Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca Rotert

Posted Thursday, 30 April, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on “Last Night at the Blue Angel” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

A Note on the Cover Art Design:

I can honestly say that this is one time where I prefer the cover art design on the first edition rather than the P.S. Edition, as you will see via the SoundCloud Novel Excerpt and the After Story feature below the review, the original design I felt befit the story much better than this new version which only sought to confuse me when I first received the book. You have to look at it from afar if you can even hope to understand what the image is representing whereas the original design had the elements of the synopsis held within the gaze. The colour hues of the original fit better to as far as atmosphere of the kind of story your about to read.

Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca RotertLast Night at the Blue Angel
by Rebecca Rotert
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Set against the turbulence of 1960s Chicago—a city in transformation—and its legendary jazz scene, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a lush and immensely heartfelt mother-daughter tale about a talented but troubled singer’s relationship with her precocious ten-year-old daughter.

 It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is teeming with the tensions of the day—segregation, sexual experimentation, the Cold War and Vietnam—but it is also home to some of the country’s most influential jazz. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. But when her big break, the cover of Look magazine, finally arrives, it carries with it an enormous personal cost. Sensual and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet self-destructive woman whose charms tend to hurt those around her, and no one knows this better than her daughter, Sophia.

As the only child of a single mother growing up in an adult world, Sophia is wise beyond her years, a casualty of her mother’s desperate struggle for fame and adoration. Unsettled by her home life, she harbors a terrible fear that her world could disappear at any moment, and compulsively maintains a list of everyday objects she might need to reinvent should nuclear catastrophe strike. Her only constant is the colorful and unconventional family that surrounds her and her mother, particularly the photographer, Jim, who is Sophia’s best friend, surrogate father, and protector—but Jim is also deeply in love with Naomi.

Weaving between the perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a poignant and unforgettable story about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have. Part stylish period piece, part heartbreaking family drama, it’s a novel rife with revelations, a vivid and propulsive page-turner—and the major debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by William Morrow

on 14th April, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Hardback, P.S. Edition paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #LastNightAtTheBlueAngel

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Listen to an Excerpt of the Novel:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Rebecca Rotert

Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and other publications. She's also an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.

Reflecting on listening to the audio excerpt:

Caitlin Davies (site) does a wonderful evocation of the emotional thought behind the words being expressed in this transitional moment during the Prologue. Her voice eludes to a greater ‘something’ just past the reader’s point of view and a knowing of ‘something’ quite dire in need of finding to be brought into the open. I liked her style of narrating the story, as her voice is definitely one that you can settle into the book whilst listening to her relate the character and scenes to you as you do.

My first preference ever since I listened to The Ghost Bride is to listen to an audiobook excerpt (if available) before proceeding forward into the text itself. One day, I’d love to collect the audiobooks I have found as I’ve hosted blog tours and those of whom I’ve found on my own through my local library — as a way to step back inside the novels, whilst eagerly absorbing the narrator’s voice, re-defining the story for the second visit.

My review of Last Night at the Blue Angel:

A story spoken through the narrative lens of the daughter, Last Night at the Blue Angel is told as a reflective piece Sophia clues us into her world, on the fringes of the stage whilst observing her mother Naomi. Sophia has a keen sense of both the world at large and the world within her small sphere, resulting in a child who has matured well past her young years, as she’s been thrust into a world that doesn’t yield to childhood. The most unique part of reading this novel is all the dialogue is written in italics as if we’re hearing it second hand, and through the memory of Sophia herself. It is a bit of a journalling of her life, as she perceives it and in this style we get introduced to her life in quite a different way from the way stories are generally written.

What I appreciated about this style is that it is much more introspective and almost intrusive on the inner thoughts of Sophia, as we’re dipping inside her internal process for understanding why her mother is the way she is and why her childhood is not quite typical of others her age. Everything flows quite well and Rotert has a keen sense to pull in and out of focus as if we too, were stepping inside Sophia’s shoes momentarily and only being able to glimpse this or that as the space would allow. Sophia’s a bit shell shocked by certain events happening during this time, such as the death of JFK, and it’s a bit of a fault of her mother’s as she’s not as akin to understanding her daughter’s anxiety as much as the family friend Jim. Jim is one of those dear souls who takes to caring for lost souls like Naomi, and guarding over children who are half-raising themselves like Sophia. Jim is filling a bit of a void where a father would take up residence, and it’s Jim who starts to see Sophia’s lists as a method towards coping. Coping with things she doesn’t quite understand yet, as she’s only eleven years old.

Everything comes out in dripples in this story, as if a facet was left to eek out only a small droplet of water per second, and it is within those droplets your gaining more ground in the novel. The pace is set to a tone that coincides with Sophia’s understanding of what goes on in her mother’s life; whereas Jim has a knowing eye and understands the fuller scope of it all. Sophia, blessed child, doesn’t quite pick up on the fact her mother has a revolving door of suitors, much less the fact her mother is living a bit of a controversial life for the 60s; it was a decade of changes, but even thus, it was still quite remarkable to step outside the lines of where society felt your life should chart itself against the tides.

Reverting backwards into Naomi’s childhood by Chapter 6, we step through time to get a better understanding of how Naomi is the mother she is and why for the life of her she simply doesn’t understand Sophia. Naomi as a child was misunderstood by her parents and by the nuns who ran her school until a new nun replaced her teacher, as she was at her very last wits end trying to teach Naomi. The interesting bit here, is that the new nun recognised the one thing in life that gave Naomi’s heart a bit of soaring light and a bit of hope out of despair. She wasn’t the type of child who enjoyed school as a whole and her life on a farm in Kansas was a bit of a disconnected fit, as she just never felt at ease or at home in this particular place. Yet music held a freedom note inside of it, a note that could help her gain traction into her future if she started to believe in a gift this curious new nun was eluding she had.

The hardest part of Naomi’s journey is self-identity and acceptance of who she is rather than allowing society to dictate to her who she is meant to be. Sophia on the other hand is still a young girl, trying to navigate the world and without the intervention of a ragtag team of ‘extended’ family members who are truly not even related to her but are devouted to her well-being, she might not have grown up as well as she had. Family is not merely centered around those your bourne amongst but can become centrally important to you out of friendship and out of companionship. The definitions of family are explored throughout the context of the novel, but family at it’s heart is meant to reflect those who love you without condition and will support you throughout your life.

Portions of the story felt very realistic to me, as if perhaps the characters were not entirely fictional and could in effect be biographical or based on a lived life outside the pages. There are certain writers who have the capacity to write their stories with such a clarity of insight that it begs to wonder if they personally lived a similar life to those of their characters or if perhaps someone they know of personally have lived through a connective set of circumstances. Told through the lens of Literary fiction this story will definitely give you a lot to contemplate about how motherhood can be viewed not quite as a blessing to a mother whose going through a life crisis without even realising it verse how a daughter starts to awaken inside her own soul to understand more than she ever dared felt she could.

Reflecting on the debut of Rebecca Rotert:

There is quite a heavy undertow to this novel, as Rotert guides the reader through the emotional angst and the coming-of age moments of Sophia, a young girl caught up in a firestorm of fame her mother is attempting to not only achieve but thrive inside. Rotert definitely has a way of setting a stage for the backdrop of the 1960s to take almost a secondary role in her story, as the true character who stands out the most is Sophia. She writes her novel with a willingness to allow the reader to fill in the missing pieces to curate the gaps between what she reveals and what she eludes just outside of the scope of the chapters.

Rotert has found a way to give her characters a lasting voice on behalf of their lives, but gives the reader a bit of pause to understand them, whilst learning to accept them as they are as flawed as any character could be, but with a few redeeming qualities as well. Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This book review was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:
TLC Book Tours | Tour Host
A Special ‘after story’ feature:

This is a P.S. Edition novel by William Morrow, as I have previously disclosed on other novels I’ve reviewed on behalf of TLC and William Morrow as being my ‘favourite’ editions to receive! It is the inclusive extra bits they add to the Appendix sections of the novel that light my day up with joy! Imagine finding not only an audio excerpt to listen to as I start to read this novel but a special ‘after story’ feature! There is a beautiful song being sung for the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds! Author Rebecca Rotert starts to talk shortly after the song ends.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Last Night at the Blue Angel”, book synopsis, author photograph of Rebecca Rotert, author biography and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The book excerpt via SoundCloud for “Last Night at the Blue Angel” and the extra feature audio excerpt on behalf of the novel had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 30 April, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobook Excerpt, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Chicago, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, History, Jazz Musicians, Jazz Singers, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Nun, Photography, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Soundcloud, The Sixties, TLC Book Tours




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3 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca Rotert

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Shoop!

      Thank you for your beautiful compliment on my behalf! This novel has a lot of intricate layers inside it which both took me for surprise and left me quite pensive. The author has such an unique style of crafting the story itself, that you simply move forward on an emotional keel that she is providing you to feel. I was torn by expressing that Sophia was my favourite character, as although she is because the story is centered around her as a whole, it is Naomi I think that had a hard walk to live because she struggled so very much with her self-identity.

      I hope as you read it, you’ll see the beauty I saw in the characters who gave us the grounding of experiencing the story in a way only they could relate the story back to us. Re-visit me if you can, I’d love to know your thoughts after you read it!

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