domenica 30 maggio 2021

Blog Tour: Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti [Interview + Giveaway]

Call Me Elizabeth Lark

Published: 9th March 2021
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Domestic Suspense 
PurchaseAmazon | B&N | Goodreads


Your daughter went missing twenty years ago. Now, she's finally back. You thought she had returned a few times in the past, and your husband tells you she's not the one, but you feel it in your bones.

Now, what will you do to keep her home?

Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley's daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens--her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She's just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn't the Barkleys's daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn't just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job. 

My Interview

Hello Melissa, thank you for being on my blog today! To start, tell us 3 reasons why we should read your book “Call Me Elizabeth Lark” – besides for its gorgeous cover!

Thank you for having me! I appreciate it so much. I loved writing the little cast of characters in the book, so I’m certainly biased. But I think Call Me Elizabeth Lark has three very intriguing central characters with complicated relationships. There are several big twists and layers of family secrets. If you enjoy domestic suspense this is definitely a book where I hope readers will get caught up in this little family with big secrets.

If you had to pick one character as your favorite, who would it be and why?

If I had to pick, I’d say Gwen is my favorite. She is the guilt-ridden older sister who was supposed to be babysitting the night her sister disappeared from the beach. Because of this, her relationship with Myra, her mother, is very strained. I thought about this even before writing the novel. What is too much for a mother to truly forgive? And even if this forgiveness is granted, would the teenage girl who lost her sister, never to return again, ever forgive herself? Twenty years later, when Elizabeth Lark enters the family’s life, Gwen is a bit prickly, a perfectionist, trying to control everything so she doesn’t make the same mistakes with her own kids. As a result, she’s caught up in this façade of ‘the perfect mother’ that we see portrayed on social media, the societal expectations of women. I felt for her as I wrote her, but also, I wanted to make her not entirely likable while still sympathetic. So she’s the character I worked with a lot to achieve that middle ground. I wanted to be free to explore all of these characters’ flaws—because they are deeply flawed—while keeping them intriguing. And Gwen’s personality is generally guarded so I had to work harder on showing the vulnerable side of her. 

What was the funniest thing about writing this book?

I have six kids. And I used to have quiet time when the majority of them were at school and a babysitter was helping out with the youngest. Or when I could leave them home and work at Starbucks or the library for a few hours. But with COVID, we were suddenly all home together. And the babysitter option was out because I felt it was too risky. Eight people and two dogs in a house together when I was on a tight deadline for revisions on this book. Now, this part isn’t funny, but the creativity it took to get this done kind of was. I wrote in my walk-in closet, with the bedroom door locked, and the bathroom door locked, and the closet door shut just to slow them down and mute out the perpetual, “Mommy! Mommy! Can I have a snack?” 

Is this your first published book or are there more of your novels?

I have another book, written under Melissa Woods, called That Night on the Bayou, which is literary fiction. This is my suspense debut, which is why I write under a pseudonym.

If you could work with any author, who would it be?

Ooh this is tough because I admire so many authors. I just finished Ruth Ware’s latest novel. So, I’m going to say Ruth Ware.

What was the most rewarding experience you’ve had since being published?

Seeing my book on bookstore shelves! As a young child, this was what I wanted more than anything. My life’s dream. And having this book on a lot of bookstore shelves has been an amazing experience. Of course, as authors we’re always looking toward the next goal—whether that’s sales or the next book deal or reviews—but I think it’s so important to go back to that child’s mind, the one that made you want to be a writer in the first place. And for most of us, it was because we loved reading, and we wanted to be storytellers. This is a tough business, with lots of rejection along the way, with highs and lows. But if I take my mind back to the place it was in before I knew this was a business, seeing my name on a book at the store is a huge accomplishment. 

About the author:

Melissa Colasanti is a mother and an author. She has a BFA in fiction from Boise State University. Her writing has appeared in Lithub, Memoir Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal and others. She is the Stephen R. Kustra scholar in creative writing for 2019, and was awarded the Glenn Balch Award for fiction in 2020.

The Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours
 for Melissa Colasanti. There will be one (1) winner of one (1) signed
 Copy of Call Me Elizabeth Lark + Swag (US Addresses ONLY). 
The giveaway begins on May 1, 2021 and runs
 through June 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

venerdì 14 maggio 2021

Blog Tour: The Queen's Rival by Anne O'Brien [Excerpt]

The Queen's Rival

Author: Anne O'Brien
Published: September 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Number of pages: 531 pages
PurchaseAmazon | B&N | Waterstones | Kobo


England, 1459.

One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…

The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne.

But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.

Read an excerpt

Duchess Cecily teaches a lesson in Ludlow Castle, October 1459

We were in occupation of one of the corner chambers in the old gatehouse keep at Ludlow Castle because it was a good vantage point from which to detect approaching marauders. Despite the lack of light and the all-pervasive reek of damp, I lit candles then unrolled the precious scroll with a flourish. It was a line of succession, drawn as a tree with thorny branches, all the way from the first man and woman on earth, Adam and Eve, enclosed in leaves and flowers in the Garden of Eden, to King Henry the Sixth, our present crowned and anointed King of England.

‘Hold down the corners,’ I said to my children.

My two elder sons already knew this lesson well, as did my elder daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, who were wed and living in their own households. Here with me were my three younger offspring. Margaret, more frequently called Meg, at twelve years was adept at reading and could work it out for herself. George at ten, and Richard, known to all as Diccon to avoid unnecessary complications in our domestic dealings, the youngest of my sons who had not yet achieved eight years, were still in the process of gleaning information on old alliances. It was time they knew of their profound inheritance. Indeed, in the circumstances, it had become an urgent affair.

George slouched over the table edge, pressing down hard with his whole hand, while Meg applied her fingertips with neat precision. Diccon had his elbows splayed along one edge, leaning close to survey the pattern of lines and names.

‘Do you see the roundels, painted next to each name?’ I pointed to some of them, the closest to us today and the most highly coloured, all capped or crowned with gold. ‘The scribe has included a picture of each King, and his heraldic symbol so that you might recognise him.’

They peered over the document, sufficiently engrossed, even George who preferred weapons to books.

‘Our King Henry.’ George pointed. ‘Our cousin.’

Meg placed her finger on a sword-wielding figure, two branches above. ‘That is the fourth King Henry.’

‘He was my mother’s – your grandmother Joan’s – half-brother.’ I traced my finger down from that fourth Henry to his son, the fifth Henry, and then his grandson, the sixth, our present King. ‘These Kings – all three Henrys – are from the House of Lancaster.’

‘Why is the fourth Henry the only one with a sword?’ Diccon asked.

‘Because he used the sword to slice through the branches of the tree. There.’ I pointed to the break in the branches. ‘Henry cut the order of succession and deposed King Richard.’ I watched as a frown furrowed George’s brow. ‘The fourth Henry is what we would call a usurper.’

‘What happened to Richard?’ George asked.

‘He died. In Pontefract Castle.’

‘Did Henry have him killed?’ Meg asked.

‘No one knows.’

‘I wager he did. He is fierce in the picture.’ Diccon looked impressed.

‘What do you learn from this?’ I asked.

‘They are all branches of the same tree, from father to son. Except there, when the Lancastrian Kings took over.’ Meg regarded me with her solemn stare. Her eyes were forthright, her chin stubborn, her countenance often firm-lipped and unsmiling, but I thought she would grow into a handsome woman. My husband said that of them all she was most like

me, and perhaps he was right. She was developing a strong will. ‘Would it have been better to keep Richard, whatever his faults?’ she asked.

‘The Lancastrian Henrys have brought us a peaceful and strong country,’ I stated. ‘Victory abroad in battles against the French. Richard may not have done so. And Richard had no son to follow him. It is important to have sons.’

‘Is our King Henry a good King?’ Diccon asked.

‘Sometimes he is not well,’ I suggested. ‘Sometimes he needs good advisors.’

‘Like our father?’

I regarded Diccon. My other sons would be as tall and broad and fair as the painted angels on the walls of my private chapel. Diccon would be neither tall nor broad, and his hair was the dark of a raven’s wing. He was the image of his father, who had more wiry strength than powerful muscle.

‘Yes, like your father.’

But King Henry’s worthiness was not a subject for discussion. We were stepping on the quivering ground of a morass that had recently begun to weaken the solid foundations of our vast, far-flung family.

‘But where does our father fit on the branches?’ George asked.

I pointed further back than the deposed King Richard, to the great third King Edward who had won battles at Crécy and Poitiers and thus defeated the French.

‘We come here, from the sons of this King Edward. He had five sons. Your father is descended from one of those sons, the Duke of York.’

‘I know that I will not inherit my father’s title, even though I have his name,’ Diccon said.

His acceptance rather than childish wistfulness made me smile. ‘You are named for him, but it is Ned who will be Duke of York. You will have your own title when you have grown a little more.’

My eldest son Edward – still Ned in his adolescence – would make an exemplary Duke of York.

I replaced the scroll, locked the coffer and returned the key to the purse, appropriately embroidered with our emblems of falcons and fetterlocks, at my girdle.

‘So our father is royal. We are royal.’ Diccon’s mind was still absorbed in the multi-layered branches of the tree as we left the chamber, even as he hopped with an excess of energy. George raced ahead down the narrow stairway, his voice echoing in a strident farewell, and I let him go. Meg walked with grace at my side.

‘You have Plantagenet blood in your veins, just as King Henry does. From your father and from me.’ It was never too early to instil some sense of pride in their inheritance, as I had learned it at my mother’s knee. My mother Joan, as one of John of Gaunt’s Beaufort children with Katherine Swynford, once disgracefully illegitimate before being restored to respectability, had more than her fair share of pride when she was wed to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland.

‘Why are we not on the tree as well, if we are all descended from the great King Edward?’ Diccon was asking.

I dropped my hand lightly on his head, ruffling his already ruffled hair.

‘Because we do not rule.’

‘Even though the fourth Henry was a usurper?’

He had remembered the word well.

‘Even though he was a usurper. We do not have the right to rule, and we never will.’

‘To think otherwise would be treason,’ Meg stated with all the smooth assurance of youth and untried loyalties.

Diccon looked to me for confirmation.

‘That is true. We are loyal subjects to the House of Lancaster. The House of York will always be so.’ I spoke what were to become fateful words. ‘Whatever you hear to the contrary, we are loyal subjects.’

There were storm clouds building on our immediate horizon. It was a simple thing to make this declaration of fealty. It was becoming increasingly difficult to hold it as a truth.

At this moment there was an army outside our gates, almost within our sights across the river. It was led by Marguerite, Queen of England, who would be quick to cry me false.

About the author:

Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. 

Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.

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