Category: Honeybees

Blog Book Tour | “Taking the Cross” by Charles Gibson a #histfic of epic historical impact in regard of the Crusades

Posted Monday, 20 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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Taking the Cross by Charles Gibson

Published By: Köehler Books (@)
Official Author Websites:  Site @_CharlesGibson| Facebook

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #TakingTheCross & #FranceBT

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Taking the Cross” virtual book tour through France Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Charles Gibson, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Blog Book Tour | “Taking the Cross” by Charles Gibson a #histfic of epic historical impact in regard of the CrusadesTaking the Cross
by Charles Gibson
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Taking the Cross is a historical novel by Charles Gibson about the little-known crusade launched by the Roman Catholic Church against fellow Christians in France, a time of great religious turmoil and conflict.

In the Middle Ages not all crusades were fought in the Holy Land. A two-pronged threat to the Catholic Church was growing within Christendom itself and Pope Innocent III called for the crusade against heresy to eliminate both the Albigenses and Valdenses, two movements that did not adhere to Church orthodoxy.

Andreas, a knight who longs to go on crusade to the Holy Land, finds himself fighting against one in his French homeland. While Andreas wages war for the lives and religious freedom of his people, a battle rages within his soul.

Eva, a young woman of a new religious order, the Beguines, discovers a secret message within a letter about the death of her father in the Holy Land. As she learns more of her father, she is forced to confront the profound and perilous spiritual inheritance he has bequeathed to her. A legacy for which she must fight.

Hearing of the feats of Andreas, Eva senses her inheritance may lead her to him.

Filled with battles of the flesh and the spirit, Taking the Cross reveals a passionate aspect of Medieval times where some fought ardently for the freedom of others.

Content Warning for Readers: some medieval warfare violence

Places to find the book:

Also by this author:

Series: Taking the Cross,


Also in this series:


Genres: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Military Fiction


Published by Köehler Books

on 1st October, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 269

About the Author:

Charles Gibson

Charles Gibson first started reading about history and geography when he was seven. He wrote his first short story at the age of nine. He continues to read and write whenever he can. Charles has spent many years researching the Middle Ages and the Crusades, and has traveled to the Languedoc region in France. He has combined the passions of history and geography and prose to finish his first novel, Taking the Cross. It takes place during the summer of 1209 in France. Charles Gibson has previously written for the inspirational book series God Allows U-Turns as well as for a Minnesota newspaper. He also works as a project manager for a medical device company. He also loves travel writing, and would like to start his own magazine some day about travel as a journey through life. The dominant theme of his writing is freedom.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
He lives in Minnesota with his lovely wife and energetic sons.

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Reflections on the Crusades:

War is always a brutal affair, but the Crusades always felt anguished a bit more fiercely to me than most battles forged and fought prior to their beginning and long since after they were quelled. The Crusades were layered with rife – a history of existence that set them apart for their breadth and depth of importance, yet what I always felt at the heart of the Crusades that had fallen a bit out of view were the people who lived through them. The people whose battle cries might never have been heard, as so very few of the commoners were able to survive the brutal surges of where the knights and the armies had gathered together to fight for what each side of the warring factions felt were the reasons for the engagements themselves. Each side was just as fiercely loyal in their approach and in their reasons for fighting that the ability to unravel where everyone stood and why they fought for what they believed in must have been an incredible archive of knowledge for those who transcribed the Crusades originally! I could not even put to thought how many hours it would have taken to go over the testimonies left behind nor the oral histories mixed into the journals. The original historians and scholars who unearthed the particulars will forever have my gratitude and mark of appreciation, as they left behind a tome of insight and a lot of unanswered questions.

I was always a bit curious to seek out the stories of the everyday citizens who were caught betwixt and between the Crusades themselves, as much as I oft wondered how the battles during the Civil War must have had repercussions for those who lived so close to where the individual battles were fought, won, or lost. War has a lot of layers threaded through it and the humanity of who was caught in it’s sight were always a keen interest of mine to research.

My Review of Taking the Cross:

Gibson doesn’t back down from arriving the reader straight into the heart of the battle of where this particular story alights during the Crusades of the 13th Century. An ordinary road in the Languedoc region of France has become a battle-scared visage of the reality of a young knight’s life of attempting to not only fight for his people’s religious freedom but to draw out a measure of honour whilst creating a life in service to his countrymen. We meet Andreas in full arrogance of not understanding his Viscount’s interest in the refugees who are on the road to escape further persecution and attack from the outsiders. What Andreas perceives as wasted time, his leader views as a measure of mercy to those under his guidance and rule; inasmuch as an opportune exchange of information that could become necessary to have lateron.

The section where Eva is first introduced to us, is one of my favourites, as we see her as a woman of twenty before her thoughts and re-collective memories take a stronghold in the text. From thence we find her as a young girl of ten, of whom is listening to her Mum tell her about the Beguine community as much as the benefits of being a Beguine woman can have in the age of where women had less freedom than they do today. Old English words and French words are interspersed throughout the story, but none of them are intrusive nor distracting to the reading Taking the Cross as I give full credit to Gibson for utiltising their inclusions in such a natural way of understanding their meanings. When Eva disclosed her visions and her second sight starting to emerge out of anguished sorrow, I felt a murmuring of Hildegard echoing through my heart.

Eva’s character for me was the channeling center of the story, as her path in life was quite a unique one to step into as she was given certain gifts which afforded her a great purpose throughout Taking the Cross. Each step of the way, as we unlock hidden glimpses of her patronage and settle inside the ruminations of her own heart, soul, and spirit, we start to acknowledge that she has been given an enlightenment of knowledge not always etched onto a person of her birth. Eva’s courage and her fortitude to rustle out information that gave keener insight to unravell a bit of the puzzling circumstances her region was undergoing provided a bit of foreshadow as much as intrigue. Eva’s best gift as a character is giving the reader a way into the soul of the story itself — to ground us in the suspense and the tentacles of unlocking where this part of history has such a hard time in asserting it’s voice.

The usage of honeybees in the undercurrent context of warfare and alertness towards a humming awareness of how an attack can come without warning was a bit of cleverness on the part of Gibson. I have a fondness for bees myself, but evenso, I know they can be used against their natural will to effectively mark terror on those who would never suspect a bee could do more harm than good. The method in which the bee’s are used is a viable option as most of what is considered medicinal can be turnt against us if darkness erodes through the light. Another vein of the intellectual mystery that acts like a shroud over the characters caught in the web of both deceit and war.

There is a pursuit within this novel that is not entirely circumvented by the turnt of the last page, as this is meant to be the first jaunt of a series forthcoming — yet within the chapters of what is revealed is a daunting task to undertake a challenge of shielding the world from a great darkness that never should be unleashed or contained. There are many elements of what could be viewed as paranormal activity threaded throughout the story, but they go to a greater cause to not only alarm the reader of what was at stake during this particular Crusade but what this Crusade might have been on the throes of uncovering. Not everything that is once lost is lost to time nor can everything that becomes lost be in need of finding. Gibson gives his readers a taut eclipse of a narrative that begs you to delve further into his next writings in order to glimpse the full scope of what he is giving us to read. This is an incredible debut novel because the suspense continues to heighten and pull you deeper behind the veil of what you once thought the story was writ about rather than what is starting to become revealed at it’s conclusion.

On the historical artifact styling of Charles Gibson:

By saying ‘historical artifact’ of a style on behalf of a historical fiction writer, in this particular sense I am referring to the fact that Gibson has a singular passion for the historical past (especially in regards to the Medieval era), and picking up his tome of work is like uncovering a historical artifact at an archaeological and anthropological dig! The way in which he has the keen insight to etch in the facts concurrent with the narrative pacing of his story allows the reader to settle inside this oft overlooked era of intriguing history and become quite attached to where his muse is leading him to take his readership! It is a difficult balance to achieve, because the Crusades are heavily writ about throughout historical fiction (across mainstream & inspirational markets of literature as much as across platforms of major trade & indie releases) — yet, I found a truly original voice in Gibson’s style reflective of his passion for freedom for all people and in all ways freedom is not only necessary but an innate right of everyone to have in their life. This is the second author who pens a style of historical fact into historical fiction on an era of history that is lit aflame with realism. The first author (George Steger) penned: Sebastian’s Way: the Pathfinder, another very unique find that breathes a lot light out of darkness inside it’s story.

Although there are instances of war visuals inside this early chapter of the novel, I cannot say that Gibson crossed the line as far as what I can handle or not handle as far as what a war drama would include inside’s sleeves. He sharpens the bow of imagery just enough to give you the full experience of being on the ground where the knights are engaged, but he doesn’t bridge that gap with full-on imagery that would be too horrific to read. In this, I appreciate his dexterity and exclusion! I was also thankful that I had read Citadel prior to Taking the Cross in order to have an understanding for the region in which the story is set. Two different war dramas during two pivotal times in history centuries apart, and yet, the fight for freedom remained ever present.

I shall have to keep vigilant in knowing when the second novel of this series is released!

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Virtual Road Map for “Taking the Cross” Blog Tour:

Taking the Cross Virtual Book Tour via France Book Tours

I will be featuring an Author Interview with Charles Gibson on the tour in forthcoming days!
Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

 on my Bookish Events page!

Please take note of the Related Articles as they were hand selected due to being of cross-reference importance in relation to this book review. This applies to each post on my blog where you see Related Articles underneath the post. Be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the further readings which are offered.

I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon!
{SOURCES: Cover art of “Taking the Cross”, book synopsis, author photograph of Charles Gibson, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Beguines – (charlesgibson.net)

Join the Quest – (charlesgibson.net)

The Languedoc & Provence – (charlesgibson.net)

Heretics – (charlesgibson.net)

Tweets in regards to “Taking the Cross”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
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Posted Monday, 20 October, 2014 by jorielov in 13th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Beguine, Blog Tour Host, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Castles & Estates, Christianity, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, Good vs. Evil, Historical Fiction, Historical Perspectives, Honeybees, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Military Fiction, Passionate Researcher, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Religious History, Religious Orders, The Crusades, War Drama, Warfare & Power Realignment, World Religions

Blog Book Tour | Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth a #fairytale re-telling of Rapunzel by #BrothersGrimm

Posted Thursday, 9 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , 3 Comments

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Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Official Author Websites:  Site | Blog @KateForsyth | Facebook

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Converse via: #BitterGreensBlogTour, #Rapunzel, #FairyTale, & #BitterGreens

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Bitter Greens” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I grew up inside the world of fairy-tales like most young children whose imagination is captured by the fantasy worlds a fairy-tale can generate and explode inside their minds and hearts. I did not always read the direct stories from literature, but opted instead for the motion picture versions and/or re-tellings of the same tale told from a different writer; as part of me always felt that the Brothers Grimm fairy-tales were for someone a bit older than I was at the time I had stumbled across them. I did, of course, read stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” or others that were in collection anthologies for children, but I never truly paid any mind or attention to who was writing them as I liked reading each of the short stories in succession of each other. I do know I appreciated Hans Christian Anderson as a child, but I am not sure which of his were my ultimate favourite either; I will have to re-explore his works at some point down the road.

Even if I heard the stories told aloud by family members or watched an adaptation on the screen, the entire world always fit quite happily inside my mind’s eye, as I liked the lessons stitched into the fabric of the stories themselves. I always liked seeing how the characters worked themselves out of situations and found true strength in the midst of difficulty. The fact there were more happy endings than there were unresolved cliffhangers was a big draw as well, as despite the obstacles that arose, it was quite wicked to find they could live peacefully in the end.

One of my favourite adaptations is “Ever After” on behalf of “Cinderella”, although there are a few other adaptations I appreciate as well. I am not remembering which versions of Rapunzel I am familiar with but when I first learnt of this novel, I was attracted to the deeply wrought story as an underlay to the main thread of context for the well-known fairy-tale. I do remember I used to tell different variants of the story whilst I was in elementary school, as it was a bit of a game we used to play at lunch. We were either re-inventing different outcomes for Rapunzel or Rumpelstiltskin; when we weren’t fondly trying to trip each other up remembering our US Presidents with their various nicknames to help clue us to which one was which. Elementary school games were filled with fond memories as it was one of the few times my classmates and I truly came together as one for the pure joy of ‘sharing’ and being full of ‘laughter’.

I did get a kick out of watching “Tangled” which I realise now was a Rapunzel variant of the story, but then again I grew up on Disney animated films; I tend to keep my eye on the releases that remind me of my childhood.

Blog Book Tour | Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth a #fairytale re-telling of Rapunzel by #BrothersGrimmBitter Greens
by Kate Forsyth

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author:

Genres: Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Historical Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 23rd September, 2014 (in the United States)

Pages: 496

Author Biography:

Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.

She is probably most famous for ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. ‘Bitter Greens’ has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award.

Her most recent book for children is ‘Grumpy Grandpa’, a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem.

Since ‘The Witches of Eileanan’ was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with ‘The Gypsy Crown’ – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, ‘The Lightning Bolt’, was also a CBCA Notable Book.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

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On reading a re-telling ahead of an original canon:

I clearly have stepped outside my own preferences in reading this past year, as previously I would attempt to read an original canon version of a story prior to picking up a re-telling of the same story. I have found that due to different reasons time doesn’t always allow the luxury of going back to the canon, but rather only allows me to read the book at hand. On the other side of the coin, there have been a few times where I felt not reading the original work might befit me moreso than if I had, such as the case with Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale and my forthcoming review of The Monogram Murders (Hercules Poirot). As this particular story is a Brothers Grimm, I was more akin to yearning to read a re-telling than perhaps the original, as I always felt the Grimm brothers wrote stories a bit more intense than I might be drawn to read on a regular basis. At the heart of their stories, I was always wholly entranced but to the actually reading of them? I was always a bit on the fence of where I fit with my inclinations. Realising I had known enough about Rapunzel to insert myself into the flow of the novel, is why I settled myself into the pace Forsyth was generating from the opening of the story and onward. I would be curious if other readers make the same choices I do, or if they have a preference for reading canons prior to after canons; it is such a curious situation to have and I find myself yielding a bit when it comes to where my preferences lie on the issue.

My Review of Bitter Greens:

The Abbey into which Charlotte-Rose de la Force enters has such a strict rule base to follow, that I was curious how she could abide by a quarter of their order’s restrictions when she was entering the convent a free-spirit of the 17th Century. The rules of her day were quite forthright as she was simply another woman cast into an Abbey at the voice of the King, as she was no longer useful nor wanted at Court. The harshness of the sentence was in the fact that most of the women who were forced into this life did not go willingly but rather begrudgingly yet they had little recourse to pursue a different course. In many ways, at the beginning of this novel I started to think back on my reading of Illuminations as the circumstances of being cast into a particular closed off from society insular world was highly familiar. On this level, Bitter Greens is a historical fiction arc of a story set against the back-drop of a biographical fiction narrative, as we are learning about the story of Rapunzel through the writer who gave birth to the idea that has staid with us for generations.

The ache of Mademoiselle’s heart clenched into a tight knot as her new cloister environment did not permit her to continue her writings or her stories from being spilt out of her quill. I was tucked up in curiosity at this revelation to sort out how her story of Rapunzel would come to flourish inside such a stark and dank place where the creative arts were discouraged. It was a bit striking to me that they did not want their sisters to take up a hobby or have a personal vice to keep their own sanity amongst the duties they would endure – so many hours would stack against the clock, and to have a bit of a reprieve in my mind would have settled the heart to endurance.

One particular part of the story I was rather keen on involves beekeeping and the wisdom of knowledge the apothecarist at the convent shares with Charlotte-Rose during a measure of repentance she owes for stepping out of line. Sister Seraphina keeps not only a full garden for her sisters but an active hive, where she cares for her bees with both love and reverence for their culture. I have always appreciated learning more about bees as their struggle to survive is always so very perilous of a plight. Inserting this thread of Sister Seraphina was most delightful, as it spoke to how some of the sisters carved out a bit of peace for themselves even within the walls of a ruled life of order. This was a turning point for me in the story, as I started to feel attached to both characters as warmly as I have felt towards Hildegard.

The origins of Rapunzel are presented as a symphony of a lived life from an era prior to Charlotte-Rose’s own, as told to her by Sister Seraphina whilst they toiled in the garden. What I found so incredible about this bit of traction of where the inspiration for the story of Rapunzel was spun from is how ironic it was for Charlotte-Rose to find herself putting roots into her time at the abbey. She was as indifferent to the life of service as Hildegard (there are a lot of cross-references for me in my mind between both stories!), irked beyond her ire to make peace with her situation, and yet had a bit of a warming glow towards acknowledging that there could be a way towards happiness despite her emotions as a small flicking candle lighting the flame. Her solace was always hinged to stories and the craft of telling stories in a voice that carried the mirth of joy of having them being told. She wandered off into her mind as soon as a measure of shadow and ill will would work itself into her path or affect those she knew around her. The stories were a freedom from reality to help her mind heal from what it did not want to acknowledge as being real as much as to calm her nerves from feeling overwhelmed by something she witnessed or heard. The infusion of how she worked her words into her own creative voice for stories is an outlet of her truest strength. Seeing how this originated and how it percolated at the abbey was the kind of insight that we do not always perceive on behalf of writers of fairy-tales and mythologies. I am not sure how much was based on actual knowledge and how much was creatively inspired, but the notion of where it all stemmed from was beyond fascinating to read in Bitter Greens!

Charlotte-Rose has been given the rarest of gifts: the chance to thread her memories through the spindle of her mind and takeaway insight into how she became the woman she is and how the choices she made affected her future. The tome of wonder you will find within this novel is only one part of the whole of Charlotte-Rose’s life and an expedition of a theory of how she came to fulfill her destiny as a spinning of stories and telling tales full of incredible wisdom. There is a particular surprise for all of us who have travelled down the rabbit hole with Kate Forsyth seeking Rapunzel and finding someone unexpectedly present instead. I felt like smirking when I realised the beauty of Forsyth’s choice and the level of eloquence she stitched into this story overall. I was quite struck by the realisation that from the moment I first opened Bitter Greens to the moment I closed the ARC, I was taken completely unawares and most delighted by the experience!

On the writing style of Kate Forsyth:

Somehow I had forgotten that the novel The Wild Girl was the first novel I had come across by Kate Forsyth at my local library – a book I had checked out a few times yet had not had the honour of reading in full. Forsyth puts dual empathsis on the story of Charlotte-Rose and of Margherita (the inspiration behind Rapunzel) throughout Bitter Greens; owning to each vein of the narrative when writing from one fusion of the story to the other. I found myself drawn closer into the plight of Charlotte-Rose during this reading as I think for me, I found a connection in her that I had discovered whilst reading Hildegard (from Illuminations), and thereby my mind simply alighted onto her path a bit more than Margherita’s at this time. I will have to see after I have the pleasure of reading the Brothers Grimm tale of Rapunzel if I feel more attachment to the passages involving Margherita.

The breadth of her vision for this re-telling is quite impressive, as she didn’t just present a new way of seeing Rupunzel but rather to bridge the gap between the fairy-tale, the reality of two women who truly lived, and the way in which the story has evolved through each generation who fell in sync with it’s telling. She has given us a hearty adaptation whose layers curate in your mind and encourage the reader to take a second reading to fully absolve through the multi-dimensional story in full earnest. I know I will be seeing how my impression of the duality shifts and evolves, but for a first reading I was properly enchanted and spellbound. This is a gutting story-line of perseverance and fortitude whilst dealing with tribulations that no one would soon want to find themselves in the midst of personally.

I do highly recommend that readers might consider reading Illuminations before they read Bitter Greens, as there are instances of overlap between situations found within both stories; for me personally, some of those instances were better understood because I had read Illuminations last year.

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Bitter Greens Book Trailer via Kate Forsyth

Inspired to Share: The placards and music presented in this impressive book trailer elude to the passages that will be found within the pages of “Bitter Greens”; as this is not your ordinary fairy-tale nor is it a re-telling that you’re expecting to find; the layers of story and of time itself through different eras and recollective memories is what helps enchant you as you read; but it is the sheer vision of Forsyth to spin the tale as only she could give it life that stays with you. Consider this trailer a bit of a ‘teaser’ of what the novel will yield!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Virtual Road Map for “Bitter Greens” can be found here:

Bitter Greens Virtual Tour with HFVBTsBe sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

I will be hosting an Author Interview
with Kate Foryth on this blog tour as well. 

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT on my Bookish Events page!

This blog tour is also highlighting the:

Historical Novel SocietyA society that I hope to one day join myself as I love their content & focus on Historical Fiction. I appreciate being able to use their badge in my blog’s sidebar to promote awareness of their efforts to spotlight emerging talent inside the genre & for providing amazing ways to become integrated into the mission of supporting today’s historical authors who write such convicting narratives and stories. For the moment I support from afar but I always love alighting on their site and seeing what is new & forthcoming. They even host live events & get togethers!

I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon! 

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Bitter Greens”, book synopsis, author photograph of Kate Forsyth, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. The book trailer for “Bitter Greens” via Kate Forsyth had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Historical Novel Society badge was used with permission; as book bloggers are encouraged to promote the Society on their blogs.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “Bitter Greens”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Comments on Twitter:

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Posted Thursday, 9 October, 2014 by jorielov in 17th Century, Apiculture, Apothecary, ARC | Galley Copy, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Catholicism, Charlotte-Rose de la Force, Domestic Violence, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Honeybees, Nun, Religious Orders, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Widows & Widowers

+Blog Book Tour+ Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Posted Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 by jorielov , , 5 Comments

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Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Published By: UpStart Press (), 15 May, 2014
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Page Count: 191

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Bee Summers” virtual book tour through TLC  Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Melanie Dugan, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

This particular book spoke to me when I first signed up to participate on the blog tour, there was something about the premise of the story and the way in which the story ‘sounded’ to me off the page; inspired my interest in reading the book. There are times when books whisper a thought of interest inside me, and those are the books I am always striving to discover because they tend to unlock a new way of story-telling and/or they create an individual experience of story craft that is not quite like other books you might pick up. I like delving outside my regular reading adventures, always seeking to not only expand my literary horizons, but to enjoy the bliss of discovery of new authors I might not have had the pleasure of knowing otherwise. Bee Summers is the kind of story that settles into your heart and your whet with anxious anticipation to read once the book is alighted in your hands!

I am always so happily curious about how a book will arrive in the Post, as oft-times I receive books for review direct from publishers, but evenso, there are sometimes a surprise of two in store for me! When I opened the book parcel for Bee Summers, a lovely little postcard featuring the cover art and the synopsis on the reverse side smiled up at me as I discovered it inside the novel itself! On the reverse side, a lovely handwritten note from the author graced the open space which reminded me of a postcard! I did not want to have the ink bleed or smudge whilst reading the novel, which is why I used one of the lovely double-sided bookmarks Ms. Astie sent me with her novels French Twist & French Toast! I never expect little extras with the books I receive, but oh! How my heart is filt with joy when I find something the author has tucked into the book! I appreciate their words enscribed on the postcard / notecards as much as words inked directly onto the books themselves! Little pieces of whispered joy ahead of reading their stories!

I must confess, part of my interest in Bee Summers lies within the fact beekeeping is included as part of the story’s arc! I have been an appreciator of bees for quite a long while, but when their fate and ours as a whole became entwined to the other, I daresay, I rally behind anyone who will have the kind grace to place a shining light on their culture and their significance of worth. The bees need us more than ever, and I am thankful to find their essence is still being included in fiction in a positive way.

Book Synopsis:

The spring she is eleven years old, Melissa Singer’s mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer her father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

Author Biography:

Melanie DuganMelanie Dugan is the author of Dead Beautiful (“the writing is gorgeous,” A Soul Unsung), Revising Romance, and Sometime Daughter.

Born in San Francisco, Dugan has lived in Boston, Toronto, and London, England, and has worked in almost every part of the book world: in libraries and bookstores, as a book reviewer; she was Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, where she also served as managing editor of Poetry Canada Review and Quarry Magazine. She has worked in journalism, as a freelancer, and as visual arts columnist. Dugan studied at the University of Toronto Writers Workshop and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has a post-graduate degree in Creative Writing from Humber College. She has done numerous public readings.

Her short stories have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her partner and their two sons.

 

The voice of Melissa Singer reminds me of Calpurnia Tate:

As I opened the first page into Chapter One, I was acutely aware of the voice of Melissa Singer reminding me of one of my most earnestly beloved re-reads this year, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate! A novel I discovered through my local library and had in effect read whilst I had a journal off-line yet never had the chance to properly stitch my thoughts together after reading its mirth of gentle wisdom. As soon as you step inside the first paragraph of Bee Summers you know in your heart your settling in for a gentle whisper of a story which is going to tug at your heart-strings and be as gentle as sitting on a gliding swing on a Southern front porch whilst the fireflies dance in front of your eyes. I loved seeing the grace of acknowledging the intimate details of her surroundings through the eyes of an innocent young girl who still could see the beauty in the ordinary and how the ordinary can be quite extraordinary.

I also felt a kinship of her intuitiveness stemming out of the character of Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie. Although mind you, dear hearts, I have only seen the motion picture and am bent on reading the lovely hardback copy I have at some point in the future! It was simply one of those things where the film dropped ahead of my ability to read the novel, but within the motion picture I found a setting, a towne, and a unconventional family that all of us can appreciate wanting to curate in our own lives. The film had a heart pulse all of its own, and whose essence I am sure mirrored the story within the novel.

My review of Bee Summers:

It is not often that a story starts off by placing you full center on the plight of little house guests who are growing in numbers each day they visit the central lead character! The bees in the kitchen had me wondering about the larger scope of the story gently unfolding in front of my heart. Dugan has the grace of acknowledging how you can be a caretaker of a species but also how you have to take care of yourself if the species you are looking after starts to take up residence in a place that is not conducive to communal living. She does not shy away from showing how even those who protect bees sometimes have to make choices where you have to divide the territory between the bees and their beekeepers.

The eccentrically loveable Aunt Hetty is quite the charming character who not only entered Melissa’s life at a crucial moment of her eleventh summer, but she helped changed the direction of the family’s life. I appreciated seeing how the care and concern of a widow the father knew, strengthened the father’s resolve to relocate to the small towne she lived in. A towne that gave his daughter Melissa a new freedom of living outside of a city and the joy of exploring the bliss of childhood outside the confines of a city block. Aunt Hetty has the classic house which is overflowing in life spilt into corners, nooks, and crannies to where stepping through her house is a bit of a labyrinth of a maze! The amassed collection of items were not only a wonderment to Melissa but to the reader who reads the story! Such a diverse collection of knickknacks and odd objects!

On the fringes of understanding her world is about to change Lissy (Melissa’s pet name by her father), decides to embrace the changes a bit at a time, and take her father up on his suggestion of an adventure. Travel as he takes the bees on their pollination runs and study on the road instead of finishing out the school year at home. In her own quiet way, Lissy is fusing together the pieces of what is and what is not yet said aloud to her. She is growing in her awareness of the world outside the sphere of her childhood, as much as she is not yet ready to accept the reality of where her Mom has walked off too. The story yields to her sense of direction and of her ability to adapt to how life evolves as she greets each day anew.

Once out on the road, Lissy’s world starts to expand in new ways, as she starts to meet the customers her father is hired to help with his bees. My favourite of all the stops was actually her first encounter at Earl’s house. He had this beautiful laid back manner about him which made you feel warm and comfortable in his presence. His house was on the modest side, but his farm meant the world to him, which you could tell from the passages where Lissy and her father spent helping him about the place. They encountered a lonely husband longing for his wife to return from being away on the second leg, and by the time they reached the farm for Opal and Les, Lissy was starting to realise just how different each family in the world could be. Her first impression of Opal was of a woman who was trying a bit too hard to be friends, but as time eased throughout the week of her stay it is what she observed that changed her opinion about her. I liked how each transition on the road trip provided keen insights into the ways of the world as much as the juxtaposition of how Lissy was raised by her parents. She was starting to put the pieces together on how she viewed life and the world around her; which is why the trip was having such an effect on her thought processes.

By the time I reached Chapter 12, my heart’s emotional keel was eclipsed as the truth of the distances which had spread between Lissy and her father came to startling reality of truth. As the tears slipped through my eyes, I realised that the jutting punch of the story is held within the in-between hours of the character’s lives. Those little moments where as they are lived feel indifferent to the whole of what they mean to the person who is living them, yet when reflected upon later are full of warmth and remembrance. The little moments of each of our lives are what gives our tapestry its glistening edge. The foundation of every family is communication and within Lissy’s years of maturing youth, the fragmented hours where her ability to communicate with her father broke down the wall of love which used to encase them with a fierce grip of strength.

Her mother’s absence in her life and the years of silent questionings therein, left a chasm of indifference and swelling anguish intermixed with anger towards her father’s lack of explanations. Her choice was to mirror her mother’s, exiting her father’s life as easily and as seamlessly as her mother had many years before her to the brink that she quite literally managed to erase him out of her mind and heart. And, like real life’s counterpart to the story, by the time Lissy is a married wife and mother herself, learnt all to late how ill-comforting it is to realise the mistakes you’ve made in the past cannot be easily mended in the future. Regrets fuse together, and lost hours stack against the timeclock of your life. It is only how you can choose to accept the path you’ve walked and the lessons you’ve learnt along the corridor of your life, that can truly set you free. Allowing you to let go of your past ghosts and step into the light of the morning with a sense of renewal for where you’ve been.

The bees | secondary characters:

One of the pure delights of the novel are the bees themselves, as they take on the role as secondary characters and in some places, nearly felt as a narrator as to precognitively alert the reader of where the story might head next. I like the subtle inclusions of their hive’s presence, as much as their bee attributes being quite stellar in showcasing their bee qualities of personality! I enjoyed learning a bit about their flying patterns, walking statures of dance, and how in effect, the bees take to their keepers as much as their keepers enjoy watching over their bees! They were a delightful inclusion, and perhaps a bit of a metaphoric undertone to the key bits of the story as well. Bees by nature align and live by a certain code of curious ambiguity as for as much as we know about their culture within the hive and their interactions with the natural environment, there is a larger number of unknowns. Perhaps in this way, the bees were as much as a viewing of transitions in the seasons of life that are not readily explained nor understood could occupy the backdrop of a young girl whose growing-up realising her mother left her without the blessing of an explanation.

I liked how the sequences with the bees were as innocent and lovely as the observations of Lissy inside the narrative of her younger years. Each of them were a bit in tune with the innocent side of life, as the bees went about their duties as pollinators to encourage the growth of the fruit and veg that needed their assistance. Likewise, Lissy looked out at her road adventure with a fresh pair of eyes ready to embrace what came her way with a joyful heart, if a tender one full of concern for her mother.

Ms. Dugan’s gift for story-telling within notes of grace:

In the back of the novel, there is a stamp of acknowledgement from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, as the author received Creative Writing Grant from the Ontario Arts Council and a Work in Progress Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Two grants I had not known about previously, and felt were given to a writer who deserved the recognition of what the awarding of them could gain her writing. I have heard of writing grants previously, but as far as I’m aware of, I have not yet read a writer who used them to finish a novel I’ve read. How wonderful there are creative ways to pursue one’s love of writing and of setting one’s stories free to fly into the world, where readers like I feel not only blessed but honoured to have made their acquaintance!

She gave the father a wicked sense of logic in the story, such as resolving the issue of a ‘suitcase’ for their impromptu adventure on the road by using brown paper bags! I had a good chucklement on this scene, because it showed how the father wanted to solve the issue at hand but not show his uncertainty in how to go about it. She etched into Bee Summers an honest impression of how a father deals with the sudden exit of a wife and how he must choose how to face the reality of being a single father without a net of protection to see them both through to the next tomorrow. She guides the reader through the motions of their lives with such a flickerment of subtle acknowledgements of seasons and life moments, that by the time you alight in a harder hitting moment of clarity, the emotional conviction hits you front and center, and you feel appreciative that you were being guided by a steady hand and keen observer of the way in which an emotional drama can be told with a deft eye for grace.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThis Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

Bee Summers
by Melanie Dugan
Source: Direct from Author

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by Upstart Press

on 15th May, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 191

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comVirtual Road Map of “Bee Summers” Blog Tour:

Monday, May 19th: Review @ Sara’s Organized Chaos

Tuesday, May 20th: Review @ BookNAround

Thursday, May 22nd: Review @ Book Dilettante

Friday, May 23rd: Review @ Open Book Society

Tuesday, May 27th: Review @ A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, May 28th: Review @ Literally Jen

Monday, June 2nd: Review @ Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, June 3rd: Review @ Forever Obsession

Wednesday, June 4th: Review @ Karen’s Korner Blog

Tuesday, June 10th: Review @ Bibliotica

Monday, June 16th: The Most Happy Reader

Tuesday, June 17th: Review @ Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 18th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, June 25th: She’s God Books On Her Mind

Thursday, June 26th: The Road to Here

TBD: Karen’s Korner

TBD: Giraffe Days

Please visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

{SOURCES: Book cover for “Bee Summers”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, and Book Synopsis  were provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Apiculture, Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Honeybees, Indie Art, Indie Author, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Small Towne Fiction, Sudden Absence of Parent, The Natural World, The Sixties, TLC Book Tours