Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review & Giveaway: The Spirit of Grace (Sarah Bennett Mysteries #1) by Terry Lynn Thomas

Sarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House, despite allegedly witnessing the fatal fall.

There was talk of foul play, dark whispers, and sidelong glances, all aimed at Sarah, prompting her family to send her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco, under a cloud of suspicion.

 Now, on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder, Sarah has been summoned home. Convinced of her innocence, she returns to Bennett House, hoping to put the broken pieces of her life back together.

But when another murder occurs shortly after her arrival, Sarah once again finds herself a suspect, as she is drawn into a web of suspicion and lies.

 In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died.

But as she works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.

 Kindle Edition, 274 pages
 Published November 26th 2017
*** 1/2

The first book in the Sarah Bennett Mysteries Series is also my first experience with Terry Lynn Thomas.

The Spirit of Grace takes place during WW2 and while I didn’t exactly get that feeling it was an enjoyable read, which I still place as a historical mystery. It’s a book full of both flawed and mysterious characters, sprinkled with ghosty sightings and a touch of romance.

Was it predictable? Not to me, there was enough going on that kept me guessing. It’s a fast-paced book which for some reason just makes me read all the faster (also I needed to know what was going on) and concluded with a satisfactory ending.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf.


TERRY LYNN THOMAS grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

 Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. The Drowned Woman is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, came out in April 2018 and has since become a USA TODAY bestseller. The Family Secret is slated for release in March 2019.

When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away one eBook of each title in the Sarah Bennett Mysteries series!

To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
 Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 Giveaway is open to the US only.
 Only one entry per household.
The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Sarah Bennett

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

 Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unraveling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

 It was everything.

 She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Kindle,  384 pages
Published August 6th 2019
by Simon & Schuster

I will freely admit to getting caught up in the hype for this book. Simon & Schuster graciously provided me with an ARC and I jumped in. I've never read anything by Ruth Ware before.

The book pretty well starts on a high with some letter writing, but it seems to go on and on, I honestly was afraid that would be the format for the whole book. Not that I have anything against this format, when done correctly it can be great.  But here it didn't exactly work for me and  I know I am going against the consensus with my thoughts.

I have a habit of not reading the blurb or forgetting some of the details when I get around to reading something, in this case it might have backfired. The death of a child is a touchy subject for me and I might have shied away from this one. But I persevered and after 10% I couldn’t get into the writing style. I like first-person POV’s but feel sometimes that lends itself perfectly in audiobook format. So that’s what I did, I bailed and grabbed the audio from Scribd.

I’m glad I went that route just for the simple fact that once I was invested I needed to know what was going on.  The audio was perfect in that I could finish it off faster and know what happened to put myself out of my misery, so to speak.  So kudos to the author for evoking that feeling in me. I had to suspend my belief too many times and that might have left a bad taste.  I found this book to be rather creepy and actually disturbing.  There is so much build-up and the ending was, disappointing. Oh, I get cliff hangers and all that but I didn't get the closure I craved and honestly needed. It almost felt like the author either had a deadline or word count to adhere to and wham it's done!

 All in all, it was an ok read, I'll probably try another Ware book sometime in the future.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster (via Netgalley) for an ARC.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Audio Review: Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world.

 Do we change or does the world change us?

 Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

 Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

 But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

 In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

 Audiobook Published
16 hours, 45 minutes
June 11th, 2019
 by Simon Schuster Audio
*** 1/2

This is my first time reading anything by Jennifer Weiner, it’s another book where all the hype had me intrigued and honestly there is nothing like discovering new authors.

This was an audio read for me and I’m glad I went that route. The reader was Ari Graynor and Beth Malone, both of which did a great job.

I will admit to struggling at times with this book. I found parts slow with scenes I didn't feel added to the story but that being said the author placed me right in the ‘50 and ’60s, from the music, prejudices and women’s roles I’ll say she nailed it. I grew up, well sorta, in the ’60s and remember the music, tv shows and hippie clothing. It was great revisiting that, but to me it could have been shortened, my opinion only as I seem to be in the minority here.

“When your mom and I were your age, there weren't a lot of options for girls. Like, you know how your mother's always telling you that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up? That wasn't what we heard. Men could be doctors or lawyers. We were just supposed to marry them.” 

What I loved about this book was the message it reflected and how it spoke to me (and hopefully lots of other women).

“She loved [her daughters]. More than that, she admired them. They would be better than she was: stronger and smarter, more capable and less afraid, and if the world displeased them, they would change it, cracking it open, reshaping it, instead of bending themselves to its demands.”

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review: The Secret Hours (Deverill Chronicles #4) by Santa Montefiore

‘Let the wind take me and the soft rain settle me into the Irish soil from where I came. And may my sins be forgiven.’

 Arethusa Clayton has always been formidable, used to getting her own way. On her death, she leaves unexpected instructions.

 Instead of being buried in America, on the wealthy East Coast where she and her late husband raised their two children, Arethusa has decreed that her ashes be scattered in a remote corner of Ireland, on the hills overlooking the sea.

 All Arethusa ever told Faye was that she grew up in a poor farming family and left Ireland, alone, to start a new life in America as did so many in those times of hardship and famine. But who were her family in Ireland and where are they now? What was the real reason that she turned away from them? And who is the mysterious benefactor of a significant share of Arethusa’s estate?

 Arethusa is gone. There is no one left to tell her story. Faye feels bereft as if her mother’s whole family has died with her. Leaving her own husband and children behind, she travels to the picturesque village of Ballinakelly, determined to fulfil her mother’s last wish and to find out the reason for Arethusa’s insistence on being laid to rest in this faraway land.

Hardcover, 487 pages 
Published July 11th, 2019 
by Simon and Schuster UK Fiction
*** 1/2

Ever since reading (or audiobooking) the Deverill Chronicles Santa Montefiore has been a go-to author for me.  Imagine my surprise when I starting reading this and old friends showed up - I didn't read the blurb but just dove in.  

Coming in at 487 pages it's a fair size (as are the previous 3 books)  I'll confess to struggling with the first 100 pages or so.  The book started great, some mystery and intrigue right away but it seemed flat and it was hard to stay invested. Some parts I found unnecessary but over time it picked up as the past was slowly revealed.  

Since its been a few years when I finished off book 3 I think a little family tree would have been a great addition, though the author did refresh past plotlines for me.  Faye was an interesting character whose life in the 1960s is summed up here reflecting the time.

"I wish I had had her capacity for pleasure.  But I've always been too concerned with making everyone else happy that I've missed out on my own fun.  I've never put myself first.  But it's not too late.  Here I am, alone in Ireland, with only myself to think about.  I'm going to be selfish for the first time in my life.  I'm going to do as I please.  I'm going to be more like Mom."

You don't have to read the previous books, The Secret Hours works well as a standalone, but I recommend going back it's a great series.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Review: Hour Glass: A Novel of Calamity Jane by Michelle Rene

Set in the lawless town of Deadwood, South Dakota, Hour Glass shares an intimate look at the woman behind the legend of Calamity Jane told through the eyes of twelve-year-old Jimmy Glass.

 After their pa falls deathly ill with smallpox, Jimmy and his sister, Hour, travel into Deadwood to seek help. While their pa is in quarantine, the two form unbreakable bonds with the surrogate family that emerges from the tragedy of loss.

 In a place where life is fragile and families are ripped apart by disease, death, and desperation, a surprising collection of Deadwood’s inhabitants surround Jimmy, Hour, and Jane. There, in the most unexpected of places, they find a family protecting them from the uncertainty and chaos that surrounds them all.

 Paperback, 302 pages
 Published February 20th, 2018
 by Amberjack Publishing
*** 1/2

A chapter of Calamity Jane’s life is showcased here and if anything it has piqued my desire to know more about her. Told from the POV of a 30-year-old Jimmy Glass as well as a 12-year-old. It was an interesting read, gritty at times but heartfelt. I could say this was a coming of age story but with the language, it wouldn't be appropriate for the middle age reader.

I would have loved some author notes just to know what was fictionalized, but I did receive an ARC, hopefully, the final copy contained them.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for a e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Spotlight: Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes

Expected publication: September 5th 2019
 by Oneworld Publications

In each walk, a scene. In each journey, a story. To tread any well-travelled path is to step upon layers of history and to add to them. What was seen by yesterday's rambler? Who were they? What was their Britain?

 Peter Fiennes follows in the footsteps of writers, spiritualists, economists, farmers, churchmen and artists, from the eleventh century to the twentieth. Traversing past and present, he searches for signs of what his absent guides once saw and, through their words, opens up a new way of seeing what is there today. Footnotes is full of wonders and wanders, old stories and fresh connections, worn roads and wild places. It is a mesmerising quest to picture these isles anew.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

 Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

 Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

 Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.

 Hardcover, 464 pages
Published December 4th, 2018
 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

I vaguely remember reading Diane Setterfield’s previous book Bellman & Black and will confess to not being overly impressed with the plot but I found her writing captivating. Once I started reading this book I was engrossed with her writing once again. Once Upon a River begins with a scene that dragged this reader right in and as the chapters flowed with different characters I was just drawn in all the more.

Once Upon a River has a folklore feel with exquisite writing that at times I had to stop and reread, it was magically - I didn’t want it to end. The author placed me by the river, in the Swan, walking the streets giving me a real sense of the place.

Who is this young girl? How did she survive that night? With twists and turns, unique characters and storylines that fit together perfectly, reminding me of a jigsaw puzzle - everything clicked perfectly. It came to a conclusion that I did not anticipate.

Basically, the last paragraph of the synopsis sums up exactly what I want to say.  If you haven't read this yet don't wait 6 months like I did.  Definitely made my best of 2019 list.

My copy from personal library and part of my ‘2019 reading off my shelf’ challenge.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Review: Tidelands (The Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory


 England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . .

 Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.

 Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead, she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.

Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbors. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.

Paperback, 448 pages
 Published August 20th, 2019
 by Simon & Schuster

Philippa Gregory ‘s The Other Boleyn Girl is what made me fall in love with historical fiction. I continued reading parts of her Tudor Series and The White Queen series but over time her style changed and I missed the depth and writing style that kept me glued to the pages. With this new series coming I was a little nervous to start but seeing the 400 plus pages and in an era I am unfamiliar with I was ready to give her another go.

The first 30 pages of Tidelands gave me a vivid picture of the tidelands, the marsh, the paths, and tides. By the time I got through 120 pages, I seriously wondered what the point was, nothing was happening and I was ready to call it quits - I was bored, I couldn’t find the plot and honestly none of the characters spoke to me.

Simon & Schuster graciously provided me with an ARC and I wanted to review before publication date (which was 3 days ago). Given that it took me 2 weeks to plow through 120 pages I was in trouble. I had some driving to do and thought to grab the audiobook (via Scribd) and see if that would help. Whether it was a coincidence that the story actually picked up or the reader added that missing spark I finally was invested. With a day full of appointments I alternated between reading and listening and finished this book off lickety-split. It turned into an interesting story and being the first in series the ending was fitting, opening the door to the next chapter.

With the King Charles/Cromwell conflict England is changing.  Like i said before I don't know the history of this conflict and reading Tidelands has peaked my interest.  Being a woman on your own is hard enough but add suspicious neighbors, gossip run amok and a missing husband Alinor has her hands full. By the end i came to connect with Alinor and her kids, I’m anxious to read what happens next.

There were no author notes in my copy and I missed that. I would have loved to know if Sealsea is a real place as well as the characters.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for an ARC in exchange for honest review

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review: The Pink Bonnet: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime (True Colors) by Liz Tolsma

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child.

Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

 Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

 How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

Kindle, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2019
by Barbour Books 

This is the 2nd book in the Historical Stories of American Crime series, each book is a stand-alone. I liked the premise for both this series and this book. Georgia Tann was an unknown to me and what she deliberately did has left me somewhat speechless (author notes at the end were informative).

Liz Tolsa is not a new author for me, it was nice to get reacquainted with her writing again. This book is a little shorter than her usual fare and given the subject I think it was the right fit. Any longer would have dragged this story out and I don’t think my emotional side could have handled it. I’ll say this book is not for the faint of heart, there is a strong subject matter of abuse here and at times hard for me to read.

I struggled to connect with the players here, well except Millie - I loved her. I didn’t feel the emotions that this story warranted and seeing reviews it would appear the issue is me.

Though the ending was somewhat predictable I struggled with some unresolved plot points, without giving too much of the story I needed some closure and felt a little cheated - but based on history it couldn't really be changed.

The Pink Bonnet is a story of a mother’s determination, it’s a dark period in history that will stay with me for a long time.  Not one of my best reviews, but seriously I needed to get this written and move on to something cheerful and try to put this out of my mind.

Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Cover Reveal: Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: January 16, 2020
Endeavor Quill
Genre: Historical Fiction

 The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground. But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer at the Moonrise Bookstore where she works voluntarily, than keeping up appearances with Brooklyn socialites and her snobbish, controlling family. But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy more of the freedom she has been longing for. For one, she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of. Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.s It is up to Peggy to overcome the oppression of her family and clear the name of her vulnerable lover, before she or her beloved sister become the next victims of Dreamland. Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

About the Author

"Dreamland" is Nancy Bilyeau's fifth novel of historical suspense. She is the author of the best-selling historical thriller “The Blue” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry,” on sale in nine countries. Nancy is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada. She studied History and English Literature at the University of Michigan. After moving to New York City, she worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributing writer to “Town & Country" and "Mystery Scene Magazine." Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in Forest Hills in the borough of Queens. "Dreamland" is her first novel set in her adopted hometown of New York City.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Review: A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird

A thoughtful, uplifting and magical story of childhood, family and finding ways to change the inevitable . . .

Meet Willa Waters, aged 8 . . . 33 . . . and 93.

On one impossible day in 1965,

eight-year-old Willa Waters receives a mysterious box containing a jar of water and the instruction: 'One ocean: plant in the backyard.' So she does - and somehow creates an extraordinary time-slip that allows her to visit her future selves.

On one impossible day in 1990,

Willa is 33 and a mother-of-two when her childhood self magically appears in her backyard.

But she's also a woman haunted by memories of her dark past - and is on the brink of a decision that will have tragic repercussions . . .

On one impossible day in 2050,

 Willa is a silver-haired, gumboot-loving 93-year-old whose memory is fading fast. Yet she knows there's something she has to remember, a warning she must give her past selves about a terrible event in 1990 . . . If only she could recall what it was.

Can the three Willas come together, to heal their past and save their future . . . before it's too late?

 Paperback, 395 pages
Published June 4th 2019
by Viking

I think it was on Instagram that I spotted this yummy cover. I was further peeked as a debut from Australia author Tabitha Bird, the synopsis just clinched it for me. Three different time periods with the same characters at different stages in life sounds like a very intricate plot but taking it another step is timeslip - can it be done? Of course, it can be done, but in an appealing manner to capture and keep this reader’s attention and hold it?

There is 8-year-old Willa, 33-year-old Willa, and 93-year-old Willa. There are gumboots, jam drops and an ocean to plant. I loved each stage of Willa’s life, they were heartbreaking and so well written, I cared for each of the Willa’s,  what they were going through and the mysterious element of what was to come.

It did take a bit for the story to really take off but the author laid a strong foundation for a story that kept me captivated. A Lifetime of Impossible Days is a story of strength, hurts, heartbreaking at the same time as being comical and magical. There are risks, guilt and mature subject matters that made this a unique story and one I highly recommend.

This book is part of my '2019 reading off my shelf' challenge.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Review: Fled by Meg Keneally

Based on the life of an incredible historical heroine, a harrowing journey in search of love, justice, and freedom, told by the daughter of best-selling author Thomas Keneally (Schindler's List)

 Jenny Gwyn has proven herself a survivor. Faced with destitution after the death of her father, she toughens her skin to become a highwaywoman in order to support her impoverished family. But one fatal mistake leads to her arrest, and the king’s justice demands her death. Rather than beg for mercy, Jenny condemns the system that would have her choose between obeying the law and dying, and breaking it for a chance to live. Her ferocity convinces the judge to spare her life, sentencing her and dozens of other convicts to a transport across the world to help settle England's newest colony in Australia.

 After being contained on a filthy ship and selling her body for protection, Jenny is horrified to learn that her struggles have only just begun. The harsh landscape of Sydney Cove isn't welcoming to its new settlers with its arid climate and precious little fresh water, and despite the lack of shackles or bars, she and the others are still prisoners under the strict watch of Governor Edward Lockharty, and no amount of cunning can earn his favor. Jenny refuses to submit to the governor or to the barren land unable to support the growing population. Determined to find a better life for herself and her children, she braves the sea, and a journey of over three thousand miles in a small rowboat, for a chance at a future worth fighting for.

 Based on the true story of Mary Bryant, an iconic figure in the foundation lore of Australia as Great Britain's penal colony, Fled is a sweeping, heart-wrenching account of one woman's life-long search for freedom.

Kindle, 408 pages
 Published July 9th, 2019
 by Arcade

I love reading about real historical figures that are off the beaten path but should be well known. Figures who defy the odds and lead extraordinary lives. Mary Bryant is one such person and her story is told as one Jenny Trelawney beginning in 1783. Through a series of circumstances, she is sent to the penal colony in Australia. The synopsis above tells so much of what this story entails (maybe a little too much imho) so no need to go over that.

I enjoyed this book, though I was a little familiar with settlements of this nature in Australia it’s always nice to read from different perspectives. This is the author’s debut and her knowledge of the time is evident. Life is hard enough in the late 18th century and harder still when a husband/father dies leaving the family to struggle just to survive.

From Cornwall to Sydney Cove and other places Fled is a journey that tests a woman’s resolve. It’s a story right from the pages of history full of strength, determination, and heartache. The author notes provide detail of what and who are real along with other interesting facts. Fled is a book I recommend especially to those that want some a little different in historical fiction.

I was provided an e-arc from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller

Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages
Series: The Long - Hair Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

AD 454.

Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic's farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria's insistence, but against Garic's better judgment, they leave at once. 

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object--Christ's Crown of Thorns--rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain.

 But an even greater force arises to derail their quest--a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria's thoughts. Arria and Garic's marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history's most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life. She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago. On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller's website.

You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 1 paperback and 2 eBook copies of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. Ebooks are available for international entries. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Crown of Thorns - Tour #3

Spotlight: The Fire of Winter by D.K. Marley

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.
“...a woman's story at a winter's fire...” (Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)

“This beautifully written reworking of the Macbeth tale told from Lady Macbeth’s point-of-view flows from the page and you quickly become immersed in the politics and intrigues of feudal Scotland as she fights for her rightful place and her true love! A mesmerizing read that grips from start to finish and Gruah is now one of my all-time favorite literary crushes. “ - Iain Leonard, ARC Reviewer
“Brilliantly conceived and beautifully written, The Fire of Winter is a tale not to be missed by lovers of Shakespeare, lovers of history, or lovers of the written word.” - Riana Everly, Author of Teaching Eliza and Through a Different Lens

Publication Date: June 1, 2019
eBook; 355 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Amazon | IndieBound


D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare's plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel "Blood and Ink," an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio. She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop "The Writer's Retreat Workshop" founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

 For more information, please visit D.K. Marley's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away copies of The Fire of Winter + a surprise gift to three lucky winners! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. The Fire of Winter

Monday, August 12, 2019

Review: The Grave Digger by Rebecca Bischoff

In 1875 Ohio, twelve-year-old Cap Cooper is an aspiring inventor—and a reluctant graverobber—enlisted by his father to help pay for his mother’s medical expenses.

When one of the dead returns to life at his touch, Cap unearths a world of dark secrets that someone at the local medical school wants to keep buried. On the brink of discovery, he’ll have to use every ounce of cunning he has to protect those he loves most and save his own skin.

 The Grave Digger is an eerie mystery set in the aftermath of the Civil War, filled with action, friendship, and a hint of the paranormal, perfect for those who enjoy reading late into the night and long after the lights go out.

Kindle, 192 pages
Expected publication: October 29th 2019
by Amberjack Publishing

I loved the synopsis for The Grave Digger. It’s historical - nothing like going back in time to read about the past. It’s a ghostly, creepy story that should give goosebumps and make for a compulsive read. It's middle grade which is one of my favorites - there can still be the depth of both character and plot.

A father and son duo who happens to be grave robbers at night sets in motion something supernatural while at the same time become involved in a mystery.

With so many 4& 5-star reviews I seriously wonder what I missed. It’s not that I disliked this book, I enjoyed it but feel there could have been more to the characters because I struggled to connect and feel any empathy for the lot of them. There was a lot of things going on here and at times I wondered about there a place in the whole scheme of things, some were more of a distraction and interrupted the flow.

For the mindset of the targeted age, I think it will work well but for this adult, it’s a 3 star for me.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Excerpt & Giveaway: A Conspiracy of Wolves by Candace Robb

When a prominent citizen is murdered, former Captain of the Guard Owen Archer is persuaded out of retirement to investigate in this gripping medieval mystery.

 1374. When a member of one of York’s most prominent families is found dead in the woods, his throat torn out, rumours spread like wildfire that wolves are running loose throughout the city. Persuaded to investigate by the victim’s father, Owen Archer is convinced that a human killer is responsible. But before he can gather sufficient evidence to prove his case, a second body is discovered, stabbed to death. Is there a connection? What secrets are contained within the victim’s household? And what does apprentice healer Alisoun know that she’s not telling? 

Teaming up with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward, Owen’s enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy.

Publication Date: August 1, 2019
Severn House/Crème de la Crime
Hardcover & eBook; 256 Pages
Series: Owen Archer, Book 11
Genre: Historical Mystery


For a while they had traveled behind a group of players who serenaded them with songs and japes, a felicitous arrangement, though he hoped that his eight-year-old daughter Gwenllian would forget the bawdier lyrics. Now that the players had moved on, the monotonous rattle of the cart and horses was punctured occasion¬ally by sounds of reapers and gleaners in the fields, though not as many as on their journey to Freythorpe. Harvest was almost over. Adding to the monotony, his companion droned on and on about something – Owen had stopped listening to Geoffrey a while back. Chaucer was shaping one of his poems aloud, replete with mythical palaces, gods, fantastical creatures, which might be entertaining but for his pauses to play with language, trying a phrase this way and that. Owen was perhaps to blame, having insisted that Geoffrey not address the mission that had brought him to York until they returned to the city. He’d hoped the man might ride in silence, but he’d know that was too much to ask of the chattering jay.

In her wisdom, Magda Digby might have found a way to delay Geoffrey’s departure. Thou art needed in the city, she had told Owen as they sat beneath an oak the previous evening, drawing down the day. Depart in the morning.

But Lucie . . .

Agrees with Magda. She has readied the children.

How do you know?

Not the question, Bird-eye. She had turned to him, pressing her forefinger to the spot between his eyes. Open thine eyes. Trust thyself. The wolves circle their prey. Thou hast the sight to see what awakens.

He’d questioned the wolves. They came only in winter, the wolves that the steward of the Forest of Galtres swore no longer bided in the land.

What do folk see when they see a wolf, Bird-eye? The animal? Think again. Magda Digby, his guide, his tormentor. In his mourning for John Thoresby, Owen had sought her out, confided in her all that was in his heart. Long she listened, holding his hands, looking into his eye. Open thine eyes, she repeated and corrected him when he argued that he had but one. He did not understand, and she did not explain. Her last words to him on departing Freythorpe, Trust thyself, Bird-eye. Thou art called.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

I’m Candace Robb, a writer/historian engaged in creating fiction about the late middle ages with a large cast of characters with whom I enjoy spending my days. Two series, the Owen Archer mysteries and the Kate Clifford mysteries, are set in late medieval York. The Margaret Kerr trilogy is set in early 14th century Scotland, at the beginning of the Wars of Independence. Two standalone novels (published under pseudonym Emma Campion) expand on the lives of two women in the court of King Edward III who have fascinated me ever since I first encountered them in history and fiction. I am a dreamer. Writing, gardening, walking, dancing, reading, being with friends—there’s always a dreaming element.

Website | Facebook | Twitter  | BookBub


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a Hardcover copy of A Conspiracy of Wolves by Candace Robb! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Conspiracy of Wolves

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

 Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest.

 But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

 Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st, 2017
by Walker Books Australia

I read this book in anticipation the third book in series, Beverly, Right Here coming out next month. Last year I read book 2 in series Louisiana’s Way Home - talk about reading books way out of order. But no big deal each works just fine as a stand-alone. But once you start with one you will want to read more.

As you can read from the synopsis, not just Raymie is on a mission but Louisiana and Beverly as well.  It’s Raymie that I got a clearer picture of this time around. A confused girl who just wants her dad back, to have him show he cares and what better way than to win a contest that will make her famous.

Each of these girls - Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly has a quirky way of thinking, with actions that just confirm it. The journey is comical at times, full of innocence and drive. It’s their ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ attitude that kept me entertained.

I’ve read a number of Kate DiCamillo books, it's her writing style that I have come to love, her way with words that make me smile and characters that are hard to forget.  I recommend her books whenever I get the chance.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

 clicking on the cover will take you to my review

Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

Funny and poignant, You Go First by 2018 Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly is an engaging exploration of family, spelling, art, bullying, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Erin Entrada Kelly’s perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again.

 Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

 Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

The acclaimed author of Blackbird Fly, The Land of Forgotten Girls, and Hello, Universe writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Paperback, 288 pages
 Published April 10th, 2018
 by Greenwillow Books

I was first introduced to Erin Entrada Kelly with her Newberry award-winning book Hello, Universe. I loved her writing, her likable characters, and prose that kept me entertained.

You Go First touches on many relevant social issues - bullying, acceptance, divorce, and health that showed the struggle kids go through and how they dealt with them. With feelings of loneliness, guilt, and fear this book brings these issues to lite. This isn't a doom and gloom read, with the middle-grade reader as its targeted audience this adult found it comical at times, with an authentic plot and entertaining.

I can’t say if all issues are resolved by the end of the book, but then in real life it is a process, it’s the self-discovery and confidence that propels one forward a step at a time.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Review: Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

 In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year-old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail. When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son...especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

 Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

 Kindle Edition, 402 pages
Audiobook 14 hours, 48 minutes
 Published August 29th, 2017
by WaterBrook

This is my first time reading anything by Lori Benton, she is an author that comes highly recommended for her Christian historical fiction with characters and events out of the pages of history.

I went the audio route with this one and would have loved some author notes at the end. Just to know what was historical vs fiction. I am familiar with Logan and the Yellow Creek Massacre which has a background place here. I found the author captures not just the time but characters perfectly, the culture and way of life shows what the Native Americans went through.  Lori Benton's knowledge of this time is evident and shines through in her writing.

Many Sparrows is an emotional read, first the disappearance of her husband and then son one can’t help feeling Clare’s frustration and despair at her plight. I was glad for many dog walks as I was anxious for the outcome.

Lori Benton books are now gracing my TBR pile. I recommend her books to those that are interested in Colonial America and just a great HF to get lost in the pages of.

My audiobook obtained via Scribd

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

 Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

 Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....

Kobo, 323 pages
Published February 5th, 2019
by Celadon Books

As much as I love a good psychological thriller/mystery I will admit to being a hard sell. Is it plausible? Is the ending rushed for the sake of finishing the story off? Are there twists that are unforeseeable and comes out of left field that just doesn’t fit?  The Silent Patient was a whim read for me, it became available at the library (via Overdrive) and was an impulse loan. It was a classic case of the book picking me and I have no regrets at all! I loved it! It fit exactly what I want in a psychological mystery.

Debut novelist Alex Michaelides wove a story that kept me guessing and blindsided me with its ending. I love it when a book does that. The characters are flawed, the plot addicting and the pacing was perfect and really I’m not going to much more.

Just be forewarned this is an addicting read and while I thought my 2 days to finish was fast I’m sure others finished faster.

This is the authors' debut which has me anxious (and a little nervous) for what he has next, I mean The Silent Patient is mighty big boots to top.

As for the cover, not a fan, which might be why this book wasn't really on my radar.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Audio Review: Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves by Farley Mowat

More than a half-century ago the naturalist Farley Mowat was sent to investigate why wolves were killing arctic caribou. Mowat's account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone—studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves (who were of no threat to caribou or man)—is today celebrated as a classic of nature writing, at once a tale of remarkable adventures and indelible record of myths and magic of wolves.

 Paperback, 176 pages
Audiobook, 4 hours 51 minutes
 Published by Dell (first published 1963)

A recent road trip had hubby and I listening to what he considers a classic.  I'm not really sure if this is classified as fiction, non-fiction, whether its kid lit or what?  Written to give the impression the author went through this experience himself lends itself to non-fiction.  The beginning part came across as kid lit, it was funny, adventurous and entertaining.  However, the end part got serious and for kids could be upsetting.

All in all, I found the audio quite nice to listen to and wish that more of Farley Mowat books were available in that format.

Audiobook via Scribd and part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Review: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.

 Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

 She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.

Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 30th 2019
by Bethany House Publishers

Whose Waves Are These is an intricately woven story that was pictorial with a quaint setting and an interesting cast of characters.

Spanning many decades this book was written in dual time periods that had me captivated with both of them equally, and I’ll admit that isn’t always the case as I usually prefer one over the other.

This is the author’s debut and I was blown away when I found that out. She has a style that had me mesmerized with her attention to detail, everything fit into place and was there for a reason. The story of the rocks was unique and as everything began to click together it just made me love this book all the more. The characters were real and the plot emotional as the war leaves its mark on this little place called Ansel-by-The-Sea.

Whose Waves These Are is not just a story of secrets, heartache, and guilt, but also of forgiveness, hope, and healing. It's an emotional story that had me waiting a day or so before I could begin another book.

I anxiously await more books by Amanda Dykes and highly recommend this one.

Not only is this book part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge but also my best of 2019 list.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

 Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

 The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

 Paperback, 308 pages
Published May 7th 2019
by Sourcebooks Landmark
**** 1/2

My first novel by Kim Michelle Richardson was a revealing discovery in a part of history that is new to me. With a name like Troublesome Creek I honestly thought it was made up but low and behold it is a real place in the state of Kentucky. The year is 1936 and for most of this book, it honestly felt like the 1800s. The atmosphere was primitive and really showed a struggle for survival.

Between the Pack Horse Library Project (thanks to Roosevelt) and people that are actually blue, I was drawn right into this story with its unknown pieces of history. Cussy was a gutsy gal with her determination and drive to deliver books on time and connect with those she came in contact with on her trusty mule, Junia. Yes even Junia was a wonderfully player in this book. She isn’t much welcomed in town because the color blue is still not white, she is still colored and acceptance is impossible.

There are many layers to this slow-paced story and yes sometimes a slow-paced book is a great read. My first time reading Richardson and I loved her style. Her character development was spot on as was the setting. I mean I was nervous as Cussy rode mile after mile alone in the bush which is where Junia the mule shines through.

Her job as a librarian kept her going, her love of books was infectious. To read how the joys of a new book brought such happiness to people in the bleakest of situations confirmed Cussy of the importance of her job. But it was more than a job for Cussy, it was her life and I felt she would have done it whether paid or not, it was the people that kept her going.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is an emotional story, to know Cussy and see how she was treated was hard to read about. There were other aspects of this book that brought the era to life.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Review: On a Summer Tide (Three Sisters Island #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sometimes love hurts--and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

 Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. "Moving on" is Cam's mantra. But there's a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

 Cam's full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island--a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam's surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals--and one in particular. Sam Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

 With On a Summer Tide, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a brand-new contemporary romance series that is sure to delight her fans and draw new ones.

 Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 30th, 2019
by Fleming H. Revell Company

This is the perfect beach read! An island off the coast of Maine plays central to the start of this series.

I can say now that Suzanne Woods Fisher is not a new author to me, I’ve read a number of her books and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. I didn’t realize this was the start of a new series and by the end of this book, I knew I wanted more. The island of Niswi Nummissis is Algonquian for Three Sisters and an impulse purchase for Paul convinces his daughter that he is losing it. Of course they come to the rescue and so begins the story.

I love the author's writing style, she placed me in the setting, gave me a wonderful tour of the island, I was introduced to wild and wacky characters along the way and now wish to stay a week or so at Camp Kicking Moose.

I have a feeling that each book will pertain to a different daughter and this time around it’s the oldest, Camden. With snippets to the past, the author showed how she grew to be the woman and mother she is. That being said the island works its magic on all three sisters, it would make a perfect book club read and enlist lots of discussion.

Some might find it a little predictable but there were a couple twists and turns I didn’t anticipate and the journey was nice.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.