One of my favorite giveaway hops of the year is the Gratitude Giveaway Hop. You’ll be glad to know it’s also one of the simplest to enter. It’s our way of thanking you our followers for your loyalty this past year. This year, we’re featuring two novels in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop, Circling the Sun and The New World. One of you is going to win them both, so read on…
Paula McLain is probably best known for her bestselling novel, The Paris Wife (click here for our review of that novel). She’s followed that up with another amazing bestselling historical novel, Circling the Sun, based on the life of Beryl Markham. Ms. Markham has fascinated me for decades. As a child, I knew people who had lived in Kenya and thought it would be wonderful to live there. Ms. Markham also never fit the accepted mold for a woman of her generation. In other words, she was her own person no matter what society thought, and I always admired her for that.
European society in 1920’s Kenya had very strict ideas of what young English women should be like, at least on the surface. Beryl Markham knew things were not the same under the surface and she had no patience for that kind of hypocrisy – she also didn’t believe men should be able to do one thing but women should have to do another. Sound familiar? She was determined to be who she was instead of who people thought she “should” be. She paid a price for that but I don’t believe she could have lived her life any other way.
What probably helped shape who she became was that her mother wasn’t in the picture from the time that she was a small child. Raised by a father who was quite permissive and somewhat detached, she found family and companionship among the Kenyan people who worked and lived on their land. She basically ran wild in the Kenyan countryside and saw no difference between herself and the boys of the local tribe.
In other words, no one ever tried to tame her into becoming the submissive pseudo-being that girl children were supposed to become in the 1920’s…at least no one tried until it was much too late for that to take hold or for her to believe it was critical to her survival. By the time it was tried, she already had a firm sense of who she was and what she was capable of, much to everyone’s chagrin.
What that meant, however, was that no one had ever prepared her for the realities of an adult woman’s life in 1920’s Kenya or any other country for that matter. She had no clue how adult relationships worked, how women were realistically able to survive economically, or that she could not in fact conduct business the way her father had. She was a woman out of time, with a steep learning curve that went completely against the grain of who she was as a human being. And that caused her a lot of heartache.
When I read Circling the Sun, I could understand even better why I had always been drawn to this fiercely independent woman. As a child who ran wild in the forests of the North Carolina mountains and was always told she was too smart for her own good, I knew what it felt to always chafe at the seemingly ridiculous restrictions and second-class citizenship ideas placed on female children and adults. I feel lucky to have been born during a later period than Ms. Markham – extremely lucky.
If you like reading about strong real women out of time as written by authors who’ve done extraordinary research, and who bring them to life on the page, then you’re going to love Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. I can’t wait to see who she writes about next. Until then, I strongly recommend Circling the Sun for all women and for historical fiction fans.
Our second novel is also a historical novel but it’s also an adventure with an interesting twist. The New World by Sir Andrew Motion doesn’t just take us to the earliest days of America but it pays homage to that classic beloved adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island. It actually picks up where Return to Treasure Island leaves off.
It’s the early 1800’s when a young Tom Hawkins and Natty (who you may recall is Long John Silver’s daughter, disguised as a guy) find themselves the apparent sole survivors of a shipwreck off the Gulf coast of what some day will become known as Texas. When they wash ashore, somehow they have to figure out how to not only let Tom’s parents know they’ve survived but to make their way back to England…from a wilderness filled with savages who love to slaughter white men on sight and do “unspeakable” things to females. Right – good luck on that one. And thus begins one hell of a non-stop, twisty rollercoaster ride of an adventure through the wilds of America.
They and a third survivor haven’t even fully recovered from being tossed ashore when they’re set upon by a band of bloodthirsty cannibalistic Indians, who slaughter the third survivor, scavenge valuables from the dead, and take Jim and Natty hostage. To say Jim and Natty are going to need every clever skill they have in their repertoire and a miracle to survive is not an understatement.
This fantastic adventure takes them on a twisty route once they miraculously escape Black Cloud, who stalks them to recover a powerful totem they stole. Their goal? To make their way in one piece eventually to New Orleans so they can book passage back to England – all while the fearsome Black Cloud and his wizard-like shaman are hot on their trail. Was it a horrible mistake to steal the totem that held Black Cloud’s power? I’ll let you be the judge of that one.
The New World is a buy-the-premise, buy-the-bit adventure just like Treasure Island was – and bears enough semblance to real history to be believable. Remember, it’s a continuation of Treasure Island so its basis is from a historical point of view expressed a long time ago instead of current historical beliefs. Warning: There is an early gory torture scene that had me saying “Eeeeew”; however, once that part was over, it was a seat-of-the-pants wilderness road trip escape (before roads) and meandering adventure with big bad uglies hot on the trail. And that trip takes several years to complete. Bonus: Natty is one kick-butt unusual girl for that period – she is definitely the brains of this twosome. Booyah! Don’t take The New World too seriously and I think you’ll enjoy it. Does that sound like a mixed recommendation? It’s not. I had a lot of fun reading this one!
Can’t wait to read one or both of them? Circling the Sun and The New World are both available from your favorite online bookseller below. If you order them as e-books, you can have them to read immediately!
I’d love to get your comments on Circling the Sun, The New World, Paula McLain, Andrew Motion and/or their other work, and/or this review.
One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance readers) of both Circling the Sun by Paula McLain and The New World by Andrew Motion!
1) The deadline for entries is Monday night, 11/30/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form.
5) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
6) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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