Let Me Die in His Footsteps, by Lori Roy #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

About the book,  Let Me Die in His Footsteps Let Me Die in His Footsteps

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton (June 2, 2015)

On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory.  Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place.  At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future.  Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys.  That year, Annie’s aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age.  Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers.  But then he looked into Juna’s eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives.  Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served–or did she?

As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie’s dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started.  If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna’s return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago.

Buy, read, and discuss Let Me Die in His Footsteps

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million  | Goodreads


About the author, Lori Roy Lori Roy

Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she graduated from Kansas State University.  Her debut novel, BENT ROAD, published in 2011, was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, named a 2011 New York Times Notable Crime Book and named a 2012 notable book by the state of Kansas. BENT ROAD has been optioned for film. Her second novel, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel.  Her upcoming novel, LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS, will be published June 2nd. Lori also serves as treasure for the Sisters in Crime organization and is a liaison to the Author Coalition. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida. 


My Thoughts

The problem with books like Let Me Die in His Footsteps is that they’re so well-crafted, and the characters are so vivid, that you want tell everyone you know, “Read this book. It’s amazing.” But because the plot is so delicately woven – a perfect combination of Southern historical fiction, coming-of-age drama, and murky mystery – you don’t want to spoil it for anyone. This is a book you need to come to with a fresh palate. This is a novel you need to experience without any preconceived notions of what it’s about.

So, here’s what I will say: Lori Roy is a talent to be reckoned with. From the first scene on the opening page, to the very last line of the novel, I was hooked. I fell into the rhythm of her words, and let myself be submerged in this story, and when I finished it, I was almost surprised to find myself at home in suburban Texas, and not in a Kentucky farmhouse surrounded by lavender fields. It’s that gripping. It’s that atmospheric. It’s that good.

I wanted to get to the end of Let Me Die in His Footsteps, because I wanted to now how the story resolved itself.

I hated reaching the end, because it meant leaving Lori Roy’s rich tapestry of a world.

Goes well with: A dish of coffee ice cream and a glass of cool water, eaten while sitting in a chair that’s far too big, in the wee hours of a sultry summer night.


Giveaway Let Me Die in His Footsteps

If you live in the USA or Canada, and want to win a copy of Let Me Die in His Footsteps, comment on this post and tell me about your first kiss. Alternatively, find my post about this review on twitter (I’m @melysse) and retweet it. (Be sure to follow me if you do that.)

Winners will be notified by email before they’re announced NEXT MONDAY, and you have until 11:59 PM CDT on Sunday night to enter.  Be sure the email address in your comment is a valid one (only I will see it.)


Lori Roy’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 19th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, May 20th: Kissin’ Blue Karen

Thursday, May 21st: FictionZeal

Tuesday, May 26th: Feminist Reflections

Wednesday, May 27th: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, June 1st: Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, June 2nd: For the Love of Fictional Worlds

Wednesday, June 3rd: Bell, Book & Candle

Wednesday, June 3rd: The Bibliophile Chronicles

Thursday, June 4th: Reading Reality

Monday, June 8th: Bibliotica – That’s Me!

Monday, June 8th: Books a La Mode

Tuesday, June 9th: Bibliophiliac

Wednesday, June 10th: A Reader’s Oasis

Thursday, June 11th: A Book Geek 

Friday, June 12th: The Novel Life

The Outer Banks House, by Diann Ducharme (@diannducharme) #review @hfvbt

About the book, The Outer Banks House The Outer Banks House

Publisher: Crown Publishing (June 8, 2010)
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Paperback (291 pages)

As the wounds of the Civil War are just beginning to heal, one fateful summer would forever alter the course of a young girl’s life.

In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does.

But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby’s father’s Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.

With vivid historical detail and stunning emotional resonance, Diann Ducharme recounts a dramatic story of love, loss, and coming of age at a singular and rapidly changing time in one of America’s most beautiful and storied communities.

Read the “Lost” Chapter of The Outer Banks House

Click HERE to download.

Buy, read, and discuss The Outer Banks House

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Crown Publishing | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Diann Ducharme Diann Ducharme

Diann was born in Indiana in 1971, but she spent the majority of her childhood in Newport News, Virginia. She majored in English literature at the University of Virginia, but she never wrote creatively until, after the birth of her second child in 2003, she sat down to write The Outer Banks House. She soon followed up with her second book, Chasing Eternity, and in 2015 the sequel to her first novel, Return to the Outer Banks House.

Diann has vacationed on the Outer Banks since the age of three. She even married her husband of 10 years, Sean Ducharme, in Duck, North Carolina, immediately after a stubborn Hurricane Bonnie churned through the Outer Banks. Conveniently, the family beach house in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina provided shelter while she conducted research for her historical fiction novels.

She has three beach-loving children and a border collie named Toby, who enjoys his sprints along the shore. The family lives in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, counting down the months until summer.

Connect with Diann

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads


My Thoughts:

While I’ve never been to either of the Carolinas (both are on my bucket list, I swear) I did have a blissful childhood full of summers at the Jersey Shore, so I know the pleasures – and the pain – of living on the Atlantic seaboard, and I even have some experience with the special geography of barrier islands, which constantly change shape and size, depending on the will and whim of the wind and sea. Diann Ducharme’s books The Outer Banks House and Return to the Outer Banks House were obvious choices for me.

As I didn’t receive the books until Thursday, May 28th, was at Dallas Fan-Expo Friday-Sunday, and came home (as I always do) with “con crud,” this review will be only of the first book. Come back next Friday, June 12th for my review of the sequel.

From the opening scene where Abigail, who has been ‘boatsick’ for days, runs down a pier and onto the beach, fighting against her hoopskirts the whole time (and, can we pause a moment to imagine running anywhere in hoops, let alone in sand?) to the last scene where Abigail and her scruffy Ben decide that love is worth the risk, I was swept away by this novel. The post-Civil War period is one I haven’t explored recently, but I had enough context to appreciate the subtle political and personal intricacies of having relatives and friends who worked for or against the KKK. We are so used to seeing Klan stories set in the 1950s and ’60s, that to experience that awful organization from the other end lent perspective in many ways.

Also fascinating was the way these inland-bred characters learned to cope with life on the shore. The pattern of people’s days is different when you live so closely tied to the sea, with different rhythms and different risks.

Add to that a burgeoning love affair, and what you have – what Ducharme has so brilliantly created – is a rich tapestry of people and places, politics and professions, and perspective.

Ducharme’s dialogue, while accurate for the period, never feels stilted, and flows as easily as any contemporary language. Her descriptions are vivid – I could taste the salt in the air, and feel the sand between my toes – and her characters feels as though they could walk out of the pages and join you for a cold glass of lemonade and a chat about the latest novel you’ve read. Abigail, especially, surprised me, because she was so smart, so fierce in her love and loyalty, and so much her own person, in a time when women were often…not.

While I wouldn’t really classify The Outer Banks House as a “beach read,”  – it’s a bit meatier than that – it’s still the perfect novel for a lazy summer afternoon.

Goes well with seafood salad and cold lemonade, preferably served al fresco.


The Outer Banks Series Blog Tour Schedule 05_Outer-Banks-Series_Blog-Tour-Banner_FINAL-1024x327

Monday, May 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, May 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, May 27
Review (Book One) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, May 28
Review (Book One) at In a Minute

Friday, May 29
Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, May 30
Spotlight at Becky on Books

Sunday, May 31
Review (Book One) at Book Nerd

Monday, June 1
Review (Book Two) at Let them Read Books
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, June 2
Review (Book One) at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, June 3
Review (Book Two) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, June 4
Spotlight & Giveaway (Book One) at View from the Birdhouse

Friday, June 5
Review (Both Books) at Bibliotica

Sunday, June 7
Review (Book One) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 8
Review (Book One) at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Curling Up With A Good Book

Tuesday, June 9
Review & Giveaway (Book One) at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 10
Review (Both Books) at Unshelfish
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, June 11
Review (Book Two) at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, June 12
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, June 14
Review (Book Two) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 15
Review & Giveaway (Both Books) at Genre Queen

Tuesday, June 16
Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, June 17
Review (Both Books) at Luxury Reading

Thursday, June 18
Review (Book One) at Books and Benches
Interview at Layered Pages

Friday, June 19
Review (Book One) at Build a Bookshelf
Review (Book Two) at Ageless Pages Reviews

 

 

A Match for Marcus Cynster, by Stephanie Laurens #Excerpt Tour #Giveaway @TLCBookTours

A Match for Marcus Cynster Excerpt Tour

I’m so excited to be part of the TLC Book Tours EXCERPT TOUR for the release of the latest book in Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster Series, A Match for Marcus Cynster!

About the book, A Match for Marcus Cynster A Match for Marcus Cynster

  • Series: Cynster (#23)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (May 26, 2015)

Duty compels her to turn her back on marriage. Fate drives him to protect her come what may. Then love takes a hand in this battle of yearning hearts, stubborn wills, and a match too powerful to deny. #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to rugged Scotland with a dramatic tale of passionate desire and unwavering devotion.

Restless and impatient, Marcus Cynster waits for Fate to come calling. He knows his destiny lies in the lands surrounding his family home, but what will his future be and with whom will he share it?

Of one fact he feels certain: his fated bride will not be Niniver Carrick. His elusive neighbor attracts him mightily, yet he feels compelled to protect her—even from himself. Fickle Fate, he’s sure, would never be so kind as to decree that Niniver should be his. The best he can do for them both is to avoid her.

Niniver has vowed to return her clan to prosperity. The epitome of fragile femininity, her delicate and ethereal exterior cloaks a stubborn will and an unflinching devotion to the people in her care. She accepts that she cannot risk marrying and losing her grip on the clan’s reins to an inevitably controlling husband. Unfortunately, many local men see her as their opportunity.

Soon, she’s forced to seek help to get rid of her unwelcome suitors. Powerful and dangerous, Marcus Cynster is perfect for the task. Suppressing her wariness over tangling with a gentleman who so excites her passions, she appeals to him for assistance with her peculiar problem.

Although at first he resists, Marcus discovers that, contrary to his expectations, his fated role is to stand by Niniver’s side and, ultimately, to claim her hand. Yet in order to convince her to be his bride, they must plunge headlong into a journey full of challenges, unforeseen dangers, passion, and yearning, until Niniver grasps the essential truth—that she is indeed a match for Marcus Cynster.

~ Excerpt ~

They buried Nigel and Nolan three days later. The atmosphere was more that of a witnessing than an honoring. The ambiance was strikingly different from that which had prevailed at their father’s funeral—but then Manachan had been revered by the clan and respected throughout the community, while Nigel and Nolan had been tolerated purely on the basis of being Manachan’s sons. As for acquaintances within the wider community, theirs proved to be limited to young hellions of similar ilk to themselves—irresponsible males intent on enjoying a hedonistic life with nary a thought for anyone or anything else.

Several of the latter unexpectedly turned up, driving curricles and phaetons, and greeting each other raucously.

The clan ignored them.

Initially, Niniver had been surprised by how many of the clan had chosen to attend. Then she’d realized that, for them as for her, the somber service marked the end of two years of uncertainty and unrest—two years of confusion, of not knowing what was going on, and of lost faith in the clan’s leadership.

Nigel was buried next to their father and mother in the Carrick family plot.

Nolan was buried in a far corner of the graveyard—rejected and disowned by all.

It was she who cast the first sod on Nolan’s coffin. Stony-faced, the clan elders followed her lead.

And then it was done.

No one felt any need to linger; everyone was glad to turn their backs and walk away.

As the gathering dispersed and the clan returned to the carts and drays that had brought them there, several of Nigel and Nolan’s friends surrounded her and attempted to press their patently insincere condolences on her.

She avoided society—in part because of just such men—but she’d long ago perfected one social art, that of keeping her feelings concealed and maintaining a mask of unruffled calm. Yet to be invited to join several would-be dandies on a picnic and, when she politely declined, to have her words ignored…

Luckily, Thomas intervened, and with several cutting words and a black scowl, he sent the horde packing. Together with Ferguson, Thomas escorted her away; she allowed them to lead her to her carriage, help her in, and shut the door.

Sean set the horses trotting, and the carriage pulled into the road, and finally, it was over.

She rested her head against the squabs and closed her eyes, holding in the tears that, suddenly, threatened to overflow.AMFMC Quote

Her family was gone—all of them. Thomas was her nearest blood relative, and he had his own place, his own role as consort to the future Lady of the Vale.

She…was alone. Completely alone. She had no place, no role—no life.

She was the one left behind.

But she knew the clan wouldn’t throw her out; she would have a place, a role, within it, even if she didn’t yet know what that would be.

She told herself to remain positive, or at least to keep her thoughts focused on what she yet had to do that day, on what lay immediately ahead.

The clan meeting to elect a new laird.

She sighed, opened her eyes, and glanced out of the window. “One way or another, I will find a way.”

Buy, read, and discuss A Match for Marcus Cynster

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million  | Goodreads


About Stephanie Laurens Stephanie Laurens

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens originally began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career; she has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two cats, she spends most of her days writing new stories in her signature ‘Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen” style.

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook


Giveaway AMFMC Prize Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Stephanie Laurens’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, May 12th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, May 13th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, May 14th: In the Hammock

Friday, May 15th: Broken Teepee

Monday, May 18th: Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 19th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, May 20th: Bibliotica

Thursday, May 21st: Bell, Book & Candle

Friday, May 22nd: Urban Girl Reader

Monday, May 25th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Tuesday, May 26th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, May 27th: The Romance Dish

Wednesday, May 27th: Read Love Blog

Thursday, May 28th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 29th: Written Love Reviews

To Ride a White Horse by Pamela Ford (@pamfordauthor) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, To Ride a White Horse To Ride a White Horse

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Aine Press (January 3, 2015)

“A sweeping historical love story that hits all the marks.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Ireland 1846. The potato crop has failed for the second year in a row and Ireland is in famine. When Kathleen Deacey’s fiancé doesn’t return from a summer working in the Newfoundland fisheries, she faces a devastating choice—leave Ireland to find work or risk dying there. Despising the English for refusing to help Ireland, she crosses the Atlantic, determined to save her family and find her fiancé.

But her journey doesn’t go as planned and she ends up in America, forced to accept the help of an English whaling captain, Jack Montgomery, to survive. As Jack helps her search for her fiancé and fight to save her family and country, she must confront her own prejudices and make another devastating choice—remain loyal to her country or follow her heart.

A love story inspired by actual events, To Ride a White Horse is a historical saga of hope, loyalty, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of love.

To Ride a White Horse

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Pamela Ford Pamela Ford

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of fast-paced plot.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, waitress, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best and the Laurel Wreath, and is a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children.

Connect with Pamela

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I read a lot of historical novels but I’m always kind of iffy on historicals (I think my brain is wired for the future rather than the past.) To Ride a White Horse originally caught my attention, not because of the romance or the historical background of Ireland’s potato famine and the huge influx of Irish immigrants into North America, but because one of the characters (Jack) was the captain of a ship – and I will read almost anything that involves sea captains and adventure on or near the ocean.

When the story opened with our introduction to Kathleen, pining for her fiance, I was hooked on her story, as well, because she wasn’t a girl to sit and simper and moan, but a strong young woman who made an action plan and carried it out. Going on a ship across the ocean is a daunting task even today, when we can do so in hours (by air) or days (by sea) rather than the weeks or months it took back then. Going on a ship to a new country where you cannot be certain of your reception or your survival? That takes a special kind of courage, one that all immigrants have, as well as a firm faith in the promise of a better life.

Jack, the whaling captain who really isn’t in love with his job (whaling was a dangerous, dangerous profession then, even before Greenpeace would come and shoot at you), and Kathleen, the young woman looking for her love and her future, have stories that meet, separate, and meet again, but watching the relationship shift and turn between them is like watching your two best friends, whom you know are meant to be together, continue to make low-percentage choices and false starts until they finally get it right.

Author Pamela Ford writes the romance, the history, and the politics of the period (English vs. Irish, Native vs. Immigrant, Whaling vs. Shipping, etc.) with nuance and an excellent ear for dialogue. Kathleen never sounds like a caricature, but her Irish lilt is ever-present. English Jack never sounds too stilted, but you can read in his words the crisper accent he would have.

Romances can often be more fluff than flavor but To Ride a White Horse balances all the elements: adventure, romance, history, politics and gives us a meaty story that keeps the reader’s attention from the first page to the last.

Goes well with A hearty Irish stew, brown bread, and a glass of stout.


Pamela’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Tuesday, May 12th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 13th: Gspotsylvania: Musings from a Spotsylvania Dog and Bird Mom

Thursday, May 14th: Novel Escapes

Friday, May 15th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Tuesday, May 19th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, May 25th: Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, May 27th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 28th: Doing Dewey

Friday, May 29th: Bell, Book and Candle

Monday, June 1st: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, June 2nd: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, June 3rd: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 3rd: Rockin’ Book Reviews

Thursday, June 4th: Little Lovely Books

Monday, June 8th: Books Like Breathing

TBD: A Night’s Dream of Books

The Mapmaker’s Children, by Sarah McCoy (@SarahMMcCoy) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

The Mapmaker's Children

About the book, The Mapmaker’s Children The Mapmaker's Children, by Sarah McCoy

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Crown (May 5, 2015)

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

Buy, read, and discuss The Mapmaker’s Children

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Sarah McCoy Sarah McCoy

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.

Connect with Sarah

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

There are novels that you pick up thinking, “Hmm, this might be interesting,” and then you forget you have them until weeks later, when they resurface and you find yourself gripped – completely gripped – by the story, and kicking yourself for not reading it the second you got home. The Mapmaker’s Children was almost like that for me, because the original galley provider ignored my request for it more than once, and then when I finally got it, I was convinced it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea at all.

I was wrong.

I was so very wrong.

First, the historical part of this story – a fictional possibility of what the life of Sarah Brown, daughter of famed abolitionist James Brown (and, yes, you will have the song rolling through the back of your mind as you read this) may have been like, suggesting that she might have followed in her father’s footsteps, and put her artistic talent to use making maps for use on the Underground Railroad, is amazing. Yes, it’s fiction, but it’s fiction that feels completely plausible, especially since the author worked in real world touches. I especially liked the fact that Louisa May Alcott’s book of fairy stories was an important element of the story, and that so many real historical figures (including Louisa and her father Bronson) were rubbing elbows with the fictional, and quasi-fictional characters.

Then, there’s the contemporary part of the story. As a woman in her 40s who has had two miscarriages, Eden’s desperation to have a child resonated with me (though in my case, dogs are totally a substitute for children; I have five.) in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Her story was one where at times I wanted to hug her, at times I wanted to throttle her, and most of the time, I wanted to bake her some scones, brew some really good coffee and sit down for a cathartic venting session.

Author Sarah McCoy wove both stories, one based on history, one based on so many contemporary stories, into one lovely, gorgeous, satisfying tapestry of a novel. It made me want to go upstairs, pull out a quilting book and FINALLY learn to do something beyond hemming pants with my sewing machine. It also made me want to bake organic meatloaf suitable for all members of my family, whether they have two feet or four.

The Mapmaker’s Children is a well-crafted, brilliantly written novel, and I highly recommend it, especially to animal lovers, childless adults, and history buffs.

Goes well with Roasted free-range chicken with buttered carrots, and a spring green salad. Homemade cornbread on the side.


Giveaway The Mapmaker's Children, by Sarah McCoy

One lucky reader in the USA or Canada will win a copy of this book. How? Leave a comment on this post (include a valid email address in the comment form – only I will see the email address) telling me what historical figure you’d most like to hang out and have coffee with. Alternatively, find my post about this book in my twitter feed (I’m @melysse) and retweet it.

The winner will be announced next Thursday.


Sarah’s Tour Schedule: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, April 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, April 22nd: My Book Retreat

Thursday, April 23rd: BookNAround

Monday, April 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, April 28th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 29th: Always With a Book

Thursday, April 30th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, May 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Tuesday, May 5th: Books on the Table

Wednesday, May 6th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, May 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 8th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, May 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 14th: FictionZeal

Friday, May 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, May 19th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, May 20th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, May 21st: Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, May 22nd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Monday, May 25th: Readers’ Oasis

Tuesday, May 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, May 28th: Reading Reality

Friday, May 29th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, June 1st: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, June 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 4th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, June 9th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, June 10th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, June 11th: Literary Feline

Friday, June 12th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 15th: Staircase Wit

The Accidental Pilgrim, by Stephen Kitsakos (@stephenkitsakos) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book The Accidental Pilgrim The Accidental Pilgrim

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: ASD Publishing (January 20, 2015)

In the summer of 1974, Dr. Rose Strongin, a marine biologist, inexplicably disappears for three hours on the last day of an archaeological dig at the Sea of Galilee. She has no memory of the disappearance, but it causes her to miss her flight home from Israel. That plane, TWA 841, explodes over the Mediterranean killing all aboard. Twelve years later she learns that a 2,000 year-old perfectly preserved vessel, dubbed the “Jesus Boat,” is uncovered at the site of her disappearance and she begins to understand what happened and why.

The novel crosses several decades exploring the intersection of science, religion and the unexplainable as a family gathers to say goodbye to the matriarch who held a family secret.

Buy, read, and discuss The Accidental Pilgrim

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Stephen Kitsakos Stephen Kitsakos

Stephen Kitsakos is a theatre writer and journalist as well as the author of three opera librettos. His current project is the opera adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international bestseller, A Thousand Splendid Suns with music by Sheila Silver. Other works include the Sackler-Prize award winning “The Wooden Sword” and “The White Rooster: A Tale of Compassion” for the Smithsonian Institution. His work often explores the connection between religion and art. He divides his time between Key West and New York.

Connect with Stephen

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts:

I tend to be pretty wary about any novel that is remotely related to religion, but I trust Trish at TLC Book Tours, so when she highlighted The Accidental Pilgrim and said she thought I’d really appreciate it, I said, “Okay.” In truth, I wish I’d had more time to sit with this novel before posting my review, because while the surface story is an easy one, the deeper story requires some digestion.

I’m glad I did, because this book a gem of a novel. First the story is completely compelling, combining family drama both in the present, as a father and his three grown children come together to pay last respects to his wife/their mother, and in the past, as we meet Rose (the wife/mother) in flashbacks and memories. Actually it’s pretty gutsy for a writer to have the main character begin the novel already dead, but this novel is really Rose’s story, though her husband (Simon) and her children (Sharon, Barbara, Nathan) have their parts to play.

Every single character was memorable, though Nathan is my favorite of the ‘children.’ I understood his prickly moodiness – he’s a musician, after all – and resonated with it. I loved experiencing Rose’s journey through her own eyes, and through the eyes of those around her. I also liked the way every character was flawed, and so very real. The two daughters, one like her mother, one more like her father, reminded me of my own aunts and their ability to bicker constantly but still completely love each other.

Then there’s the setting: most of the novel takes place on the Sea of Galilee, so we get to glimpse both contemporary Israel, and the Israel of the recent past, as well as a few other time-hops that I won’t go into for fear of spoiling some truly interesting plot twists. I’ve never had a particular desire to visit contemporary Israel (my fantasies tend to involve places like Fez, Tangier, or Algiers), but this novel gave me a deep appreciation for a region that is so entwined in political and cultural turmoil that I doubt resolution will ever come.

Finally, there is the author’s sense of craft. In an email to him yesterday, I commented that I loved the way he told us the way characters pronounced things – it really made me hear the subtle accents – Canadian, American, Russian, Israeli, British, etc. – and added a layer of realism that truly made the novel sing. Specifically, I mentioned a line early in the novel where he describes a character saying the word “kids” with a “k” that sounds like “…a small ball of phlegm stuck in his throat…” That’s the first example that struck me, but those little touches and nuances exist throughout the novel.

As I said, I’m wary about novels that have anything to do with religion, but when I open myself to one, I’m invariably led to a place where I’m provoked to examine some of my own beliefs and attitudes. (And as a culturally Catholic, liberal Episco-tarian (I’m UU in my heart but love the ritual and language of the Episcopal church) feminist with an ethnically Jewish stepfather and a Baptist husband, you can IMAGINE what my beliefs and attitudes might be.) This happened to me when I first read Madeleine L’Engle’s Certain Women. It happened when I read Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. It also happened as I was reading this book, The Accidental Pilgrim.

If you’re in the mood for family drama, this novel will appeal to you, and it’s possible to read it and just skim the surface. If, however, you prefer to delve deeper, this novel is meaty enough to satisfy anyone’s craving for a discussion of philosophy, religion, and science, and where the three intersect.

Goes well with mint tea, falafel, tabbouleh, and a handful of Medjool dates.


Stephen’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, April 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, April 30th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Monday, May 4th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Tuesday, May 5th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, May 6th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Friday, May 8th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Monday, May 18th: Victoria Weisfeld

Monday, May 25th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, June 25th: Wall-to-Wall Books

TBD: Novel Escapes

The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg #review @TLCBookTours @NetGalley

About the book, The Dream Lover The Dream Lover

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (April 14, 2015)

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg has written a lush historical novel based on the sensuous Parisian life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand—which is perfect for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.
 
At the beginning of this powerful novel, we meet Aurore Dupin as she is leaving her estranged husband, a loveless marriage, and her family’s estate in the French countryside to start a new life in Paris. There, she gives herself a new name—George Sand—and pursues her dream of becoming a writer, embracing an unconventional and even scandalous lifestyle.

Paris in the nineteenth century comes vividly alive, illuminated by the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of a woman who defied the confines of society. Sand’s many lovers and friends include Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. As Sand welcomes fame and friendship, she fights to overcome heartbreak and prejudice, failure and loss. Though considered the most gifted genius of her time, she works to reconcile the pain of her childhood, of disturbing relationships with her mother and daughter, and of her intimacies with women and men. Will the life she longs for always be just out of reach—a dream?

Brilliantly written in luminous prose, and with remarkable insights into the heart and mind of a literary force, The Dream Lover tells the unforgettable story of a courageous, irresistible woman.

Buy, read, and discuss, The Dream Lover

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million  | Goodreads


About the author, Elizabeth Berg Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Tapestry of Fortunes, The Last Time I Saw You, Home Safe, The Year of Pleasures, and Dream When You’re Feeling Blue, as well as two collections of short stories and two works of nonfiction. Open House was an Oprah’s Book Club selection, Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for an Abby Award, and The Pull of the Moon was adapted into a play. Berg has been honored by both the Boston Public Library and the Chicago Public Library. She is a popular speaker at venues around the country, and her work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a reading series designed to serve author, audience, and community. She divides her time between Chicago and San Francisco.


My Thoughts

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Berg’s contemporary fiction for years, so when her newest work, an historical novel about the life of George Sand, was offered to me by the awesome women at TLC Book Tours, I jumped at the chance.

From the very first paragraphs, I was caught in Berg’s delicious prose. It’s haunting, gentle, lyrical, even when she’s discussing things that are not at all gentle (or lyrical). But she’s writing about nineteenth-century France, so the language should feel like that, and the sense of place and time she gives us in this novel is so strong, so vivid, that I found myself not only reading passages of this novel aloud – as I do whenever the language or rhythm really entrances me – but reading it aloud in a French accent. (You would have been enthralled, I tell you, by my performance. My dogs certainly were.)

I always love behind-the-scenes information – I buy DVD’s just for the director’s commentary – and I love a good origin story, and The Dream Lover has both. Yes, we get to see the childhood of the woman who grows up to become George Sand, but we also get a glimpse into her life, her loves (not all of which were fulfilling or successful) and her craft. This is NOT a ‘writing book,’ but it’s definitely a writers’ novel. If you, like me, have literary aspirations, you HAVE to read this.

A passage about the writerly imagination, and how Aurore/George has heard the story of her birth so often that something told to her has become memory, really resonated with me. Here’s the actual passage (I can’t quote page numbers, because I read a digital ARC, but it’s at Loc 372/7% in on the Kindle version):

A writer has a most fertile mind, or he is no writer at all. He has an imagination that soars when given the most meager starts: a wet blade of grass, croissant crumbs on a plate, the sight of a woman hurriedly crossing a street. And in the way that the fiction a writer produces can assume a truth of its own, these details of my birth seem less story to me than memory.

How many of us haven’t shared similar experiences with frequently told stories?

The Dream Lover is full of such nuggets of human truth, and that’s what makes it such a great read. It’s not at all a “beach read,” but it’s not so heavy that you couldn’t read it at the beach, if that’s where you happen to be.

Goes well with A plate of fruit and cheese with a lightly sweetened palmiere pastry and a hand-crafted cappuccino in a proper cup, not some cardboard contraption.


Elizabeth Berg’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, April 13th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, April 14th: Let Them Read Books

Monday, April 20th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, April 20th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, April 22nd: Books on the Table – Bookstore Event post

Wednesday, April 22nd: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, April 27th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, April 28th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, April 28th: The Novel Life

Wednesday, April 29th: Bibliotica – That’s ME

Thursday, April 30th: Life is Story

Thursday, April 30th: History from a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, May 1st: 100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Monday, May 4th: Laura’s Reviews

Monday, May 4th: Book Babe

Wednesday, May 6th: Unshelfish

Monday, May 11th: Broken Teepee

TBD: Unabridged Chick – review

TBD: Unabridged Chick – author Q&A

The Countess’ Captive, by Andrea Cefalo (@andreacefalo) #review #contest #giveaway @hfvbt

Please join Author Andrea Cefalo as she tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Countess’ Captive Blog Tour, from March 23-April 16. Take The Countess’ Captive Playbuzz quiz and enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card!

About the book, The Countess’ Captive The Countess' Captive

  • Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press (February 14, 2015)
  • Pages: 232
  • Formats: eBook, Paperback
  • Series: Book Two, Fairytale Keeper Series
  • Genre: Young Adult/Historical/Fairytale Retelling

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During March of 1248, Adelaide Schumacher-affectionately called Snow White-has lost so much: her mother, her possessions, and now her home.

Adelaide hates abandoning her home city, her family’s legacy, and her first love?Ivo. More than anything, she hates her father growing closer to her mother’s cousin?Galadriel. Adelaide plots to end their tryst before her fate is sealed, and she never sets foot in Cologne again.

But good and pious can only get Galadriel so far. Never again will she be destitute. Never again will she be known by the cruel moniker?Cinderella. Never again will someone take what is rightfully hers. No matter what it takes.

The Countess’ Captive is the much anticipated follow-up to The Fairytale Keeper and is book two in The Fairytale Keeper series. The novel combines Grimm’s fairytale characters with real historical settings and events to create a tale that leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins.

Buy, read, and discuss The Countess’ Captive

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads


Take the The Countess’ Captive Playbuzz Quiz


About the author, Andrea Cefalo

Andrea Cefalo is an award-winning author and blogger on Medieval Europe. The next three novels in The Fairytale Keeper series will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and their two border collies.

Connect with Andrea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest.

Follow The Fairytale Keeper Pinterest Board.


My Thoughts

This is the second book in Andrea Cefalo’s reality-based fairytale series, and it is just as engaging as the first, which I reviewed HERE.

In this book the characters are a little bit older -Adelaide is very much a young woman now, and not so much a girl – but only a little bit, as it picks up not long after the close of book one. While I really liked that the relationship between Adelaide’s father and Galadriel was more developed, and also liked that Adelaide was starting to come into her own both as her mother’s protege, telling stories in her own right, and as her father’s apprentice, I missed the character of Ivo a lot. Not that Adelaide – or any woman – needs to be dependent on a man, but he seemed like such a supportive, nurturing influence, and she doesn’t get enough of that.

One of the fundamental tenets of this book as that Adelaide is our Snow White analog, and the other famous fairytales are woven into the fabric of both the life she lives and the stories she tells, so casting Galadriel (who isn’t so much wicked as conniving, I think) as the stepmother in Cinderella is both the natural reaction of a young girl, and the perfect way to explain their relationship.

What struck me, as I was reading this novel, though, was that while our Snow White doesn’t have a literal glass box surrounding her, she is confined by her place in society, both as the low-born daughter of a man who married up, and as a woman.

Goes well with cottage pie and a dark beer. I chose Negra Modelo.


The Countess’ Captive Blog Tour Schedule The Captive Countess at HFVBT

Monday, March 23
Review at Library Educated
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, March 26
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Friday, March 27
Review at Bibliotica
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Saturday, March 28
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers

Monday, March 30
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, March 31
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, April 1
Review at Shelf Full of Books

Thursday, April 2
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Friday, April 3
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, April 6
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Tuesday, April 7
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, April 10
Review at Boom Baby Reviews

Monday, April 13
Review at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, April 14
Review at A Leisure Moment

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, April 16
Spotlight at Books and Benches

Friday, April 17
Review at A Book Drunkard


Giveaway

To enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the giveaway form below.

Clutch Purse Giveaway

* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 17th.
* You must be 18 or older to enter.
* Only one entry per household.
* All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
* Winner will be chosen via GLEAM on April 18th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

The Countess’ Captive

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner (@cwgortner) #review @tlcbooktours

About the book, Mademoiselle Chanel Mademoiselle Chanel

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 17, 2015)

She revolutionized fashion and built an international empire . . . all on her own terms.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. The nuns of the order nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that would propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Burning with ambition, the petite brunette transforms herself into Coco, by day a hard-working seamstress and by night a singer in a nightclub, where her incandescence draws in a wealthy gentleman who becomes the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, Coco’s sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As her reputation spreads, her couture business explodes, taking her into rarefied circles of society and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her always.

An enthralling novel about an entirely self-made woman, Mademoiselle Chanel tells the true story of Coco Chanel’s extraordinary ambition, passion, and artistic vision.

Read an excerpt of Mademoiselle Chanel.

Buy, read, and discuss Mademoiselle Chanel

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, C. W. Gortner C.W. Gortner

A former fashion executive, C. W. Gortner is a lifelong admirer of Coco Chanel. His passion for writing led him to give up fashion, and his many historical novels have been bestsellers, published in more than twenty countries. He lives in San Francisco.

Connect with C.W.

Website | Facebook | Twitter.


My Thoughts

I don’t think there’s a person in the world who hasn’t at least heard the name “Coco Chanel,” but I’m guessing most people don’t know much about her life. My mother went to fashion design school (FIT) on a Regent’s scholarship, so even though I don’t sew, I know all the icons of fashion, and understand the importance of Chanel to fashion in general and women’s fashion, specifically, and so it was with my mother in mind that I asked to review this novel.

I ended up not merely reading it, but devouring it. It’s a fantastic look at the life of one of the best-known names in contemporary history, and while it is technically fiction, I’m certain that the author C.W. Gortner has done a huge amount of research, because it all feels very real.

From a childhood in abject poverty to an adolescence in a convent, from singing in cafes to becoming someone’s mistress as a means of escaping her small-town life, Coco is a poster-girl for the concept of choice. Some of her choices are high percentage choices, some not so much, but her strong personality and desire not to be indebted people combine to make her, as depicted, a fierce, strong woman, and definitely a proto-feminist (whether or not she ever accepted the label.)

C.W. Gortner has given us Coco’s story in first person, and until I put together my review, I didn’t realize he was a man. I mean this as a compliment. Ususally when male authors write from a female POV there’s something a little ‘off’ about it. In this case, there was not. He writes a female viewpoint as deftly as Arthur Golden did in Memoirs of a Geisha, which was another novel about a strong woman making her own choices.

While I enjoyed all of the detail in this novel, I particularly loved Coco’s discovery of Jersey knits. (My mother would be able to rattle off fifty-three things you can do with Jersey, I’m sure.) That moment was really one of the ‘lightbulb’ moments in Gortner’s novel, whether he meant it to be or not, and I thought it was perfect.

Whenever you fictionalize the life of a real person you have to balance truth with facts (no, they’re not always the same). I can’t speak to whether or not Gortner got every fact correct, but I know that Mademoiselle Chanel has given us the truth of Coco Chanel’s life, and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Goes well with Cappuccino, chocolate croissants, and, for those who smoke, a Gauloise cigarette.


C. W.’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, March 17th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, March 18th: Books Without Any Pictures

Thursday, March 19th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 20th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, March 23rd: West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, March 24th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, March 25th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Thursday, March 26th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Monday, March 30th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, March 31st: Unshelfish

Wednesday, April 1st: Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, April 2nd: Mom’s Small Victories

Friday, April 3rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert #review @netgalley

About the book, A Wilder Rose A Wilder Rose

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 17, 2015)

The Little House books, which chronicled the pioneer adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, are among the most beloved books in the American literary canon. Lesser known is the secret, concealed for decades, of how they came to be. Now, bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert reimagines the fascinating story of Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, an intrepid world traveler and writer who returned to her parents’ Ozark farm, Rocky Ridge, in 1928. There she began a collaboration with her mother on the pioneer stories that would captivate generations of readers around the world.

Despite the books’ success, Rose’s involvement would remain a secret long after both women died. A vivid account of a great literary deception, A Wilder Rose is a spellbinding tale of a complicated mother-daughter relationship set against the brutal backdrop of the Great Depression.

Buy, read, and discuss A Wilder Rose

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Susan Wittig Albert Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert grew up in Illinois, earned her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, and served as an English professor and university administrator at the University of Texas, Tulane University, and Texas State University. A New York Times bestselling author, she has written over fifty mysteries in four different series, as well as other adult fiction, nonfiction, and books for young adults. She lives with her husband, Bill, on thirty-one acres in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, reads, and pursues her other passions: gardening, raising chickens, and doing needlework. She is the founder of the Story Circle Network, an international organization dedicated to helping women tell their stories.

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of the Little House books since I learned how to read, and then I married a man who was raised half an hour from DeSmet, South Dakota. I have walked the banks of Plum Creek (what’s left of it), experienced a winter nearly as cold as the one depicted in The Long Winter, and toured the Little Town on the Prairie more than once. As I grew older, I dove into Laura the person, as opposed to Laura the character, and I’ve read a good number of the books about her.

I’m hardly a scholarly expert on all things Laura, but I’m probably better informed than the average reader, so I came to Susan Wittig Albert’s novel – and it’s important to remember that it is a novel – knowing that the books were much more a collaboration than most readers probably knew. I also came to her novel with a great amount of curiosity about Rose Wilder Lane, herself. I mean, I knew she was a journalist, was instrumental in the founding of the libertarian political movement, and had never had any children that survived past infancy, but the details of her life were largely unknown to me.

In A Wilder Rose Albert gives us a glimpse at one part of Rose’s life – the part surrounding the creation and publication of her mother’s stories, told partly in Rose’s voice, and partly in the voice of a young journalist interviewing Rose. I’m not sure the split perspective was necessary, but it did make an interesting counterpoint. The dialogue and characterization felt appropriate for the period for the most part, but I found her depiction of Laura to be a bit more prim and simpery than the Laura I know from other, scholarly books about her, and I feel like she lost a bit of opportunity to delve into Rose’s personality a bit more deeply. I’ve personally always wondered if Rose was a lesbian – I know this is a common speculation – but Albert didn’t touch on that at all, and I sort of wish she had.

Obviously, when you’re writing a novel about a real person, you have to balance what is right for the story with what is right for history, and ultimately Albert did that, giving us a Rose who is very much her own person, while still being absolutely her mother’s daughter. As the daughter of a woman who has a forceful personality, I know what it’s like to feel somewhat overshadowed. As a creative person in my own right, I know how difficult any kind of collaboration can be.

I’ve seen many reviews take issue with Albert’s depiction of Rose as the driving force behind the Little House… books, basically stating that she was more ghostwriter than editor. I’ve seen material to support her view, and to support a less hands-on approach, and really, I don’t think it matters. This is, after all, a novel, not a scholarly treatise. It offers a possible working relationship that is plausible and interesting, and way more than just ‘behind the scenes of the Laura books.’

Most people who read this novel are probably fans of either LIW’s books or the old NBC series. If that’s the case, their enjoyment of this novel is dependent not on their vision of Rose, but on whether they see Laura-the-writer as a literary icon, or an aging human being with a vast store of memories. My own opinion is that this novel is a really enjoyable read, and really, that’s what’s important.

Goes well with buttered popcorn and crisp apple cider.