Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review & Giveaway: The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy

by Nelle Davy
Release Date: January 24, 2012
2012 MIRABooks
Softcover Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-778-32955-8
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Kate @ Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

4 / 5 Stars

For generations, Aurelia was the crowning glory of more than three thousand acres of Iowa farmland and golden cornfields. The estate was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway's dream to elevate the family name - no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways - and the once prosperous farm.

Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died - alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway family want anything to do with the farm, the land, or the memories.

Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia's youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy that destroyed her family's once-great name. Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family... and her own part in their mottled history. 

My Thoughts
The Legacy of Eden is one of those books where you have to be curious enough about the destruction of a family and waiting patiently to discover the reasons for it, as you learn about the lives of various generations of the Hathaway family who have grown up on Aurelia.  It's kind of a morbid fascination really, as you read with this feeling of impending doom as well as this feeling of intrusion into a family's personal affairs, kind of like taking a peak into the medicine cabinet or looking through someone's drawers because you can't help yourself, simply because you need to know what really happened.  And as the reasons and answers are slowly revealed, you just want to discover more, and keep snooping.  Shameful, really, but you can't help yourself.

The story is told through the eyes of Meredith Hathaway, the grand-daughter, and its her perceptions and feelings that you feel throughout the novel as it's narrated to you.  While somewhat slow at times, and very descriptive in nature, for me, I found the hindsight reflections to be quite interesting as we always tend to look back at events and wonder how things would have turned out if we had done just that one thing somewhat differently.  The story is rather easy to follow as it's written chronologically, with some jumps back and forth in time to the present, but they were done rather well and didn't interrupt the flow of the novel.  I can't say that any one of the characters were my favourite as I found most of them unpleasant at times, but their stories and their lives were very compelling and I was drawn to the story nonetheless.  What didn't matter to me is who came out in the winner's seat at the end.  

Lavinia is by far the most interesting character in this novel though, and even though she herself makes a reference to 'snakes' in her house, it's by that metaphor as to how I perceive her myself.  She reminds me of snake, someone who is manipulative, vindictive, and just waits to strike at the ideal moment, destroying everything around her.   I read her machinations with interest, and with dread, knowing what was going to happen, knowing that she was going to destroy everything she had built up simply through her own manipulations.   The carefully crafted narrative certainly does credit to the build-up of tension that surrounds Lavinia and the downfall that is surely going to happen.  While this story is not a happy story, there is still a compelling element to it that makes you want to continue reading.

The Legacy of Eden the story of several generations caught up in a web of deceitful lies, secrets, manipulations, jealousy, anger, and forgiveness.  With a compelling storyline, and a host of intriguing characters, it's the story of a family shaped by the machinations of a woman who wants it all, but in the midst of trying to keep it all, she manages to destroy everything and everyone around her.   As the story was told through Meredith's eyes, you do have to wonder at the truth behind they story you are given, and I would very much like to know Lavinia's side of the story.  The Legacy of Eden is a compelling read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys novels about family legacies and the secrets that can destroy.

Giveaway:  I have one (1) copy of The Legacy of Eden to give away to one lucky reader.
1) Open to US/ Canada only.
2) Contest ends 08 March 2012.
3) Comment on this post with your email address in order to be entered.


“I’m going back to the farm. To sell it, to take what’s left of your stuff and hock it at the nearest flea market.”
“Oh, Meredith.” She sighed. “You’ll have to do better than that. Have you learned nothing? In terms of revenge we both know you can do so much more.”
I shook my head and rubbed the heels of my hands into my eyes until the light grew red.
“You’re not here,” I said again, but even so I could feel the light pressure of her hand on my wrist.
“Neither are you,” she whispered.
I opened my eyes and lifted my head. There: the fields on fields of cereals and golden-eared corn from my memory, from my dreams. They lay before me, an ocean of land, the colors all seeping out in a filter of gray.
Exasperated, I finally asked her the question I knew she had been longing for. “Why are you even here?”
            “Darling.” She chortled, suddenly filled with unexpected warmth. The silk of her green dress grazed past my arm as she came to stand beside me. “We never left.”

Guest Post:

Curling Up By The Fire is pleased to welcome Spencer Seidel, author of Dead of Wynter (check out my review here) and the soon-to-be-released Lovesick (June 2012).  He is here to discuss his new novel as well as share some future projects he is currently at work on.  But first, take a look at the summary of Lovesick.

“‘He’s got a knife!’ Jimmy said after seeing the glint of a blade in the kid’s hand. Jimmy brought his gun up and squared it at the kid.”

A murder rocks Portland, Maine after police discover an incoherent teen sitting in a pool of blood late one night. Paul Ducharme is found with a murder weapon in one hand, the dead body of his best friend in the other, and no clue how he got to the Eastern Promenade Trail.

Wendy, the girl of Paul’s dreams, has been missing for weeks. Her boyfriend Lee has been murdered–apparently by Paul. It’s an open and shut case–or so most of Portland thinks.

When forensic psychologist Dr. Lisa Boyers is asked to interview Paul, who claims to forget the events leading up to the murder, she reluctantly agrees. In her jailhouse interviews, Lisa helps Paul to recover his memories, but the murder’s circumstances force her to recall her own troubled past. 

Media attention mounts. Reporters stream into Portland. All eyes turn to Lisa. She seems intent on exonerating the “brutal teen killer” but quickly finds herself the focus of an over-zealous reporter with a knack for digging up dirty secrets.  But the killer who has Lisa in the crosshairs already knows them all.

1. When and why did you begin writing?
In some sense, I feel like I’ve always been a writer. The compulsion began when I was about six or so, after reading books like The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. But it wasn’t until years later, after I’d more-or-less given up on a career as a musician, that I began to write fiction seriously. That was in my mid-twenties. I’m not so sure as to the why of it. It’s just something I feel like I need to do.
2. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Sol Stein, although I suppose he’s more well known as an editor. He wrote a wonderful book on the craft of writing called “Stein On Writing.” I keep some typed-up notes from that book handy to read every now and again. He’s a mentor I’ve never met.

3. What are your current projects?
I’m now working on a horror novel, or what you might call a supernatural thriller. It’s not gory, just creepy. It’s a bit of a departure for me, but I’ve been wanting to do it for a while. I’m not quite ready to reveal the plot or title, but I am excited about the project.

4. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Years ago, my mother had a battle with breast cancer. We’re a lot alike, so I knew she was terrified and in some ways feeling alone. I decided to write her a story to cheer her up. It was called “The Great Grey Cloud Problem.” It was a children’s story with an adult message: the world is only as dark as you make it. She loved it, and I think that’s when I thought, “Huh. Maybe I could do this.”

5. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging thing about being a writer for me is keeping the faith that it’s something worth doing. It’s awfully easy to get carried away by the doom-and-gloomers in the industry, or with the ego-maniacal folks in the industry you run into occasionally who don’t seem to realize that we’re all in this together. It’s a tough, tough business, and sometimes it’s hard for me to separate that from craft.
About this author
Spencer Seidel lives and works in suburban New Jersey but has also called Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine home. He is an honors graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and attended the Berklee College of Music to study guitar, which he has been playing for over 25 years. His love of reading and books began as a child after discovering Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Later, he was drawn to darker work by authors such as Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Jack Ketchum, who continue to influence his dark novels and short stories.

His debut novel, Dead of Wynter, was published in May 2011.

Guest Post: Kenya Carlton

Curling Up By The Fire would like to welcome Kenya Carlton, author of Jaded, which released in 2011.  A mix of paranormal, romance, and suspense, Jaded is for those who enjoy a good modern-day ghost story centered around a haunted old house that is rumoured to have supernatural elements to it.  

War correspondent Mia James is back on US soil and ready to tackle a juicy political story that could make national headlines.  A politician’s aid goes missing, and the son of the wealthiest family is the only suspect.  

Determined to take down the mayor of the small seaside town, Mia comes up against an angry ghost with her own agenda. 

Afraid she may be suffering from post traumatic stress Mia figures that she’s way over her head and enlists the help of resident black sheep Gabe Montgomery.  Now, she must solve the mystery of her not so friendly ghost, stop herself from falling in love with the mysterious winery owner, all while making it out alive.

Romance of Yesterday

My novel Jaded is a ghost a story, but there’s also a subtle romance between the two main characters that is just as important as solving the mystery of Vine’s resident ghost.
In high school, my reading list included horror and mystery.  At some point, I opened my reading repertoire to certain types of romance.   I started with Danielle Steele and found I enjoyed her contemporaries.  Nora Roberts has an excellent style of mystery that she weaves into her romances. Beverly Jenkins is number one for my historical fascination with the genre and Catherine Coulter did gritty sex the best without going over the line.  Since I have a refine palate, no syrupy sweet sugary romance novels need to apply.  I can’t stand a damsel in distress or fiery heroines with no common sense. 

Danielle Steele seems to be the mother of romance. At the young age of 65, she has written well over seventy books for the past 37 years and there seems to be no stopping her.  Favorites among her many titles for me were Star, Secrets, and Kaleidoscope.  Anything that had an ensemble cast and more than one story line kept me satisfied.  These books were a nice odyssey through the years of her main characters and the end is well worth the read.

Beverly Jenkins is a miracle worker.  Not in my wildest dreams could I imagine reading about romance and slavery, but this author does a beautiful job at taking something so ugly and blossoming love from it.  Her research on the historical time line is impeccable, and the sweet longing her characters have for one another is what the romance genre is really made of.

Nora Roberts dabbles into a little bit of everything, but you can be certain romance is always involved.  From cursed towns to below zero temperature landscapes, she creates a world the readers don’t mind exploring.

Catherine Coulter’s historicals are gritty, but the men are men and the women know who the boss really is without ever letting the hero in on the secret.  I am not a historical kind of gal. I’m African American and I can’t relate to old timey stereotypes where women get the vapors. Although her heroines are financial powerless Ms. Coulter gives her characters spunk and something to do besides flitter about. Not to mention all that filthy sex, it really does help. 

Martin Conway didn’t know what to expect. He idled in his police cruiser on the curb in anticipation of a few ominous clouds or some menacing lightening to strike down on the house. He wasn’t quite sure since he avoided this place as much as possible.

The manor that sat above Vine was a picture of Victorian splendor. Or at least that’s what the welcome brochure to all new tourists had professed.

No one had occupied the oldest standing mansion in town permanently for years and the historical society made sure no one probably ever would. Restrictions had been placed on the home that most modern families weren’t willing to contend with and older homeowners would be too overwhelmed to be bothered. The most that could be hoped for was the occasional renter. So the mansion that encompassed every viable asset that a haunted house possibly ever could, sat empty.

It didn’t matter that the lawn was cut and the bushes were trimmed. Nor did it matter whether fresh paint was applied every other year or so. Right now all that mattered was that he, Martin Conway, had to get his butt in gear to welcome the new residence of Holloway Manor to Vine.

As Sheriff he took his job seriously. Crime was virtually nonexistent. A few run-ins with the local teenagers now and again were the worse offenses he imagined but that was expected in any small town.

Martin turned the ignition off and grabbed his hat. Vibes of intense displeasure seemed to waft his way from the house, with a deep breath he pushed his apprehension to the side and sorted through his thoughts of what to say to the new neighbors of Vine.

"Good Afternoon, Ma'am." Martin tipped his head to the cute little number at the door. Pleasantly surprised he greeted the woman with all smiles.

"Good afternoon, Officer-"

"Conway, Sheriff Conway," he introduced himself.

The look on her adorable face made him forget the regular spiel he had prepared for all the newbie’s that entered town. She was this tiny little thing with big boobs and a nice ass which was a win-win combination in his estimation. Her smooth cocoa skin made his mouth water not to mention her face was kewpie doll cute but her expression told him she was all about being bad. The pool of her brown eyes seemed to suck him into her.

"Where are my manners? Please come in Sheriff. My name is Tracy and this tired piece of trash over here is my cousin, Mia." He followed the woman into the Holloway home to find it was exactly as he had imagined.

Big and creepy!

The structure was the only house that could be seen from the Carlisle hilltop that looked down on Vine. From the door the stained glass windows cast a colorful dance of colors around the front room. A bright and cheery effect that should have appeared fun and joyful, but came across eerie and haunting instead.

White dust cloths covered what he could only imagine was antique furniture. The unlived look probably lent a helping hand to the spooky factor of the estate.
Entranced with the infamous inside interior of the Holloway mansion, he almost stumbled over this woman. Simply stunned into stupidity by her perfect face he missed the hand that she held out to him.

"Mia James, what can I do for you?" His tongue twisted around his mouth. Ordinarily he would be considered a man of authority but this woman made him babble like a fool.

"I uh, I wanted to welcome you to Vine. I saw your truck and thought I would be first to welcome you to our fine city."

"I appreciate that," she replied.

"We have a little picnic scheduled this evening at The Grove and we would be delighted if you could join us." He flashed his pearly smile in hopes it would be enough to persuade them to come.

"Who is we, Sheriff?"

"The Mayor is sponsoring this little shindig to extend his hand of thanks to the people of Vine."

"Special thanks for what?" Mia asked.

"Uh.” Both women stared at him with something crossed between humor and confusion.

"He wants to thank everyone for their support in Vine and continued support when he runs for Congress."

"Well Conway,” Mia began, “that's a mighty fine invitation but I think I'll pass." she touched his elbow, with the sweetest smile. He was so enchanted with the Egyptian shape of her brown eyes that he found himself outside of the front door without the faintest idea how he got there. "Thank you for keeping us in mind."

"But there's barbecue and fireworks," he stupidly stammered.

"Sounds like a true hootenanny of a good time. We will definitely give it some thought." He understood a polite brush off when he saw one. Mia was so gracious he almost didn't mind how she had just kicked him out of the house.

“Oh well.” He stepped off the wraparound porch. Most likely he would see her again around town. Of course, the lack of information about these women would leave room for the Mayor to be unhappy with his fact finding duties.

Martin headed to his cruiser and figured he would go check across town for those vandals that kept spray painting something as silly as ‘Water’ in the quarry. It was the perfect excuse that he was too busy to be nosey if the Mayor asked.