Category: British Literature

Blog Book Tour | “Lady of a Thousand Treasures” (The Victorian Ladies, No. 1) by Sandra Byrd

Posted Friday, 19 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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

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! I received a complimentary copy of “Lady of Thousand Treasures” direct from the publisher Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My favourite takeaways from my first reading of a Sandra Byrd novel:

I had noticed the quick-fire cross-references being mentioned throughout this blog tour on behalf of Mist of Midnight to lay a correlated thought of insight to the story if readers were familiar with Jane Eyre. I believe this is a bit of a misstep, as despite my fanciment for Gothic Lit intermixed into Historical Fiction, even I can appreciate how diversely eclectic and unique the offerings are within the genre-benders. It is a bit as to say that every Classic Psychological Suspense (i.e. Classic Horror) motion picture is going to be a cardinal carbon copy of the previous release. Although there are inherent similarities to Eyre or any novel within this subset of literature, there is a striking originality to Byrd’s narrative voice, and the way in which she stirs the setting to alight in your mind’s eye.

I did not hear any footfall or echo of Eyre’s voice in the character of Rebecca Ravenshaw, as instead, I heard Rebecca’s voice quite clearly on her own grounds. She’s a full-bodied character not a composite of a previous incarnation of a previous era’s most beloved heroine. The misstep for me is the presumption on what the story entails, as this isn’t a Governess tale, no, this is an inheritance and right of identity tale which pushes far past where Eyre ventured. Atmospherically I do agree, there are certain hidden clues and nudges to elude to where Eyre resided, but again, this isn’t a novel I’d cross-compare Byrd’s narrative, as it would deceive the readers who are wanting to soak inside it unless there is a definitive explanation about ‘what’ directly refers to setting and what is ‘different’ altogether in the story’s arc.

I found more crumbs of cognisant triggers of familiarity stemming out of Mists of Midnight to previous novels I’ve read by ChocLitUK and several via HFVBTs. More readily I would say the styling of how Bryd has writ her new series for the Daughters of Hampshire is a beautiful compliment to how ethereally and historically stimulating I’m finding the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber. Wordsmiths who breathe a stability of place, time, character depth and arc of journey will always leave me perpetually museful for their discovery. Byrd is amongst my top favourites for giving us a story which transcends straight out of where we’ve planted our seat to hold the pages, which as they are turnt, lead us into the murky shadows of where truth and light are sometimes cast in gray.

Each Gothic Lit Historical Narrative is wholly original into itself, as the creator who inked the words alighted upon the premise by a different series of avenues before committing pen to creation. The die is cast so to speak with a uniqueness that is not quite like another story, but whose individual elements can bewitch you with their cosy comfortness of relating a particular sensory experience you had whilst reading other novels within the genre.

I only took sparse pauses away from this novel, as I have the tendency to want to devour a text such as this, save for slumber and a quick nosh; devouring it’s elegant world-building, as it’s secondary characters who alight on the page as if their histories were being writ as they lived. I love seeing secondary cast members as fully true in their bones as their lead counterparts. There is a realism in having this underwrit into a novel, and I must say, Byrd has excelled.

– as disclosed on my review of Mist of Midnight,
Daughters of Hampshire, Book One

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Blog Book Tour | “Lady of a Thousand Treasures” (The Victorian Ladies, No. 1) by Sandra ByrdLady of a Thousand Treasures
by Sandra Byrd
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1496426833

Also by this author: Mist of Midnight

Genres: Art & Art History, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Tyndale House Publishers

on 9th October, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 464

Published By: Tyndale House Publishers (@TyndaleHouse)
secondary site: Crazy4Fiction (@Crazy4Fiction)

Formats Available: Trade paperback, ebook and audiobook

Converse via: #SandraByrd, #VictorianLadies + #HistRom or #HistFic

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About Ms Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd

Bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published more than fifty books over her editing and writing career. Her traditionally published books include titles by Tyndale House Publishers, Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, WaterBrook Press, a Penguin Random House imprint, and Bethany House. She’s also an independent author.

Sandra’s series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, published in 2017 and was named by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction books of the year.

Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 19 October, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, Antique Jewelry, Antiques, Antiquities, Art, Art History, Artist's Proof, Artwork Provenance, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, British Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Passionate Researcher, the Victorian era, Writing Style & Voice

Audiobook Review | “Gone to Ground” (Book Six: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell

Posted Friday, 7 September, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I jumped at the chance to become a part of the sixth audiobook tour featuring the #KayHunter series by Rachel Amphlett so quickly, I had overlooked a critical piece of the blog tour: the copies for review on this tour were not going to be provided through Audible! Having an extra credit I hadn’t had the chance to use I purchased my own copy of “Gone to Ground” rather than being provided with a complimentary copy of the story. Thereby, I am choosing to participate on the audiobook tour, sharing my ruminations with my readers for my own edification but also, as a continuation of a reader’s love for a dramatic crime serial. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What held me in the throes of “Call to Arms” and why I was itching for the next novel:

One of the things I enjoy most about Ms Amphlett’s style of detective novels is how she gives you a seemingly one dimensional plot point and expounds upon it to encompass more layers of intrigue than you would originally feel could be pinned to a situation which by all fronts, appeared to be routine or having nothing more serious than the surface details of what was noted or observed. This is what I love about the series, because even as your keeping your toes at there ready to hear something which will be need to be re-pulled forward further inside the installment – you don’t always know which details are most pertinent to remember and which ones might not be as keenly important in the end.

This installment turnt back to the situational bantering between Kay and her colleagues – where we get to be observing their work hours closely – the funny bit is how they like to work off each other – they each compliment the other quite well, but due to the long hours and the winding ways in which a case can unnerve the detectives, they have to re-group themselves somehow and humour is one of the best equalisers! When they weren’t rubbing my funny-bone, I enjoyed listening to how they worked out their theories – each of them making suggestions and following where the evidence and interviews were yielding them to head next in an attempt to resolve the case at long last!

Kay Hunter follows her instincts to pursue a case she knew in her heart was important to solve – however, she never would have suspected how close it would come to affecting her relationship with Sharpe nor of how the case itself would become insidious in regards to the callus nature of someone who could only be referred to as self-conceited past the point of reason! Adam definitely understands his wife to such a degree it’s heart-warming whereas Kay sometimes struggles with the confidence of embracing her truer nature as a cop. She seems to be seeking approval at different intervals to where her internal sense of self falters against the tides of where her job takes her in a neverending battle for personal sanity.

Amphlett keeps us grounded on the personal journey of Kay Hunter – through all facets of her life, from what she’s feeling, thinking and how she sorts through every choice she makes both personally and professionally. One kind thing for her is having a husband (Adam) who not only believes in his wife but allows her the leeway she needs to make hard choices at times where an easier route might have been his preference. He also encourages her to do things she at first might feel she wants to recoil from accepting – such as her recent temporary elevation in status. Adam has a calming sense of knowing just what to say to help Kay settle her thoughts – all of this is part of the foundation of the series I have loved watching built. As Amphlett doesn’t sacrifice Kay’s personal life for the profession – it’s a healthy way of seeing how detectives must decide how to live a well-balanced life, without allowing the job to supersede their own humanity. All of which is vocalised by the impressively brilliant narrator Alison Campbell who immerses us directly into the heart of Kay!

-quoted from my review of Call to Arms

At the time I had finished listening to Call to Arms – I almost felt I needed to take a proper break from listening to the next installment. Each story in the series becomes increasingly difficult to listen to due to the increasing Suspense Ms Amphlett knits into the background of the stories. Not to mention the crimes themselves are on the upper edge of what I can handle listening to as they are rather difficult to read on that note.

I hadn’t foreseen another blog tour this year, as I was so dearly thankful to be a part of the first five novels which went on blog tours – finding out Gone to Ground was available to listen to after Summer, felt rather fitting – as this would be the story-line which was fully removed from the anguish Kay had gone through at work and the grief she had shared with Adam. I was definitely keen on seeing where the story would continue to shift forward and how Kay would handle moving forward after such a strong sea of adversity which had sought to undo her sanity.

When I first read the premise, however, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to be able to get into the story itself as it is a rather gruesome plotting. The only thing I was holding onto is the fact that Ms Campbell’s narration in combination with Ms Amphlett’s muse – might be the best partnership to where I could handle a story-line like this one as otherwise, had it been another series altogether I simply would have bypassed it.

I also knew, having heard the five books prior to this sixth one – Amphlett spends a lot of time developing her characters, of inserting her readers & listeners into the background of her world – giving us a proper threading of what is going on in the lives of her lead and supporting characters whilst their fully committed to solving the case at hand. It is due to this structure of how she pulls us back into the Kay Hunter series, I had a strong feeling I could get through this installment, as I knew the main focus points were not on the crimes but rather on the people who solve them.

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Audiobook Review | “Gone to Ground” (Book Six: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison CampbellGone to Ground
Subtitle: A Detective Kay Hunter novel
by Rachel Amphlett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Alison Campbell

While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population and a scornful media.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07F7FHYTT

Also by this author: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Call to Arms, Author Inteview: Rachel Amphlett (Gone to Ground)

Also in this series: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Call to Arms


Genres: Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Published by Saxon Publishing

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Saxon Publishing

Order of the Kay Hunter Detective series:
Scared to Death | Book One (see also Review)
Will to Live | Book Two (see also Review)
One to Watch | Book Three (see also Review)
Hell to Pay | Book Four (see also Review)
Call to Arms | Book Five (see also Review)
Gone to Ground | Book Six

About Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlettt

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

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Posted Friday, 7 September, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Good vs. Evil, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Sociological Behavior, True Crime

Audiobook Review | “Call to Arms” (Book Five: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell

Posted Sunday, 27 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Call to Arms” via Audiobookworm Promotions who is working directly with the author Rachel Amphlett in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What held me in the throes of “Hell to Pay” and why I was itching for the next novel:

One nod of appreciation I have for Ms Amphlett is how she builds the tension and the back-story of this series – she tempts you at first with little nuggets of interest which start to paint the fuller picture behind Kay Hunter but then, she focuses on her days at work; how she interacts with her team and how they in turn perceive her whilst never giving us too many details about the purpose behind the series until you reach the fourth installment – where all the loose threads start to pool together, forming a tapestry of insight all of their own.

I was pushed so far outside my zone of comfort for a ‘hard-boiled Thriller’, I nearly did not know what to do to make my way through this installment – except, I remembered how Ms Amphlett would only take me ‘this far’ into the gritty bits before a ‘full stop’ would occur and a re-direction would happen to where I would either be blessedly back round in the team bantering out the case from all points of perspective or we’d happily enter one of the segue sequences where a lighter part of either Kay or one of the other members of her team would give us the pause we needed to reclaim the breath we’d forgotten to release!

I fell hard for this series from day one – from Scared to Death, thereby realising I would be a goner long before the series would end. In this, I knew I might hit sequences of the stories where I’d feel emotionally taxed and gutted as Kay – feeling as if I’d lived her life as dearly omnipresent as Alison Campbell and feel blessed by the pen of Ms Amphlett for taking me on this journey with Kay Hunter – as this is a series which pushes you, challenges you and gives you a reason to find a door of empathetic compassion to feel attached to the characters, the author and the narrator in one beautiful circle.

I might need to take a short break from disappearing into Call to Arms, the fifth installment and I am aware the sixth installment is already being written. The hardest part to resolve of course is how cleverly written the darker bits are constructed – of how everything pulls together in a believable execution of where you don’t feel short-changed but rather full of shock as much as Kay. Amphlett has a true gift for this kind of story-telling and I am blessed to have been introduced to her style on this blog tour.

-quoted from my review of Hell to Pay

Emotionally I was shattered, dear hearts after finishing Hell to Pay – I had this seriously emotional reaction to the end of the audiobook – being I was listening to it at a public library notwithstanding, when I finally hit the stop button and took full stock of my bearings, I was a muddled mess of emotions – finding myself surrounded by other patrons, who either were listening to audiobooks themselves, music or playing games – as everyone either had their own set of earphones plugged in, readily engaged with their own computers or the library’s and quite a number of them had a book in hand as well! To feel the kind of immersive experience I had felt in that kind of public environment is a true credit to both the author and the narrator – as I quite literally was hugged so dearly close to #KayHunter, I did not even realise the time nor hour or anything going on at the library itself!

As I pulled away my thoughts to contemplate what I had heard and the realisations of those revelations soaking in to the full measure of what they implied, I knew I had to take a brief hiatus before retreating back inside Call to Arms. Of course, mother nature would love to enthrall me with a delayed Spring (ie. a horrid burst of pollen season after a delightfully extended Winter) where rainshowers and thunderstorms alternated themselves for more than a fortnight – proving that sometimes even when your ready to soak into a beloved audiobook series, patience is a virtue you’ve mastered in order to await what is next in line for your bookish heart!

I hadn’t sorted out the timeline of my re-entrance either – which is why I was dearly surprised and happily reunited with Kay Hunter on this fifth blog tour – technically ‘second’ as the first four novels were in a combo-tour but I always felt they were four separate tours, as they were equally focusing on each of the novels in turn rather than in a mix-match of the stories out of sequence wherein happily all the bloggers taking part focused on the series in order of sequence rather than referencing them out of turn. It is quite lovely how the Audiobookworm organises her audiobook tours, in other words – especially for those of us keen on serial fiction!

With the time decided for me, I only had to set my heart and mind to re-enter into Kay Hunter’s shoes – something I almost fought at first, as so much was still hanging in the wind for our dear heroine – the one thing I did hope for her though, is a proper turning of tides – she puts her heart and soul into her job, loves her husband with a fierce protective passion and deserves a bit of goodwill coming her way to where her adversities could surely take a hiatus of their own!

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Audiobook Review | “Call to Arms” (Book Five: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison CampbellCall to Arms
Subtitle: A Detective Kay Hunter novel
by Rachel Amphlett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Alison Campbell

Loyalty has a price.

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation.

DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But, as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

Call to Arms is a gripping murder mystery, and the fifth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY
5. CALL TO ARMS

A page-turning murder mystery for fans of Peter Robinson, David Baldacci and Harlen Coben.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07B75S6TJ

Also by this author: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Author Inteview: Rachel Amphlett (Gone to Ground), Gone to Ground

Also in this series: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Gone to Ground


Genres: Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Published by Saxon Publishing

on 5th March, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours, 28 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Saxon Publishing

Order of the Kay Hunter Detective series:
Scared to Death | Book One (see also Review)
Will to Live | Book Two (see also Review)
One to Watch | Book Three (see also Review)
Hell to Pay | Book Four (see also Review)
Call to Arms | Book Five

About Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlettt

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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Posted Sunday, 27 May, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Good vs. Evil, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Sociological Behavior, True Crime

Blog Book Tour | ” Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt A Biological Historical Fiction account of the life of Alma Mahler and how her intense love affair with Gustav Mahler changed her life.

Posted Friday, 18 May, 2018 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

 

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

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! I received a complimentary copy of “Ecstasy” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this novel about Alma Mahler:

This particular author has a special connection to Jorie Loves A Story – especially in regards to milestones and memories! Whilst I was a 1st Year Book Blogger, I had the pleasure of joy reading Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen} as my debut review for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in November, 2013! The novel introduced me to an enriched version of reading biographies – an introduction that would carry me forward into the wonderful world of what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’; a mainstay of my reading queues! As routed through this category of interest!

From that foundation, I started to seek out traditional biographies and memoirs, under the new vein of interest called ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ where the stories are threaded through an emotional contextual core of narrative. For you see, if I hadn’t first read Illuminations all the lovelies I’ve been discovering since might not have alighted in my hands to read. Mary Sharratt truly opened my mind and eyes to how a story could be told whilst peering back into the historical past through a living history of a person who once lived. Her style of the craft is quite acutely realistic for the time periods she’s exploring; she has a conviction of setting with a lifeblood of drawing characters out of the wells of history to give us a resounding portrait of ‘who once lived’ can live once again in our own imaginations.

Whilst during my 3rd Year as a Book Blogger, I had the joy of discovering her prose within The Dark Lady’s Mask (see also Review) and now, as a newly minted 5th Year Book Blogger – I am embarking into my third reading of her collective works with Ecstasy! There is something quite special about the way in which Ms Sharratt approaches her subjects and characters – as I had this to say whilst encountering my last stay inside one of her stories:

I knew I would find the narrative an eloquent historical tome of insight on behalf of what I know of Sharratt’s writings; she fuses so much in such a short expanse of the story, you fully live within their pages. Her narrative has a way of not just transporting you back into the 16th Century but allowing you a bit of grace to flex your mind around what living in the 16th Century would be like from a sensory perception of insight. She taunts what you presume to be true with what is known about the century, giving you much more of a grounded respite than a flowery historical. This felt authentic to the era but also, to how the world would have been viewed during the different stages of Aemilia’s life.

I was caught up in the current of how fluid Ms Sharratt composed this novel and how she worked the story-line through the mind of a poetess. She truly championed the will of a poet and of a creative seeking to find their own way to express their creativity whilst proving that finding one’s way in life isn’t as easily to understand. Ms Sharratt will remain a favourite of mine to read, if only to see how her own mind fashions itself around thought, theory, inspiration and the fragility of where history and time become entwined as one. I will definitely savour the time I spend within The Dark Lady’s Mask the second time I read it, as it is not one you wish to put down in haste!

Only within the chapters of Illuminations did I find myself most akin to reading a different lifestyle than one I could personally relate too. As the elements of The Dark Lady’s Mask had such wonderful overtures of recognition from my favourite Bard, I felt there were portions of the narrative I had a pre-cursory understanding of – as I stepped inside Ecstasy, it was an easier transition by half, as any creative economist who picks up this novel will self-identity with Alma’s strong desire and need to fulfill not only her creative muses but to strike out on her own to develop her creative identity.

As such, this is one text where I found myself attempting to find the right words to articulate my reactions as I found the context of the story to be illuminatingly stimulating in it’s own right to parlay a multitude of thoughts about it’s inner theme, the heart of it’s message and the purpose we all seek as self-directed artists seeking our true selves and the rightful path we must walk in order to embrace the artistry within us which has not yet been revealled. These are the kinds of ruminative thoughts I am appreciative of being challenged to convey – as the writers who write these kinds of stories are digging into something dimensionally deeper than what might first be seen on the surface of their characters’ lives.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | ” Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt A Biological Historical Fiction account of the life of Alma Mahler and how her intense love affair with Gustav Mahler changed her life.Esctasy
by Mary Sharratt
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780544800892

Also by this author: Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen}, The Dark Lady's Mask

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 10th April, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 387

Published ByHoughton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo)

Converse via: #EcstasyBlogTour, #AlmaMahler + #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

About Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes: strong women who break all the rules.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 18 May, 2018 by jorielov in 18th Century, 19th Century, Alma Mahler, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Classical Music | Composers, Composer, Creative Arts, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Inspired by Stories, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction

Book Review | “Follow A Star” (Book No.2 of the Little Spitmarsh series) by Christine Stovell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 21 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Follow A Star” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I am enjoying my respite in Little Spitmarsh:

Not quite a village or hamlet, but in some ways it is both – if you consider how insular resorts can become when it feels like all of life is bubbling within it’s natural boundaries. I was quite delighted by the Prologue to cast a pointed eye on what Little Spitmarsh had been once in it’s heyday of popularity with visitors from away inasmuch as the cross-comparison of what it has become now; a sad remnant of it’s past. This is quite common I think, when urban and rural areas fall into decay from an absence of care – where it takes someone with vision to re-transitionalise the place into a new kind of beauty that will lure people back to a place they once knew. Although this isn’t merely a resort or a marina, it’s a small towne whose point of focus has fallen and whose re-development could change the way in which the townespeople will live in the future.

This felt like such an honest prospect of interest – right from the start – as who doesn’t like to see how developers with an eye for progress and a nod towards preserving certain bits of the past could lend a new lease of life on a place like Little Spitmarsh? Of course, that would be far too easy, of course! There was a small hinting of what would become fireworks (nearly certain!) lateron, as just because a land deal seems cut and dry on the offset doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t hidden ‘obstacles’ that might test the patience of someone whose vision might be a bit misguided.

The scenery alone makes you hunger to visit this little niche of a small community if only for the pause of breath to drink in the natural joys you would be viewing. Stepping outside of civilisation where nature still had the larger bounty and has been allowed to thrive without too much interference are the places to cherish the most. They are kept away and hidden from the masses for a reason – to preserve what is able to be conserved. The book cover places you visually in the right kind of place that is being described inside the chapters as it truly is a place that hugs the water whilst ebbing you into a sync of natural harmony.

I liked too, how Ms Stovell has her own rhythm of threading a Contemporary with it’s own narrative pace and tone of telling a story set in such an interesting place. The setting and the vibe of the community have their own lifeblood in this Contemporary granting the reader a strong visual of not only the natural setting of how a harbour or seaside area can dictate but how a community is as quirky as it’s residents! The fuller personalities of how she rounded out her cast of characters and augmented such a normalcy out of the quirks of their everyday lives is part of what granted so much enjoyment to read the story! It’s truly a novel that paints it’s own portrait by how it’s writer chose to deliver it’s contents – loved her choices but also, the way in which she delves past the surface and digs in for the heartier story-line that is just bubbling under the drama.

-quoted from my review of Turning the Tide

I’ve taken my time to return back to Little Spitmarsh – I had aimed to continue my readings of this series closer to when I entered ‘Turning the Tide’, however, my own tides took me away from the series until now. Even over the past six weeks, where my health hasn’t been the best – I’ve had to put my ChocLit readings on hold, until I was in a better position to focus on reading again. One of the key issues was a relapse in my chronic migraines – I was able to handle listening to audiobooks here and there, but overall, reading and attempting to type on a screen was proving to be more than what I could handle.

There were a few moments where Twitter acted as a reprieve from my heath issues but even that has taken a bit of a backseat since my migraines resumed. I had planned to anchour April with a Georgette Heyer chat and a Women’s Fiction topical chat – however, just to return back into a ChocLit novel felt wonderful! I’ve also decided for the foreseeable future, the last two weekends of the month work best for me hosting @SatBookChat.

It is also coincidentally on the heels of helping to select the cover for the Little Spitmarsh novella “Moonbeams in a Jar”. Which I happily tweeted about previously as soon as I saw the release make it’s way into the twitterverse! Always a happy day celebrating a forthcoming release within a series you love reading!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Notation on Cover Art: Little Spitmarsh is unique setting where the water, the tides and the small community round out the appeal of living there. I liked how this cover focused on sunset, as there is something quite special about the setting of the sun – of how even after hard days or the uncertainties of futures, seeing the sun set and rise is a lovely moment where you can draw a breath of serenity and simply appreciate the scenery for how the colours play against the natural landscape.

 Book Review | “Follow A Star” (Book No.2 of the Little Spitmarsh series) by Christine Stovell #ChocLitSaturdaysFollow A Star
by Christine Stovell
Source: Direct from Publisher

Sometimes your heart’s the only navigator you need

May Starling’s had enough of her demanding career and even more demanding ex. Responding to a ‘crew-wanted’ ad, she follows her dreams of escape only to find herself at sea with red-haired Bill Blythe.

Bill warns May that close-quartered living can create a boiling pot of emotions, but even May is surprised by the heat building up inside the vintage wooden boat. And when May and Bill tie up at Watling’s Boatyard in Little Spitmarsh, May’s determined to test her new-found feelings on dry land.

But May’s dream of escaping her former life is in danger of being swept away when several unwelcome blasts from the past follow her ashore, all seemingly hell-bent on reminding her it’s never that easy to clear the decks.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 978-1781891360

Also by this author: Turning the Tide, Only True in Fairy Tales

Also in this series: Turning the Tide


Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by ChocLitUK

on 1st July, 2014

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 336

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

Order of Sequence of Little Spitmarsh series:

Turning the Tide by Christine StovellFollow a Star by Christine StovellMoonbeams in a Jar by Christine Stovell

Read my review of Turning the Tide

Read the Synopsis for Moonbeams in a Jar

Converse via: #Contemporary & #Romance + #ChocLit #LittleSpitmarsh

About Christine Stovell

Christine Stovell Photo Credit: Tim Jones

Winning a tin of chocolate in a national essay competition at primary school inspired Christine Stovell to become a writer! After graduating from University of East Anglia, she took various jobs in the public sector writing research papers and policy notes by day and filling up her spare drawers with embryonic novels by night.

Losing her dad to cancer made her realise that if she was ever going to get a novel published she had to put her writing first. Setting off, with her husband, from a sleepy seaside resort on the east coast in a vintage wooden boat to sail halfway round Britain provided the inspiration for her debut novel Turning the Tide and Follow a Star. Turning The Tide was a top 100 Bestseller with Amazon Kindle and spent months in the Top 10 Chart for Adult Contemporary Romance. Christine has also published numerous short stories and articles. Christine lives in Wales. Christine novels include: Turning The Tide, Move Over Darling and Follow a Star (July 2014).

Photo Credit: Tim Jones

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Read More

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Posted Saturday, 21 April, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, British Literature, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, Equality In Literature, Green-Minded Publishers, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Modern British Author, Romance Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature