Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Life of the Twentieth Century by Irene Even

I firmly believe that we should never criticise others until we have a walked in their shoes. Do you recall that saying?

Born into a free and democratic Country in the twentieth Century I can not imagine what life was like as Europe was drawn into another war. I can not imagine waking up, living and going to bed scared, hungry and living all the time wondering who it is safe to trust. Neither can I imagine making decisions, that when it became clear they were the wrong ones, being forced to endure life with those poor choices, made out of desperation.

As I read this book which is a true account of the author's life, although the names have been changed and the book is written in the third person, I was often in awe of how the author managed to live with those decisions. How did she keep her emotions in check as she grieved for her parents and the loss of her free existence?

I get a sense that the book has been toned down from the horrors that she would have observed. The patience that was exhibited to her husband is overwhelming and I am quite sure he deserved none of it. The decisions to move to Canada and to go into teaching, to follow her dreams.

Having got to the end of the book I wasn't sure I could compose a coherent review. I am a reflector and felt that I needed to think about the book after I had read it. None of us can truly imagine how the author's life was. In fact we can not be sure that this book encapsulates her life entirely, only what she chose to share with the readers.

Overall I enjoyed the book, I loved how the characters evolved and I felt that they had been bought to life, so that I cared and felt a variety of emotions with them all.

To see what others thought about the book be sure to visit the other book tour participants

March 2 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
March 2 - Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author - book spotlight / giveaway
March 3 - Deal Sharing Aunt - book spotlight
March 3 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight
March 3 - Girl With Camera - review / giveaway
March 4 - Keenly Kristin - review / giveaway
March 4 - Bound 4 Escape - review
March 5 - Life as Leels - review
March 5 - The Things We Read - review
March 5 - A Universe in Words - book spotlight
March 6 - A Soccer Mom's Book Blog - review / giveaway
March 6 - Green and Glassie - review / author interview / giveaway
March 9 - StoreyBook Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
March 9 - Booknerd - review
March 10 - Readers' Muse - review
March 10 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / author interview / giveaway
March 11 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
March 11 - View From the Birdhouse - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
March 12 - Confessions of a Reader - author interview
March 12 - Luxury Reading - review / author interview / giveaway
March 13 - Unshelfish - review / giveaway
March 13 - Library of Clean Reads - review
​March 13 
Historical Tapestry - review / author interview

A Life of the Twentieth Century is available from Amazon

Friday, March 13, 2015

Interview with Irene Even, author of A Life of the Twentieth Century

Today Historical Tapestry brings to you an author interview from Irene Even.

A Life of the Twentieth Century is written in the third person and fictional names, but all events and places are true. This is Irene's life story.

1) Why did you decide to write a memoir?

The writing of my memoir wasn't so much a decision but a natural follow up to a life that needed a rational interpretation of all that I have lived through.

2) Was it difficult to remember some of the painful incidents of your childhood when writing the book?

My painful memories were hidden so deep inside of me that most of the time I was not aware of them. It wasn't until I sat in front of the computer that those hidden memories appeared to me on the screen as if ​it​ was a new revelation.

3) Would you consider your book inspirational?

I think that this book is inspirational on so many level​s​ as it points out that no matter what, you always have a choice. It is so easy to slip into the role of the victim, thereby remaining​ a victim. As I look at Aya the way she carries on under all circumstances, I see a very inspirational person​

4) How did you write your book? Did you first jot down all your ​memories​ or did you just decide to write and see what came of it?

The writing of my memoir was the most amazing experience ​for​ me because I had​ never ​known​ what I was going to write about once I set out to do it​. I never kept a diary or made notes; I just sat down in front of the computer and the story ended up​ writing itself, while I was only the facilitator as I worked the key board.

5) Why do you want people to read your story?

When I first wrote my story I didn't have readers in my mind, but now that the story is written I would like people to read it because it is a true and incredible story, even to me​.

6) Writing about past events and family members may cause hurt feelings. Did you worry about what your children would think when you wrote you​r story?

At first I didn't think of anything, because it wasn't clear to me exactly what I was going to write about. However, once the story was told it did occur to me how my children might​ react to it. But when the book was written showed it to them and it was okay.​

7) How long did it take you to write your memoir?

It took me about 4 years

Book Synopsis:

A Life of the Twentieth Century is the story of Aya, who lived through the loss of her parents before the age of 3. At the age of twelve she was sent to a boarding school in Budapest, that closed after one year, because the Nazi army marched into the city.

Aya was left totally alone to face the Nazi occupation, and to experience all the horrors of the war. She faced many life threatening situations, such as prison, bombardment or even the possibility of being executed on the spot, without really comprehending the gravity of it all.

The end of the war was supposed to mean liberation, the return of hope and freedom for most people, however it didn't happen for Aya, who was part of a youth group on her way to Palestine. The destination of this youth group was to reach Italy and the Jewish Brigade. They crossed the Alps on foot from Austria to reach Italy.

As they reached their destination Aya met a soldier from the Jewish Brigade, who was supposed to be her Hero, her Saviour, but turned out to be the devil incarnate. From day one, this soldier of the Jewish brigade took control of Aya's life when she was only 15 years old.

After divorce, destitute and once again alone, she had no direction and almost no hope, when from deep inside her a small voice said; go back to school. It took all her courage to apply to university, where she was accepted and after 5 year was granted a B.A. and a Diploma of Teaching. She spent the rest of her life teaching, and as she contemplated her life she said to herself that if she had had all the choices in the world, she would have chosen teaching.

Author's Bio:

Irene Even was born in Hungary. As a child she lived through the Second World War, using false papers to survive. After the war, she immigrated to Palestine, lived in a Kibbutz, then later married and immigrated to Canada with her family. She returned to Israel to teach English and remained there for twenty-two years. Having written her memoir, A Life of the Twentieth Century, she now lives in retirement in Montreal.

A life of the Twentieth Century is available from Amazon

A review of the book will be published tomorrow.
Image of author courtesy of Debra who blogs at Girl With Camera

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 2015 Historical Ficton Reading Challenge

After hosting the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for several years now, I have decided that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else to run the challenge! Straight away I thought of a couple of bloggers who I thought would be the perfect host for the challenge, and luckily, the first person I asked said yes, they would love to host!

I hope that you all agree that Passages to the Past is the perfect home for this year's challenge! Amy is so active in the historical fiction community and has great passion and energy for blogging, for working with authors, for supporting others and for historical fiction in general!

The sign up post will be up shortly and I hope that you all support her in the same way you have supported us here.

I have loved hosting the challenge, and constantly been astonished by how many books get read, and how wide the variety of historical fiction there is available. I know that I leave you all in good hands!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why I Love....Quilts: Guest Post by Leah Zieber, Author of Libby Morgan: Reunion

Quilts – I love quilts. The cozy feeling I get when snuggled beneath my quilt is like getting a hug from someone I love. They are one of the staples in my home that my family has grown to appreciate and love almost as much as I do. But what I feel for quilts is more than just an affinity for the actual, tangible thing that I wrap myself in each night; I love quilts for their mystery and the history they hold in their stitches and for all the memories they pass on for future generations to uncover, treasure and in my case – write about.

To understand just how a quilt can hold memories, it is important to understand what goes into making a quilt. It is a lengthy process that entails design consideration, fabric selection, gathering, cutting, sewing, sewing, and more sewing, block layout, more sewing, then layering, more design consideration for the quilting, more sewing and finally, the finishing process of binding up the unfinished edges. Hopefully, the quilt is given a label, too – but not usually, otherwise it wouldn’t be such a mystery.

Throughout the quilt making process, knowledge about the maker and a record of the times are often stitched into the folds of the object. The mystery comes in trying to decipher this knowledge. When designing a quilt, the maker considers the news of the day and the interests, desires and life altering events of the quilt’s recipient, as well as her own interests, desires and life events. For example, use of the heart design may indicate a marriage or death quilt, trees or the house design may reflect one’s love of family or home, and signature blocks with endearing sayings of remembrances may be used for someone leaving a community or for someone being left behind. (See figure 1 and 2 for signed quilt blocks from an 1850’s quilt.) Even religious, political and organizational affiliations can be represented in the designs of some quilts, both in the selected design (e.g., Temperance Block for the prohibitionists) and the fabrics chosen for the quilt (e.g., political ribbons or fabrics depicting government figures like presidents or war generals for the patriots).  Having a basic understanding of history, some knowledge about a person’s life events - as can be found on - and a bit of background regarding the symbolism found in a community can often lead to a greater understanding of why a quilt was made.  I love to find a quilt with little or no history and try to unravel some of the mysteries held within.

Signature Block from 1853 Quilt

Close Up of Signature

The fabrics in quilts are usually quite beautiful. Every image conceivable can be found in both old and modern textiles. I love the variety of design and color, but my real love for the fabrics comes from a different perspective. Taking a closer look at the materials used to make the quilt can convey insight into the quilt’s secrets. A family legacy can be found in the fabrics that were selected to make a quilt. Sometimes, makers’ dresses gone out of fashion were used in quilts; old, quilted petticoats have also been found. Relatives and friends would share bits of fabrics and close examination of quilts from the same community will often reveal many of the same prints – this is often found in signature quilts from the Quaker communities. Makers would use feed sacks from the family farm; even salesman sample card fabric swatches from Papa’s mercantile store can be found in some quilts. A maker’s frugality can often be seen in fabrics they used; recycling was being done long before it was hip. But not just a maker’s economy, the family’s prosperity can also be seen in the costly yards of a French chintz fabric that was used to make up a quilt’s backing or in the finely made binding of store-bought, woven tape. The materials used to make a quilt imparts wisdom that bring me closer to understanding the circumstances of the maker, the owner and history of the textiles of the time, and for this reason I love the fabrics.

Mother Morgan’s Framed Angel Quilt – Made by Leah Zieber 2014 (a quilt from the novel.) This quilt is full of fabric that I love!

Quilt makers often remained anonymous, but many left pseudo-signatures hidden for only the most discerning eye to find. Looking closely at the quilting can reveal a lot about the maker or makers. Hidden in the multitude of stitches that hold the quilt layers together I find many clues to the quilt’s mystery of whom, why, where and when. Differences in the quality of quilting stitches can reveal a group project such as a quilting bee or perhaps a teacher and student (i.e., mother and child). Symbols stitched into the quilting can help define a particular region from which the quilt may have come or an association with a group. (e.g., The Order of Odd Fellows were often represented by the three interlocking chain links or circles. See Figure 4. ). The type of thread used for the quilting (two-ply or three) can reveal when a quilt was quilted. Occasionally, just the tiniest of initials cross-stitched in a corner can confirm or reject a names associated with the quilt. And sometimes, but not often, a quilt has a goldmine of information stitched into the designs – names, dates, locations, even the occasion for the quilt have all have been found in the quilt stitches.  There is a secret held in the stitches that brings me closer to the legacy waiting to be revealed.

Interlocking Rings in the quilting could symbolize an Order of the Odd Fellows affiliation

It takes patience to thoroughly examine a quilt, but my patience is usually rewarded with fragments of information about a person or people, about an unknown place and about the events of a time in history that, without the quilt, may have remained forever lost to posterity. I love the mystery, I love the history, I love quilts.

Thank you so much, Leah, for this thought-provoking guest post! I never would have guessed the mysteries hidden within a quilt...I need to go back and look closely at some my grandmother made!

Readers, please be sure to continue below for more about Leah's book, Libby Morgan: Reunion, and check out the rest of the blog tour!

Publication Date: September 7, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 283
Series: American Heritage Quilt Series
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction
Coming from a long line of seamstresses, Libby has yet to sew anything more than the rudimentary button or hem, but on a visit to Connecticut she learns more than just how to sew patchwork. Set in 1855 New England and London, this tender story, Libby Morgan: Reunion, follows tenacious Elizabeth (Libby) Jane Morgan through her thirteenth summer of new adventures at home and abroad. She is given a birthday gift of sewing tools and fabric, as well as old family letters to use as templates for making her first quilt. Her decision to first read the letters results in questions that only her Grandmother Morgan’s stories can answer—stories of true love, horrible loss and family connections to London nobles. Her keen eye and inquisitive nature draws her family into a mysterious investigation that tests their faith, challenges their ability to forgive, and results in a resurrection and reunion of lost hearts.

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Leah A. Zieber is a quilt historian and quilt maker from Temecula, California, specializing in
American quilt history and reproduction quilts from the nineteenth century. Her quilts have been exhibited across the country in quilt shows, museums and historical societies and were most recently published in Stars: A Study of 19th Century Star Quilts. Leah has worked closely with Southern California collectors, cataloging, managing, and independently researching their textile collections. Her own collection of antique quilts and related textile items spans one hundred and eighty five years, and she shares her knowledge of American quilt history using her collection in lectures and workshops. Libby Morgan: Reunion is her debut novel and the first in her American Heritage Quilt Series.

For more information please visit Leah Zieber’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Libby Morgan: Reunion Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1

Review at WV Stitcher

Tuesday, December 2

Spotlight at I’d Rather Be Reading

Thursday, December 4

Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark

Friday, December 5

Review at Book Nerd

Saturday, December 6

Review at Mel’s Shelves

Monday, December 8

Review at Forever Ashley

Tuesday, December 9

Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Wednesday, December 10

Review at Luxury Reading
Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Friday, December 12

Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, December 15

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, December 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, December 18
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, December 19
Guest Post at Book Babe

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bookish Secret Santa

Ah, favorite time of the year! I am one of those happy suckers who get so excited when the lights start coming out around the neighborhood and the Christmas movies and music are everywhere. So let's just say I was really excited when I saw that the always delightful Michelle Stockard Miller from The True Book Addict was organizing a Bookish Secret Santa event on Facebook. I was in!

Having sent off my package to the recipient Michelle paired me up with (I hope she gets it soon and loves it!) I was eagerly waiting to see what my Secret Santa had in store for me. When I came home today my wait was over and this was waiting for me at the front door:

Oh the excitement! What could be in it?! Well it didn't take me long to tear it open to see what was inside. I discovered my Secret Santa...Stacy at Stacy's Books.... had quite the surprise waiting for me! Inside was beautifully wrapped gifts with Godiva chocolates attached.  It was almost too pretty to tear open! Almost....

To my absolute delight the smaller package had a real mistletoe inside that I have already had my husband hang is so pretty! The bigger package was the real surprise for this bookie girl...a SIGNED copy of Jodi Picoult's newest novel, Leaving Time. A SIGNED COPY!!! Being that Jodie Picoult is one of my all time favorite writers this one is going on the forever shelf to be loved and savored and kept safe. I cannot wait to read it!
I am so happy I signed up to do this Bookish Secret Santa and I will definitely be doing it again next year! Thank you so much to Michelle for organizing it and to Stacy for the awesome gifts....I am definitely in the spirit of the season now!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spotlight On The Oblate's Confession by William Peak

Publication Date: December 2, 2014 Secant Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Set in 7th century England, The Oblate’s Confession tells the story of Winwaed, a boy who – in a practice common at the time – is donated by his father to a local monastery. In a countryside wracked by plague and war, the child comes to serve as a regular messenger between the monastery and a hermit living on a nearby mountain. Missing his father, he finds a surrogate in the hermit, an old man who teaches him woodcraft, the practice of contemplative prayer, and, ultimately, the true meaning of fatherhood. When the boy’s natural father visits the monastery and asks him to pray for the death of his enemy – an enemy who turns out to be the child’s monastic superior – the boy’s life is thrown into turmoil. It is the struggle Winawed undergoes to answer the questions – Who is my father? Whom am I to obey? – that animates, and finally necessitates, The Oblate’s Confession.

While entirely a work of fiction, the novel’s background is historically accurate: all the kings and queens named really lived, all the political divisions and rivalries actually existed, and each of the plagues that visit the author’s imagined monastery did in fact ravage that long-ago world. In the midst of a tale that touches the human in all of us, readers will find themselves treated to a history of the “Dark Ages” unlike anything available today outside of textbooks and original source material.

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate’s Confession, his debut novel.
Based upon the work of one of the great (if less well known) figures of Western European history, the Venerable Bede, Peak’s book is meant to reawaken an interest in that lost and mysterious period of time sometimes called “The Dark Ages.”

Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program at Hollins University.  He works for the Talbot County Free Library on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Thanks to the column he writes for The Star Democrat about life at the library (archived at, Peak is regularly greeted on the streets of Easton: “Hey, library guy!”  In his free time he likes to fish and bird and write long love letters to his wife Melissa.

For more information please visit William Peak’s website.



The Oblate's Confession Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, December 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 3
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at A Fantastical Librarian

Thursday, December 4
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 5
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, December 8
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, December 9
Review at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, December 11
Interview at Forever Ashley

Monday, December 15
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Thursday, December 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Friday, December 19
Review at Book Nerd
Review at bookramblings

Monday, December 22
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, December 23
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, December 24
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, December 29
Review at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, December 30
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, January 2
Review at Library Educated

Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Words and Peace

Tuesday, January 6
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, January 7
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Thursday, January 8
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, January 9
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story