Spotlight: The Collector’s Apprentice by B.A. Shapiro

 

THE COLLECTOR’S APPRENTICE
by B. A. Shapiro
Algonquin Books / Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Price: $27.95; Hardcover; 352 pages; ISBN: 978-1-61620-358-0

Description: (provided by the publicist)

New York Times bestselling author B. A. Shapiro has made the historical art thriller her own with such novels as The Muralist and The Art Forger, which The Washington Post praised for its “skillful balance of brisk plotting, significant emotional depth and a multi-layered narration rich with a sense of moral consequence.” With THE COLLECTOR’S APPRENTICE—her third, boldest, and best book with Algonquin—Shapiro takes readers to Paris in the 1920s and the ever-fascinating world of Gertrude Stein’s salon and the artists, such as Matisse and Picasso, with whom she surrounded herself. These and other real-life icons are deftly integrated into a gripping mystery involving love, intrigue, murder and, of course, art.

When she is accused of playing a role in a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by her erstwhile fiancé, Paulien Mertens seeks solace and sanctuary in Paris, where she creates a false identity as a Frenchwoman named Vivienne Gregsby. As Vivienne attempts to recover her father’s art collection—stolen along with all her family’s assets—and prove her innocence, the eccentric and wealthy American art collector Edwin Bradley offers her a job. She is soon immersed in the world of expatriates and post-Impressionist art, becoming Matisse’s lover, and traveling between Paris and Bradley’s native Philadelphia, where he is building an art museum. But her exciting new life is abruptly interrupted when Vivienne is arrested for Bradley’s murder.

“THE COLLECTOR’S APPRENTICE is a work of fiction loosely inspired by the lives of the art collector Albert Barnes and his assistant, Violette de Mazia, as well as the history of the Barnes Foundation, which he founded and they both nurtured,” Shapiro explains. From this raw material, she has invented a tantalizing story that draws on extensive research into not only the lives of Barnes and de Mazia, but of the many historical characters in the book. The evolution, principles, artists, and works of the post-Impressionist movement that are central to the story are drawn with particular accuracy and appreciation.

The result, like all of Shapiro’s much-loved work, is a seamless blend of art history set against a wider historical backdrop, and all wrapped in an impossible-to-put-down fictional narrative.


About the Author:

B. A. Shapiro is New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist and The Art Forger, which won the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Boston Authors Society Award for Fiction, among other honors. Her books have been selected as Community Reads in numerous cities and have been translated into over ten languages. Shapiro has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University. She divides her time between Boston and Florida along with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Sagan. Her website is http://www.bashapirobooks.com.

Photo credit: Lynn Wayne


Praise for THE COLLECTOR’S APPRENTICE:

“I was engrossed in every twist and turn in this compulsively captivating page turner, all the way until its astonishing denouement. Shapiro has done it again!” —Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us

“Dazzling and seductive, The Collector’s Apprentice is a tour de force—an exhilarating tale of shifting identities, desire, and intrigue set between 1920s Paris and Philadelphia. Shapiro is a master at melding historical and fictional characters to bring the past alive on the page, and in The Collector’s Apprenticeshe has forged an exquisite, multilayered story that maps the cogent and singular fire of a young woman’s ambition and the risks she will take for the sake of art.” —Dawn Tripp, bestselling author of Georgia

“Shapiro delivers a clever and complex tale of art fraud, theft, scandal, murder, and revenge. [Her] portrayal of the 1920s art scene in Paris and Philadelphia is vibrant, and is populated by figures like Alice B. Toklas and Thornton Wilder; readers will be swept away by this thoroughly rewarding novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“A seamless blend of art history set against a wider historical backdrop.”—Detroit Jewish News

“B. A. Shapiro is back with a platinum potion of art, love, and scandal, set against the big backdrop of Paris between the wars. If you can put The Collector’s Apprentice down, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am. I read it in one sumptuous sitting. This is a big story, from a big talent.”—Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean


THE COLLECTOR’S APPRENTICE
by B. A. Shapiro
Algonquin Books / Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Price: $27.95; Hardcover; 352 pages; ISBN: 978-1-61620-358-0 Follow Algonquin books on Twitter at @algonquinbooks or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/algonquinbooks


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Spotlight on: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Pub. date: October 16, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Publisher’s description:

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, Paula Brackston, returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to start a new series that will enchant her audience more than ever before. THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS tells the captivating story of a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical journey.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she’s confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS is set to be a strong, whimsical start to this new series.


About the author:

Paula Brackston is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, The Winter Witch, The Midnight Witch, The Silver Witch, and The Return of the Witch. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Lancaster University in the UK. She lives in Wales with her family.


Praise for Paula Brackston and THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS:

“A solid, enjoyable read with a hint of magical time travel.” – Booklist

“Brackston wonderfully blends history with the time-travel elements and a touch of romance. This series debut is a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments.” – Publishers Weekly

“Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander collection will delight in Brackston’s new series and eagerly await its second installment. A bewitching tale of love across centuries.” – Kirkus


 

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

Berkley Hardcover; October 2, 2018; $26.00

Historical Fiction

Description:  London, 1938. The effervescent “It girl” of London society since her father was named the ambassador, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy moves in rarified circles, rubbing satin-covered elbows with some of the 20th century’s most powerful figures. Eager to escape the watchful eye of her strict mother, Rose, the antics of her older brothers, Jack and Joe, and the erratic behavior of her sister Rosemary, Kick is ready to strike out on her own and is soon swept off her feet by Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire.
 
But their love is forbidden, as Kick’s devout Catholic family and Billy’s staunchly Protestant one would never approve their match. When war breaks like a tidal wave across her world, Billy is ripped from her arms as the Kennedys are forced to return to the States. Kick gets work as a journalist and joins the Red Cross to get back to England, where she will have to decide where her true loyalties lie—with family or with love. (publisher)

My take:  Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy’s story is the stuff that fans of PBS Masterpiece series love to watch. It begins with Kick’s debut in London and meeting a certain Billy Hartington – who will one day be the Duke of Devonshire. Sounds like a fairytale, right? They both feel the pull of family duty, tradition, and religious faith. Stronger, though, is the pull of love that develops over several years.

The Kennedy Debutante covers the days leading up to and including WWII in England as seen through the eyes of Kick and her friends and family. No one was immune from tragedy so most grabbed whatever happiness could be found – stringent family expectations were easy to ignore. It was a time for Kick to examine her own life and decide what was best for her.

I’d only heard of Kathleen Kennedy but didn’t know much about her life. I enjoyed Kerri Maher’s imagined scenarios and am eager to learn more about Kick Kennedy. Recommended to fans of all things Kennedy and historical fiction.


About the author:

Kerri Maher is also the author of This Is Not A Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World under the name Kerri Majors. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and founded YARN, an award-winning literary journal of short-form YA writing. For many years a professor of writing, she now writes full time and lives with her daughter in Massachusetts where apple picking and long walks in the woods are especially fine.


Advance praise for THE KENNEDY DEBUTANTE:

“American royalty takes British aristocracy by storm in The Kennedy Debutante, starring JFK’s vivacious sister Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy who arrives in London on the brink of war…Kerri Maher’s debut stars a debutante to root for in this moving coming-of-age tale.”—Kate Quinn,New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

 

“An outstanding deep dive into a fascinating person and time. For fans of The Crown, the riveting story of a headstrong American girl captivated by a dashing British aristocrat. I’m blown away.”—Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

 

“Maher beautifully mixes the red-blooded American iconography of the Kennedys with the delicious and Downton Abbey­-esque grandeur of Britain’s upper crusts…her story will make your heart lurch in the best possible ways.”—Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress


 

Spotlight: The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series, #5

October 9, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Book Summary:

In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author Ronald. H. Balson, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of The Trust, Karolina’s Twins, Saving Sophie, and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

PRAISE FOR RONALD H. BALSON:

“Weaving together history with mystery, Ronald H. Balson crafts a compelling tale.”Us Weekly on The Trust

“Secrets, friendships, survival, and the Holocaust are woven together in Ronald H. Balson’s haunting Karolina’s Twins.”Family Circle on Karolina’s Twins

Once We Were Brothers tells a great story . . . gripping…”The Chicago Tribune on Once We Were Brothers


Spotlight: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

by Alyssa Palombo

St. Martin’s Griffin; on-sale October 2

Description:

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel
nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.  (publisher)


About the author:

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review.  She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively.  A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

Website: https://alyssapalombo.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alyssinwnderlnd?lang=en

photo credit: Jennifer Hark-Hameister


 

Praise for THE SPELLBOOK OF KATRINA VAN TASSEL:

“Marrying forbidden love, devoted friendship, and the supernatural with Palombo’s signature passion for music, storytelling, and heartbreaking choices, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel enchants with a concoction of love, longing, and loss plucked from the bones of one of our most enduring and haunting legends.” – Erin Lindsay McCabe, USA Today bestselling author of I Shall Be Near to You

“An enthralling lovers’ tale woven from ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ Alyssa Palombo’s captivating story, told through the eyes and heart of Katrina Van Tassel, is like visiting a treasured childhood friend and finding out all her secrets.” – Gwendolyn Womack, award-winning author of The Memory Painter and The Fortune Teller

“Palombo has conjured up a dark, sexy twist on Washington Irving’s classic tale. The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel will satisfy romance fans who crave a dash of spine-tingling horror.” – Cat Winters, award-winning author of The Uninvited and In the Shadow of Blackbirds


 

Spotlight: The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus

The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin; now out in Trade Paperback 

Description:

9 March 1876

My name is Meggie Kelly and I take up this pencil with my twin sister, Susie. We have nothing left, less than nothing. The village of our People has been destroyed, all our possessions burned, our friends butchered by the soldiers, our baby daughters gone, frozen to death on an ungodly trek across these rocky mountains. Empty of human feeling, half-dead ourselves, all that remains of us intact are hearts turned to stone. We curse the U.S. government, we curse the Army, we curse the savagery of mankind, white and Indian alike. We curse God in his heaven. Do not underestimate the power of a mother’s vengeance…

So begins the Journal of Margaret Kelly, a woman who participated in the U.S. government’s “Brides for Indians” program in 1873, a program whose conceit was that the way to peace between the United States and the Cheyenne Nation was for One Thousand White Woman to be given as brides in exchange for three hundred horses. These “brides” were mostly fallen women; women in prison, prostitutes, the occasional adventurer, or those incarcerated in asylums. No one expected this program to work. And the brides themselves thought of it simply as a chance at freedom. But many of them fell in love with their Cheyenne spouses and had children with them…and became Cheyenne themselves.

The Vengeance of Mothers explores what happens to the bonds between wives and husbands, children and mothers, when society sees them as “unspeakable.” What does it mean to be white, to be Cheyenne, and how far will these women go to avenge the ones they love? With vivid detail and keen emotional depth, Jim Fergus brings to light a time and place in American history and fills it with unforgettable characters who live and breathe with a passion we can relate to even today. ( publisher)


About the author:

Jim Fergus is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines and newspapers. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books. Jim divides his time between southern Arizona, northern Colorado, and France.


Praise for THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS

THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS reads like a fact-based tale, and the characters are as real as any pioneer woman who braved the rigors of westering. Fergus is a superb writer…and the finale is both clever and satisfying.” – Denver Post

“Fans of ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN, a book club favorite for 20 years, will recognize familiar characters in THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS, but newcomers to Fergus’ imagined intermingling of Caucasian women and the Cheyenne people will easily step into this incredible spinoff from American history.” – Shelf Awareness

“Twenty years on, Fergus’ best-selling novel, ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN (’98), remains vivid in readers’ memories and continues to be discovered by historical fiction fans. He now continues the gripping tale, a history lesson infused with both sadness at the violence perpetuated against the Cheyenne and awe at the endurance of this remarkable group of women.” – Booklist, starred review


 

Spotlight: The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

The Lost Queen: A Novel by Signe Pike

September 4, 2018 – Touchstone

Description:  

The Mists of Avalon meets the world of Philippa Gregory in the thrilling first novel of a debut trilogy that reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland—twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin.

I write because I have seen the darkness that will come. Already there are those who seek to tell a new history…

In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever.

Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time.


About the author:

Signe Pike is the author of the travel memoir Faery Tale and has researched and written about Celtic history and folklore for more than a decade. A former book editor, she lives in Charleston, South Carolina where she writes full-time.

 

Visit her at SignePike.com

Photo credit: Tiffany Mizzell Photography

 

 

 


Early Praise:

“Pike’s narrative blends court intrigue, romantic interludes, and gritty violence into a literary brew worth savoring to the dramatic finale…Enthusiastically recommended for readers of female-centered historical sagas and those enamored of Arthurian tales.”Booklist

“The rare historical epic that manages to be truly sweeping and yet always intense and person­al—at once a romance, a story of faith, a story of war and a story of family. . . . Moving, thrilling and ultimately spellbinding, The Lost Queen is perfect for readers of historical fiction like Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, and for lovers of fantasy like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.”BookPage