A #blogmas #TopTenTuesday No.9 | Taking a nudge from Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum – Jorie’s Favourite #newtomeauthors of 2019!

Posted Tuesday, 31 December, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 23 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

[Official Blurb] Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature / weekly meme created by The Broke & the Bookish. The meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke & the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your Top 10 Lists! In January, 2018 this meme is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

[Topic of New Year’s Eve, 2019:

Went OT & turnt the Top Ten Books Read in 2019
into Mogsy’s Top Ten #NewToMeAuthors List
which technically builds off Jorie’s unpublished
Mid-Year Freak-Out Tag!]

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Why I wanted to give one last Top Ten Tuesday for 2019:

I’ve been wanting to participate in the *Mid-Year Freak Out* tag for quite a number of years now – being a Six Year Book Blogger one would have thought I could have joined this tag *years ago!* – however, for whichever reason, the timing wasn’t right for me until *2019!* Except to say, my Summer was wrecked by more than *one!* plumbing fiasco which led to some seriously EPIC floods in the flat which nearly broke my spirits and my readerly blissitudes! In essence, I never did release the Mid-Year Freak Out tag when I originally wrote it in July!

I earnestly attempted to keep this list limited to a Top Ten List – however, as you will soon realise, I er, loved a bit more than 10x #newtomeauthors in 2019!

This is over and beyond the joy of being able to read more new stories by already beloved favourites – especially within the Contemporary Romance & Suspense categories – I’m looking at you Harlequin Heartwarming and Clare Chase! Whilst I loved revisiting a beloved series of mine (Anna Blanc) and other such lovelies throughout the year which will be happily cheered over once I sort out my final of the best favourites which will be presented in-line with my 2019 *End of the Year Survey* which has been horridly overdue for the past few years,…

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I divided my list into my Top Read Genres for 2019 which are as follows:

Historical Fiction → featuring six authors

Speculative Fiction → featuring eight authors

Contemporary Romance → featuring seven authors

& an Eclectic Sampling of the other Genres/Themes I regularly read

→ featuring ten different selections of stories!

For a grand total of being Jorie’s Top 32 #NewToMeAuthors of 2019!

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DUE NOTE: all the books featured on this Top Ten Tuesday were books sent to me for review consideration and/or were part of my participation on blog tours wherein the book itself was featured and reviewed. With the exception of the following: Christmas Once Again by Jina Bacarr; Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire; Mount Vernon Love Story by Mary Higgins Clark; A Changed Agent by Tracey J. Lyons; Deadly Exchange & Taken by Lisa Harris andThe Amish Witness by Diane Burke – all of which were borrowed through my local library. Christmas Once Again was also a purchase request of mine which was accepted and added into the card catalogue.

A note of connection: Of all the authors listed on this List – Jennifer Silverwood and I have become friends betwixt and between the blog tours I’ve hosted on behalf of her stories. We simply hit it off due to a mutual passion for SpecLit stories and the fantastical realms we both love to immerse our bookish hearts inside.

Some of the authors represented on this list were also featured guests and/or are upcoming featured guests on my @SatBookChat. View the Archived List of Guests for the Chat and the Winter 2020 Schedule of Guests. The archives for these chats are still under construction but quite a few are found in @SatBookChat’s Moments.

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#TopTenTuesday for New Year's Eve 2019 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Thanks to Mogsy for inspiring me to fill out this topic which I happen to tweet about
throughout the year(s) as I use the tag #newtomeauthor quite a heap!

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Best New To Me Authors of

Historical Fiction

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The Fire in Winter by D.K. MarleyThe Girl from Oto by Amy MaroneyRepentance by Andrew Lam

Sign of the White Foal by Chris ThorndycroftThe Medallion by Cathy GohlkeChristmas Once Again by Jina Bacarr

The Fire of Winter by DK Marley | see also Review

The Girl from Oto by Amy Maroney | see also Review

Repentance by Andrew Lam | see also Review

Sign of the White Foal by Chris Thorndycroft | see also Review

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke | see also Review

Christmas Once Again by Jina Bacarr | see also Review

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When I first learnt The Fire of Winter had to do with MacBeth, I admit, I was slightly cautious about what I might find inside the greater context of the storyline! What I found was a wicked intriguing origin story about how Lady MacBeth turnt into who she became due to what she experienced, what she survived and the circumstances of her life which shaped who she ultimately became! It is a very intriguing spun story and it is not for the faint of heart either because of how emotionally convicting Marley has written Lady MacBeth’s tale. I had the pleasure of joy of hosting Ms Marley during one of my @SatBookChat‘s this year and it became the capstone of my reading experience with this novel.

→ Sadly at the time of this post, I hadn’t realised that Ms Marley’s social accounts had been hacked and the convo during #SatBookChat is now lost unless her Twitter account can be restored as all of her data and tweets are simply erased! I wanted to tag her on this post via Twitter and this sadly is when I learnt what happened as I checked all her links; only a short note posted to her GoodReads informed me of what had happened! My thoughts are with her this morning as that is such a terrible ordeal to have to go through and a very real one for all of us online. IF you are curious about her stories please stay patient as she is in the process of restoring her online presence.

I am looking forward to continuing to seek out Marley’s stories – as she has a knack for rounding out her characters with chillingly realistic Historical backdrops which give you something to contemplate outside your normal readerly adventures. I am also hoping as she makes her way through the canon of Shakespeare I can start to read the plays of Shakespeare alongside the releases as I had intended to do with The Fire of Winter.

Marley has written an historical novel rife with conflict and the secrets which never stay in the past but which re-rise in the future when they are meant to be known. Her Lady MacBeth is a woman who is attempting to right the wrongs against her by taking action as an adult when she couldn’t act as a child. It is a story of redemption but also, of self-sacrifice as in this version of MacBeth you understand better what anchoured her to the darker roots of her faith and how the Earthen Spirituality she shared with her Mum was the only grounding foundation she had to battle against the horrors of her youth.

Marley also broaches the current topics of women’s rights, domestic violence against women and the suffering hours of being victims of sexual violence as children. She moves instinctively through the actions of the present and counters it with the recollected memories of the past to where you can overlay the past with the present and understand how everyone is on this collision course to where fate, life and death are interchanging their roles. It is a story that is fuelled by revenge but it is also a story of injustice and the purity of true love which seeks to rise through the ashes and lay claim to the purity of how love when it is freely given is a freedom of its own.

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When I first read the premise of the novel The Girl from Oto – I was rather charmed by the time shift narrative as reading dual timelines in stories is one of my favourite past-times! I like seeing how different writers handle the stories and how the duality of the focus is built through the distinctiveness of having two timescapes to disappear inside as we follow the central lead characters.

It is through this exploration of the human condition, of humanity’s progress and the journeys we venture forth into embracing through this portal of interest where we seek out the most hope for the future because we have a better foundational understanding of whence we’ve previously have travelled.

And, this is what you will find inside the novel:

Quite immediately, as your starting to settle into the narrative you start to notice a few distinctive changes in the ways in which Maroney reveals her writing style – the turns of phrase, the alternative ways in which she is using descriptive narrative and the joyfulness of finding words being used in her story which are not always selected for use in others. One of my favourite reasons for reading – across genres – is noting the turns of phrase, the dialogue choices and the mannerisms of illuminating a story to a reader’s perspective. Maroney gives a feast for the eyes, mind and heart – this is a story not only writ with a purpose but with an eye for detail. It has been awhile since I’ve found a wordsmith whose taken me by surprise and delight in how they’ve set the tone of their story and the usage of the words in which form the foundation of the portal to their world.

One of the things I appreciated about Maroney’s style of crafting this series is how she chose what to highlight in-scene and how she chose to pull back. There is a definitive emotional threading of centre within the heart of this novel and she elected to continue to maintain that focus as we moved between characters and timelines of interest. There were times where she could have pulled closer to the horrors of what was happening (ie. when Marguerite was greeted with the death of her father-in-law) but she instead focused on how her characters were reacting and how their emotional responses told more of their character than anything they could have spoken aloud.

It isn’t often you find a story which stands out from others – by the way it was written, how it was assembled if it were a series and also, what makes it uniquely original. For me, as I read The Girl from Oto – I found a wonderfully Feminist driven plot, strong female leads and an atmosphere of introspective intuitiveness from the past. I found her style not just sophisticated in its scope but multi-layered as she tucked you close to the footsteps of her characters. You didn’t just re-live their lives as they are being depicted but you took a very emotionally connective journey with them.

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I have had a rather purposeful intention of re-directing the kinds of war dramas & historical fiction stories set during the war era for quite a long while now. I have more of a desire to read human interest stories & stories on the home front than I do the grit and horrors of war itself. Sometimes these themes can overlap and sometimes a story you think is more character centred could take you back to the battlefield directly (such as what happened with Royal Beauty Bright) – but what I intend to find are the storycrafters who know how to anchour me to that historical period, take me through the arc of a character’s life and give me something hearty to contemplate after I’ve put the book aside.

Lam was the first author to do this in 2019. And, I was thankful for finding his novel! It also lead me to finding his publisher & I am looking forward to highlighting another of their authors in early Winter 2020.

Lam has a critical eye for medical drama and emergency medical depictions – it brought me back to why I loved watching ER and M*A*S*H even though I’ve seen more medical dramas than most and each of them in turn brought something new for me to enjoy about how close we were knitted inside the medical staff’s personal and professional lives. The accuracy of his pacing and the delivery of the necessary visuals was bang-on brilliant and what I liked most is the realism he gave it as some authors try but cannot always grab a hold of what Lam can give – a benefit of course due to his own professional background in the medical field. He has a true gift for medical narrative and I was thankful I had a chance to experience it.

What I loved most about reading Repentance is how it was fully fleshed out – from the narrative to the dialogue to the back-stories – Lam has a particular eye for evoking emotional depth out of his Historical Fiction giving you as a reader a keen understanding of the subject he’s chosen to explore. He makes you feel rooted inside the setting, the texture of his characters lives but more to the point, he has ample space to let his characters breathe – letting their journey overtake your imagination and to become fused with their path as you read his novel. It is a special treat to find this kind of writer as it makes reading their stories wicked wonderful.

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Sign of the White Foal carries forward a keen interest I have in Camelot and of such has begun to become its own unique journey in seeking out after canon stories featuring King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin & everyone else connected to this world (good or bad). The journey I am taking has led me through the Feminist driven lens of Nicole Evelina’s Guinevere Tale Trilogy which began with Daughter of Destiny and this inspired me seek out Thorndycroft’s perspective which tackles everything from King Arthur’s purview.

Next I am reading Jon Black’s Bel Nemeton this Winter 2020 (ie. January!) which will re-shift my perspective into Merlin. I’ll be reading in sequence of this novel the Non-Fiction account Evelina left for us about Guinevere in her book The Once and Future Queen before I make enroads on my journey inside Signe Pike’s The Lost Queen which fittingly feels right to follow these readings.

What hooked me inside Sign of the White Foal rather immediately was the beauty of how it was told – Thorndycroft is a wordsmith and a sage. The way he found the words and turns of phrase to place us into this lost century, where men found bravery in battle at times where courage felt lost in their bones was the beauty of reading the story for me. I loved how it had this aged effect – you could definitely re-assert yourself into the historic past without fear of feeling this was a contemporary told tale – wherein, the sensory clues and the ways in which Thorndycroft narrated his story had a heart of these ancient men, honouring their legacies but also their legends.

His narrative styling reminded me of why I loved reading Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder – there is something wicked unique about how he approached writing this Arthurian time portal. You can readily step through his world and feel adjusted to it – even if you are only peering into his world on the fringes of reading a handful of Arthurian legends and/or after canons. He easily helps you make this transition – it is one of the centuries I am under-read inside and thereby, one that I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d quickly feel anchoured. I did not have to worry – the readings I had undertaken in the past helped me but also, the stories in Historical Fiction which are battle heavy and laden with the dramatic journey centred on a character who is rising into power, acquiring the personal agency to step through their destiny and to right the stars they need to align back into balance.

I truly feel like I’ve found a new author I can read quite happily through different installments and series due to how he’s telling his characters’ lives. I definitely want to acquire the first trilogy in which this is progressively building upon as it would be wicked brilliant to back-read the origins of this timescape and to better understand the nuances I am quite sure I overlooked despite devouring every inch of Sign of the White Foal.

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The second Historical novelist who gave me a contemplative take on the war era was Ms Gohlke whose emotionally evocative story truly never let’s go of its grip on you! You’re heart bleeds with her characters, your soul is as anguished as their losses and the story re-aligns what you previously understood about the war and the conditions of what the Jewish families had to undergo during one of history’s blackest marks of shame for persecution.

She doesn’t just tell the story – you quite literally LIVE the story alongside her characters and there is a rawness of realism in how she’s told it.

Gohlke slips us back and forth through the toils of anguish between Rosa and Itzhak’s journey back into Warsaw to find Rosa’s Mum and how their lives are being lived concurrently to Sophie’s own journey to endure what the war has brought to them all. There is such an emotional eclipse to reading how Rosa finds her mother – how all those hours of worriment and fear, suddenly collide into the realisation that if they had even hesitated for a second longer, they might not have found her alive. You dig into their lives with such a heart-pulse on their emotions and their internal struggles to find compassionate patience with what is happening that you cannot erase the hardening realities that they are currently facing. They can barely find the courage to believe there is a future for them but first, they must fight the everyday battles just to alleviate the most ordinary of concerns that are still important to address. It was here where your heart went out to Rosa – how seeing her mother was both an emotional release but also a rooting of the realities of how much her mother had lost after the sudden death of her father.

My heart felt full after reading The Medallion – there is so much to digest after reading a story of this magnitude and the fact that this particular novel was inspired by real events and the real persons who lived this story only sought to amplify it more for me. The hardest part of course is Sophie’s choices – how she not only endured but she fought for ways to improve the lives of those who were struggling during the war. This had a boomerang effect on her own soul though – she made critical choices that at the time felt right for her to make but in the end, they held a high cost that she was almost unwilling to face and to put back to rights lateron.

In that way, what nearly breaks your heart is what sacrifice Sophie is motivated to ask of Itzhak and how selfish she comes across when she does. It is a harsh reality war – it changes you and it makes you do things you might not have considered previously out of desperation and out of necessity to survive. In Sophie’s case, her heart splintered into different pieces not just from the war but from the loss of her unbourne child. That marked her for the rest of her life – it would become a cornerstone of her future choices and it would effectively cause her to do things some of us might not have done ourselves because we could not directly relate to that kind of untethering her soul went through with her heart.

Gohlke has written an impressive novel about the harrowing route a person can take to survive an adverse circumstance and anchoured it through a testament of faith. How without hope and faith, none of us are strong enough to face tomorrow but it is tomorrow which might hold the greatest test of all. To face not just what you fear but to find a way to heal the past by the actions you can take today. This is a riveting real and honest story which pays homage to those who lived those hours in Warsaw and never knew what their future could become today.

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I, admit, even though I knew I had chatted about Christmas Once Again *twice!* before reading it – there was something to be said for how it was written and how the story itself forever moved my heart! This was a #bookHUG of joy to read during Christmastime this year and it is a book I cherish having found during #HistFicChat!

The second convo took place during #SatBookChat in case anyone was wondering,… it is by an author I expect more good things from in the New Year and onward past 2020. She’s writing the kind of emotionally stirring Romantic Historicals I love devouring and I couldn’t be happier for having begun my readerly journey with Christmas Once Again!

I haven’t just found a new author to love reading though – through our conversations a friendship has begun to sprout and I am dearly thankful for the unexpected joy that has brought into my life. Seriously though – you have to read the full review to fully understand why this novel had such a deep impact on my life this Christmas as this short extract only briefly brings my impressions into focus. You’ll be seeing me talk & blog & converse about Ms Bacarr well into 2020 and I can’t wait to share more of my readerly experiences with you!

From the moment you pick up Christmas Once Again – your heart feels like it is fully entwined into the soul of Kate, journeying after her, clicking into her heels and finding yourself struck by the unfairness of time and of the heartless way war can alter your life’s trajectory. Bacarr gives you such a deeper reason for taking this journey with Kate – she tucks you into her internal war of thoughts, memories and the earnest hopes of a young girl turnt thirty-something woman who aches after what ‘could have been’ despite the fact she had to reinvent herself in the future – moving towards a career which sustained her but only giving her a half-life to live. This is the truer beauty of the piece – of anchouring you so wholly through this portal of time, romance and life to feel as if the book itself has filled your own soul with Kate’s experiences as they’ve become imprinted into your own memories and stitched a new tapestry of thought into your own soul.

I found this novel unputdownable due to the emotional attachment I had to Kate & Jeff; to Lucy and to the residents of Posey Creek. You feel so intimately connected to the whole ensemble cast – these characters are breathed to life so wholly realistically true of their generation, your heart bleeds for them – for what could have been, for what is and what could be anew. This is a novel whose message at its core is one of those seminal reads which becomes a classic in its own right for reaffirming our humanity, our graceful hopefulness & the enduring love which unconditionally unites our faithful hopes to our earnestly desired dreams.

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Best New To Me Authors of

Speculative Fiction

(Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythological etc)

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To Court A Queen by H.L. BurkeSea of Lost Souls by Emerald Dodge

Silver Hollow by Jennifer SilverwoodRosemary and Rue Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com. Photo edits and collage created in Canva.Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse

The Awakening by Maggie Lynch

Leanne Leeds author logo provided by the author and used with permission.

To Court A Queen by H.L. Burke | see also Review

The Wonkiest Witch by Jeannie Wycherley | see also Review

& although not yet revealled I *loved!* the sequel “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn”!

Sea of Lost Souls by Emerald Dodge | see also Review

Silver Hollow by Jennifer Silverwood | see also Review

Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire | see also Review

Mark of the Raven | see also Review

The Magical Midway series by Leanne Leeds | see archive of reviews

→ My posts featuring The Forest People trilogy:

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During #ReviewPit in February, 2019 – I had the pleasure of interacting with Indie Authors who were seeking reviewers for their stories. It was during this event I started to put together my reading schedule for #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 – wherein, most of the authors I wanted to read this past May were discovered during #ReviewPit – whilst the other half were mostly authors I have had on my backlogue of reviews list.

When it came time for me to read To Court A Queen – I didn’t know quite what to expect – the art on the cover was enticing and the premise was alluring but nothing truly prepared me for the world in which I stepped through and became an immediate appreciator of Burke’s quirky, humourous fantastical style! So much so, I decided to book Ms Burke as one of @SatBookChat’s featured guests for Winter 2020! I knew my chatters would appreciate her style of storycrafting inasmuch as it is my intention to feature more Speculative Fiction novelists & storycrafters throughout the New Year. I am delighted she had a free Saturday and I am looking forward to seeing where the conversation takes me.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to sort out which of her other stories to seek out to read next as I have a feeling it is going to be a wicked good adventure once I write down a route of exploration into her backlist & frontlist! This is one reason I *love!* #bookTwitter – it connects readers & authors together – it breaks down barriers between both of them and it knits a continuous circle of bookish appreciation where readers find stories their seeking & authors find new readers who desire to read the stories they are choosing to write & publish. This was the essence of purpose behind #ReviewPit and I am only saddened it didn’t continue per each new quarter of 2019 as they had projected it would.

I felt this was a story well lit by the world-building but also layered with the drama of choice as much as a walk in conscience as Sevaine broaches with Devin – how she was motivated to help him due to what she had previously observed in the past by the men who came before Devin. It speaks to how you can set your attitude through adversity – foreshadowed or unexpected, everyone has to face something in their lives they do not feel ready to endure. It also parlays to ask the question – do you see yourself as a victim or a survivor? How would you set your attitude to work through what develops on your path to inflict uncertainty and a compulsion for freedom you never knew you’d need to fight to reattain?

Even when the Queen threw the worst at him – which involved a crow with a persistent affinity for inflicting pain – Devin kept resolute in his quest. He didn’t know what it would take to win this battle against the Queen but one thing was certain – he was questioning if she truly wanted him to win this series of tests as whenever he found himself unsettling her plans, there was malice in her reactions. It struck me as much as Devin that perhaps the Queen was doing this for another purpose altogether – to what end it was not yet known but she had a twisted sense of what she felt was the meted worth of a champion.

One thing a fairy Queen might not have considered is how determined a human can become when faced with a choice of conscience such as what came to happen in regards to Devin. Before this occurred there was a rather brutal fight scene but blessedly it wasn’t descriptively gritty to read – in fact, in many regards because of Burke’s love of sadistic humour in this story – it became a bit more laughable than serious! In fact, she defused the fierceness of the scene for me in such a way as I found myself amongst the fey rallying behind Devin to be their new champion!

There is so much heart within To Court A Queen – as this is very much a story of finding love in unexpected places and having the strength of hope carry you forward out of a sea of adversity. The backdrop might be the fairy kingdom but at the heart of this novel is a turning tide towards finding someone to love and understanding better the truer meaning behind life itself.

Want to know something keenly ironic? I didn’t really feel this was a snarky story! In fact, I saw it more laden with satire and wicked brilliant humour than I did the snark? There are just some Speculative Fiction novelists out there who are writing stories which work well with my own sense of humour apparently – I now consider H.L. Burke, Leanne Leeds (from #ReviewPit alum) joining the ranks of Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison), AshleyRose Sullivan, RJ Sullivan and Jennifer Silverwood in my admiration society for comedic and dramatic Fantasy which happily makes me blissfully happy to reside inside!

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The Wonkiest Witch arrived in my life at the very *moment!* where I needed a wicked sweet dose of random bookish JOY in the manner of *humour!* in fiction! You can’t go into the Wonkiest Witch and not find yourself compelled to chuckle, giggle and snort with laughter!

As I lamented myself after I listened to this first installment of the series via Twitter:

What endears you to Alfhild’s journey is how sincere she is making a new life for herself in this place – even if her magical abilities are questionable at best but evenso, she does what she can whenever she can to compensate for it. She sorts out whom she can trust and who are her best allies – for she is working against forces she could not have predicted would interfere with her goodwill. There was a moment where in the height of an uprising she was bringing against these forces where she reconsidered her options before realising there was only one future she would feel comfortable owning as her own. And, that felt like the greater purpose of this installment – of taking control of not just your own destiny but of embracing who you are and the inherent gifts that come with feeling proud of where you’ve come as well.

Sometimes you’re challenged past the point you feel you can overcome what blights onto your path – but as Alfhild found, if you dig deep, stay positive and align yourself with people who give of themselves for the greater good of everyone else – you find a strength you never had. Alfhild’s parents would be wicked proud of her efforts and of the courage she encountered the moment she realised that the power to change her own destiny lay inside the power she had within herself. And, that should be something all readers takeaway from this story – aside from the advice given how to defeat one’s enemies as truly that is one of the oldest pieces of wisdom I think more people ought to be reminded of as so much truth is held within how that is one of the most powerful tools we all have to use ourselves.

I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

And, bless Ms Wycherley for giving us this lovely jolt of humour! As even though the other half of Alfhild’s story is dramatically spun, its the humour which sticks with you; as without humour, what else do we have to bolster us against life’s adversities?

The Wonky Inn series has truly giving me uplifts of roariously good laughter & awesome feats of satirical humour right at the moments where I needed the respite & reprieve from the stresses afflicting me this year! I have been truly blessed to have crossed paths with the author behind the brilliant series via Audiobookworm Promotions – whilst the character of Alf has given me either an elder sister or a delightful Aunt to have in my life!

The sequel to this lovely is “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn” which I did listen to this Autumn with the intentions of reviewing – however, I only could focus on the story itself and wasn’t able to post the review (as of yet) to champion the next installment of joy the Wonky Inn can provide a reader. Despite that wrinkle of a hiccup I was able to give the author direct feedback on the audiobook & acknowledge how well matched her character, her series & her stories are with the narrator gem of Kim Bretton! She is on my short-list of audiobook narrators (which I disclosed on Twitter earlier in the year) and she is positively brilliant as Alfhild!

I am in the process of re-hearing this sequel and sorting out my thoughts for it as I want to share the review in early Winter 2020 (ie. January) as there is nothing better than a #WitchyReads selection paired with a Ghost Story you simply can’t stop listening to because its that compelling to hear play out! That’s what “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn” was for me! And, how thankful I am Ms Whycherley is writing these stories… she has filled a niche of joy.

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Another selection I made during #ReviewPit was for Sea of Lost Souls – the premise was an intriguing one as it has to do with overlays of mythological proportions whilst tucking itself into a time portal of a hidden world within a world concept – of course, what I read out of it too is this is a suspenseful Speculative story set at sea and has to do with the afterlife, the concept of ghosts and what *exactly!* happens after point of death! Yet, what you find yourself reading is such a compelling dramatic arc of a character’s journey – you wonder how you didn’t discover Dodge’s gift for story-telling prior to a s/o on a review chat on Twitter! At least, this was my feeling as soon as I excited the novel and felt like “Wait.. the sequel isn’t *written!* yet?”

Ooh dear my…. did I ache with a *huge!* bookish hangover, dear hearts! *HUGE!* We’re talking on the scale of *needing!* to know ‘what comes next’ after you put down “The Golem and the Jinni” kind of bookish hangover… speaking of which, “The Iron Season” keeps getting pushed ahead… currently its slated for 2020,… mmmhmmm… I just keep reminding myself I can be patient because I know how long it takes to write the stories,… even if I ache to know the next scenes, the next chapters & of course, what became of *everyone!* after the first installments?

One of the reasons I was keenly invested in the film series Pirates of the Caribbean is how the world within the series was constructed and how it evolved through the installments to become more dimensional with each new story-line we had the chance to explore alongside our beloved characters and the villains who occupied that space as their home. I have had a soft spot for nautical stories for a long while – there is something wicked compelling about stories on the high seas but also, how there is a veiled truth between what we understand whilst we’re alive and the intuitive reckoning we undertake in the next chapter of our lives past this journey we’re experiencing now.

A lot of niches within Speculative Fiction explore this hidden world between where the living and the dead cross each others path. Where you can go from one existence into the other and either continue to cross back and forth; or simply occupy one space or the other after a particular transition which took you away from the life you had been living prior to a change in circumstance. I wasn’t entirely sure how Dodge would handle this transition in her story which is setting the tone for a new series but I was wholly intrigued as would it feel organic and intrinsic to the context of what came before that segue?

I felt Dodge handled this segue well – mostly as her knowledge of the military and the goings on with crew is quite brilliantly executed. She nailed the aestheticism of ship life and of how what persons serving on carriers in different eras would look like to one another. She also gave a gravity of purpose to their work – showcasing how each person was just as dedicated to do a good job as they had been in their regular lives – in this new altered state of living. It felt real because it was real – everything to these characters was as real as the breath that they once breathed and that came through solidly in how Dodge approached writing the story.

You feel so connected to the ship – it has a lifeblood of its own and the choices made here have after effects which ripple through the world itself. Nothing is out of bounds and if you choose to trust your shipmates you’ve made one critical choice in your favour! Dodge knows how to entertain you but also how to root you in her vision for Oceanus. Even when the dangers start to entrench themselves in the foreground, you’ve come to appreciate her sense of duty and justice; to where even at the worst of what is happening there is a threading of hope running behind it.

Reading Sea of Lost Souls truly eclipsed the joy I had in November discovering #Mythothon as the event gave me a full layer of interest for seeking out literature which re-envisions the Mythos of the past with a textured layering of story-telling from modern voices of Speculative Literature.

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I had honestly dreamt of reading Silver Hollow for a year before I read it for review this year – the wait was the best part of my experience within its pages, too! Sometimes when you have to linger in wait for a moment to arrive to soak into a story you’ve ached to read, somehow that reading experience become heightened… sweetening your time within its folds and becoming quite the magical experience! This was most definitely true for me and Silver Hollow!

The fact Ms Silverwood and I have spun together a friendship behind the book blogger & author relationship is an added layer of blessed thankfulness on my end but its her series of the Borderlands which enriches my imagination & gives my readerly heart a chasm of JOY to read!! I cannot believe the sequel (although mind, at this time its slated as digital first!) is scheduled to release on my parents anniversary this coming May 2020 *and!* during our 3rd Year of Wyrd And Wonder! I felt the whole day was rather kismet to tell the truth & I read Ms Silverwood agreed with me! Eek.

That’s all I can say… #dropthemic Jorie is wicked thrilled for the SEQUEL.

The Borderlands is a compelling saga – you can’t put down this book once you’ve begun it – proving how much time and heart Silverwood put into reviving the original edition and ensuring each of us who enters into Silver Hollow has a solid footing of accepting this world and of becoming a new champion of Amie and the creatures of live just past the veil. I, for one, can’t wait to see what comes next as I’m speculating the sequel is going to be as riveting as this first installment – the series which is developing in front of me is surely going to become a fast favourite because it leaves you hopeful for more.

What I appreciated most though is how this story was written – from the choices in direction and characterisation to the elements of the ‘otherworld’ seeping through the opening chapters where Amie is clueless about her ancestral legacy. I even appreciated what wasn’t inclusive in the context of the story-line which was graphic depictions and the words which are so heavily sprinkled through contemporary fiction these days which isn’t limited to genre. I definitely considered this to be a ‘clean read’ even though there are a few words or phrases that others might feel this isn’t that kind of novel, I would say those are such random occurrences and if you look at them on the face value in which they are shared, they do not even relate to the other works I’ve read where vulgarity and strong language is used blatantly with obsession. No, this novel is definitely a favourite because I barely even noticed a strong word was ever used.

Silverwood has truly crafted together a tale you can drink in – slowly and ruminatively, as you step into Amie’s footsteps as she starts to pull the pieces together of a life and family she was not privy to understanding til her parents died. And, even then, let’s be frank – it took her longer than most to accept a nod of familial invitation to gleam more about her father’s past and the world he left behind. I loved her instincts for turns of phrase, for how she took time to allow Amie to contrast her thoughts and emotions through colours and wordplay.

Colours have a purpose within Silver Hollow – at least they did when we first met Amie who was preparing herself to attend her parents funeral. She had two steadfast mates besides her – twin sisters, Faye and Jo, who were the soul sisters you’d hope to have found if you were Amie facing this kind of future. She was cast adrift – nothing felt right and the only solace she could ink out of the horror of the present was the meditative calming reprieve of being connected to the soil and earth within the garden she had toiled with her father. The garden was her grounding bar – it was where she could return ‘back to centre’ and not feel as if life was spiraling out of control. She ached to feel that kind of buoyancy outside the garden – where the twins couldn’t quite understand what pulled her back to the earth, when she needed to spend time inside her well of grief. They could only see a portion of her anguish – the needs of her emotional half which percolated to the surface but not the undergrowth of roots which went far deeper than mere sorrow could yield.

And, yet the ways in which Silverwood wrote this tale everything feels rather realistic because of how she’s kept us rooted and anchoured into Amie’s own journey. She’s given us an emotional connection to Amie straight out of the gate, something that is quintessential to feeling as if we’ve discovered a purpose to take the journey with the character. This journey however is unlike others I’ve taken as I felt it was a proper genre-bender – equally moving through an Urban Fantasy narrative with a Speculative Dark Fantasy wherein you are never quite certain if what you are relying on as being true to what you knew before or if it is a newer truth just revealled? Meaning, where does the truth of fairy tales and legendary lore segue into a newer reality of its own? How do we know when we’ve taken that leap into the other realms before we recognise how otherworldly our visitations have become? I felt this was similar to what Amie was facing herself – here she was with a bequest and an inheritance she hadn’t sequestered out for herself but was wholly expected to accept without complaint?

As we draw deeper into this world, you start to see how it is not as stablised as you might have considered – though there was one fail safe clue towards that end – it was in how Uncle Henry was describing his home – how fractured it looked to Amie, how weathered and how old the house appeared to her eyes whenever there was enough light to chase down its shadows? I was curiously wondering if that had been a metaphor about their familial gift of being gatekeepers? Of how if there is an unsettling somewhere off, would that affect their living space because a portion of who they are is intrinsically tied to their gates?

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I’ve been ‘aware’ of the #OctoberDaye novels for quite a few years now – perhaps even more? However, what encouraged me to read them or rather, attempt to read them in 2019 was the chance to co-host a readalong with Louise @foxesfairytale wherein we could have a private convo via DMs with the rest of the readers who joined us via Twitter; a public chat on Twitter to compliment the experience of reading the stories & encouraging others to join us or talk about which novel we were reading that particular month whilst giving ourselves a chance to fully contemplate the stories on our respective blogs and/or other online bookish spaces.

I am one of the few who doesn’t own the series outright and have been borrowing the books via my local libraries – however, I was not entirely successful in reading the series in-line with the RAL itself – however, I did offer encouragement throughout the months as best I could and did finally manage to read *Rosemary & Rue* which of course left me with a heap of curious musings and became one of my favourite reviews of the year because of how the book resonated with me as a reader who *loves!* Urban Fantasy!

I was not the only one happily surprised that McGuire is now an author I can’t wait to read! I’ll be resuming where I left off in the New Year of 2020 – picking up with the second novel and moving straight through the series as I had intended in 2019. I will also be sorting out how to give merit to the discussion posts already in-progress from the past twelvemonths and somehow pull those *threads back into my own social feeds on Twitter to re-take up the convo from where it was waiting for me to *catch up to the group!* The encouraging motivation I received from the RAL group itself was beyond anything I ever expected…. despite feeling like I had let down Louise this year, I found instead a lovely group of supportive readers who truly understood how my 2019 went and why reading this series took me as long as it has now!

McGuire has set her fantastical story right in the midst of urban life – a perfect blend of normalcy from the humanistic perspective and the fey whilst she gives you the strongest of impressions that perhaps the veil between both worlds is not nearly as indiscreet as it might appear to be. Her turns of phrase and the symbolism therein is part of what drew me into this alternative world. She has this interesting way of talking about this alt. view of the world she’s created – it is equally defined by the fey but also concurrently in-line with where the humans of this world are as well. Almost as if the world is spliced in view – from the fantastical underbelly of the fey and the interconnections with where their world intersects with ours.

It did not surprise me that the word ‘rue’ within the title of Rosemary and Rue had origins from Shakespeare. Though how that had bearing of insight on the story itself was lost of me for most of it as this was one part of the Bard’s influence I was not as keen on knowing about as it referenced the one story of his I never felt inclined to read nor study. The ironcy of that.

I loved how McGuire would speak about Faerie almost in the omnipresence thread in the narrative – giving you insight into world the humans would never understand but also giving a breadth of texture to how this world was augmented differently than our own. The rules weren’t the only dividing factors and there was a lot of groundwork to encompass in order for things to align in such a way for you to understand more than you questioned of Faerie. In this way, I liked how she had Toby discussing the ins/outs of Faerie whilst those moments also felt they were secondary to Toby’s own timeline of interest. Almost like we needed to pause a bit to see Toby’s worldview before we could better sync ourselves into her own path to walk.

This novel is emotionally cutting – it cuts to the quick and the heart of an intrapersonal experience of having to take the ashes of your life and fuse them into a new purpose because the past, the very essence of your life before a marked moment of impossible change has erased what you were and who you were to the brink you had to re-cobble together an existence you could accept as you lived forward.

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Although I regularly read INSPY Lit – from Contemporary to Historical Romances, stories of Suspense (hallo, Love Inspired Suspense novelists!) and other genres of interest therein or thematic focuses on the Amish or Mennonite communities – one area of exploration I hadn’t previously considered or to be frank knew existed was this subniche of Speculative Fiction & Fantasy which tuck close to INSPY. This was the first year I could actively seek out INSPY Fantasy novelists and my first exploration of this new niche of interest was through the Ravenwood Saga by Ms Busse!

I have a shortlist of other novelists who write in this category as well – most of which I discovered through hosting the #FantasyForChristmas showcases via Prism Book Tours – of whom was also kind enough to include me on Busse’s 2019 blog tour for the Ravenwood Saga and thus giving the chance to read the first two novels in this series – FYI “Cry of the Raven” is going to be featured during next week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic! You’ll find a happy recap of the past two years I showcased Fantasy novelists during #blogmas – which is an overall picture of the series, stories and authors I want to seek out via my libraries *before!* the 3rd Year of Wyrd And Wonder arrives in May 2020!

For now though, I wanted to share why Busse held my eye in her vision for Fantasy and why I found her series to be such an intriguing read:

When it comes to High Fantasy (ie. Epic Fantasy), Portal Fantasy and Quest Fantasy – I almost could presume to realise that Ms Busse was about to encompass everything I love from this triple threat of fantastical worlds due to how she places you inside her world. It isn’t just the fact this world feels older than the initial pages you’ve read, it is how she has chosen to let her characters peer at us from their regular habits – they are living their life and we’re observing their life from the outside. I love when writers have this authentic nature about their world-building to where you feel like you’ve slipped the veil and have re-emerged elsewhere; settling into a step with characters you dearly want to know more about and a world which although slightly curious round the edges has its own share of darkness.

Busse does a wonderful job of building the suspenseful arc surrounding the Ravenwood women’s predestined gifting – she has granted the reader an introspective viewing of what happens when you are not willing to blindly accept your fate but rather, with a thoughtful concern for what that fate might imply against your own better nature – to examine it and to sort out where your own allegiances lie within the sphere of the world you were bourne.

She makes you compelled to read the story if only to see where each of the characters are going to take their own stands because this isn’t a fate that you would wish upon yourself or anyone else. It is a question of morality and ethics, too – of what you might be willing to do for the sake of your family but if it goes against an inherent belief of yours? If it crosses that line in the sand where your conscience cannot justify the means of the gift – what do you do then? Its a good plotting to think over and to turn round on yourself whilst your examining the will of Busse’s characters to do the same even if they previously had just succumbed to what they were pushed to do.

Busse excells at creating is a world where you can feel comfortable visiting – there isn’t anything to shock you here – only things which seek to endeavour you to think, ponder and muse about the overlays of how this world and our world share quite a heap in common in regards to sociological observations and the patterns of society in general. There is a familiarity of this world even though nothing of it is immediately recognisable – Busse has created the world to embody a lot of what you want to seek out of a Fantasy novel of this scale. She has definitive heroes and heroines but also, lesser known reasons why some of the people in her world are choosing to act and behave opposite of their chosen legacies. She has given a strong will of freedom for her characters to remain resolute in their resolve to decide their own fates even if the influences against them are nearly to the oppressive stage wherein they might buckle from outside impressions thrust against them. It is a world of different factions and conspiracies but at the core is a world attempting to do right by its past as it remains on shakier ground in the present.

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If you’ve been following my reading adventures on Jorie Loves A Story for any amount of time, you know I have a quirky sense of humour and that I happen to like a heap of silliness in some of the genres I read such as Speculative Fiction! More specifically it happens to occur quite a heap in the stories I seek out for Urban Fantasy. This is one reason why it shouldn’t have surprised my readers to discover why I was enjoying the Magical Midway series – where you take one quirkified witch and deposit her into a circus which not only defies gravity but the space/time continuum of existing in places where inherently it shouldn’t be allowed to function!

This is the beauty of how Speculative Fiction can give you something to chew on whilst you’re reading but also lightly give you those reasons for why *everything!* is dearly plausible whether or not that is realistically true of our own world & the laws of science doesn’t matter inasmuch as the joy you have reading an author’s vision of *their world!* And, this is how I settled myself rather happily in this paranormally cheeky series by the pen of Ms Leeds!

It isn’t a small twist of fate two #WitchyReads caught my eye this year… Speculatively speaking Witchy Reads are amongst my favourites to find and to soak inside! The Magical Midway & the Wonky Inn are lovely places to reside and take a lovely break from your IRL woes to tuck close to these characters who dare you to believe in their adventures and to walk beside them as they redefine where the fantastically paranormal realms can take you!

Conceptionally, the Magical Midway is a rite of both passage and birthright – it has a kind of influence of magic which is intrinsic to individual families. This differs from the townes which are magically descended from a particular place or location as those roots are stronger in how they are not tethered to any person or individual lineage of family. The Midway is a rite of heritage for Charlotte and her father; despite his ardent intention to refute that status and line of passage, it is their blood right as Astley’s. This was uniquely explored by the juxtaposition of how Uncle Phil lived his life in the travelling Midway and how they chose to live in the human world itself. The irony of course is how Charlotte’s family made their individual income and how this benefited their own endeavours with their shelter.

This only the beginning of what the Midway means to Charlotte’s family and how it is present in the witchy world it resides within. In fact, as the story progressed you get a more solid worldview of why the Midway and other circuses and travelling carnivals like it are being threatened. It provides a jumping off point to bridge us into Charlotte’s ancestral past but also to take a strong look at the hierarchy of the witches and the other paranormals who call these places their home.

I love how Leeds inserts her humour straight-off the bat – from how she first describes Charlotte arriving at the Midway and then, how she counters her reflective mirror on Charlotte a full week into the carnival life – wherein, you note how the lifestyle can take a toll on the person living it. It is raw honesty about the long hours and the taxing way the life can make a person feel exhausted in their bones and spirit but also, the humour can be added to cut the seriousness of it as well.

Knowing there is a story involving a lion in the series, I was curious if Uncle Phil mentioning Charlotte should tame them might be a foreshadow of events yet to come. If so, I love how the continuity of the series is immediately visual on the page – especially considering I hadn’t even finished reading the first chapter! Series which own their own world-building and have a proper development ahead of being written speak well of themselves. They make you feel as if the world your first stepping into is not just fully realised but it has already owned its own identity by which you simply have to make the transition as you move inside it. This spoke well of Leeds being able to pull us through her vision and to adjust our impression of how she wanted us to interact with her characters.’

There is a heap of plausible theoretic insight into how Leeds is shaping her world within the Magical Midway – from how there is a division between the humans and the paranormals (as she prefers to call the magical folk and creatures who inhabit her world) to how lifestyles which were once cherished and treasured are now amongst the least understood. It is a fitting augmentation of our own world – where those who lived a more unconventional and transient life in the world of carnivals and circuses suddenly found their centuries old profession to be viewed under a microscope of criticism.

When it came to the Cosy aspects of the story-line, I liked how we took a bit of a naive entrance into the Midway and the Witches Council because it added layers of intrigue into how little Charlotte understood of this world. It was a credit to the foundation of how Charlotte was raised ‘away’ from her heritage and how much she needed to learn on the job if she were going to make any headway at all at understanding what had happened. Traditionally cosy, we hug close to Charlotte as she attempts to unearth the clues she needs to put together a reasonable understanding of the crime which was committed seemingly without anyone observing any wrong doing – this puts us front and centre at the Midway but also lends a new perspective of the Midway to Charlotte.

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I found myself nearly unable to listen to the Forest People trilogy whilst the audiobook tour was running during Wyrd And Wonder – though I did give it a valiant effort! I only managed to get through the first book and then as I wasn’t able to renew Scribd for awhile – I never had the chance to get back inside the story! Ironically, I had Scribd back for two months and those two months were the worst ones I picked as it was October & November! The first month I was ill off/on for 30 days and the second one gave me migraines and other anxieties in regards to my father’s health 3 years past his stroke. So, all things said – clearly I should have waited til January to re-attempt to get into Scribd! I wasn’t even able to properly review the latest Kay Hunter as a result of feeling more frazzled than bookishly blissful!

I also lost the chance to finish listening to Berni Stevens’s Christmas Romance we chatted about during a November @SatBookChat – which is why I knew I had lost the window to listen to this series before the New Year began. I’m going to try to requeue the trilogy after I get Scribd back again in January and I may hold the reviews til Wyrd and Wonder in May or I might run them during a special new feature I’m assembling for W&W starting in January! Time will tell what evolves forward but today I simply wanted to give a proper s/o to a series I truly found was giving me a heap to consider and proportionally was increasing my musings with each new chapter I listened to via the audiobooks!

Lynch has a knack for developing the world within The Forest People which reminds me of why I personally have become attached to the stylings of Urban Fantasy. She has co-anchoured this journey of Camryn firmly between the world in which she was raised (ie. amongst humans) and the ethereally enchanting forest which in of itself is dimensionally greater than it appears. Like most Urban Fantasies which take us on the journey through the conventions of dimensional time and the conceptional awareness of our world as it is viewed on the surface and not between what is veiled from human sight – Lynch endeavours us to take this journey with her characters; to seek what is beyond.

Part of Lynch’s world-building is to prepositional us into how her world is set to a rhythm of belief where all of life is connected to each other and the difference truly lies in the perception of what is understood. Meaning, for the Forest People themselves – their awareness is more acute rather than the humans’ perception is stunted and limited. It is a perceptional novel in many regards – how you choose to perceive yourself, how others perceive you (outside of your own image) and how the perception of our time within our lives can alter what we can accomplish if we’re hindered by this crippling sense of ‘otherness’ which isn’t our truest sense of self.

One interesting thing to note is how I felt she was written Camryn in a descension of age – meaning, the more time Camryn spent in the forest after her imprisonment and confinement, the more she seemed to regress and age progressively ‘backwards’ rather than forwards. And, then rather suddenly she would be increasingly moving towards a maturity for her species – caught between being a girl and a woman with all the confusing emotions interspersed with the changes in her mood, attitude and emotional balance.

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Best New To Me Authors of

Contemporary Romance

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Return of the Blackwell Brothers Collage Badge provided by Prism Book Tours

*only the final two novels were read/reviewed in 2019

Sweet Home Alaska by Beth CarpenterReunited with the Cowboy by Claire McEwenFalling for Her Bodyguard by Amy Vastine

A Family for Jason by Viriginia McCulloughSweet Melody by Heidi McCahanRefuge at Pine Lake by Rose Chandler Johnson

The Rancher’s Fake Fiancee by Amy Vastine | see also Review

& Falling for Her Bodyguard by Amy Vastine | see also Review

The Rancher’s Homecoming by Anna J. Stewart | see also Review

Sweet Home Alaska by Beth Carpenter | see also Review

Reunited with the Cowboy by Claire McEwen | see also Review

A Family for Jason by Virginia McCullough | see also Review

Sweet Melody by Heidi McCahan | see also Review

Refuge at Pine Lake by Rose Chandler Johnson | see also Review

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One of my *absolute!* favourite Harlequin Heartwarming series came rather seredipitiously into my readerly life – Return of the Blackwell Brothers was not writ by a singular author but rather *five!* separate novelists who each in turn did a round robin writing queue of stories surrounding these blokes & the curious adventures of their absentee grandfather! I was charmed by the continuity, hugged close to the drama and by the time I entered into the final two installments of the series in the earlier bits of 2019 – the only thing I could think of is there going to be a sequel series!?

I kid you not! I just didn’t feel like all the questions were answered – that all the loose ends were tied – there is rather ambiguous ending which felt like it had some wiggle room to round into a sequel series – where we could dig further into the evolving story & perhaps, finally find a bit more resolution! I remember tweeting about it a bit and one of the authors responded by sharing something about “if wishes were cast” or something other – I’m unsure if that was merely ‘wishful thinking’ but I took it as a sign that perhaps a sequel series *might!* be considered for the Blackwells! And, if that is the case – I am a built-in reader who can’t wait to re-enter this lovely world!

I will say though — if I hadn’t met the Rocky Mountain Cowboys by Karen Rock previously to reading the Return of the Blackwell Brothers series, I might not have appreciated it nearly as much as I had as the rhythm and sequencing reminded me of Rock’s narratives whilst owning to their own right to stand outside the scope of what Rock has fused into her own Harlequin Heartwarming series.

For me, all these authors are giving me wicked good #mustread Contemporary Western Romances – filled with relationship-based romantic intrigue and a firm grounding of family & friendships set in small townes – just the way I prefer them to be writ! And, the fact that I never have to cringe due to language issues is another rather smart bonus of these two series!!

Which is why I was thrilled to peaches to be able to read two of these lovelies during 2019! I had the chance to ‘meet’ the writing styles of both Amy Vastine & Anna J. Stewart – finding myself happily content with where the series took me and happily curious to start checking out their stories outside this series as well. I made good on that promise with Vastine but hope to find more by Stewart in the New Year, as much as I hope to circle back to Vastine’s series as I had the books checked out this year but lacked the hours to read them! *le sigh*

I delighted in getting to know that Ms Vastine is the elder sister of two brothers – as I noticed a bit of a trend in the writers behind this series are very familiar with siblings! I, am too, to a certain degree though from an outside perspective as I used to observe the behaviour patterns of siblings whilst in school. One year we had two sets of twin girls’ and I marvelled at how much they were alike and how vastly different they were – not just as twins but as a quartet! This is one reason why I think this series is an enjoyable read. The writers are putting a lot of their own experiences into their narratives and it is helping to shape the back-stories and present day trials of the Blackwells.

This installment felt a bit more seamless in transition as it echoed more of the original groundwork in the series. Each of the writers has their own unique style, voice and spin on the Blackwell Brothers – however, of the three I’ve read before this one, this one felt closer to the first narrative voice where we first learnt who the Blackwell Brothers are and why this series is centred round their second chance at brotherhood.

Vastine also nails how to bridge all the characters back into the narrative – where she gives ample time to each of the characters we’ve come to appreciate in the series to a level of rotation I was clapping in joy to read. I really felt she understood how to re-centre the series – by creating this bridge between the first three installments and the fourth, whilst giving us a proper refresher on everyone’s quirks before we moved into the fifth and final installment. I truly applaud how she managed to do this as it was fastly become my favourite novel in the series outside of the first!

The setting is dearly appealling as the ranch the Blackwell Brothers own is in Montana – nestled with a backdrop of the Rockies, the brothers surely have a lovely sky to look out over everyday. Outside of the continuity she maintained, she put her own spin on the brothers and she enlarged our view of the large ensemble cast this series has become to include. I love larger casts in novels but sometimes, you find some of the characters get forsaken for others or sometimes, the ones you want to come back into sight yield to the current ones being focused upon. I give Ms Vastine full credit for giving us a chance to catch-up with everyone we’ve met thus far along but also, allowing us to feel as if we’ve maintained a connection to them from start to finish.

and my thoughts for Anna J. Stewart’s story:

I really appreciated the entrance back into the Blackwell’s in this final installment – by giving us a heartfelt way of understanding Chance, I felt we also had a preview of how Ms Stewart loves to write stories. She approached writing Chance unapologetically – he was still hurting from when he first left home, from how he felt shunned within his own family and how he was never fully sure if he was accepted as a ‘Blackwell’. That’s a lot for anyone to process but when your returning home with your young daughter in tow to meet her Uncles, Aunt and respective family for the first time, it is hard to fathom why someone like Chance would take so long to return.

It is here where Stewart shines as she knits out the psychological and emotional underpins of Chance’s afflicted heart. He isn’t just remembering the angst of the past, he simply never ‘let go’ of it – to where the pain and the memories are as etched on his mind as they were the first days he felt their mark. Stewart had the hardest installment to write – as this wasn’t just a conclusion of a five-part serial it was also the concluding chapters of each Blackwell brother. We couldn’t be assured of having more time spent with them in the future, so to be fully satisfied I was hoping all the loose tangents of the series would become firmed together. I definitely wanted to see how she would approach making Big E accountable or if his role was already done and it was just an afterthought to carry him forward in this final appearance. As a lot of what Big E did was outside the time-line of the series itself – he was generally occupying the Epilogue sections or being causally referenced in the time-line of each of the stories. This led me to being even more curious about how the series would conclude – would there be a reunion between grandsons and grandfather or was there something else awaiting us in those final last moments?

Never a series that backs down from the realities of real-life, this installment dealt with the disappointments of feeling inferior in your own family, the adverse effects of alcoholism and the contemplation of what ‘inheritance’ means and how it translates to each person it affects. The Return of the Blackwell Brothers is a series which serves as a cross-examination of the choices five brothers made professionally as well as personally to better understand their purpose which the series highlights throughout each installment. We not only gain insight into the Blackwell men but the women behind the scenes who are part of the reason why each Blackwell brother has been able to heal from their past and stride a bit more confidently into their futures.

Stewart draws on the stories of the series to root us where we have transitioned forward with the family – to give us a way of seeing where they have arrived and how what they are about to learn about this experiment of choices will determine how they accept the journey Big E conceived for them. As you could almost see he was acting as a navigator of sorts straight from the beginning – everything hinged on what he was doing or what he was planning – yet, what was the end result he was seeking? What did Big E really want to give his grandsons and why did he take the dramatic route of accomplishing it?

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One of the charmingly unexpected joys of reading more Harlequin Heartwarming novels this year whilst hosting for Prism Book Tours was finding new voices in the Heartwarming line I love to be reading! As I’m about to share Ms Carpenter’s series was entered whilst it was already fully in-progress – I wasn’t able to fetch the books she’s written ahead of this lovely entry but one thing I keep mentioning on my blog is how Heartwarming is one line of authors & stories wherein you can skip round the series orders and still find yourself able to grip the story wherever it finds you.

This isn’t always the case – and my policy is generally to read stories in order within a series overall however its a nice little guilty pleasure I think to skip round & still get the full joy of a series. Ms Carpenter just welcomes you in with this one! And, of course it doesn’t hurt that she’s writing about one of the states I’ve dreamt of visiting!

For Christmas she hosted a giveaway on her blog wherein you could tuck in new responses to the “All I Want for Christmas” section of the giveaway. I was fully consumed by my cold during the giveaway and yet, each day I contemplated what I could say in response to that question – as it didn’t have to be a tangible item – it could be something else you wish for or desire to manifest inside your life. I cannot tell you how that simple act of thoughtful contemplation helped me – I had a difficult year, after a wrecking year of health and an uncertain year of Dad’s recovery (so in essence, 2019 after 2018 and 2017) – those little exercises of wishful thoughts gave me *something!* I cannot even put into words. I was a big part of why I enjoyed Christmas this year because the replies didn’t just help me think differently about ‘the here and now’ it also set into motion some positive surprises for the future and that was just as wicked good! So, thank you Ms Carpenter for unexpectedly giving me a Christmas surprise gift!

Volta is such an interestingly unique name, I had to sort out the origins of it – I found it as a surname rather than a first name and the personality traits seemed to befit the Volta Carpenter wanted us to find in her story-line. I love when writers think outside the box with names – adding new names into the mix for contemporary stories and offering us a chance to get to know someone whose name is remarkably unique for today’s world. As you read further into the story, you realise she was named by her electrician father and that made so much sense to me! I had an electrician great-grandfather – never met him, but the stories of his life populated my childhood. I think he would have seen the beauty of her name as much as he was constantly in awe of the lightning during a fierce storm system.

Carpenter puts you front and centre on the action within her medically focused Contemporary (Sweet) Romance wherein you get to see first-hand what first responders go through in Alaska when their patients live rather remotely. Even the first case she presented in the novel wasn’t routine as it was a woman who had hypertension and it was causing issues with her pregnancy – I did give a bit of a pause of thought as to what would have happened if Volta and Scott hadn’t been there at that particular moment in order to intervene on the woman’s behalf. A credit to what Carpenter had already established about how due to how lean the state is on medical facilities and how the support staff in the more rural areas were limited to aides; you can see how Alaska can become a medically adverse state in which to live.

I definitely will be seeking out the rest of this Northern Lights series as I liked the pacing and the presentation of how Carpenter implores us to want to know more about this world she’s created for us to find! She hugs us so close to the hearts of her characters, it is easy to feel what they’re feeling and live a period of time in their shoes rather than our own. In essence, I love that this is another small towne series focused on family, hearth, home and a wicked dollop of romance! Best of all, she gave me a new reason to venture back to Alaska and that was the icing on the cake!

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For the past few years I’ve hosted with Prism, you’ll notice a trend of loveliness arriving through my blog – by reviews, by update posts and memes – how much I have grown in affection for the Harlequin Heartwarming line of stories & series. These authors are writing Contemporary Romances & Contemporary Fiction the way I love finding them. Their the secular arena of this genre wherein I also regularly try to seek out these stories on the INSPY side of the ledger, too.

Prior to finding Heartwarming I thought for sure I’d only have the INSPY side because I was struggling to find authors who are penning small towne romances, heartwarming stories of hope, redemption, second chance love & new beginnings whilst giving me a relationship-based romance I could rally behind.

These past few years have truly blessed my readerly life by having Heartwarming enter my life and my shelves are starting to reflect that in earnest as I’ve been gathering more Heartwarming novels outside of the tours I’ve been hosting through library book sales and/or those find a book, take a book without bringing a book back shelves which are popular here.

This next author [Claire McEwen] was one of the new authors I was introduced to in 2019 – little did I know I would find her debut novel with Harlequin Super Romance as the year nearly came to a close (A Ranch to Keep) which I’ve slated to read in New Year 2020 as I double-down on my focus for reading more Contemporaries as I have a penchant for read more Historicals! lol I still can’t fathom how I hadn’t realised that until I blogged?

One thing that has remained true – I’ve *loved!* Western Romances & Cowboy Fiction ever since I was a kid who loved horse camp & horse-back riding. McEwen tucks in a nice fit between the Rocky Mountain Cowboys (by Karen Rock) and the #BlackwellBrothers (and all the lovely authors who bring them to life!) – yet it wasn’t until I read the author’s note in this novel where I first realised how much I can relate to her life! Shortly afterwards I received her newsletter update and read the fuller story in the context of what she was sharing over a ten year period of time – gave me the best bolster of hope for my own happily ever after to arrive in the future! So, thank you Ms McEwen for kindly sharing a snapshot of how you’re life came together as it truly was an uplift to read!

As this is my first novel I’ve read by Ms McEwen, I truly appreciated the emotional density of the story-line – you truly get a strong feeling for where her characters are at the beginning of the novel; still in the process of healing and recovery from their losses whilst they still sort out how to move forward with their lives. That’s the compelling part of how she writes – she pulls you into their lives as if you were meant to follow them all along but with the fuller benefit of having just enough details to have empathy and understanding for why their lives have become so arduously difficult in the past few years.

Emotionally gutting and realistic in both the delivery of the story and the build-up behind the character’s lives is what truly staid with me as I read Reunited with the Cowboy. Rather than a traditional story-line involving ranching and cowboys, this novel tucks closer to the realities of returning home from service and of how sometimes a homecoming isn’t quite what you’re prepared to face if you’ve gone through an experience which has taken a lot out of your soul just to survive.

I appreciated how McEwen wrote this story – as she’s taken a lot of realistic real world situations and beautifully crafted them into the background of the series she’s written with such a heart of purpose that you can’t wait to read the next installment! I loved too, how she fused Jace’s story into Caleb’s because it gave you a hearty measure of excitement to read his story next as the series continues in After the Rodeo. Whilst his role in this story also worked on another layer of insight – about how to best help your friends who are struggling to put the pieces of their lives back together and when to realise you have to take a full step back from aiding them if their not in the right place to accept assistance. I truly felt Jace had more to share about his life long before I knew he had the next story in the series – his character was as fully conceptionalised as Caleb’s and I knew it would be a wicked good sequel to read!

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This Harlequin Heartwarming series was just getting started when I first met the book being featured through Prism Book Tours – whilst for Christmas I had the chance to read the sequel and found a few things within it which didn’t click as much with me as the original. I am still considering that the timing of my reading of the sequel was an ill-fated one rather than the novel itself. The setting, the towne and the main characters of this first novel set into motion a place I instantly felt connected too and longed for more stories set within this world.

Here is what I felt when I first read Ms McCullough’s story:

Whilst reading more about Ms McCullough via her website but also in the Author’s Note attached to this novel, I learnt she hails from the same city as my Mum! Whilst she went exploring their mutually loved state and Iowa, I had stories of other Midwest states and cities which my Mum’s family frequented. It never fails to make me smile realising on alike families are who come from the Windy City and how many similar stories of joy can be learnt! Or, in Mum’s case, she is never very far from meeting up with someone who is from there and they can talk til the cows come home quite easily! They just share a special bond as I think growing up there gives you a bit of an advantage as Midwesterners are not just a friendly lot, their adventurous and they love meeting new people whilst they remain adaptive and excited about where life takes them.

McCullough tackles childhood PTSD and what causes a child to be mute rather than to speak through their emotions and their crises; giving new empathy for how PTSD affects children but also, how sometimes children find the hardest part of their recovery and healing process is resuming the art of speaking. Words have a lot of hidden meanings but they also hold a lot of truths that can be hard to speak; which I felt is partially why Jason might have stopped speaking as his reality had become shattered in such a tragic and traumatic way, it was easy to see why his voice might have become silent for awhile.

There is an ease of awareness and of setting here – you can tell McCullough has taken her time to develop this series, of giving us a well-rounded and well-thought out plotting to where the foundation of the series can build out of this first installment. It is a place that isn’t entirely without its prickles of angst but it has a heart-centred feel to it which gives you the hope of what could happen if people allow themselves to forgive the past and to seek a future without allowing the past to dictate how your life is meant to be lived.

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As mentioned recently, before I was a book blogger myself, I was actively following the lives of INSPY Authors I had come across through their respective blogs and/or group author blogs they were featured guests; it was somewhere in this journey of mine prior to blogging where I first crossed paths with Ms McCahan. I know it was also round the time I was first starting to read and develop a keen interest in the Coming Home series by Brenda S. Anderson as they once shared the same publisher before they each had to embark on new routes in their publishing lives as the former publisher folded quite unexpectedly. I lost track of Ms McCahan’s career for a bit of time until last year, I believe it was when I was starting to actively grow more invested in reading Harlequin Heartwarming stories?

I noticed Ms McCahan was now writing for the Love Inspired imprint on the Contemporary side of the ledger, whereas I regularly devour their Suspense imprint and previously loved their Historical. There are some authors on their Contemporary line I do appreciate reading as well but I sort of became so smitten by the Suspense stories, that I haven’t actively sought out the non-Suspense Contemporaries! Laughs.

When I saw she was one of the authors going on tour this September, I felt it was good timing to revisit a #newtomeauthor and finally get the chance to become introduced to her writerly style. I was delighted in the finding out the premise of this story as her debut novel Unravelled is still awaiting me on my mountainous TBR!

You feel like releasing a groan yourself alongside Lindsay, as that is how descriptively cunning McCahan begins Sweet Melody by eclipsing you so dearly centred into her life as a woman in need of a truck to understand the devastation she felt when the truck of her dreams isn’t quite as second-handed ready for a new owner as she had hoped it might be. In that brief opening sequence, you could feel the gravity of the story tucking round you because this was a woman who was not just on a mission to secure a truck but she was a woman trying to redevelop her business and expand her reach into the community. She wasn’t without vision either – as you could truly gather from her opening remarks that not only would this particular truck need repairs, it would also need a creative design to cover over its flaws.

McCahan has a gentle style to her INSPY Contemporary Romances – she lets you drink in the world she is creating for you first, gives you time to find feet inside the story and grants you this lovely place where despite the fact there are moments of adversity, there is a willingness to seek out the unexpected and the good in order to overcome what is giving the characters the most stress and anxiety to overcome. True to life, she breathes life into this series by instilling a lot of real life instances of grief – from having your barista unable to work due to an injury enroute to the bakery itself and by the financial strains of trying to re-launch a new niche market within the industry you already occupy. McCahan has definitely thought hard about how she wanted the Seabrook Romances to look, feel and taste to the reader and it is a delight to curl inside this entrance of the series to see where the foundation will not just begin but will give wings to where future installments could continue forward from here.

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This was one of those lovely review tours Prism Book Tours offers throughout the year? Where you have at least a month to read a book off-blog tour and post your review within the scope of the 30 days which meets your readerly schedule? No problem, right? Enter Jorie’s nightmaric Summer of flooding plumbing disasters and you had a dearly beautiful INSPY Contemporary Realistic Fiction novel delayed from not just being read but reviewed!

By the time I finally could settle my mind into the story and the lives of Chandler’s characters I felt even more remorse I couldn’t feature my review sooner to be more in-line with the original review tour! This was the kind of INSPY narratives I appreciate finding as more than one Contemporary INSPY novelist is writing compelling stories full of modern realistic lives which take you closer to their characters and the message within their novels. I was truly grateful to become introduced to her style of narrative and of being able to shine a light of joy of “Refuge at Pine Lake” as this was the first of a new series.

Ms Johnson has a realistic tone etched into her INSPY narrative which I personally love finding – she presents her characters in the height of their transitions – meaning, as we enter into Robin and her mother Deborah’s lives they are experiencing a life shift together as something prompted their relocations whilst at the same time, other characters who are coming into the story-line are going through their own trial and tribulations to where they too, are on the fringes of change to erupt into their life. She has a quick pacing to how she delivers her story – getting you the facts you need to understand where we are entering her characters’ lives and then, giving us a heap to chew on thereafter as we pick up the threads of what is happening now.

Her style of writing Contemporary Fiction has a quickening to it – she doesn’t draw out the narrative bits but rather fuses the most immediate emotions from her characters into the context of the story whilst moving the timeline forward with bursts of dialogue and more background information. It isn’t oft I find this style of writing – in either mainstream or INSPY stories, as I have the tendency to seek out the longer narrative style, where there is more flushing out of the inbetween bits I’ve come to love to read. However, Johnson handles this quicker pace well – she owns the pacing she’s developed and although it might come across a bit more clipped round the edges for readers who aren’t familiar with this style, she endeavours you to stay rooted in the novel.

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Best New To Me Authors of

Eclectic Themes within my favourite Genres

(Historical Romance,
Contemporary or Historical Thrillers,
Inspirational Fiction,
the after canons of Jane Austen, etc)

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My Fair Spinster by Rebecca ConnollyThe Merry Lives of Spinsters by Rebercca Connolly

The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian ConroyAn Abiding Fire by M.J. LogueForget My Name by J.S. Monroe

Quote banner from jorielovesastory.com review for "Rational Creatures" provided by Christina Boyd.
Quote banner from jorielovesastory.com review for “Rational Creatures” provided by Christina Boyd. Used with permission.

The Merry Lives of Spinsters by Rebecca Connolly | see also Review

& My Fair Spinster by Rebecca Connolly | see also Review

Mount Vernon Love Story by Mary Higgins Clark | see also Review

A Changed Agent by Tracey J. Lyons | see my Review via LibraryThing

Deadly Exchange by Lisa Harris | see my Review via LibraryThing

& Taken by Lisa Harris | see my Review via LibraryThing

The Amish Witness by Diane Burke | see my Review via LibraryThing

The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne Freeman | see also Reviews

An Abiding Fire by M.J. Logue | see also Review

Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe | see also Review

Rational Creatures | see also Review
(anthology of Jane Austen After Canon Stories) by the Quill Collective
featuring Amy D’Orazio & Karalynne Mackrory

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→ Quirkly there are *10!* different entries for this category!

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When it comes to Historical Romance, I am not reading it strictly to learn about ‘history’  per se but rather want to feel caught in the joy of the relationship being built against the historical backdrop it is placed. Which tracks well with the choices I make in which Historical Romance authors draw my eye towards their works of literature! In this particular instance, what drew me into a curiosity about the Spinster Chronicles is the curious point of entrance into the women whose lives are at the centre of the series! It is a unique perspective but also an interesting premise – of how thread a series out of a particular set of circumstances and yet, leaving the door ajar for these women to find their happier-ever-afters as well!

Last Autumn, I had the pleasure of joy learning more about the writer’s (Ms Connolly’s) writing process and a few insights into her series (the Spinster Chronicles) when I shared my interview which was featured during the “Spinster and I” blog tour. This Autumn, I happily started reading the series which inspired the conversation – the stories which have charmed me from afar and of which I was happily soaking inside as the Regency is one of my top favourite #HistRom settings to settle inside!

I am going to be rounding out my readings of this series in early Winter 2020 as I never had the chance to re-pick up the Spinsters past the first two novels I read this Autumn. Circumstances before, during and after the blog tour this year for the Spinsters affected my reading life and I pushed forward reading the stories until I could commit my focus to them as they are such a delight of wicked sweet joy to be read! I didn’t want to miss an inch of them and I found out via Twitter there is a fifth book now released which is a Christmas story I am hoping to secure through my local library!

There is a wicked sense of ease of alighting inside the Spinsters novels by Ms Connolly – in fact, she charms you outright with her sense of pacing, direction of insight she gives her characters and the fact, that as a whole she uses the turns of phrase you’d expect to find in a Regency Romance. I love the fact that this is an atypical Regency Romance in that traditional regard, as there is much more to the plot than a trajectory of interest which would lead into a settled relationship. No, there are layers here to pull apart and appreciate – as Ms Connolly has written a very modernly apt series re-positioned into the Regency where we find lovely young women who are as independently minded as we are today (and I am quite sure, there must have been a few back then as well!) who are determined to right their own fates against what they deem is right for themselves. What isn’t to love about a Historical Romance series like this one? Feminist driven story-lines, wholly curious characters and the entire backdrop of the series is an era you feel most at home re-visiting as it has become a favourite mainstay of your readerly life – or at least, it has been for me!

I loved at the start of each of the chapters are portions of the Spinsters column – you can denote what is most fetching on their minds by what they are disclosing to their readers; those observations also serve as a foreshadow of what the chapter will next reveal within their lives – a bit of a clever way of nudging you along their thought-process and to better understand their motivations overall. They were a bit more complicated and complex than you first imagine them to be as there are hidden layers which are earnestly drawn out as you read further into the context of the novel.

There are little nudges of insight threading through the narrative – something you start to notice as you dive deeper into the heart of the first installment The Merry Lives of Spinsters – Connolly has left behind a lovely little world for you to entreat inside. You get to enjoy the aspects of Pride and Prejudice which whisk you into new variants of the novel whilst giving you a wholly refreshed view of the Regency with characters who were penned with an honesty of purpose and position. I loved how Connolly re-visits an era I readily read but re-illuminates it through a door not oft opened.

The turns of phrase and the words Ms Connolly uses in her Historical Regencies are part of my enjoyment of reading her Romances. She has wicked sweet instincts and she must be an avid reader herself because she avoids the pitfalls some #HistRom authors make when writing Regencies. It is one thing to know that most readers of the Regency are well versed in the era itself but it is another to elevate the next Regency they read with a felicity of place, of conversation overheard and of the mannerisms you especially hope to find on display. Connolly united what I love from reading Regencies in the past with what I am hopeful to find in Regencies now. She doesn’t let me sit on what I knew of previously but rather, encourages new insight and new murmurings of interest to grow through how she purports us into her world. Her Regency is as keenly intuitive and observed as Jane Austen’s and for that, I am especially grateful.

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One thing that I don’t oft blog about or tweet about (really ought to change that this New Year, 2020!) is how much Mum & I share a mutual passion for reading and how our readerly lives have the propensity of aligning with one another – same stories, same authors, same genres and the same wicked sweet giddiness over finding stories at local libraries, Indie bookshoppes and all other places of bookish joy a reader can pick up a new love for a new series, author or story! Including library book sales, free book shelves in your local communities and all matters of places where books find their readers! We also subscribe to our favourite author newletters and stalk them online, too, though in truth she stalks more actors we mutually love seeing in Hallmark Channel movies via Instagram! lol I just causally observe their lives on Insta over her shoulder, you know, like any daughter would! lol

I even grabbed the large print edition of Goddard’s latest series (the first one, we haven’t yet ordered the sequel) to read in January as I’ve had it checked out numerous times to read in tandem with Mum’s own reading experience only to find that I ran out of hours before it was due back again! It must’ve boomeranged half a dozen times before I just walked into the library, found it on the shelf and re-borrowed it again! lol

January dear hearts is the month I start reading and/or listening to the stories Mum’s been nudging me to read for at least the past three and a half years! Oyyy. At least we get a kick out of rec’ing books to each other even though every odd moon we find stories not to our personal cuppas – such as she prefers Susan Sleeman via Love Inspired Suspense and I am finding Susan Sleeman’s White Knights series to be a hard one to get through! As I’ve been reading the sequel to “Fatal Mistake” as the New Year comes into view,..

This next read I’m going to share is one such lovely – Mum read it first, than I was slated to read it though it was a family friend borrow not a library book & I had egg on my face holding onto it for so long but I am so dearly thankful I had as it turnt out to be a new chapter of interest in reading Historical narratives about George Washington! It was also sadly my first introduction into the Historical styling of Mary Higgins Clark which I found to my liking only to realise she switched to Contemporaries and never went back to Historicals? She had serious talent and this is the only one she wrote!? Talk about being broken-hearted about that revelation!

I should also mention Mum & I both share an affinity for either a) the Revolutionary War era (ie. for America, though I am also partial to France) and b) we both love Colonial American History & Presidential History.

Clark taps into the mind and memories of Washington – how he felt about stepping out of office and of turning over his duties to the man next in line (ie. John Adams) – to how he looked forward to the life he would live alongside his wife, Patsy. Clark knits us close to Washington – the murmurs of his heart as he turns over memories and thoughts as readily as a man can walk through heavy winds and gales to reach the confirmation of a new President. Washington was a complicated fellow – he kept a lot of his thoughts close to him but it was how he processed his life and turnt over his innermost thoughts that I found wicked fascinating from the beginning. You can see a part of him here in this novel that is at the opposite end of his life I had previously read from Becoming George Washington as this is at the end of his long road of a public servant to the people of the newly formed United States rather than a man just starting off into an adventure he hadn’t realised would lead to the Presidency. The two anchours of reading about his life are wholly entertaining as they give a proper juxtaposition of whom Washington had been at two pivotal moments of his life.

Clark has written this novel as a time shift narrative – meaning, although we are with Washington in the present (at the time of his retirement wherein Adams is rising into the seat of the second President) we are also firmly grounded into his younger years where he was still living in the house of his mother. It is here where we see how the boy became the man and how the boyhood experiences of his youth shaped, defined and still influenced him as an adult. Though the pains of that boyhood also had leftover effects on his mental health as Clark dips into how the choices he was forced to make in his younger years directly affected the course his adult years would dictate.

What I appreciated most about how Clark approached this story is how she wanted us to feel emotionally attached to Washington and his wife, Patsy (of whom I previously knew of being Martha) – of how the trials of their life and the successes therein as well were the memories they latched onto the most. How hard Washington fought for understanding the moments of his life where he felt like a failure and how others who looked on those same moments and only saw admiration. It was a cuttingly authentic viewing of Washington’s life told through the warmth and lens of a romance; as first and foremost, it is of a man and his love of the land known as Mount Vernon – how this became the anchour and the balance which stablised his life. Yet, it also the romance of how the one woman who he never felt he’d meet became his equal and his companion through a life well-worn through leadership, adversity and the courage necessary to lead a young country into a future that was unscripted and unplanned; yet dreamt of by the brave men who changed the destiny of the colonists.

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I’m not going to share extracts from my LibraryThing Reviews for the INSPY authors I read during July’s epic INSPY readathon & reading challenge – as that is another post I am working on for New Year as Lisa Harris is going to be a featured guest for @SatBookChat! I also had the joy of contacting the authors privately during July inasmuch as I loved finding out I could share my reviews directly on my LibraryThing shelves without having to worry about writing a longer entry on my blog Jorie Loves A Story.

I didn’t have a lot of time to blog this Summer due to the plumbing issues nor did I want to lose track of why I loved reading those stories this year as I couldn’t put together any book photos either – so instead, I blogged differently this past Summer and left my ruminative thoughts on those book pages via LibraryThing which I felt was a brilliant alternative! Do click over and read what I found inside those stories as it renewed my love for Love Inspired Suspense and I am wicked determined in 2020 to read them regularly *each month of the year!* rather than following my current pattern of once a year in July whilst Mum gets to devour them every month as their a reprieve of joy I encouraged her to have on her long 12 hour shifts at work!

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As foresaid during this post, you know I *love!* humour in fiction – and its not limited to #SpecFic either dear hearts – when I first started reading Dianne Freeman’s Cosy Historical Mysteries I must confess I thought Christmas had arrived early as they were drop the book hysterical to read! As soon as I read them I knew I had a lovely new author to follow the career of and apparently my regional library agrees as they bought her stories in audiobook!

I am hoping to listen to those this New Year before the third installment comes out because it would be such a lovely re-visitation on the series. I was truly blessed & grateful to receive both novels in the series to read & review for my tour stop via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (my hidden secret of how I’ve found such wonderfully beautiful Historical storycrafters these past six years as a book blogger) whilst I am wicked excited for Ms Freeman being a featured guest of my chat @SatBookChat this New Year! Look for those updates & announcements!

There is a causal familiarity within the series – almost as if Freeman had pondered about this series to such a heightened degree of continuous thought – by the time she put the story down to paper, the whole cast and setting simply emerged just as you’d expect it to be as if they were components of a real story and not set in a fictional world against the London Season. Freeman has a clear vision of where she wants you to enter this world but in the background, despite the touches of familiar sights for this era in History what makes it a charming Cosy is how she digs closer to Frances and truly envelopes you into her internal world. You get to see Frances in her day-to-day adventures – whilst she attempts to sort out her in-laws, the balance of her own family and the musings of mumhood. All of that equals a rather lovely experience to read as you tuck closer to Frances just as she is starting to emerge into the next chapter of her life.

What makes this series work as well as it does is the sharp dialogue, the witty situations and the loveliness of soaking into a series which not only breathes a life of joy to read but it has dimensional presence for the reader! You are so swept into Freeman’s style of a Cosy narrative you don’t want to exit the story-line! The goings on of Frances life is what anchours you into the exploits surrounding her – as crime has a rather curious way of following her round but even if you put that aside, it is how Frances was crafted to entertain you that I love the most!

Similar to Anna Blanc, the woman doesn’t realise how hilarious her life is truly being lived! Even without attempting to whet a thirst of humourous joy into your reading, here comes Frances – quite bemused herself by how circumstances seemingly ordinary can turn dire almost without warning and then, both of you are on this romp of an adventure that you don’t wish to see end anytime soon! I’m sure she could have done without a few of the headaches those situations caused to those who were most close to her – as no one wants to see someone put through that kind of anguish – but the rest of it? Goodness! Ms Freeman has crafted a Cosy Mystery series which gives you the joyfulness of the Victorian era with the curiosities befitting the Cosies!

I do rather look forward to seeing the third installment of this series release! I can’t imagine what shall come next for dear Frances & her circle, but what I do know is that I’m going to have a wickedly brilliant time discovering it! This is definitely one of my new favourite Cosies & an author I look forward to continuing to read as more of her stories become available!

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One of the more creative stories I’ve read this year was “An Abiding Fire” by M.J. Logue – which is why I also had her as a featured guest author during my chat @SatBookChat – as I wanted to continue the conversation as I had also interviewed her for the blog tour.

I was starting to host her publisher’s blog tours rather frequently until one day the tours stopped arriving in my Inbox – something I need to enquire about in January as with everything going on in my personal life this year, I was just thankful to keep my blog surfacing regularly with new content & new bookish ruminations of what I was actively reading. I did have the joy of seeing my purchase request for her novel arrive via my local library and that in effect helped deepen the conversation we had via @SatBookChat!

Logue has a unique writing style – it hard to pin it down because it is quite an original spin on how to write a Historical narrative – a lot of it comes across as being introspective and of a moving litany of thoughts her characters are contemplating within themselves. It leads you to get inside their heads quite a bit faster even if it lengthens the time you need to understand where the plot is directing you to walk, it builds on the omnious vibes of not knowing when the aspects of the Thriller will start to move in and out of the current timeline.

She also is a wordsmith – a lot of her turns of phrase are not commonly used (which I celebrated) nor are her choices in words. It gives you a bit more measure of depth to align into her train of thought for how this novel is to be read. She also intersperses the narrative with fleeing visuals which are bold as well as they are blunt meaning, she writes openly about the honesty of a scene and what is meant to be observed or felt. She has perfected that balance too to where you can understand why she wrote those passages in the way she had vs attempting to understand them.

I was quite thankful as a reader to find the scenes wherein Logue could have turnt them more brutal and visual were kept more at a distance. She gave you just what was needed to be seen but didn’t overstep into the horror she could have taken it. She has added in such delightful turns of phrases – attributes of a person’s character or their personality by cleverly piecing together words which give their own adjectives to suggest a behaviour or a character trait outright. I loved those bits of wordplay as it made reading An Abiding Fire rather enjoyable.

Everything in the end pulls back to the beginning – in only a way which fittingly is Logue. She wanted you to feel emotionally attached to Thomazine and Russell before you ever learnt of the more sinister aspects of the plot she’s devised for you to read. A smart move because that is what holds you in the context of the novel – trying to uncover the clues and the reasons why someone would wish to haunt Russell and allow him to feel like he was half out of his mind in torment. If Thomazine hadn’t married Russell, I am sure the ending would have gone quite another way.

The central arc of the novel is rooted more in the curious background of what is erupting in the political sphere of the Restoration era. There is quite a heap of political upheaval in the background of this story – so much so, you’ll be thankful Logue included an introduction to it all in the Appendixes! Like most political narratives, it takes a bit of time to unravel it to where you understand the motives and actions of everyone involved. Despite that aspect of the story, what I hugged closer towards was the interactions and the relationship between Russell and Thomazine. She was truly the healing angel he needed to resolve his past – a past which any man would have struggled to lie to rest and in that, the story had a greater purpose of establishing us within this chapter of their lives. Because you see – despite being a Historical Thriller, An Abiding Fire is most surely and resolutely a Historical Romance!

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Another pitfall of Summer is I was unfortunately delayed until #Fraterfestrat to read the Contemporary Thriller Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe – however, when I tagged the author on Twitter he gave me the kindness of realising it doesn’t always matter *when you read!* the book but when you do read you’ve found it to be an enjoyable read! I am so dearly grateful to Head of Zeus for introducing me to this author as when it comes to Contemporary Thrillers – outside of the authors I’ve found via Love Inspired Suspense & ChocLit – it is tricky going because too many authors write grittier stories than the kinds I love – wells, of course the Kay Hunter series befits this category of interest too – however I have the tendency of blogging & tweeting about how its a dramatic crime series moreso than Contemporary Thriller which it equally straddles in scope & delivery!

As you are about to see, Monroe gave me a wicked chilling read & the joy for me as a reader is hosting him for an introspective interview this Happy New Year 2020 about his latest release of which I am hoping my regional library purchases as they have the rest of his stories via audiobook in their OverDrive Library! Wouldn’t that be wicked keen!? Ooh, I think so! Be sure to watch for the announcements on the Q&A as I will be sharing about it as soon as the New Year starts to get underway!

For now, let me impart why his Thriller truly resonated with me:

Mr Monroe has a unique style of how he begins to taunt you a bit with the suspenseful arc of his novel whilst he gives you just enough to chew on to re-contemplate everything you’ve just read! He pulls you through the narrative as if you only have the information the characters have themselves – meaning, the reader is blind to both the truth of the situation and the set of circumstances that led-in to this story. He even switches it up a bit by having you re-think what you think about when it comes to the foundations of the Psychological Suspense genre itself – for a girl who cut her teeth on Hitchcock and classical horror films which were the founding origins of this genre in motion pictures, I must credit Monroe with a seemingly benign yet altogether sinister approach which leaves you rooted in the pages of his novel!

Even when you realise you are more confused than ever about what actually is going on – Monroe has this way of giving you a wicked good read where you feel motivated to turn the pages! Such as the moment when Tony’s wife Laura has felt she can’t deal with the situation anymore involving the mysterious stranger, she takes off for an unexpected holiday; to be with her parents and take some downtime. Meanwhile, Tony doesn’t waste time to re-enter into Jemma’s life – to insist she is re-invited to stay with him and almost pretend as nothing was kicked up between them. And, that is the moment where I questioned everything all over again! Why was he so insistent? What changed his mind and how does this all lead back into the lost identity of Jemma? As you can see Monroe wants you to think about this plot… but are you ready for when he starts to twist it to where you might not wish to turn the next page? Ah, but that is the question isn’t it! How far can you read before you instinctively are unsure if you want to know the conclusion?

Mr Monroe keeps you on the edge of the book – you want to read this is one sitting but if you find yourself unable to do that like I had myself – take your time with the story. You’ll appreciate it more because this is one riddler of a puzzle to sort through! It has different sides of a mirror if you think about it – how the image in the mirror is reflected depends greatly on your point of view and the perspective of the clues, facts and events which lead you to see what you perceive but is that the way in which Monroe wants you to see it? That’s the question truly.

Sorting out Monroe’s layered psychological Thriller is what keeps you turning the pages and questioning the maddening plot straight through to the very last chapter where you’ll run out of questions and be left with a #SpookyReads kind of a Thriller resting on your shelf. It is only then where you can replay the novel back round – re-seeing what you missed the first go-round and understanding Monroe’s style as you re-think everything over again!

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When the audiobook blog tour via Audiobook Promotions was announced by email for Rational Creatures, I must admit, I was wicked enthused! I have been a Janeite for such a huge part of my life that it actually began *before!* I read her novels & stories because I would research her life & the path she took as an author. Not to mention the fact I am still musing over “Pride &  Prejudice” whenever an after canon catches my eye that it has forestalled my readings of the rest of her stories! Wells, guess what? This lovely audiobook is an anthology highlighting ALL her more infamous stories I haven’t yet read and it became the encouraging nudge I needed to re-kick into gear reading #moreAusten in 2020!

Being on this blog tour also put me into touch with Christina Boyd who offered me to listen to “Yuletide” which is an anthology collection of after canons stories centred round “Pride & Prejudice” which I am going to be listening to for review purposes in the days leading into Twelfth Night before I share my review of it. I was truly thankful to be considered for this review tour and I am humbled by the chance to carry on a personal passion of interest to hear more stories inspired by my favourite Jane Austen novel! Not to mention the fact I think the work of the Quill Collective is the best discovery ANY Janeite or Austenite can make because they truly have etched out such an insightful footpath back into Austen’s world(s).

Let me share why this audiobook left such a strong impression on me:

“The beauty of this collection is hand-selecting which
character from Austen’s canon you want to re-visit.”

This is my main takeaway after having sampled and listened to the stories which I was most interested in hearing during the blog tour.

It is the aesthetic of the stories which pulls you into them the most – of hearing Jane Austen’s Classics being re-built through new contemporary voices in Historical Romance renewing our wicked interest in how these characters might still have progressed forward in their lives. Or even, if there were extra scenes within the capacity of what we first learnt of them preclude about what we knew or at least, suspected we had know of them? In a word, it is an anthology which both answers and re-inspires new questions to be cast against the characters Jane Austen endeared us with fond affection for caring about all these years lateron.

Part of the good folly of the collection is also sorting out when ‘rational creatures’ is going to make its arrival in the stories themselves as each of the writers’ sorted out a way to include the wording of the title into their stories! The Feminism is a gentle presence in the background – the women reveal themselves and their choices; how they’ve lived their lives is testament enough towards their sociopolitical views.

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In conclusion, I hope my humbled thoughts and joyful recollections of these stories & their storycrafters INSPIRE you, my dear hearted readers to seek out one of the stories I’ve highlighted today to read for your own discovery of joys! Likewise, it was a humbled day of joy for me as a reader to impart the notes and thoughts I put into this post and to share it with the authors who gave me 32 reasons to celebrate my #bookloves of 2019! I cannot wait to see who I will be championing next New Year’s Eve as I think I’ll make this a new ‘tradition’ for readerly gratitude!

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I’m itching to know – did you participate in this week’s topic? If so, kindly leave a link to your #TopTenTuesday so I can happily visit your list & see what grabs your literary eye! Likewise, what is on my List that either leaves you curious to explore or is a literary style we share in common within our readerly adventures!?

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{SOURCES: Top Ten Tuesday banner, Rosemary and Rue book review banner and the Top Ten Tuesday for New Year’s Eve 2019 banner created by Jorie via Canva. All individual book covers were given to me by either the publicists/publishers/authors/or blog touring companies who encourage me to talk about the books after I’ve reviewed them and thus, all are being used with permission. Quote banner from jorielovesastory.com review for “Rational Creatures” provided by Christina Boyd. Used with permission. All book photography is credited to jorielovesastory.com (such as the Rosemary and Rue book photo) Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2019 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Bookish Memes, JLAS Update Post, Jorie Loves A Story, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Top Ten Tuesday

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23 responses to “A #blogmas #TopTenTuesday No.9 | Taking a nudge from Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum – Jorie’s Favourite #newtomeauthors of 2019!

    • Hallo, Hallo Rissi,

      What a month January became for me! It was migraine-free (bless!) but overall, I felt like I had zero focus on reading, etc. I just couldn’t get into the stories I wanted to be reading right now – half of that had to do with personal stresses IRL and the other half had to do with world events, etc. Just being able to participate in TTT 3x (including this post!) was a blessing for me!! :) I love how you singled out “Christmas Once Again” – it was a favourite of mine and I am thankful it is a new author for you to seek out. I always love when readers stop and share they’ve found someone new to read – I hope you’ve had a happy month of reading. I’m setting my sights on February being a bookishly happier month for myself!

    • Hallo, Hallo Gayahtri,

      Yes, it has been quite a long while.. I regret I had to pull back from visiting with everyone last year. I’m resuming where I left off and starting to get back into the rhythm of reading blogs and leaving comments & notes again under their posts. I am thankful you’ve dropped by this New Year and said ‘hallo’. I hope the New Year has been kind to you and has begun on a good note – especially if you’ve started to read (I’m still in the process,…) a new story. I’m migraine-free this month and my December cold is becoming a faded memory – so I am truly doing well. Thanks for your concern.

      Ooh bless your heart! I am so thankful you’ve let me know this!! I truly appreciate this kind of feedback — it was such a joy and delight to put this list together and I’m thankful its seeing so much traction with visitors, followers and bookish friends alike! Have a very blessed New Year.

  1. So many new authors this year, that is wonderful! I haven’t heard of any of the books featured, but there are so many that sound good. I feel that it becomes too easy to fall into reading only books by the same small set of authors, and there are a lot of gems that are easily missed out on. I am especially guilty of only reading select authors that I do not read often, like historical romance, paranormal, and high fantasy. I haven’t read any historical romance in a good while, so when the mood strikes me again I’ll definitely check some of these out.

    Also I ended up having to move my blog from the last location. I hate doing so many moves, but my old host simply could not run certain scripts needed for my non-blog projects, so I made the leap to a new host that I’ve always wanted to go with but never did due to cost. Hopefully this will be the last blog hop and new url.

    • Hallo, Hallo Jamie,

      I’m thankful you’ve stopped by – as I went to visit with you recently but it was a broken link to your blog? Now I understand. Wells, sadly – sometimes you have to make those hard calls when it means doing what is right for your blog. I still remember how I ached over choosing to self-host or staying with WP; I never looked back and have been blessed tenfold by choosing to go with Ashley @ Nose Graze. When you find the right fit for you, it makes everything work smoother! I hope you’ll have a better blogging experience now.

      I did focus on quite a large amount of #newtomeauthors throughout 2019 – that’s for sure! I was truly surprised by how many really – as I wasn’t looking at my Reading Challenge page that often throughout the year where their all tagged under that challenge title. I’m going to be addressing how I did and what I enjoyed out of the challenges I participated in later this week. I meant to do it for this past #TheSundayPost but to be honest I wasn’t in a blogging mood this past weekend. You could say all the current events and the Australia fires were wearing me down quite a bit. I tucked offline and enjoyed some much needed Christmas movies via Hallmark Channel and enjoyed their new Crossword Mysteries, too! Ha! Big Smiles.

      Ooh I am so thankful for your feedback! :) Especially as another recent visitor told me this – how a lot of the authors they’ve never heard of and might not have heard of if I hadn’t written up the post! I believe that is true – most book bloggers and reviewers stick to their wheelhouse and their comfortable reads – they don’t go too far afield from what they read the year before and tend to read sequels and new series by the same authors if they know they enjoyed them previously. I sometimes get frustrated trying to rec a book when I know the person doesn’t really explore too far outside their regular wanderings but at the same time, I can’t discredit their choices because every reader has their own personal preferences. I like to circle back to beloved authors and beloved series; some years I succeed at that rather well and other years… goodness! You should see the list of series I need to re-read and resume! lol

      Still, one of my favourite things to do is try new authors – either debut novelists, new storycrafters who are featured in anthologies (esp for Speculative Fiction!) or perhaps its just a new author to me but they are already established. Makes it more fun, I think and I’m constantly trying to challenge myself…try new sub-niches in favourite genres, go into a new genre completely, etc. I also read stories that challenge me or topics in Non-Fiction that might be a challenge to read just because of what their breaking down (such as topics in Science I’m curious about…); just depends on my mood, really.

      I’m glad I could tip your hat to some new Historical Romances… I look forward to seeing which ones you’ll be reading.

      I hope after you’ve settled into your blog again, you’ll find blogging to be easier this New Year. Many blessings to you and your family.

    • Hallo, Hallo Sandy,

      You’re quite welcome!! As you were commenting on my blog, I was starting to consider what I should do for this week’s TopTen!! I was going to try to rush the topic but decided against it as I wanted to really flesh it out as I was already working on it but knew it wouldn’t be done in time to post today. I decided to re-direct the focus on the Non Fiction Reads I have shied away from reading for different reasons which have come up in my reading life whilst also owning to the fact we have to give ourselves a break from the guilt if we have a book blogger backlogue. I’m hoping to release my Anticipated Reads for 2020 a bit lateron this month.

      Wow. Not one? Wells, that is plausible – if you consider how many genres we all read and how many authors we might run across as we’re reading?

      I hope you have a wicked wonderful week, yourself! Thanks for stopping by and giving me such lovely feedback!!

  2. This is such a cool list!! I’ve added a lot of these books to my TBR! In particular, Mark of the Raven sounds really good! I hope you have a wonderful reading year in 2020 as well!

    • Hallo, Hallo Kerys,

      Thanks for visiting with me as I reflect over the new authors who truly gave me such a wicked sweet 2019! :) I appreciate your visit and the kindness you gave me in letting me know you were here with your lovely comment. Ooh this warms my heart! I love knowing when I’ve talked about a book it has inspired another reader to pick up the book for themselves!! Ooh my — I was so captured by the world-building within Mark of a Raven I did not soon wish to leave it! It was the hardest though truly to exit Flight of the Raven without the benefit of having Cry of the Raven on hand to read! I generally read series straight through as I usually get into them a bit late after publication – however, as a book blogger sometimes I’ve been blessed to read them at their beginnings… so the wait is really fierce!

      If you pick these up to read this year, I hope they will evoke a similar feeling of joy. Fantasy is such a tricky genre to explore – I was most impressed with how Busse handed the visual depth of the world against the character centred plotting. May your #nextreads throughout 2020 bring you a heap of readerly blissitude as well!

  3. I always marvel at how many books Seanan McGuire has written. Even books like Rosemary and Rue, which is from a genre I don’t typically pick up, has me intrigued. Also intrigued by Yuletide. A look at what happens after P&P will always pique my interest. I hope you have a wonderful 2020!

    • Hallo, Hallo Alicia,

      Thanks for swinging by my blog and finding we share a few authors in common! :) You hit the nail on the mark! When I first decided to undertake reading the October Daye series – despite being an appreciator of Urban Fantasy, I still had my doubts if this was going to be a series I could sink my teeth into or if it was going to be a series which truly pushed me too far outside my zones of comfort for the genre. Instead, as you can well see – so far, so good! You definitely will stay rooted in the book because of the intriguing plot! McGuire has a way of anchouring her stories with so much charged energy and keenly emotional character arcs, its hard NOT to keep turning the pages! If you pick it up, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I’m hoping to dive back into the second novel this January and spend the next twelvemonths blogging, tweeting and discussing the series as I had intended to last year.

      Ooh you and me both!

      I love Pride and Prejudice dearly!

      To the brink, I find myself so moved to carry myself back off into those stories and worlds! You’ll find some P&P love on the first Quill Collective audiobook I reviewed as well – Rational Creatures – even if that one does go through the overall canon. I hope whatever you pick up to read this year will become your next favourite reads for 2020! Thank you for your kind sentiments and thanks for leaving such a lovely comment.

    • Hallo, Hallo Rachel,

      Thanks for giving me the random joy of praise! :) I appreciate the time you took to read over this post and to seek out new authors to read during the coming year (or years!). It warms my heart knowing readers are finding stories and authors they desire to seek out based on my recommendations & reflections over the past year. I might have more for you to find once I get my *End of the Year Survey!* finished – as it will round out all my thoughts for all the stories I’ve read in 2019!! Be sure to stay attuned for that as I’m trying to get it up on my blog before mid-January!

      Sweet Melody is one of those Sweet Romances you love residing inside… if you pick up a copy and read it, try to come back and let’s revisit it together. I’d love to hear your reactions after you’ve read it.. whenever that happens.

      I was quite happily surprised by how well my 2019 turnt out… bookishly speaking, I didn’t think I had read a lot of stories as it felt like I missed a lot of hours due to different things which arose in my life and yet, as I started to look back on everything I agree with you! Lots of good memories, beautiful stories and sweet new series/authors to follow. I hope the same for you and that this New Year we’ll both be equally blessed to feel the same after another year of reading.

      Have a very blessed New Year’s.

  4. This is pretty incredible! Glad to hear you discovered so many new-to-you authors. I love making these kinds of lists every year because there are still so many established authors I’ve yet to read, and of course every year we see some fantastic debuts! Thank you for stopping by my blog!

    • Hallo, Hallo Mogsy,

      Each year, I strive towards reading more new authors – usually that is spread across reading a heap of lovely debut authors but this year, I tried to have a better overview of different genres, new voices in genres I already love and of course, the debuts which I love as you’re right on the cusp of an author’s journey.

      I am going to make this my annual TopTen List – which as you know will most likely have far more authors than the mere 10x but what I loved about working on this post is through your own inspiring post I learnt that this ‘look-back’ benefits me as well as it helps others find new authors for themselves.

      I, agree! There are established authors out there from all markets of choice – I try to spilt mine down the middle from mainstream to INSPY but also from Major Trade to Indie – each year there is this organic adventure which knits out of the stories which alight on my path and I wanted to thank you again for inspiring me to write this and give my readers, my visitors & the authors themselves a very happy New Year’s surprise!!

      Quite welcome – I have meant to revisit with you in the past… I’ve had a lot of health afflictions (ie. chronic migraines, etc) and my Dad has been recovering from his stroke since late 2016 and I’m his caregiver when Mum’s at work. He had some crises this November and some deficits showed up this Winter, too which gave us a lot of anxieties. However, as I look ahead at this New Year – I wanted to start to visit with bloggers I have met along my own blogging journey (like you!) as my migraines are starting to reduce in frequency now.. 2018 was a worse year for them than 2019 but it was this year I sorted out a way to help keep the frequencies down. On that note, I hope I’ll be more present on your blog!! Likewise, thanks for taking the time to visit with me. I definitely smiled seeing your lovely note.

  5. Like I said in my other comment, I read and enjoyed The Wonkiest Witch on your rec. I’ve also had some of the other titles here screenshotted in my phone as reminders from when you’ve mentioned them in the past, mostly Historical and SFF. The Spinster Chronicles, Rational Creatures and some of the Camelot-themed books are all on my eventual TBR. I’ve definitely got Rational Creatures pegged for Jane Austen July.
    Happy New Year! ?

    • Hallo, Hallo Lou!

      :) Thanks for spending a bit of your New Year’s Day with me! I was overjoyed learning all of this — screenshots of my blog? Ooh wow. You’ve humbled me in joyfulness knowing that you’ve spied #mustreads off something I’ve posted about!! Isn’t it brilliant the Wonky Inn with Alf? I had the chance to listen to the sequel this year – I will be re-listening to it soon as I want to properly get my thoughts together to share with you guys – did you listen to anymore of the stories in the series yet? I really loved how she brought us back into Alf’s life and of course, expounded upon the ghosts who are happily keeping her musefully haunted! lol I had so many moments where I was laughing or smirking til my cheeks hurt – it was the kind of story which was perfectly timed to receive to hear too, as I needed the burst of random hilarity in my life when I was listening to it!! #sogood I’m glad that my enjoyment of the series sparked a keen interest in your own readerly life and that you found it a wicked good choice!

      Ooh, those lovely Spinsters! I’m reading the next two of the series – though a bit out of sequence as I read book four and one and now I have books two and three leftover to absorb this January! I dodn’t want to push it off any longer! I feel much better than I had in recent weeks/months and with the New Year, I feel newly inspired to get back into reading. It helps when your in a better place.. not just with your health (which was a big one for me) but with other things going on in your life. Dad’s health getting sorted really aided in my ability to start focusing on reading again but also, sometimes I think I need to remember to give myself flexiblity to have ‘downtime’ which was a topic I was talking to Lisa @ Way Too Fantasy recently. I struggle with that… as I get so guilty about adding books to my backlogue or getting delayed with reviews or even just needing more time to just take a break from reading itself. Oyy.

      I cannot express the beauty of Rational Creatures enough! :) Those writers truly tucked me back into the world of Jane Austen so dearly well, I can’t wait to resume hearing their variants after I read Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion this year!! This January (til Twelfth Night) I’m listening to Yuletide (as mentioned on this post) and I am hoping I have the same takeaway feeling as I had with Rational Creatures. Of course, this time… getting back into the lives of Darcy & Lizzie isn’t a hard transition as I have such a swoony heart for those kinds of stories!

      Ooh! Speaking of *that!* did you see my random tweet s/o about how I’m listening to an audiobook series about #dragons! at Pemberley!? You should be able to join the audiobook blog tour if you wanted to via Audiobookworm Promotions?

      OOh you love Camelot, too? I can’t wait to see which ones you pick up!! I have more coming this January.. your TBR will be smirking!

      Jane Austen July? Hmm… I only know of Austen in August over @ Roof Beam Reader / Writer‘s blog!? I actually have been nudging him to host again. Plus, I’m toying with an Austen readathon this Winter, to host myself.

      Sounds like we each have a lot of loveliness ahead of us this New Year’s 2020! Thanks for helping me ring in the first day of the new year – I look forward to our continuing friendship, conversations and bookish musings!! You were a big part of why I enjoyed 2019 – here’s to a new year for friendship, stories and the curious way we find to blog our readerly lives. Many blessings to you, dear friend.

    • Happy New Year, Davida!

      Thank you for your lovely compliment about my post!! :) I had such a wicked amount of joy assembling this list and I am happy to see it gaining traction with readers and my followers alike! May you have a wicked wonderful New Year’s 2020 reading and discovering more #awesomesauce Historical Fiction! Best of joys to you and yours this New Year’s Day!

    • Hallo, Hallo Lydia!

      Thank you so much for your lovely compliment! :) I felt accomplished releasing this lovely as I actually began editing it from the original Mid-Year Freak Out tag TTT response post round 3am this morning! I had to take a break for breakfast mid-morning as my eyes were about to be lost in the screen itself and I didn’t want to run the risk of a migraine… I was so enraptured by sorting out the genres and the stories / authors I loved discovering I had forgotten to ‘step away!’. Laughs. Thank you for reading the post in full and for leaving me a comment! I appreciate it! I’ll be returning the kindness as soon as I can when I visit with you! Happy New Year’s Eve!

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