Book Review: Death at Crookham Hall, by Michelle Salter

Death at Crookham Hall

 

 

About the book, Death at Crookham Hall Michelle Salter BOOK ONE EBOOK FINAL

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (January 18, 2023)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 18, 2023
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Print Length: 319 Pages

A fatal jump. A missing suffragette. An inexplicable murder.

London, 1920. When she catches news of a big story, reporter Iris Woodmore rushes to the House of Commons. But it’s a place that holds painful memories. In 1914, her mother died there when she fell into the River Thames during a daring suffragette protest. But in the shadow of Big Ben, a waterman tells Iris her mother didn’t fall – she jumped.

Iris discovers that the suffragette with her mother that fateful day has been missing for years, disappearing just after the protest. Desperate to know the truth behind the fatal jump, Iris’s investigation leads her to Crookham Hall, an ancestral home where secrets and lies lead to murder…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Michelle Salter Michelle Salter Photo

Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in northeast Hampshire. Many local locations appear in her mystery novels. She’s also a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities.

Connect with Michelle:

Website | Bookbub | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A Bartell

I love a good mystery, and I love a good period mystery even more, and if there’s a feminist theme running through it so much the better. Death at Crookham Hall is all three of these, and I enjoyed the author’s crisp prose and 1920s London setting very much. As an American, my only real reference to the women’s suffrage movement in England is limited to fictional media like Mary Poppins and Downton Abbey, so I can’t speak to whether the history depicted was accurate, but the emotional truths of the story rang true.

This book is marketed as the first Iris Woodmore mystery. Like many protagonists in cozy mysteries, Iris plays amateur detective throughout the novel, but it’s a conceit of the genre, and far more plausible for a journalist covering politics than, say, a cafe owner or bookseller (referencing two of my favorite contemporary cozy series). I liked that we saw her on the job first, and diving into the mystery – one with very personal connections, as it revolved around the apparent suicide of her own mother several years before.

I really appreciated that the titual Crookham Hall was almost a character in its own right, as old buildings tend to be, especially when they serve as a focal point for a story. Author Michelle Salter’s eye for details really sang in the descriptions of this and other locations. At one point I had to remind myself that smoking was common behavior in the 1920s, and that even today Europeans smoke far more than Americans seems to. (At least in my experience.)

I also liked that we got a glimpse into what it was like to be one of those trailblazing women who were among the first in Parliament. Specifically, the commentary about how what they wore often got more attention than that they said really struck me. (Sadly, the way media portrays women in politics has not changed appreciably in either of our countries since then. )

Part mystery, part courtroom drama, part period study, part cultural commentary, this novel was a rich and rewarding read. I hope to follow Iris Woodmore as her life and career develop. I’ll definitely read more of Michelle Salter’s work.

Goes well with: a glass of perfectly chilled champagne.


Visit All of the Great Blogs on This Tour

Death at Crookham Hall Full Tour Banner

 

 

Multi-Book Spotlight with Giveaway – 3 Novels by Joanne Kukanza Easley

Banner: Three by Easley

 

Three Novels by Joanne Easley

SWEET JANE, JUST ONE LOOK, & I’LL BE SEEING YOU

Scroll down for Giveaway

 

About the book Sweet Jane Cover - Sweet Jane

  • Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Red Boots Press
  • Pages: 279 pages
  • Publication Date: September 17, 2022

Joanne Kukanza Easley’s debut novel

  • 2019 Wisdom-Faulkner Award finalist
  • 2020 Adult Fiction winner Texas Author Project
  • 2020 Sarton Award Finalist
  • 2020 Eric Hoffer Award Short List

A drunken mother makes childhood ugly. Jane runs away at sixteen, determined to leave her fraught upbringing in the rearview. Vowing never to return, she hitchhikes to California, right on time for the Summer of Love. Seventeen years later, she looks good on paper: married, grad school, sober, but her carefully constructed life is crumbling. When Mama dies, Jane returns for the funeral, leaving her husband in the dark about her history. Seeing her childhood home and significant people from her youth catapults Jane back to the events that made her the woman she is. She faces down her past and the ghosts that shaped her family. A stunning discovery helps Jane see her problems through a new lens.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Kobo | Goodreads


About the book Just One Look Cover - Just One Look

  • Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Red Boots Press
  • Pages: 293 pages
  • Publication Date: September 17, 2022
  • May 2022 Pulpwood Queen Book Club Pick
  • Shelf Unbound 2021 Notable 100 Best Indie Books
  • Recommended by the US Review of Books

In 1965 Chicago, thirteen-year-old Dani Marek declares she’s in love, and you best believe it. This is no crush, and for six blissful years she fills her hope chest with linens, dinnerware, and dreams of an idyllic future with John. When he is killed in action in Viet Nam, Dani’s world shatters. She launches a one-woman vendetta against the men she seeks out in Rush Street’s singles bars. Her goal: break as many hearts as she can. Dani’s ill-conceived vengeance leads her to a loveless marriage that ends in tragedy. At twenty-four, she’s left a widow with a baby, a small fortune, and a ghost—make that two. Set in the turbulent Sixties and Seventies, Just One Look explores one woman’s tumultuous journey through grief, denial, and letting go.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Kobo | Goodreads


About the book I’ll Be Seeing You Cover - I'll Be Seeing You

  • Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Addiction & Recovery / Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Red Boots Press
  • Pages: 227 pages
  • Publication Date: August 28, 2022

The new release from Joanne Kukanza Easley, the multi-award-winning author of Sweet Jane and Just One Look

A saga spanning five decades, I’ll Be Seeing You, explores one woman’s life, with and without alcohol to numb the pain.

Young Lauren knows she doesn’t want to be a ranch wife in Palo Pinto County, Texas. After she’s discovered by a modeling scout at the 1940 Fort Worth Stock Show Parade, she moves to Manhattan to begin her glamourous career. A setback ends her dream, and she drifts into alcohol dependence and promiscuity. By twenty-four, she’s been widowed and divorced, and has developed a pattern of fleeing her problems with geographical cures. Lauren’s last escape lands her in Austin, where, after ten chaotic years, she achieves lasting sobriety and starts a successful business, but happiness eludes her.

Fast forward to 1985. With a history of burning bridges and never looking back, Lauren is stunned when Brett, her third husband, resurfaces, wanting to reconcile after thirty-three years. The losses and regrets of the past engulf her, and she seeks the counsel of Jane, a long-time friend from AA. In the end, the choice is Lauren’s. What will she decide?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Kobo | Goodreads


About the author, Joanne Kukanza Easley Author Photo Easley

A retired registered nurse with experience in both the cold, clinical operating room and the emotionally fraught world of psychiatric hospitals, Joanne lives on a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes fiction about complicated, twentieth-century women.

Her multi-award-winning debut, Sweet Jane, was named the adult fiction winner at the Texas Author Project and shortlisted for the Sarton Award and Eric Hoffer Award, among others. Just One Look, Joanne’s second novel was a May 2022 Pulpwood Queen Book Club Pick. I’ll Be Seeing You, her third novel, features characters from Sweet Jane. Her prize-winning short stories and poetry have appeared in several anthologies.

Connect with Joanne:

Website | Amazon | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS!

Each receives an eBook of

SWEET JANE or

JUST ONE LOOK or

I’LL BE SEEING YOU

(U.S. only; ends midnight, CDT, 11/17/22.)

 

Giveaway Easley Blitz

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 


Check Out the Other Participants on This Tour

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR PARTICIPATING BLOGS.

 

 

LoneStarLitLife

blog tour services provided by

LoneStarBookBlogTours sm

Review: An Open Door, by Anne Leigh Parrish

An Open DoorAbout the book, An Open Door

  • Paperback: 270 Pages
  • Publisher: Unsolicited Press (October 4, 2022)

It’s 1948 and the freedom granted women by the Second World War is gone. Edith Sloan, earning her doctorate, is told by her law student husband to cancel her academic plans. His bright future requires a certain kind of wife: one in the kitchen making dinner for important guests. Frustrated and defiant, Edith leaves him but returns when his begging letters become too much. Trapped by marriage and her husband’s ambition, Edith struggles to find her footing and the means to her own survival.

Purchase and discussion links for this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Anne Leigh ParrishAbout the author, Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish lives in a forest in the South Sound Region of Washington State. She is the author of the moon won’t be dared; a winter night; what nell dreams; maggie’s ruse; the amendment; women within; by the wayside; what is found, what is lost; our love could light the world; and all the roads that lead from home.

Connect with Anne:

Find her online at anneleighparrish.com.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I haven’t read an Anne Leigh Parrish book since I read By the Wayside in 2017, I’ve been reading a lot of novels set during World War II, lately so the first thing that I really appreciated about Anne Leigh Parrish’s most recent novel, An Open Door, is that it’s set in 1948 – after the war but before the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. This is a period that isn’t tackled a lot in fiction, and it should be, because it’s such a complex period.

Also complex is the main character of this novel. Edith is another of author Parrish’s strong female characters, and this novel is very much about her awakening. It’s not a coming-of-age story – Edith is an adult when we meet her – but she’s working in a government office, and has a boyfriend studying law at Harvard on the G.I. bill, and, like many young women, she’s caught between what society (and Walter) expect from her, and what she wants for herself.

Parrish’s characters are her strong point. Every one of them is dynamic and dimensional, but what I really loved about this book is that her prose – whether dialogue or description – is very graceful. Fluid, even. At 270 pages, this isn’t particularly short, nor is it overlong, but the language sings on the page, and that made the story really enjoyable. Also brilliant are the little nuances she puts in every scene, making the simple act of turning off a hot plate and forgoing a cup of tea an expression of Edith’s dissatisfaction. “Well-crafted” does not begin to describe this story.

Overall, I feel An Open Door is just that. This novel opens the door, for Edith, and for us as readers,  to feminism, to self-worth, and to what one really desires out of life. I recommend this to anyone who was raised on novels like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which the author has Edith considering in the opening chapter. It’s the perfect blend of social commentary, gentle sarcasm, and a compelling and interesting story.

Goes well with: a standing rib roast, creamed spinach, and potatoes au gratin, which Walter didn’t get to eat.


00-tlc-tour-hostVisit the Other Great Stops on This Tour:

Monday, October 3rd: @spaceonthebookcase

Wednesday, October 5th: BookNAround

Thursday, October 6th: @thebphiles

Monday, October 10th: Girl Who Reads

Tuesday, October 11th: @mom_loves_reading

Wednesday, October 12th: @suzylew_bookreview

Thursday, October 13th: @fashionablyfifty

Monday, October 17th: @lindahamiltonwriter on TikTok

Tuesday, October 18th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, October 19th: @nurse_bookie

Wednesday, October 19th: Books, Cooks, Looks

Thursday, October 20th: @pickagoodbook

Friday, October 21st: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, October 25th: @cmtloveswineandbooks

Wednesday, October 26th: @wovenfromwords

Thursday, October 27th: Run Wright

TBD: Monday, October 3rd: @whatlizziereads

TBD: Thursday, October 20th: @tammyreads62

Review: The Unlikely Spy by Sophie Schiller

About the book, The Unlikely Spy The-Unlikely-Spy_web

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (August 8, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 327 pages

Casablanca meets Notorious in a Hitchcock-style thriller of espionage, romance, adventure, and intrigue.

1917. Emma Christensen is a young widow who returns to the Danish West Indies to reclaim the life and the villa she left behind. When she discovers her husband has disinherited her in favor of his young heir—an illegitimate son—she turns to the one thing she knows, gambling, and soon finds herself deeply in debt.

Emma is approached by Cornelius Smith, a representative of an American shipping line, who offers an alternative: infiltrate the suspicious Hamburg-American Line and spy on its nefarious leader, Julius Luckner, to gain valuable business intelligence for his firm.

It doesn’t take long for Emma to realize that both Smith and Luckner are not as they seem. Close to the Allies but even closer to the enemy, Emma bravely engages in missions that could blow her cover at any moment. But with the Panama Canal at stake, how far will she go to help the Allies?

A gripping and suspenseful World War I spy thriller from an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Sophie Schiller 03_Sophie-Schiller_Author

Sophie Schiller is an author of historical fiction and spy thrillers. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews has called her “an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.” Publishers Weekly called her novel, ISLAND ON FIRE, “a memorable romantic thriller”, her novel RACE TO TIBET, “a thrilling yarn,” and her TRANSFER DAY, “a page-turner with emotional resonance.” Kirkus Reviews called her latest novel, THE LOST DIARY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, “an engaging coming-of-age story of heartbreak, bravery, honor, and triumph.” Her latest novel is THE UNLIKELY SPY, a historical spy thriller set during WWI. She graduated from American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Connect with Sophie:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I love it when we get to see history from the point of view of underrepresented segments of the population, so this novel, The Unlikely Spy, with it’s vividly written lead character, Emma Christensen, Danish, disinherited, and deeply in debt, was right up my alley. I also enjoyed the World War I setting, which tends to be overlooked in favor of World War II stories.  (Incidentally, my grandfather was stationed in Panama during that later war, so a story involving earlier days of the canal was of special interest to me.)

I liked Emma. I liked that she didn’t whine overmuch about her change in circumstances, but took an opportunity when one was offered. I also liked that she was smart enough to realize that neither her boss (Smith) nor his competitor (Luckner) were true to the way they presented themselves in public, and it was her choices that kept me riveted throughout this well plotted story.

The blurb for this book references both Casablanca and Notorious, and those are apt comparisons both in tone and in the cinematic descriptions in this novel. I could easily see it as a PBS mega-production, or even a Merchant-Ivory film (are they even still around???). The story leaps off the page and embeds itself into your imagination, and is never disappointing.

Attention must also be paid to the amazing amount of research author Sophie Schiller obviously did on early twentieth-century shipping company and practices. The level of detail she incorporated gave this story another layer of versimilitude, and I appreciated it immensely.

Bottom line: This is an engaging, well-paced story with a strong female lead.

Goes well with: steamed mussels and a crisp white wine.


Visit the other Great Blogs on this tour

Monday, September 26
Review at Bibliotica

Tuesday, September 27
Review at Dive Into a Good Book

Thursday, September 29
Review at The Page Ladies

Friday, September 30
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 4
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, October 6
Review at Bookworlder

Sunday, October 9
Review & Guest Post at Older & Smarter

Monday, October 10
Review at Coffee & Ink
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read
Review & Excerpt at A Baker’s Perspective

Wednesday, October 12
Review at Novels Alive

Review: The Crimson Thread, by Kate Forsyth

The Crimson Thread Blog Tour

 

About the book, The Crimson ThreadThe Crimson Thread

  • Publication Date: July 5, 2022
  • Blackstone Publishing
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

In Crete during World War II, Alenka, a young woman who fights with the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation, finds herself caught between her traitor of a brother and the man she loves, an undercover agent working for the Allies.

May 1941. German paratroopers launch a blitzkrieg from the air against Crete. They are met with fierce defiance, the Greeks fighting back with daggers, pitchforks, and kitchen knives. During the bloody eleven-day battle, Alenka, a young Greek woman, saves the lives of two Australian soldiers.

Jack and Teddy are childhood friends who joined up together to see the world. Both men fall in love with Alenka. They are forced to retreat with the tattered remains of the Allied forces over the towering White Mountains. Both are among the seven thousand Allied soldiers left behind in the desperate evacuation from Crete’s storm-lashed southern coast. Alenka hides Jack and Teddy at great risk to herself. Her brother Axel is a Nazi sympathiser and collaborator and spies on her movements.

As Crete suffers under the Nazi jackboot, Alenka is drawn into an intense triangle of conflicting emotions with Jack and Teddy. Their friendship suffers under the strain of months of hiding and their rivalry for her love. Together, they join the resistance and fight to free the island, but all three will find themselves tested to their limits. Alenka must choose whom to trust and whom to love and, in the end, whom to save.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AMAZON | AUDIBLE | BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND  | GOODREADS


About the author, Kate ForsythAuthor: Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling author of 40 books for both adults and children.

Her books for adults include ‘Beauty in Thorns’, the true love story behind a famous painting of ‘Sleeping Beauty’; ‘The Beast’s Garden’, a retelling of the Grimm version of ‘Beauty & the Beast’, set in the German underground resistance to Hitler in WWII; ‘The Wild Girl’, the love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales; ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale; and the bestselling fantasy series ‘Witches of Eileanan’ Her books for children include ‘The Impossible Quest’, ‘The Gypsy Crown’, ‘The Puzzle Ring’, and ‘The Starkin Crown’

Kate has a doctorate in fairytale studies, a Masters of Creative Writing, a Bachelor of Arts in Literature, and is an accredited master storyteller.

Connect with Kate:

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


My Thoughts

MissMelissI received this book just as I was moving into a new house, read it in between unpacking boxes, and then listened to the audio book version to refresh myself since it had been so many weeks. Both in print and in audio, The Crimson Thread is a compelling story, well crafted and well paced.

There’s something especially intriguing about World War II  stories, I think. On the one hand, even if the brutality of war is not in the foreground, it is ever present. On the other, perhaps because we know who wins, there’s an element of romance to them is rarely associated with other periods. This novel is the perfect example of this. Two of the lead characters are soldiers, one eventually joins the Resistance, and while the reality of war, of the German army invading the Greek islands, is the impetus for the story, the love triangle between Jack, Teddy, and Alenka is as gripping as any of the battle strategy or espionage that is also in this book.

To be fair, I was team Jack from the start. Teddy is the playboy while Jack is the steadfast soldier, and I doubt that they would have become friends – or friendly – under normal circumstances. Author Forsyth wrote both men equally vividly, but where Teddy is brash, Jack is thoughtful, and creative. As a an amateur cellist, I loved that the cello was part of his story, but I also loved the concept of poem codes – something I’ve never encountered before in my reading. (I want to know more about this!)

Alenka is also a dynamic character, soft at times, but also resolute, and even fierce. I could see how either man would fall for her – I almost fell for her myself. Her strained relationship with her Nazi-sympathizer younger brother – a mere child when we first meet him – added depth to her character and his.

The audio book, I felt, really captured the tone of each of these three leads, and I loved that there was a female narrator for the chapters that were primarily Alenka’s point of view. But even the print version made each of them feel like real, living beings.

Author Kate Forsyth had a deft hand when crafting this novel. The pacing was perfect. The dates at the beginning of each section, and the shifting perspectives made the story more intense, especially in the last third when the jeopardy to all the characters increased. Her use of dialogue is also excellent – I never felt like these people were out of time or out of place.

If you want a riveting romantic drama set against a part of World War II that is less familiar than the typical England or France, The Crimson Thread is for you.

Goes well with: charbroiled squid and a cold beer.


Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth! We have 10 copies up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on July 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Crimson Thread

The Crimson Thread

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/OAUjk/the-crimson-thread


Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Tuesday, June 28
Excerpt at Novels Alive

Wednesday, June 29
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, June 30
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, July 1
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Monday, July 4
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Tuesday, July 5
Review at My Reading Getaway

Wednesday, July 6
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Thursday, July 7
Review at Girls Just Reading

Friday, July 8
Review at Dive Into a Good Book

Sunday, July 10
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, July 11
Review at Jessica Belmont

Tuesday, July 12
Excerpt at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Wednesday, July 13
Review at The Page Ladies

Thursday, July 14
Review at Momma Doc Reads

Monday, July 18
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, July 19
Interview at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, July 20
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 21
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, July 22
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, July 23
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, July 25
Review at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, July 26
Review at With a Book in Our Hands

Wednesday, July 27
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 28
Review at Bibliotica

Friday, July 29
Review at Reading the Past

 

The Crimson Thread Blog Tour

Review: The Storm Girl, by Kathleen McGurl

The Storm Girl

 

About the Book, The Storm Girl

Cover: The Storm GirlThe gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret.

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of a disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

Sweeping historical fiction perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Goodreads


About the author, Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurlKathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissThe Storm Girl is my first Kathleen McGurl nsovel, but it won’t be my last.

A dual-timeline story, this book follows Esther, in 1784, beginning with an opening faintly reminiscent of Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman,” though it quickly moves beyond that trope. Our historical heroine is no lovestruck maiden idly braiding her hair in moonlit windows; rather she is a vibrant and dimensional young woman, acting with her own agency.

Similarly, recent divorcee Millie, our present day heroine, is bright and curious, and game for minor adventures. We first meet her as she is rescuing kittens (and a mama cat) from a blocked off fireplace, and her helper Nick, sparks her love of a good mystery when he suggests that said fireplace would be worth restoring (something she was already considering.)

Both women end up tangled in a mystery involving smuggling, which we modern audiences think of as a romantic form of crime, but is really very violent and dangerous, still, the puzzle that begins in the past is resolved in the present in a gripping story that is well plotted and perfectly paced.

What I especially loved about this book was that the author captures the language and tone of each period with great accuracy. You really don’t need to be told the date of each chapter; rather the writing makes it obvious where the story is in time.

I also loved that there were equal parts suspense and romance. Nothing ever got TOO tense or TOO fluffy; instead there was balance, and that made for a delightful read.

I’ve long been a fan of parallel narratives. Now I’m a fan of Kathleen McGurl and The Storm Girl as well.

Goes well with: hot tea and blueberry cobbler with a dash of firelight.

The Storm Girl Full Tour Banner

 

Review: The Door-Man, by Peter M. Wheelwright

About the book, The Door-Man

• Publisher: Fomite (February 1, 2022)
• Paperback: 388 pages

The Door-ManIn 1917, during the construction of a large reservoir in the Catskill hamlet of Gilboa, New York, a young paleontologist named Winifred Goldring identified fossils from an ancient forest flooded millions of years ago when the earth’s botanical explosion of oxygen opened a path for the evolution of humankind. However, the reservoir water was needed for NYC, and the fossils were buried once again during the flooding of the doomed town.

A mix of fact and fiction, The Door-Man follows three generations of interwoven families who share a deep wound from Gilboa’s last days. The story is told by Winifred’s grandson, a disaffected NYC doorman working near the Central Park Reservoir during its decommissioning in 1993.

The brief and provisional nature of one’s life on earth – and the nested histories of the places, people and events that give it meaning – engender a reckoning within the tangled roots and fragile bonds of family.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Peter M. Wheelwright

Peter-WheelwrightPeter is a writer, architect, and educator. He is Emeritus Professor at The New School, Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he taught design and wrote on matters of environmental philosophy, design theory, and social practices in the built and natural worlds. Peter comes from a family of writers with an abiding affection for the natural world. His uncle Peter Matthiessen was a three time National Book Award winner, and his brother Jeff Wheelwright is a writer of environmental non-fiction. Educated at Trinity College where he studied painting and sculpture, he went on to receive his Master in Architecture from Princeton University. As an architect, his design work has been widely published in both the national and international press. The Kaleidoscope House, a modernist dollhouse designed in collaboration with artist Laurie Simmons is in the Collection of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art.

Connect with Peter:

Website | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissUnlike many of the others who have reviewed The Door-Man for this tour, I’m not fameyiliar with Richard Powers. I came to this novel after a re-read of a bunch of Dan Brown novels, and my experience with it was shaped by the writing of John Stilgoe, whose books like Outside Lies Magic teach us to see beyond the surface of our surroundings

The image of bones in the water, from the opening scenes of this book, will haunt me for a long time. It’s such a visceral concept, and even though it exists only in the mind of the main character Winifred Goldring, it’s one that really sets the tone for this novel.

And what a novel it is! Peter Wheelwright has spun a story that combines an imaginative tale, one that speaks to those of us who grew up reading things like Jurassic Park, with just enough real history to lend the whole work an air of verisimilitude. The city of Gilboa, NY,  for example, really did create a reservoir that flooded out some of the world’s oldest trees, moving the town to accommodate the needed water supply.

I’d never heard of Gilboa before reading The Door-Man, but I have always been fascinated by the idea of flooded towns, whether they are actual towns (there’s one in the the Dakotas) or bad B-movies on SyFy.

But Wheelwright’s novel is no b-movie. Rather, it’s a thoughtful, immersive tale of the generations of (fictional) people who were affected by the events in Gilboa, focusing on one family in particular, and moving back and forth in time as it weaves their story into the actual history of the region.

We are introduced to “the men of the family” by Winfred, but the story also introduces us to Piedmont Livingston Kinsolver, who tells us, “I am only a door-man, one of many along Central Park West. No one suspects that it is my considered choice.”

Combining history, science, and family drama, The Door-Man is a novel for those of us who look at the world around us and wonder, “What if?”

Goes well with: clam chowder from an old family recipe, and crusty bread.


Review Stops TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, February 2nd: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, February 4th: Instagram: @just_another_mother_with_books

Monday, February 7th: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Tuesday, February 8th: Run Wright

Wednesday, February 9th: Instagram: @readingfortheseasons

Tuesday, February 15th: Instagram: @rynicolereads

Wednesday, February 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, March 3rd: Instagram: @hillysreads

Monday, March 14th: Lit and Life

TBD: Instagram: @babygotbooks4life

TBD: BookNAround

TBD: Wednesday, March 15th: Bibliotica

Review and Giveaway: The Sparrows of Montenegro, by BJ Mayo

BNR Sparrows of Montenegro

About the book, The Sparrows of Montenegro

  • Categories: Western / Historical Fiction / Texas
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Date of Publication: February 8, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 312 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Sparrows of MontenegroTree “Bigfoot” Smith and Cedar Jones first meet on the day they join the US Cavalry’s Fourth Cavalry Regiment based out of the Historic Fort Concho in what is now San Angelo, Texas, in 1870.

Their journey takes them into the heart of the dangerous Llano Estacado region known as the Comancheria. The area is ruthlessly defended by a band of Quahadi Comanche and their stoic leader, Lonely Horse. The Troop encounters a large group of Comanches and the gun-running Comancheros at Mushaway Mountain, close to Gail, Texas. A quick battle ensues that leaves eight men dead.

Post Cavalry life finds Tree Smith and Cedar Jones as cowhand and cook on the large Rolling J cattle ranch in South Texas bordering the Rio Grande River. The ranch employs two Vaqueros from the village of Montenegro in Mexico, just across the river, whom Tree befriends.

The quiet life on the Rolling J ranch is brought to an abrupt halt when a local sheriff warns that a band led by the cold-blooded, sadistic killer known as Gato Montes has been preying on the ranches along the Rio Grande. After the sheriff is nearly killed by these men, Tree is tasked with tracking them down, only this time, he is traveling alone and the dangers are greatly multiplied. His epic journey takes him back into the Llano Estacado where he is captured by Lonely Horse and taken to Mushaway Mountain where the Comanche carry out their own form of frontier justice.

Tree’s return journey puts him on the same path as Marco, a Mexican goat herder, who rides with him to the Mexican Village of Montenegro, where Tree meets Julia, who changes his life forever after he becomes involved in and bears witness to the wonderful celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

Praise for this book:

“I could not put this one down. Mayo has masterfully written a character-driven page-turner, a compelling tale for the reader who seeks something more than the stereotypical western novel.” Ron Schwab, author of Goldsmith and the Law Wranglers series

“This mild-mannered west Texas rancher has woven a border tapestry using yarns made of unimaginable horror and sweet innocence.” Tumbleweed Smith, author of Under the Chinaberry Tree

“A thoroughly enjoyable read—a cowboy’s trail you’ll want to follow, with a memorable cast of characters, renegades, soldiers, lawmen, and simple folks, and a hero that you’ll want more of.” John J. Jacobson, author of All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonBarnes and NobleSimon and Schuster | Bookshop.orgIndieBoundGoodreads


About the author, BJ Mayo

Author Pic BJ Mayo

 

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola, West Africa.

He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.

Connect with BJ

WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER INSTAGRAM ◆  SKYHORSE PUBLISHING


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellBJ Mayo’s latest novel, The Sparrows of Montenegro is a grand epic story of friendship, loyalty, war, peace, and culture. Set in and around what is now San Angelo, Texas (a place I’ve only heard of because a dear friend is from a town near there), Mayo has made the landscape as much a character as the human beings. He really makes you feel the dust and heat, or smell the goats.

But it’s the human story that is truly compelling in this book, and while we’re introduced to two strong characters at the beginning, Tree, a bear of a man who despises injustice, and Cedar, a sharpshooter who can also cook. The two become fast friends, but it’s really Tree’s story, for it’s his life that we see after they leave the Cavalry, and it’s he who tangles with a local man named Pablo who goes by the alias Gato Montes – which can be translated as “cat of the mountain” or “mountain lion.”  (The former is more literal, I think the latter has more panache.)

Gato Montes is bitter and twisted, and his behavior involves levels of violence toward humans and animals that sensitive readers may want to avoid, but it should be noted that the grittier scenes are never gratuitous or written for shock value, and absolutely move the story forward.

While this novel isn’t a romance in the conventional sense, there is a bit of a romantic interlude once Tree meets Julia. More than a love story, though, The Sparrows of Montenegro is a satisfying saga of blood, land, honor, friendship, and trusting oneself to do the right thing.

Goes well with: birria de res and a bottle of Indio beer.


Giveaway

 THREE WINNERS:

Autographed copies of The Sparrows of Montenegro.
(US only. Ends 2/19/22).

GiveawayGiveaway Sparrows of Montenegro

a Rafflecopter giveaway


CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 

or visit the blogs directly:

2/8/22 Review Reading by Moonlight
2/8/22 BONUS promo Hall Ways Blog
2/8/22 BONUS promo LSBBT Blog
2/9/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
2/9/22 Review Book Fidelity
2/10/22 Review Bibliotica
2/10/22 Review Forgotten Winds
2/11/22 Review The Book’s Delight
2/11/22 Review Momma on the Rocks
2/12/22 Review Librariel Book Adventures
2/13/22 Review Julia Picks 1
2/14/22 Review Book Bustle
2/15/22 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
2/16/22 Review Jennie Reads
2/17/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
2/17/22 Review The Clueless Gent

Lone Star Literary Life

 

LoneStar Book Blog tours

Review & Giveaway: No Names to Be Given, by Julia Brewer Daily

Tour Banner: No Names to be Given

About the book, No Names to Be Given

  • Categories: Women’s Fiction / Vintage Fiction / Adoption / 1960s
  • Publisher: Admission Press Inc.
  • Pub Date: August 3, 2021
  • Pages: 334 pages
  • Scroll for the Giveaway

Cover Hi Res No Names to be Given1965. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired.

But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations—and reverberate all the way to the White House.

Told from the three women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.

Praise for this book:

A gorgeous, thrilling, and important novel! These strong women will capture your heart. Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas.

An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them. Pam Johnson, author of Justice for Ella.

A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation. Jess Hagemann, author of Headcheese.

Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabitSara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something.

This book is a relevant read and one that will keep readers guessing page after page until the very end. The US Review of Books

Today’s young women, especially, need to absorb No Names to Be Given. Midwest Book Review, D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


Watch the Trailer for No Names to Be Given

 

 


About the author, Julia Brewer Daily

Author photo Daily

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS.  She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart. As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well.  A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.

Connect with Julia:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellNo Names to Be Given is a beautiful, haunting novel about three very different women who find themselves in the same maternity home in New Orleans in the mid-1960s. Sandy, Faith, and Becca couldn’t be more different – one is escaping an abusive home, one suffers a horrible attack, and one falls in love with someone that society says she shouldn’t, but all find themselves alone and pregnant at a time when women were pressured to make horrible sacrifices in order to maintain the expectations of American culture in a time that is both bordering on free, and still holding onto the even deeper social structures of earlier times.

Julia Brewer Daily chose to write this book so that the point of view alternates between these women a chapter at a time, and in doing so, she first lets readers learn who they are and where they come from. In another author’s hands the story might have ended when they met, but Daily’s tale is far from over at that point. Rather, we get to see the devastation each experiences, and then we get to jump into the future and meet the older versions of the the women’s babies, and see how they grew up, and how (or if) they reconnect with their birth mothers.

Daily does a great job of setting the time period. Her scenes in the 60s are full of the social issues of the day, including racism and the civil rights movement, and as she moves into later times, she enhances her storytelling by mentioning  then-newly-developed DNA testing as a means of connecting mothers and the children they were forced to part with.

Issues of adoption and single motherhood run through the entire novel, of course. As the daughter of a single mother, who nearly faced the same ultimatum, but ultimately chose to keep me, it’s a story that really resonated with me. It was obviously a very personal story for the author, as well, for she was adopted from a maternity home.

It’s this personal connection that makes this story sing. Each of the women is compelling and interesting. It’s easy to like them, to be concerned when they make poor choices, and to root for them when they find success in any aspect of life. While the stigma of unwed motherhood has lessened somewhat today, echoes of it do remain, and this book made it clear how it felt to be in that position.

Well-written and well-paced, I feel this novel is more  than entertaining. It’s a gripping story that is as much social commentary as compelling fiction. It is intensely female, but deals with universal subjects. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the culture of America in the 1960’s, as a counterpoint to all the stories about free love and wild adventures (not to invalidate those stories), and make it required reading for anyone in a women’s studies program.

Goes well with: a shrimp po’boy and sweet tea.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER:
$100 Amazon gift card.

GIVEAWAY No Names to Be Given

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 


VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE  FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.

Or, visit the blogs directly:

8/17/21 Book Trailer Chapter Break Book Blog
8/17/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
8/18/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
8/18/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
8/19/21 Notable Quotable Hall Ways Blog
8/19/21 Review Missus Gonzo
8/20/21 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
8/21/21 Review Bibliotica
8/22/21 Excerpt The Page Unbound
8/23/21 Excerpt That’s What She’s Reading
8/23/21 Review The Clueless Gent
8/24/21 Guest Post Forgotten Winds
8/24/21 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
8/25/21 Review Jennie Reads
8/26/21 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
8/26/21 Review Reading by Moonlight

 

LoneStarLitLife

Blog tour Services Provided By:

LoneStarBookBlogTours

 

 

 

 

XTRA No Names to Be Given 2_Rectangular Banner Ad

Review: Lemons in the Garden of Love, by Ames Sheridan

About the book Lemons in the Garden of Love

Lemons in the Garden of Love

  • Publisher : She Writes Press (May 11, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 248 pages

It’s 1977 and Cassie Lyman, a graduate student in women’s history, is struggling to find a topic for her doctoral dissertation. When she discovers a trove of drawings, suffrage cartoons, letters, and diaries at Smith College belonging to Kate Easton, founder of the Birth Control League of Massachusetts in 1916, she believes she has located her subject.

Digging deeper into Kate’s life, Cassie learns that she and Kate are related―closely. Driven to understand why her family has never spoken of Kate, Cassie travels to Cape Ann to attend her sister’s shotgun wedding, where she questions her female relatives about Kate―only to find herself soon afterward in the same challenging situation Kate faced.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | IndieBound | She Writes Press | Goodreads


About the author, Ames Sheldon

Ames SheldonAMES SHELDON: was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota. After graduating from Northrop Collegiate School, she attended Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in English. After graduating, she worked in the legal department of a chemical company, as a reporter at two newspapers, as office manager of a start-up auto salvage business, and eventually as a grant writer and development officer for a variety of nonprofit organizations, ranging from the Sierra Club in San Francisco to the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minneapolis Public Library. She has an M.A. in American Studies and was lead author and associate editor of the groundbreaking Women’s History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States (R.R. Bowker, 1979). In the process of working on this monumental reference book, Ames discovered her love of women’s history and of using primary sources for research. Her debut novel, Eleanor’s Wars, won the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best New Voice: Fiction. Her second novel, Don’t Put the Boats Away, was published on August 27, 2019, by She Writes Press. Her third novel, Lemons in the Garden of Love, will be published in 2021.

Connect with Ames:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

As a woman who was given my mother’s vintage original copy (then little more than a pamphlet) of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and as a woman who has fought for reproductive rights my entire  adult life (often with my mother beside me) I was eager to read Lemons in the Garden of Love when it was offered to me for review. This, I thought, was a story I could really relate to.

The parallel stories of Cassie, a grad student in the 1970s, and her aunt Kate, several decades earlier, are compelling reading. Both women were intellectually curious, passionate, and trapped in marriages to cold men. Both women found themselves facing a similar challenge. And both women had to deal with family members who were slaves to conservative views of gender roles, at best, and generally dreadful, at worst.

What I loved about this novel, was that you could tell that author Ames Sheldon had a personal investment in the story. Indeed, she is so committed to reproductive rights and  women’s healthcare that fifty percent of the proceeds from this novel are being donated to Planned Parenthood. That’s an amazing legacy, but so is this novel, which captures the very different experiences of women in the earlier and more recent twentieth century. As well, I really appreciated the technical knowledge that Sheldon included in her story, like how to make your own diaphragm from liquid latex and a darning ring, as many of our great-grandmothers had to do.

Beyond the technical detail, however, I liked how distinctive the two main characters’ voices were. Cassie is very much a contemporary woman, even if the seventies are considered “historical” now (as someone born in 1970 I have difficulty with that), and Kate’s words in her journals are stiffer, and more formal, really cementing her in the early twentieth century.

Overall, I feel Lemons in the Garden of Love is an important read. We must know where we came from as we face an increasingly autocratic future. We must take care not to repeat the worst parts of our history, and honor the best. Most importantly, we must continue to tell our stories, our mothers’ and grandmothers’ stories, and those of our sisters in spirit.

Goes well with grilled chicken, asparagus, and sauteed mushrooms.