#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen Shoop

Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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In [2019] I launched a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I began this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I celebrated K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

My path first crossed with Kathleen Shoop in [2015] whilst I was participating in a summer reading challenge by BookSparks. I was also a reviewer and blog tour hostess with the  publicity firm whilst I was joining the SRC reading challenge they were quite infamous of hosting for the very first time. My experiences that summer were less than gratifying as I lost traction with the challenge itself and only posted a few reviews out of the ones I was meant to be posting. Ms Shoop and I crossed paths that year due to her latest Letter series release “The Road Home” which was part of the SRC challenge for [2015]. During that summer I also received a #bookmail parcel from the author which include a variety of her stories for me to start reading. They were not for review consideration but if I was inspired to blog about them after I read them that was up to my own discretion and choice. I had a feeling I might be leaning in that direction as just by browsing through the stories and where they could be taking me, I felt they would be the #nextreads I would most enjoy experiencing.

Life and health afflictions (especially my chronic migraines) conflicted with my start/stop attempts to read the books themselves until I felt re-inspired to re-attempt to read one of the novels – “After the Fog” [Spring 2019] which I had no idea was being anchoured to a sequel “The Strongman and the Mermaid” which was also going to be featured on a blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours [Spring 2019]. Thereby, it felt like the timing was aligning properly for me to start to read her canon of stories and with my newfound inspiration I couldn’t wait to begin my journey into her collective works.

A bit over a year lateron, I am still struggling to get focused onto the stories on my backlogue due to various reasons where my IRL adversities in health and the health crises of my parents (we’ve been in the ER 6x times since November 2019; the last of which was this past Saturday!) to where I’ve effectively experience a lot of start/stops in my progress to read the stories on my shelves. When I saw this blog tour adverted I thought, there’s a novella prequel to the Letter series? Hmm. I took that as a sign of entrance into a series I have wanted to be reading for so many years now.

I received a complimentary copy of “The River Jewel” direct from the author Kathleen Shoop in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My reactions to reading Kathleen Shoop:

You can hardly draw a breath as you enter into Rose’s life as a nurse in a small industrial towne which barely has enough medical practitioners that it needs to be medically sound in a place where emergencies were commonplace. In this instance, Shoop begins on a sombering note – of a mother and child who both exited the world the same night as the child’s arrival. It was difficult on Rose – a nurse who grieved for her patients as readily as the doctor she served, but what was one nurse to do with a patient whose birth went sideways as soon as it began? The house she was birthing inside was less than ideal – the light was missing but the effects of the hard birth were not lost on Rose. In many ways, this Rose reminded me of the Rose from Charton Minster (the historical series I loved reading by Margaret James) as both are nurses who go above and beyond their calls of duty.

We also get a firm overview of the towne – of how Donora is co-dependent on her industries and how those industries are co-dependent on each other. Situated below Pittsburgh, its location is on the opposite end of the state than I am familiar though I have passed through the Amish area north of Pittsburgh; it is one city I never had the proper chance to visit. The fact this story is rooted in the steel industry was not a surprise – though like most industrial stories, I found this one refreshing as I haven’t learnt as much about the Industrial Revolution as I ought to have before I graduated. Interestingly enough, no one was ever interested in talking about History after the Civil War or outside of the war eras of the early 20th Century. You have to rally together the missing pieces of history on your own and through reading Historical Fiction these past six years I’ve filled in the gaps far easier than all the years I was in school (which is telling in of its own).

Shoop writes with historical realism – the descriptive details you’d nearly expect out of a Historical narrative but also with a grittiness you might not be fully prepared for reading. Rather than gloss over certain aspects of the novel’s period history, Shoop delves into the gritty depictions of what this kind of life can lead to observing as you live through the era in which it is written about – from the visuals of what Rose must endure as a nurse to the ways in which the lives within the novel are spoken about or referenced. This is a historical novel that tucks you close to the edges – where you can peer at these people’s lives with a rawness as if they were going about their hours without realising someone was taking notes about how they were living, what they were doing or how they occupied their hours. It is an examination on a sociological layer of insight but it is also a gut-punch reality of how people lived through a particular jarring era in history where personal health and the environmental toxicity in their air was assaulting their lungs – “After the Fog” – is a cautionary story about how a disaster in the past can be a foreshadow to the future.

-quoted from my review of After the Fog

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A grandfather in his nineties takes a moment to sit with his granddaughter and his great-grandson to tell them about the fabled Strongman and Mermaid – at least this is our reckoning, as the story of who they had been has nearly become lost in time itself had he not held strong to the book which started to unravel his hidden memories of the past. For her sake, you could tell the strain was affecting her – she simply wanted to do right by her grandfather, where his mind was not allowing himself to remain independent and how the effects of his condition were not just growing worse but they were allowing her to think about the issues which would soon arise if she didn’t force the issue of his relocation. Anyone whose had elder relations knows the position she was in and knows it well; for circumventing problems before they arise in families is one of the hardest obstacles you can transition through outside of resolving the grief which stems from the loss of the relatives who’ve gone on into the next life.

It was here – in a kitchen, you find his voice is still viable enough to piece together the words which compose the story – of how someone’s parents were the better part of a story long since told and that is how we find ourselves time shifting back into 1910 – leaving 2019 with a fresh perspective about Donora about to flicker through our mind as we re-shift back into this sooty dusty mill towne which has a grip of a grasp on everyone whose once lived there.

Mary is a girl ahead of her years – in charge of rallying her siblings to rights before she heads off to work – they were bound for school but she needed to put in a day’s wage and help her family earn the keep which would enable them to stay afloat. You could see her industrious nature in how she attended to the fuel her family needed – not one to shy away from hard work or the arduous litany of chores most girls’ her age might not be as willing to do – you gathered Mary was a forward-thinking kind of girl which was a refreshing change out of her generation. She didn’t see herself limited by means nor in ownership of her future based on her present circumstances; she chose to look towards something positive rather than give into the fact her life could be a repetitious pattern of the hours she currently spent. You felt for Mary – for her courage but also her willingness to see the lighter side to life – where joy and happiness reside.

You immediately get lost inside The Strongman and the Mermaid – not just because the story is part legend and lore; of the personalities and personas people believe in despite the appearances of their composites in reality but because of how Shoop crafted the story. We find our vehicle in the presence of Patryk – a grandfather who simply wants to re-live the olden days if only to give the next generation pause to think about how their ancestors carved out the future they are currently enjoying to live. Part of his joy also stemmed from a deeply felt sense of honour and admiration for Mary and Lukasz – for their story was what had given him the most hope for his own situation. If he could hold onto the stories – keeping the memories close in mind as much as in heart, I believed Patryk felt he wasn’t going to completely remove himself from his own past. He was still a part of the stories being passed down and those living histories meant everything to him.

The more you disappear into the lives of Mary and Lukasz, the more you realise how hard they both were struggling against their own conventions. Their towne had a society of obligation about it – where old school philosophies hadn’t quite become exchanged for the new world mentality where a man and a woman could afford their own choices in their lives. Mary was expected to do the bidding of her parents – irregardless of what she personally wanted for herself, she was needed to work in order to provide whatever they needed based off her pay. This proved to be an exhausting commitment but also a sad one, too as she truly enjoyed her time spent with Mrs Dunn. Dunn was the kind of woman who appreciated Mary’s assistance but knew she couldn’t provide everything she needed – in many ways Dunn was the surrogate mother Mary needed in her life – guiding her with inspiration, encouraging her to think outside the required box her parents wished for her to feel security inside and giving her a chance to breathe a dream of her own choosing.

I truly liked how the story was paced – how you feel emotionally connected to both lead characters and how the towne itself feels a bit more alive somehow – it has its own pace of delivering its presence, not just due to the way work is scheduled but how the people live there. It is a fitting testament to this towne’s history but also as a nod towards the people who forged a life out of an area that was a hard-won place to carve out a living. All of this created the best atmosphere in which to soak inside the historical backdrop Shoop gave us and fittingly, it felt like a better place to begin the series rather than as a sophomore installment.

-quoted from my review of The Strongman and the Mermaid

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#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen ShoopThe River Jewel
by Kathleen Shoop
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

For everyone who hopes to find the perfect match…

1875 Des Moines, Iowa

The novella, The River Jewel, takes readers of the bestselling Letter Series novels back in time, before there was a last letter, before the Arthurs lost everything, before they knew a girl named Pearl.

Meet Tilly Rabel, a proud oyster-woman, and Landon Lockwood, the troubled son of one of the wealthiest men in America. The two could not be less suited for love. But when an old legend draws Landon to a hidden river cove, Tilly and he find each other, are lured by growing attraction, and repelled by competing desires to control Tilly’s waters. The hidden pool is replete with valuable mussel beds and the source of everything that makes Tilly who she is. Landon sees the illustrious treasure as the path to proving to his parents he is worth their love and worthy of the Lockwood name. Can Tilly trust Landon with her heart, with her beloved mussel beds? Can Landon trust that he has truly changed and doesn’t need his parents approval to live the life he wants?

Heartbreak, triumph, and a very special baby weave a tale sure to please readers who’ve read the entire Letter Series and those who are just starting the journey.

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1708629236

Also by this author: The Strongman and the Mermaid

Published by Self Published

on 3rd December, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 172

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The Letter series:

The River Jewel by Kathleen ShoopThe Last Letter by Kathleen ShoopThe Road Home by Kathleen ShoopThe Kitchen Mistress by Kathleen Shoop

The River Jewel & The River Promise (series novellas) (prequel duology)

The Last Letter (book one)

The Road Home (book two)

The Kitchen Mistress (book three)

The Thief’s Heart (book four)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and ebook

About Kathleen Shoop

Kathleen Shoop

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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my review of the river jewel:

The River Jewel is a dual perspective novella – wherein we shift between two characters and peer into their prospective of the story being told – first through the eyes of Landon and then through Tilly’s. What struck me a bit questionable at first is how deeply Landon believed in the concept of love from his parents – where it was hog-tied to the pursuit of wealth and to accumulating copious amounts of assets vs any kind of tangible relationship. Not everyone has the best foundation of inspiration when it comes to how to live and how to have healthy relationships but this was an interesting twist to where a son or daughter was blindly following the influence of their parents to where it seemed to me they were in pursuit against their own sensibilities. Almost as if without that kind of parental approval they could not properly function on their own and make their way in the world with their parents removed from their lives for the betterment of their own health.

I loved seeing the moxie in Tilly! How she was infuriated with Landon without realising it was him and how curiously obtuse Landon was to even interact with Tilly after what prompted their encounter! He was quite an usual fellow in that regard and although Tilly hadn’t mentioned it herself you could infer she was thinking he was as socially awkward as I took him for myself. True to her own spirit, Tilly was a woman who set her mind to her own hours, tucking into routines and a lifestyle which meant something to her and she didn’t suffer fools nor the ignorant well. I felt Tilly’s entrance into the story was far stronger than Landon’s – her section was bursting with a passionate edge for placing you into her shoes and giving you immediate empathy for her way of life.

The sad and sombering bit really is how misguided Landon had become because of his parents influence on his inability to understand that there are others who have unconditional love and support within their families but for his family everything was earned and hard won. I did not see him reaching his goals with his parents because they were such hard-edged persons themselves – they only saw such a narrowing view of the world round them and everything was askewed from that perspective too. His want of love and the admiration of his parents was admirable but it wasn’t a realistic pursuit because I had a feeling that whatever course of action Landon would take to gain that foothold in their lives would be futile in the end.

Tilly’s land protects such a beautiful bed of mussels and from those beds she can produce pearls – it is a wonderful glimpse into how a woman can wholly exist and sustain herself by nursing a natural habitat and mindfully preserving its resources yet can effectively produce a return on the products of the cove itself. Tilly has her own story bursting to be told – from how she had to endure a deformity to how she purposefully tries to circumvent strangers on her land. She’s very protective of her land, her cove and her way of life – rightly so, as too many would want to take advantage her and her natural resources. And, that is of course the intersection of what leads Landon into her life.

What was curious to me is how Landon’s siblings had taken an about-face alternative route of living outside their upbringing at home. They seemed to be living a fuller life and one that was not hard-bent on seeking his parents approval. It seemed like there was a secondary story there – what allowed the other siblings to go their course and yet Landon felt he was solely responsible to win over his father’s affection simply by making enough money to impress him?

I was proud of Tilly standing her ground and proving her grit when it came to Landon and his unorthodox faus pax ways of tripping over his own tongue just to prove a point that wouldn’t hold salt in Tilly’s world. He only wanted what he felt he deserved and that was outside the scope of what was proper because his whole life and world was tilted in the wrong direction. The nerve of him really continued to gull me and it was his complete lack of respect for anyone else outside his own nose that truly itched me wrong. I mean, it was one thing that he’s a pompous cad of a bloke but its his pride and scorn for anyone beneath him that rankled. Except for the groom for his horse, as he showed him a kind favour moreso than most.

Ha! I loved the scene where Pembroke served a hearty dose of reality onto Landon! He deserved every inch of it too! This bloke couldn’t understand loyalty if it bit him on the cheek! He was ploughing through this towne as if he half owned it and his ignorant attitude about life in this towne was showing to the point where even Pembroke had his dander kicked up by his gall! He didn’t understand what was wrong because he was too close to his own self-interests and his whole motivation to accomplish this plan was hinged to how he felt about his father moreso than any thought he had given to anyone else. He was perpetually blinded by his own quest for acceptance by a father who I am quite sure would never yield to his son’s needs.

I was quite surprised by how Landon softened when Tilly was injured in front of him – I was a bit distracted by his sudden change in temperament by the grief of loss Tilly was experiencing. She was a soulful woman who took her family’s legacy to heart – she would protect the treasures of this cove with her whole body if she could – seeing her vulnerability and her anguish when a fool interferes with her work was hard to witness. Yet, as Shoop showed the after effects of that scene she also re-directed us to see Landon in a different light. Here he wasn’t as fully invested in himself and he was actually started to act nearly human. Tilly had that effect on him but I felt it was something more as well. A shift in his heart or in his soul – something was effecting him and it was a far more positive change to see in him than watching him act like a train wreck through towne.

I was not expecting to feel so rooted into this novella – I had such a hard start in the beginning to shift into the voice and styling of how it was told. By the end, I felt as uncertain as Tilly about her mussels and the course of the future that seemed to be pulling them as the cove was titling towards the river itself. Try as you might not to let the outside world influence you as you find contentment and happiness in the life you’ve carved out for yourself, sometimes the world has a way of affecting you all the same. One of my favourite moments wasn’t just the end of the climax of angst between Landon and his father but it was the sweeter moments where Landon’s own soul was refreshed and renewed by the love of Tilly. It was Tilly and her cove which caused the catalyst of change for Landon and it is in reading their love story that warms the heart the most because they were not the most idyllic choice in couples but they fit together like a mussel guards over their pearls.

on the historical narrative style of kathleen shoop:

I was a bit surprised finding myself a bit distracted when the first chapter began in this novella – as there were a few pauses of context flow and pacing which took me awhile to resolve. Some of the ways in which the opening page were stated as had me re-working the words a bit to make them sound a bit easier against the tongue and after I resolved those little moments of distraction, I finally settled into the story as this is told in a flashback sequencing of relating a love story that is equally full of joy as it sorrowful; at least, as it is foretold before you’ve heard how it goes along.

The opening is also a bit cheeky in how its writ because it is alerting the reader about how this isn’t the happy-go-lucky kind of romance story you’ve might have wanted to seek out as it prefers to be more humbling real, honest and raw; about the realistic ways in which life can become a muddled symphony of good and bad days wherein for those who are determined can carve out a bit of a life between the anguish life can provide. It is in effect the kind of story you give pause to begin and are curious to see unfold.

By the time we swing back into Landon’s life after meeting Tilly, the rhythm of the story has found its mooring – you can ease into the narrative finding that the words and the pacing has righted themselves even if part of you question the merits of why Landon is so bound to improve the negative impression his father has of him as there are hints of abuse and mistreatment since he was a boy by a ruthless father who doesn’t broker himself willing to accept a child must grow to learn more about himself and his world before he can truly feel confident and comfortable being a man. I was rubbed wrong by the context of Landon’s background as part of me wanted him to live his own life and forget his parents completely; such was the strength of how horridly they were painted in the context of Landon’s background.

I struggled at first to get into the vision of this story but once I took root into the mind of Tilly, I found myself understanding the vision Shoop had for this story. I wanted to start reading The Last Letter and The Road Home this year and when I learnt of this prequel (at the time thinking it was the only prequel) I thought it would suit me well to learn more about the earlier beginnings of the series in better to understand where I will arrive inside The Last Letter. I believe I made the right choice because I hadn’t remembered all the bits connected to the series – of how the series follows Pearl’s life and this novella was the origin story for Pearl.

It is an interestingly told story about how you can forge your own path and stand firm in your convictions despite oppression and opposition to where if you’re strong enough the future you desire most can become the one you create for yourself. There is a powerful message of hope within this novella and I am thankful I read it before I resumed reading the first installments of the Letter series.

Fly in the Ointment: Content Note:

I was quite a bit surprised to find what I found in this novella – the copy I received doesn’t say its an ARC but for me, it felt like it was one. Having read two novels by Ms Shoop previously I have recognised her style of writing and previously what I had learnt is that sometimes her writing is strong and sometimes it takes awhile for her writing to find its rhythm. There were little fissures of distraction for me in reading this novella – little instances of where I re-wrote a few sentences as I read the text and tried to catch the rhythm and pace that she was attempting to convey. At first I thought this might be similar to why I never could read Our Town that play they plague high schoolers with which is not entirely told in a point-of-perspective that lends itself easy to feel traction inside for similar reasons; as I re-wrote those sentences as well. However, for me, The River Jewel felt like a rougher draft copy than a final edited one because of these instances of stop and starts I was having reading it.

I chose to continue reading the story as if it were an ARC – as that was the only way I could sort out a way to overlook some of rougher bits which were driving me a bit bonkers because although the choices in words and phrases were strong, some of the sentences just felt flat for me. And, yet by the time I was charmed by Tilly’s moxie and strength of character, I stopped worrying about the hard start I had in the beginning and simply let Tilly tell me her story – as she is Pearl’s Mum and she held the key to everything which came next in this series. She was also the reason for Landon’s metamorphosis which nearly felt impossible to occur.

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Whilst I was reading this novella prequel ahead of reading the first two novels of the Letter series, I was listening to Epic & Melodic (Playlist) via Spotify. I love to find music and soundscapes which match my readings and this seemed like an odd choice for me to pick this particular collection of music but the drums, strings and the electronica overlays were a good match nonetheless. I love metal bands like Nightwish and Sonata Artica and this playlist plays selections within that kind of wheelhouse. For similar reasons I also *adore!* listening to Savatage! I will say, I actively ‘skip over’ the songs that are more bricked with heavier themes/sounds and seek out the ‘melodic epic stories within metal songs I love!’

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The River Jewel blog tour banner provided by HFVBTs and is used with permission.

Be sure to not only follow the rest of the tour for keen insight into the novel but also the guest features or other extras which might be awaiting you to discover.  Meanwhile, if you’ve read this novella “The River Jewel” – I’d love to know your takeaway thoughts and if we shared the same opinion on behalf of the series. IF my review led you to consider reading this series for yourself – I’d love to know what inspired you about this slice of history and the characters Shoop brought to life in her novels.

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Reading this novel counted towards some of my 2020 reading challenges:

2020 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “The Last Letter”, “The Road Home” and “The Kitchen Mistress” were provided by the author Kathleen Shoop and are used with permission. Book cover for “The River Jewel”, synopsis for “The River Jewel”, the author photo of Kathleen Shoop and author biography as well as the tour host badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Historical Mondays banner, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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 Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 18th Century, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Iowa, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Multiple POV, Self-Published Author, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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2 responses to “#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen Shoop

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Bruno!

      I was so nervous I might not get this read in time – I hadn’t been able to focus on the novella over the weekend due to Mum’s medical emergency, which is why I set the alarm for 6a and read the novella whilst writing this review until it went live on my blog! I was so thankful I could tuck into the story and pull out the review from that reading as otherwise I would have had to spotlight the book instead. I was so surprised by the twisting ways in which this story changed my opinion about the direction of the plot, too. I was definitely a hard sell on the evolution of the romance between the two lead characters but in the end,… wow. What a breathtaking conclusion! I even love how the title is actually a symbolism of what came at the end!

      Thank you for your words of praise and support; it meant so much to me this week!!

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