerstone of the story.

The book, then, evolved into the story of women and their emerging roles as the world changed around them. And I’m so happy that it did.

Life takes turns we don’t expect. And so does writing. But those surprises are often the sweetest bits. And I hope that as long as I have the privilege of doing this work, there will be many more discovers that wait to be illuminated.

 

AboutTheAuthor

~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a fuAuthor Pic DiMaio_previewll-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmer’s markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. The Memory of Us was Camille’s debut novel. Her second, Before the Rain Falls was released on May 16, 2017, and The Way of Beauty is her third novel.

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