Blog Book Tour | “In Spite of Lions” by Scarlette Pike

Posted Friday, 23 March, 2018 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past three years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I received a complimentary copy of “In Spite of Lions” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I also read the copy my library purchased (due to my request) whilst finishing the story as I happily was the first person who borrowed the novel. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this story:

I have been looking forward to reading this story for quite a long while – as I still remember finding out about the story *ahead* of Ms Pike contacting me about the blog tour! I was trying to sort out if this was going on a blog tour or if it was a book I ought to ask my library to purchase. In the end, I was able to join the tour *and!* find out the happy news my library accepted the purchase request! In the end, however, I nearly wasn’t sure if the book would arrive – from the publisher or the library, as was the last person to receive her copy to review. I ended up reading my review copy *and!* the library copy in tandem as I left one at home whilst the other was a bit more portable as I continued to read the story itself.

I was striving to make the last day of the tour – except due to my health issues these past few weeks and the tech difficulties I couldn’t circumvent (making blogging a nightmare!) – it turnt out I ran out of the hours I needed to finish the story prior to St. Patrick’s Day weekend. If my weekend had been without a small smidge of strife, I might have had a bit more time to read as well. However, the good news is I am able to run this review on Friday to catch everyone seeking out their #weekendreads! I am blessed to finish my readings and happily share my ruminative thoughts on behalf of this lovely debut novel: In Spite of Lions whilst moving through the tour route to see what everyone else had to say on its behalf.

The closer I was coming to receiving the novel in the Post, I spied Ms Bruno (of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) reading a copy of the story and saw The Lit Bitch was keen on reading it as well! Imagine!? And, here I was thinking I’d be talking to them about it – rather than finding out they already knew! I love how those of us who *love!* reading Historical Fiction have the tendency to find the same books at the *exact!* same time! lol

Truly what initially convinced me to read this story is what I had mentioned on Twitter – who wouldn’t contemplate what the rest of the world was getting up to whilst Mr Darcy was trying to get acquainted with Lizzie!? As this was lead-in towards understanding the timescape via the author’s website. From that one small revelation – combined with the briefest synopsis I’ve seen in a long time – I felt an intense curiosity to seek out what was inside this novel!

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Notation on Cover Art: As soon as I saw the cover for this novel, I was transfixed on the image of Anna and the lion who is super-imposed through her portrait. The effect of which is quite incredible when your holding the book in your hands and it is becoming a fast favourite of all covers & the dimensional effects you can have whilst giving a glimpse into your story & characters.

Blog Book Tour | “In Spite of Lions” by Scarlette PikeIn Spite of Lions
Subtitle: They warned her that Africa was dangerous... they couldn't know it would be her santuary.
by Scarlette Pike
Source: Borrowed from local library, Direct from Publisher, Purchase REQ | local library

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

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ISBN: 978-1462120642

Published by Sweetwater Books

on 13th February, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 184

 Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistoricalFiction + #InSpiteOfLions

About Scarlette Pike

Scarlette Pike

Scarlette Pike became a writer by being an avid reader of Georgette Heyer and many other regency authors. She is a senior in UVU’s English program with an emphasis in Literature Studies. In Spite of Lions is her first finished novel inspired by her love for the regency era. The story has been carefully researched in order to preserve and promote historical accuracy.

Photo Credit: Alyssia Baird Photography

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My review of in spite of lions:

There is a subtle comfort in not knowing the place your foot will fall. I could not worry about my next step, because I could not change it. My faith has been buoyed out of darkening obscurity by a voice as sweet as the rush of a river. Time alone could not have awakened it, and my efforts alone, as vengeful or as angry as I acted, could never have so invigorated myself. Yet a voice of hope awakened the beast with agitated fervor and it roared now, pulling me forward into the vague and friendless unknown. And I was not afraid to follow.

-quoted from In Spite of Lions by Scarlette Pike, with permission of the publisher

Straight from the start, this opening paragraph gave me just enough of an inkling of what was motivating Anna to step into the throes of the unknown to tempt me to walk beside her as generally speaking, I don’t usually gravitate towards vague opening bridges. There is something different about Anna and most specifically, it is her true courage and the heart of her strength lying in the belief what she is embarking towards doing is where she is meant to ‘be’ rather than to continue to subject herself to a life she no longer feels she can live; this much you can gather from how Ms Pike has crafted the opening passages. Yet, even in those expansive arches of insight, I kept roving back to the beginning,… to this paragraph and how it hauntingly felt like a foreshadow to the entire story.

As we’re greeting Anna, she’s has enough moxie in her blood and bones to re-draw the course of her life – she boldly seeks out passage on the first available ship bound for a place she doesn’t even appear to wish to know about as the only thing weighing on her heart at that point is ‘will she or will she not’ gain the passage she seeks? It is interesting which barriers are attempted to be placed on her path and how she seeks to circumvent them. Even in her haste, she is a planner to pivot round those who seek to deter a woman’s enterprise whilst owning to the fact, when your about to take the greatest leap of faith of your life, sometimes it is best to go so bold as to effectively buoy the conviction you need with the hope of what your tomorrow will bring.

As I read Ms Pike’s disclosure of connection between the Livingstone’s and Anna in the back pages of the novel ahead of reading the first chapter, I was expecting their arrival. I had first felt they might not take their entrance cues until we reached the dock by which Anna would exit her former life and enter the new one she forged for herself on hard-won bravery and a resolute manner of refusing to believe a woman can’t stand on her own feet. However, Ms Pike surprised me – the Livingstone’s (Mary and the children, at least) were to take passage with Anna and thereby, giving us ample time to become acquainted with them as we juxtaposition between the old and new life Anna is seeking to embrace.

Right as we’re getting settled on board the ship and hoping Anna can find even a small measure of peace you can tell she hasn’t felt in quite a long while – we’re giving a jolt of a heart-pulse instead! In the first flashback which starts to reveal her fuller back-story, we find the reasons why Anna is fleeing and why her haste to rush into an unknown destination is truly a grace she needs to seek shelter inside. Your so rooted to the page, unable to fully even conceal your own reactions as you read the words – the somberness of her anguish and the unresolvement of her grief yet there is a powerful message in what is spoken and said, too. Her life truly has been a complicated one up until this point.

There are poetic passages within this novel – such as how the sun is a metaphor for human emotions and how we internalise our world. Ms Pike has writ a story which is not only a joy to disappear inside but she has crafted a heroine who is seeking the world on her own terms and giving us a presentation of how such a lady as her in her generation could will herself to dream of something ‘else’ than what was readily expected or unduly endured. It is a novel which speaks to the human condition but also to the journey of our souls – of how far we are willing to escape our past or rightly so, to re-invent our present if we have a hope of a will to secure a future outside of what is currently known about us. In essence, this is a novel about how powerful it is to take your will and fortitude to re-envision how life can be transformed on daring to live against the norms of a society who doesn’t acknowledge you. (at least, this seemed to be the impression early-on) You gathered something served as an insurrection in Anna’s life… something stopped her from wanting to be inside the life she was bourne and whatever it was it was enough fuell to re-direct her elsewhere completely removed from civilisation as she once knew it.

I was quite intrigued by how Ms Pike was letting us become clued into Anna’s past – of how she lived in fear of her mother and how her mother controlled her to such an extent she was barely human after awhile as she was quite literally absent of her faculties as a daughter. She did as she was bid but it wasn’t ever enough and the toils this took against her spirit and against her will to find a way forward in her life – is crushingly realistic by how Ms Pike chose to re-examine and highlight this period of Anna’s life whilst she is within sight of her new place of residence.

She stood out against the crew on the ship, her manner of speech was more forthright than they were accustomed to accepting and even her locks of hair being as they were (shorter than the norm) left her in a category of her own choosing but not entirely tolerated by others either. She was willing herself to dare the impossible – to find a way to fight for the right to live as she choose vs living against the will of someone who only wished to bend her will to their own. You could tell she wouldn’t tolerate a life spent like the one she had escaped – no, a traditional life was not hers to seek and yet, she was surrounded by those who felt she was simply a headstrong and foolish girl. Same one – as Mrs Livingstone although cast in the background whilst aboard ship still had a presence which left you believing if anyone would accept Anna, it would be Mary.

There are small gestures in this story which happily surprised me – such as how the Captain, known to Anna in her former life in England was not quite the fellow she presumed him to be – this is held captive from her observation but given to the reader. He, in turn, surprised himself in taking pity with a air of compassion on Anna. The interesting bit here is how both characters are evolving and side-stepping themselves – they turn to face us, yet bits of them remain hidden. It is almost as if there are only certain aspects of their personalities and of their soul’s essence they wish to have seen by others; the whole of themselves to be locked deep inside their interior walls.

It has been quite a long while since I could handle medical narratives – at one point in my life, of course, I devoured them. At the moment, only certain stories of midwives will suffice but even those I have to temper quite a bit for the ‘lighter’ ones on the scenes involving the most difficult of choices made to save a life of Mum or babe or both alike. I must give credit to Ms Pike – not since I saw ‘Master and Commander’ on the big screen have I felt someone could guttingly represent the arduously difficult choices a sea captain must make to save one of his own whilst finding the raw courage to make medical evaluations which could re-set a man on a path of wellness or a short stop to the grave. In this, she has my admiration and my gratitude – for even though the scenes are as dramatic as an episode of ‘M*A*S*H’ and just as raw in how they were approached for humbled authentic realism – so, too, in this novel Ms Pike was able to honour those sea captains who had to perform well outside their standard duties.

As an aside, graphically speaking – she toyed the line between the horror of the moment and the medical necessities you’d observe in series like ‘Quincy, M.E.’ or ‘Emergency!’ wherein you get the gist but you don’t have to see it all laid out dead to rights in front of you. She has some cheek of comedy interwoven as well – which definitely is a page out of ‘M*A*S*H’ as well – war or life at sea each have their adversities where the fragility of human life hangs in the balance of unforeseen events which seek to reveal our truer selves – Anna chose to rise through her fear and take command of the situation; another crewman was unable to do so – thus, giving the strongest impression of how all lives aboard a ship are never guaranteed a safe return.

I was grateful to find how Anna’s first impressions about the Dark Continent aligned with my own research and readings about Africa as a young girl. This was a period of the country’s history where it was still as untamed as our American West; where people were still helping to define it’s future path and where it was settling into how it wanted to be ruled. Here, we find everyone from the women who balanced work, life and children to the men to be as visually representative of themselves as we’d expect to find them if it had been us who disembarked from the ship rather than Anna. It is a story you keep re-aligning inside as you draw further into the journey Anna has undertaken; even I, as the reader of her story have taken on her new identity as her own as this is her transformatative experience – the time in which she emerges out of her cocooned state and finds her wings of freedom.

Anna soon realised her limitations in life were not as simple to overcome as she might have felt they could be as Mrs Livingstone quietly and rather bluntly had to point out to her once they had arrived where they would work alongside each other. Mrs Livingstone was continuing Anna’s education – to encompass the finer arts of independent living whilst giving her the tools all women should know at one time or another in their lives. For Anna, it was a stark reality to realise how much she had lost by the toils of her mother who only sought to destroy her – heart and soul – whereas Mrs Livingstone sought to rebuild her bit by bit into a woman who could firmly stand wherever she chose to plant herself.

Part of her new realities of finding herself in a world full of new customs and living practices heralded my mind back into the classic film The Quiet Man (starring John Wayne) as despite the fact he was an Irish-bourne American returning to Ireland to claim his ancestral home and namesake – he was a fish out of water just as much as Anna. They each had to learn how to handle themselves in a new environment where there were rules of custom and tradition – whilst the benefit of placing themselves in such a removed place from whence they had originally come is the unseen blessing of being able to re-define who they were and how they wanted others to view them. Being tucked into their journey at the point of arrival gives us the pleasure of seeing how far they could grow and how well they adapt to the situations which arrive.

Observing the native residents of this part of Africa and the Livingstone’s – you start to see how respect for differences was not easily understood during their period of time anymore than it is now due to how some of the other travellers to this area misrepresented themselves and meet a grievous fate. It speaks to how a lot of people who travel disregard the fact they are merely ‘visiting’ a new place and are not meant to impede on the pace and flow of the region their walking inside. They are meant to appreciate the time they have there but to not takeaway the natural order of life which has survived longer than their feet against this shore.

Anna also reminded me of the settlers who went West to claim land and homestead – she was out of her depths in many regards but she had her faith, her wit and a grit of determined air to round out her character. She is truly a remarkable character to read about because of how well illuminated she became by Ms Pike who I can tell had a firm impression of Anna as she was writing her story. She put so much into Anna’s development but also into the backbone of who the Livingstone’s were and how they impacted the people around them. There are distinctive voices rising out of the historical artifacts and antidotes to where you can appreciate the dedication Ms Pike gave to this insight on their lives. Fact and fiction are co-dancers within this thread of history – but if you were question who was the living persons and who were the fictional, I daresay you might struggle to sort out who was whom!

On the historical writing styling of scarlette pike:

The writers who get me at ‘hallo’ the most are the ones who find a way to curate a fusion of ’emotionally stimulating’ narrative against the character arc of someone who is in the midst of becoming who they are meant to be. I personally adore ‘coming-of age’ tales but they are not limited to the young nor the old for that matter – as they truly embrace everyone who is on a path towards reconciling the life they have for the life they know they are meant to be living. It is an about-face turning of the tides – to see yourself as you ought to be seen but also, to have the insightful honesty of knowing when you haven’t fully realised who it is you want to be in your future.

Despite the ambiguous beginning, of where we have small threads of insight into who Anna was in her former life vs who she is presenting herself to being now in her present as she straddles the bridge of time between the present and future; we find ourselves engaged with the narrative as Ms Pike has cast it against the page. She took the emotional heart of Anna and fuelled our readerly interest by the curiosity of not knowing Anna’s full story within the opening bridge. It’s a tricky execution, as if it’s done properly such as how Ms Pike approached it, she grabs your soul along with your heart because you have immediate empathy for your central lead character.

However, I’ve also known other stories which attempt to do this and have fallen a bit short for me to feel anchoured inside them. (ex. see also review) What makes Ms Pike’s story stand on solid ground is how she keeps you curious about what she will disclose next whilst giving you just enough to satisfy your immediate curiosities about Anna and this journey she is by all accounts foolhardily going into with youthful pride. I, mind feel she is well within her rights to pursue a path she is being called to live but I am sure others might think her naivety is showing by trying to take such a strong step forward during an era and age where this kind of fierce independent belief in oneself isn’t generally supported nor favoured. Yet, as we know, there are beautiful exceptions and I felt Anna championed those who dared to believe in themselves even at times where their courage to start to falter.

Ms Pike has dealt a steady had of difficult topics within the text itself – such as the building blocks of hatred and how people who hate are truly toxifying themselves even moreso than the others in which are in direct line of their words. She also unravelled the horrors of domestic abuse, mental health, mental illness and the difficulties of finding multicultural equality. Each turn of the narrative, Ms Pike draws you closer to the centre of her purpose in telling this story – she has crafted a thinking narrative wherein your meant to examine the finer points of her novel whilst feeling as if you’ve lived a lifetime in her character’s shoes.

I am overjoyed I had the pleasure of reading her debut novel & will happily be keeping my eye on her future releases – she is definitely an author I can rally behind due to how well she handles her subjects & narratives alike. She is visually creative as much as she is a wordsmith who loves to evoke an emotional connection out of her readers to the heart of her writerly muse – in essence, you will not want to put down her novel nor find your exit too soon from her story.

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This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaFollow the Virtual Road Map

by visiting the blog tour route:

In Spite of Lions blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaI would like thank the publisher & the author for being patient with me as I continued to work on my review which is now posting shortly after the blog tour. I simply needed a small extension in order to finish the story. I’ve been working on questions to ask Ms Pike and to host the interview I had intended to run concurrent with this blog tour. I appreciate your patience, dear hearts and to those who have been following the blog tour – as I truly was thankful to receive this novel for review.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Book cover of “In Spite of Lions”, synopsis for “In Spite of Lions”, author photo of Scarlette Pike and her biography, the blog tour banner and Cedar Fort Publishing badge were all provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission Quote from “In Spite of Lions” selected by Jorie is being used with permission of the publisher Cedar Fort. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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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 Friday, 23 March, 2018 by jorielov in Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Brothers and Sisters, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Christianity, Coming-Of Age, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Dr Livingstone and Mary Livingstone, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Immigrant Stories, Indie Author, Life Shift, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychological Abuse, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Twin Siblings, Women's Fiction, Women's Health

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “In Spite of Lions” by Scarlette Pike

  1. Carolyn Steele

    Lovely, lovely review! Thank you for introducing me me to Ms. Pike’s writing, and for sharing what brought you so much joy in this book. One more on my list of must-reads!

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Steele,

      My apologies for taking such a long time to respond – March turnt into a rather bad lead-up til April, as I had six straight weeks of bad health. Concluding of course with an epic migraine – this is the first week where I felt well enough to re-read over the inbound commentary and try to put a dent into responding to everyone’s kind notes! I even had to suspend some of my guest features – such as the interview for Ms Pike and Ms Chapman – I’m hoping I can still bring those to my blog; time will see. Very thankful you caught sight of this one – it is a hard-hitting drama, it’s not writ the way you initially thought it might be as there is so much more to the story than the preliminary scope you think you’ve caught sight of in the synopsis and opening bridge of the novel! I was quite impressed truly and hope you’ll enjoy reading this one when you get the chance. Blessed for your visit!

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