I positively LOVE reading INSPY Lit and when I find an author has combined two of my favourite styles of story “Contemporary and Historical” in a lovely time shift, I dearly sit up and take notice! This particular novel I discovered a bit ahead of the blog tour being announced which is why I jumped at the chance to be on the tour itself – as I was sorting out which new books were being released by this publisher as I wanted (at the time) to see if I could get ahead of the pub dates and potentially seek out the stories via my local libraries (either in print or audiobook). I had good intentions but as the course of the year went the way it had for all of us, I admit, I lost track of which stories were releasing and when they might reach my libraries.
Ahead of my tour stop today, I happily found out the audiobook is available through my regional library via their audiobook catalogue on CloudLibrary!! Eek. I was overly excited finding this out as I am listening to more audiobooks lately as with all the migraines I’ve been plagued with from May-August and with September being a wickedly horrid month all the way round (from my parents health emergencies to my excessive migraines) you could say reading all the way round for me has been a bit more adverse than usual! Audiobooks and larger print books are easier for me to enjoy whilst I’m re-transitioning back into reading after a long nightmeric run of migraines and having this lovely so easily available was a bit of random joy for me recently!
I wasn’t able to get too far into the story but as I have it checked out, I’m hopeful I can finish it this October as you’ll soon find out why I enjoyed the hour I listened too! I love finding new authors and it is a delight of mine to be featuring some INSPY authors via this blog tour company as INSPY has long since been a cosy comforting branch of literature for me. I’ve been a hybrid reader (ie. mainstream and INSPY) since I was quite young and I oft turn to INSPY whenever I want to tuck offline into a story I know will find a positive lift of joy to be reading! Most recently, I related my immense joy in listening to ‘Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish’ whilst ‘Magnolia Storms’ was one of my top favourites during a recent INSPY readathon this past August. You will find a healthy gathering of INSPY stories in my Story Vault as well!
Today, I am wicked thankful I can bring you a short extract from “Set the Stars Alight” as I love helping my fellow readers and book bloggers find stories they might love as much as I do! I look forward to conversing with you about this story in the comments! Especially if you think this might be a wicked good fit for you as a reader, too! I’d be keen to know what attracts you into time shift narratives (or time slip!) as much as why you love dual perspective novels which combine both modern settings with the historical.
Lucy Clairmont's family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it's Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she's discovered in her family home.
Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.
As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers--and the healing--they so desperately seek.
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
Converse via: #TimeShift, #HistFic, #INSPY or #ChristianFiction
as well as #SetTheStarsAlight & #BHPFiction
About Amanda Dykes
Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She's a former English teacher and the author of Set the Stars Alight and Whose Waves These Are, an INSPY award winner and a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, as well as three novellas.
I was selected to be a tour stop on the “An Unlikely Accomplice” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
I borrowed the first book in this series from my local library for my own edification and was not obligated to post my reflections and/or review on the story’s behalf. I wanted to understand a bit of the back-story on the principle character of Bess Crawford prior to reading the 6th book in the series. I originally perceived the idea to read the first five novels in the series prior to my tour stop, however, the hours disappeared before I could. The lightning storms did not give me any favours towards this goal, either! I was thankful I could meet Ms Crawford and find an anchour to who she is prior to soaking inside the sixth novel; yet I fully intend to go back through the series starting with the second novel and reading through til the fifth, skipping over the short story (non-digital reader) and this sixth one in strong pursuit of the seventh! I find myself wanton absorbed into the series!
Upon immediate notice of this blog tour I was wholly enthused to participate:
The reason I was quick as lightning to confirm my participation on behalf of this blog tour is based on the absolute joy I had in reading my first Todd novel Hunting Shadows! I was quite impressed with the duality of historical novelling from this lovely mother-son writing duo to such an extent: I knew quite instinctively I would become quite partial to Bess Crawford before I ever knew too much about her! Call it reader intuition if you will, but I knew quite in that instant of being broached if I wanted to become a part of this dual-blog tour for both the sixth and seventh novels of a series in progress that I would become Crawford’s newest champion!
There are moments where you are so captured by the breadth and the heart of a novel’s core, you simply want to continue to read as much as you can by the author whose penned a story you can sink your mind inside whilst feeling as though you can equally find comfort in stepping outside this world of intense realism without the worse for wear. Reading a historical suspense novel of the Todds is a delicious respite as you can time travel back inside a particular moment in history, lively at war and match step with dedicated professionals who guide you through their living hours.
Between now and my next stop on this beautiful tour celebrating the series, I will be reading the next books in line to be consumed, as I could only read the very first Bess Crawford mystery, of which I shall relate to you how it tucked inside my soul.
Reflections on “A Duty to the Dead”, the first Bess Crawford mystery:
We enter Ms Crawford’s life in 1916 during WWI, wherein she’s a sisterly nurse on board the Britannic an ill-fated hospital ship struck down by a hidden mine. Bess Crawford is attempting to convey a snippet of her life aboard ship whilst at a proper loss how to express the dullness of an ordinary day at sea without the benefit of the wounded. She is honest about the dangers being on a ship in U-boat territory but with a sly nod to the familiars of ordinary life spent in service. Even her coy banterment with an officer proved she found a balm of normalcy in the midst of war.
A blessing whilst reading a Todd novel, is the assurance of the story-teller(s) to eclipse you so very surely into the novel’s depth that by the time you reach a quell in the horror of war or the emotional hardship of an injury; you have already taken up residence alongside the character Todd has endeared your heart to champion.
I applaud the realism and the choke-hold of gasping shock when the sinking of the Britannic was shown. I felt heart-clenched to Bess, willing myself to see, feel, and taste what she was experiencing whilst longing for her rescue. Todd has a character-centric voice of giving you such a close-personal heady experience, you feel you’ve lived half a lifetime with each novel you read.
Dr. Phillips is a curious fellow – by the time the story shifts from war to the homefront, we become entranced with the eccentric and yet reserved creatures of a small towne of Owlhurst, thus named after a patch of woods known for housing owls! This is where the drama of alarm rings itself out for Ms Crawford, as she has gone henceforth in haste (after managing to put it off for a bit longer than necessary!) to seek out a family a dying man she nursed requested of her to take his deathbed message back to his brother. Dr. Phillips is the towne’s doctor, and along with the rector of the village itself, Ms Crawford finds herself entangled into the thorny past of her beloved soldier; a person of whom her opinions shifts the longer she spends caught up in his affairs. His family is not without their skeletons, but it is how their omissions and their repressions of their past beguiles Ms Crawford that paints the scene all more intriguing to the reader.
Knickers quickened to knots over the competence and tenacious approach of Ms Crawford to take up the heed of medical assistance, not once, but twice whilst she is a guest at the soldier’s family estate. The Grahams are a curious (and aptly suspicious) lot, wherein she could never quite finger what was odd about them until nearly the golden hour in which her own life might have become hung in the counterbalance! One would have felt her aperture to serve whilst not in official capacity would have appeased the family for giving a sign of both courage and strength, yet her efforts had quite the opposite effect! This is the underpinning reasons why Ms Crawford started to nettle inside her mind what was truly lying in wait for her to discover; the more they attempted to hide the truth from her suppositions, the more her mind ferreted out a reason to question their authority on where the truth truly lay.
What hidden secrets in their past reflected out in their cold disdainment for a brother and son? War is known as a cruel mistress, yet those who return with the aftershocks of service had little sympathies from their families and even less compassion from medical and spiritual adviseries. Save the nurses who understood far more than everyone else combined.
Knitted into this first novel of the Bess Crawford mysteries is a trifold of suspense surrounding three young blokes of whom warrant the most attention to be focused upon: Arthur Graham (the wounded gent entrusting Ms Crawford with his message); Ted Booker (a soldier afflicted by PTSD; previously called ‘shell shock’), and Peregrine Graham the eldest of the four brothers, of whom Arthur was related. I could not pull my eyes off the dialogue and text of this novel, because the Todds have become so intrinsically tethered into this WWI era as to alight into our minds an imaginary time where a young and capable woman such as Bess Crawford can not only reside but take up arms against the unjust in such a convincing way as an elder Miss Marple!
I kept turning it over in my mind what drew me the most into her world – it was at first the historical backdrop of the timescape but then, as the layers were fleshed out and stitched together, it was the classic Todd narrative of giving a story an underlit joy of a strong lead character whose self-assurance and capacity for sleuthing was a paramount wealth of excitement on behalf of the reader! Seeing everything through Bess Crawford’s eyes and the underscore of her emotions, knitted together a suspenseful plot writ out of such an ordinary request from a fallen soldier, that it took a skilled story-teller in this duo of writers to give us such a hearty novel to devour!
I read the first 58 pages in my first sitting and consumed the full of the novel in my second; lightning crackling more times than naught, and without the benefit of tweeting out my happy delight in seeing where Ms Crawford’s museful thoughts led me to decipher the mystery; I simply awaited my words to become laid to rest on my blog. By reading this first mystery out of a series of 7 novels, I was able to ascertain the countenance of Bess Crawford but also, the beauty of her life being lived off the pages of her stories — the Todds have such a confluence of creativity between them, it hadn’t felt like a ‘first novel’ of Bess Crawford but one of many already penned. The continuity and attention to even minor details was quite excellent and this novel not only justified being read ahead of another in the series but provided the background necessary to understand who Bess Crawford is as a character. Including her close ties to India and her beloved respect for her father, of whom influences her even when his presence is absent.
In this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford's career and life are in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch.
Bess Crawford has been summoned by the War Office to accompany a wounded soldier from Shropshire to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself.
Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, Sergeant Jason Wilkins will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. How could such a severely wounded man vanish without a trace?
Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions Bess when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him.
Following a trail of clues across England, Bess is drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?
Charles Todd is the author of the Bess Crawford mysteries, the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.
I was selected to be a tour stop on “Balm” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Balm” direct from the publisher Amistad (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Whilst I was requesting to be placed on this blog tour, I requested a copy of the author’s debut novel “Wench” to become introduced to her style and possible continuity; blessedly I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Amistad (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), without being obligated to post a review, as my ruminations on behalf of this novel are for my own edification only.
The New York Times bestselling author of Wench—called "a fascinating and tragic story" by NPR.org, "deeply moving" by USA Today, and "lyrical and devastatingly beautiful" by People magazine—returns to the Civil War era to explore history's next chapter in this powerful story of love and healing.
The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life.
Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others' suffering and ease it, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and continue to help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child.
Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.
Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.
In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in an unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.
Beautiful in its historical atmosphere and emotional depth, Balm is a stirring novel of love, loss, hope, and reconciliation set during one of the most critical periods in American history.
Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Wench. Her fiction has appeared in the Kenyon Review, StoryQuarterly, StorySouth, and elsewhere.
In 2011 she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. She was also awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine. A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, Dolen Perkins-Valdez lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.
Something quite wicked awesome happened to me this Spring – I had the sweet opportunity to begin hosting for BookSparks which led to my participation in my *1st!* ever #SummerReadingChallenge bonanza of bookish loveliness! I marked my first blog tour with BookSparks with a super wicked historical fiction which touched on every emotional keel a historical novel can yield and then arched back over into such a depth of humanity that I simply found it hard to put the novel down! I’m speaking on behalf of The Sheperdness of Siena!
The beauty about the #SRC2015 challenge is that it is OPEN to readers everywhere – especially those who are following the book bloggers who are a part of the official blog tour of Summer (i.e. most of us are sporting the badges on our blog’s sidebars and/or our social media accounts. Likewise, I included the badges per blog tour I am participating in on my Bookish Events page for quick reference for my regular readers and subscribers!
BookSparks included a nifty bookmark and guide for us to follow and help inspire our Summer Reading Challenge journey! On the list, I am focusing mostly on *three!* key things: using photography to help showcase the books as they arrive in by my local library (see this post for explanation) and via postal mail; tweeting using the #SRC2015 as I am reading *each!* novel (there are 10 total!) I selected to read and review during the blog tours; and I am posting a review on a pre-determined schedule of my choosing! I have dates lined up starting right now in late June and ending in early September!
I fell slightly behind on my in-between review post updates due to my back-to-back illnesses, which is why I am going to be back-posting approx. 3-4 ’10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts’ to chart my journey with the reading challenge inasmuch as share the bookish and non-bookish joys that have alighted in my life since my first entry posted on 14th of May! From here on out, on *Thursdays!* there will be a new post arriving filled with #SRC2015 news!
I elected to participate on Twitter and Riffle as compliments to my bookish blog as I do appreciate being connected to other social readers, however, other plausible networks simply weren’t my cuppa tea. Part of my future entries of ’10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts’ will be scouting out other wicked sweet entries of the book bloggers who are uploading keenly awesome content and supporting all the lovely authors who were selected in this year’s showcase! Due stay tuned not only to my blog but my bookishly delightful tweets, as you never know which book I will be #currentlyreading and thereby, sharing my readerly reactions as I make my way through Summer! I encourage you to tweet me back and/or leave comments on each #SRC2015 threaded post on my blog! Let’s converse about the stories we’re reading in common and our conjoined thoughts and reactions therein!
Borrowed Book from my local library: I originally found BookSparks PR last Spring, when I came upon the Summer Reading Challenge a bit too late in the game. I hadn’t forgotten about it, and was going to re-contact them this Spring to see if I could join the challenge this year instead. Coincidentally, before I sorted this out, I was contacted by one of their publicists about Linda Lafferty’s Renaissance historical novel, “The Sheperdess of Siena”.
At the time when I was confirmed to be a part of the #SRC2015 official blog tour schedule, we were not able to get confirmation on which books we selected to review on our respective blogs would be sent to us by the publishers and/or publicist at BookSparks, thereby I submitted purchase requests at my local library for all *10!* books I selected to read and review.
I elected to read “The Grown-Ups” via my local library, as they purchased this novel ahead of my submission of requests; the novel arrived into my local library ahead of further confirmation and postal mail via #SRC2015. By participating in the #SRC2015 challenge I am reading the novels in exchange for my honest reviews; whether I am receiving a complimentary copy or borrowing them through my local library. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.