Thursday, July 11, 2013

VBT Stop and Review of A Spear of Summer Grass, Deanna Raybourn

 France Book Tours presents...

A Spear of Summer Grass

by Deanna Raybourn

Synopsis: [sex and violence present but not graphic]

Paris, 1923
The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming—yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without.

A Spear of Summer Grass, by Deanna Raybourn
384 pages, ISBN 978-0778314394, MIRA
Available in trade paperback at Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, Books-A-Million or digitally for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or from iBooks.

Author bio:
As a sixth-generation native Texan, I grew up in San Antonio, where I met my college sweetheart. I married him on graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation when I was twenty-three, I wrote my first novel. After three years as a teacher, I left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.

Fourteen years and many, many rejections after my first novel, I signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

"Sex, lies and awesome clothing descriptions" is how one reader described my debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in 2007. The first in the Silent series, the book follows Lady Julia Grey as she investigates the mysterious death of her husband with the help of the enigmatic private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. From the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to a Gypsy camp on Hampstead Heath, Silent in the Grave was my love letter to Victorian London.

The series continues with the second book, Silent in the Sanctuary (2008), a classic English country house murder mystery with a few twists and turns for Brisbane and Lady Julia along the way, while the third book, Silent on the Moor (2009), is set in a grim manor house on the Yorkshire moors. My favorite part of writing Moor was getting to spend time in Yorkshire, one of the most wildly beautiful places I have ever been.

March 2010 saw a departure from the series with the release of The Dead Travel Fast, a mid-Victorian Gothic thriller that chronicles the adventures of novelist Theodora Lestrange as she leaves the safety and security of her Edinburgh home for the dark woods and haunted castles of Transylvania. I returned to Lady Julia and her companions with Dark Road to Darjeeling (October 2010), this time delving into my most exotic setting yet in the foothills of the Himalayas. The fifth series book, New York Times bestseller The Dark Enquiry (July 2011) saw Lady Julia back in her beloved London again, while a digital holiday novella, Silent Night (November 2012) highlighted the March family festivities at Bellmont Abbey.

But 2013 introduces a new setting to my work—1920s British East Africa. In A Spear of Summer Grass (May 2013), disgraced flapper Delilah Drummond is sent to Africa to weather the storm of her latest scandal. There she meets Ryder White, a local legend for more reasons than one—and the perfect man to teach her about the continent he loves. Ryder was introduced to readers in the digital prequel novella Far in the Wilds (March 2013).

 I am thrilled that 2014 will see another 1920s release, City of Jasmine (May 2014), and I am hard at work on my next project in my little pink study in Virginia with a doodle draped over my feet as I write.
You can find me blogging a few days a week at Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter, check out my contests and book trailer videos, and find me on Twitter and Facebook.

My thoughts…
Truly a mesmerizing journey from cover to cover.   A Spear of Summer Grass was more than a novel; it was a gift that touched my very soul.  I had no idea when I began the adventure that Deanna Raybourn had planned so many twists and turns, half starts and reversals, but oh she did and I am the much better for it!

A Spear of Summer Grass isn't just a novel.  Rather it is an exceptionally rich interweaving of many characters and plot lines that each dare to drag you in another direction at the beginning of each chapter and just when you have your bearings the story knocks you over again.  The story is so full and the narrative so rich I daresay there is something in the pages of A Spear of Summer Grass for everyone.  
For this reader, this novel sings the song of a continent near and dear to my heart, Africa.  I discovered African history as an undergraduate and remember leaving every lecture in awe of the rich history that had been denied to be until that point.  It always seemed so tragic to me that most students wouldn’t have the chance to learn about the Africa that I was coming to know and love.  Therefore, I was almost knocked off my feet when Raybourn’s novel led me back to one of my favorite regions of Africa, the Horn, to the land now known as Kenya. 

Having never read a novel based in colonial Africa I was filled with eagerness with a touch of anxiety, but truly my anxiety was misplaced.  Raybourn provides her reader with a true portrait of Kenya and Africa, a land rich so rich in history and natural beauty inhabited by a culturally diverse population of a myriad of tribes and clans that it seems overwhelming, but truly Raybourn has succeeded in giving her reader the essence of Africa.  I felt every tingle of delight, every twitch of fear, could almost smell the animals and hear the wind on the savannah.  A Spear of Summer Grass is a truly wonderful contribution to historical fiction and a wonderful gift to Africa herself.

I raise another metaphorical toast to Raybourn for giving me the pleasure of Delilah Drummond’s company.  Oh, again this character, just truly spoke to me.  I felt a bit of a kindred spirit to Delilah and couldn’t help but laugh when she reminded me of myself, but did she surprise me?  Yes, most certainly and I am so very glad she did. 

Needless to say I recommend A Spear of Summer Grass without a moment’s hesitation and would add that if you don’t find it at least a tenth as superb as I have described you might want to check your pulse.

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received a free trade paperback edition of this book from the author and France Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I was in no way compensated for this post, and the thoughts are my own.


Monday, July 8
Review + Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 9
Interview+ Giveaway at Words And Peace

Wednesday, July 10
Giveaway at Vvb32 Reads

Thursday, July 11

Friday, July 12
Review + Giveaway at

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