Category: History

Blog Book Tour | “The Strongman and the Mermaid” [The Donora Story Collection: Book Two] by Kathleen Shoop with reflections on behalf of reading the first novel in the series “After the Fog”

Posted Monday, 20 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 1 Comment

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received a complimentary copy of “After the Fog” direct from the author Kathleen Shoop without obligation to post a review. I am choosing to share my ruminative thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and of continuing to share my readerly life with those who follow m y blog Jorie Loves A Story. Whilst at the same time, I read it in conjunction with the sequel being released and touring on a blog tour in the book blogosphere on behalf of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours of which I am a regular reviewer and tour hostess.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Strongman and the Mermaid” direct from the author Kathleen Shoop in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either “After the Fog” or “The Strongman and the Mermaid”.

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My journey towards reading

the collective works of Kathleen Shoop:

If I would have speculated it would take me from 2015 to 2019 to read my first Kathleen Shoop novel, I might have questioned the distance early-on from my first discovery of her novels and the point in time which I could put my heart into reading her collective works. The sad bit really is I was perpetually distracted by my health, the adversities of life and if you take out [2017] (the year my father recovered from his stroke) and [2018] the year I had 10 months of health afflictions – it doesn’t appear to be as long of a distance on the surface of things.

The truth is – I’ve been picking up her novels off/on since I first received them – each time thinking I had picked the right moment to read them, to spend time dissolving into the words and the worlds she’s built and unfortunately finding myself unable to attach into the narrative. I planned to read the Letter series first – as I have the first two novels of that series on hand to be read. And, this is where my journey into her novels begins as the reason our paths first crossed is because I used to review for BookSparks (ie. the publicity team attached to She Writes Press, etc) – in [2015] I participated in their blog tours & their Summer Reading Challenge – which was quite epic back then. You’d select the authors you were most keen on becoming acquainted with and they would pick a variety of books to send you for review consideration – the second Letter series novel “The Road Home” was amongst the offerings and thus, my path first crossed with Ms Shoop.

From there – a lot of life intervened and this has been the first year I’ve been able to focus on reading my *backlogue!* despite the fact by appearances it would seem I took five months to begin doing that as I had some health issues shifting into 2019 from 2018. The best news of all is this Spring I started to see a positive reduction in my migraines (even though this #WyrdAndWonder I had a rather epic one which relapsed twice this May; it was a side effect to allergy medicine) which I feel will give me more bookishly delightful hours in the future.

The main reason I decided to join the blog tour featuring the second novel in the Donora Story Collection [The Strongman & the Mermaid] is because I wanted to purposefully begin reading my Shoop novels. I’ve dreamt of what they involve and the literary environment I would encounter once I began reading her stories – thereby, it felt like [2019] was the year the stars were aligning to where I could finally focus on the STORIES I most desired to be reading and finally ‘greet!’ the authors I’ve most wanted to read.

The beauty of course, is “After the Fog” begins this series and the novel itself has been lovingly looked after on my book shelves – it has moved round quite a bit and it was finally able to make it to my desk. I was overjoyed I could finally soak inside Shoop’s narrative(s) and hoped this would mark a beginning where I could pick up the rhythm of her stories anew in JUNE by settling into the Letter series and seeing where this journey of mine into her collective works would take me next. It might take me a bit of time to return to a book I received in the earlier days of Jorie Loves A Story – but this much is true: NONE of those books have been forgotten,.. each of them is being read with eager anticipation as if they just reached me now to be read.

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prefacing my reading of “after the fog” with a personal observation:

Whilst embarking on a 15,000 mile road trip with my Mum over a score of three years in the middle of the 2000s – criss-crossing through the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West states – I still remember what it was like driving through areas of Pennsylvania where the industrial pollution was still effecting its residents. There were townes where the houses facing the industrial plants across the street were tar black and smokey grey – you could barely tell they were houses as the grim covering the outside of their buildings felt like a film set from a Dystopian location. It gave thought to how far we have progressed and how far we have receded in regards to taking care of air pollution, industrial pollution and the health risks of living in cities and small townes where there is no distance between quality of life and the pollutants which can cause harm.

I had forgotten what the premise was within this novel but as soon as I re-read it – I immediately drew back to mind what it was like driving through the coal townes of West Virginia, the industrial townes of Pennsylvania and the insanity of having my hamster nearly suffocate himself in the Upper Mid-West region where we were passing through Omaha, Nebraska due to not having quality air even inside of a closed windowed car. There are distinct issues throughout the states from an environmental perspective – most of which you hear on the news or see on your feeds via social media; however, when your ‘driving through’ it makes a more pointed reality quite crystalised and clear for anyone who takes a harder look at what they are observing from afar.

reflections on reading after the fog:

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

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

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

Despite this – I found reading After the Fog to be quite tedious as although I was looking forward to reading it for quite a long while – I couldn’t find my footing inside its story-line. The rhythm was hard to root out as I was constantly distracted by either the grittiness of the layers within it, the language choices liberally shining out of it or the fact the story felt harder edged somehow than most of the Historicals I usually read. It was not a good fit for me and although I worried how that would effect my readings of the sequel The Strongman and the Mermaid – I knew most of Shoop’s novels can be read as stand-alone editions and I felt perhaps this sequel might resonate with me a bit better than After the Fog as I honestly did not get past a quarter’s length of reading.

The sad bit is I couldn’t find a character I felt drawn to emotionally – I thought at first I might feel a connection to Rose but she felt emotionally cold and reclusive; she was living through a difficult time in her life where the whole of her family was co-dependent on everyone else but it was difficult to get a stronger impression about her as she did not seem approachable as some historical characters tend to feel in historical stories. Therefore, the more I tried to read of the novel – the less enthused I was about completing it due to how I simply felt disconnected from the characters and did not feel as if I wanted to know the outcome of their stories.

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Blog Book Tour | “The Strongman and the Mermaid” [The Donora Story Collection: Book Two] by Kathleen Shoop with reflections on behalf of reading the first novel in the series “After the Fog”The Strongman and the Mermaid
by Kathleen Shoop
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Myscowa, Poland—1910

Once upon a time in tiny, rural Myscowa, Lukasz Musial competes in feats of strength against his lifelong nemesis to win passage to America. He leaves behind grinding poverty and despair, to seek the clear blue skies, and better life he sees on a postcard. Settled in Donora’s Polish community, Lukasz secures a coveted job in the wire mill, and is matched to marry Donora’s very own Polish princess. Life is set on course. The American Dream is nearly his.

Donora, Pennsylvania—1910

Mary Lancos is no princess. A tall, athletic girl who loves the water, she spends her days keeping house for families in town, digging coal out of a backyard seam and rowing her father across the Monongahela River for work. Mary is dependable, tenacious, and always ready to help when someone needs her. She dreams of a gas-heated home, a bedroom for each of her future children, and good meals on the table each night. To help make that happen Mary attends local dances, waiting for the few men who are taller than her to ask her to dance, hoping one of them is right for her.

An unexpected Christmas Eve visitor brings bad luck, and Lukasz’s world crumbles. Meanwhile, tension grows at the Lancos home when money is short and Mary’s dreams clash with her parents’ old world expectations. Just when Mary and Lukasz are at their lowest, they find themselves under an odd pink moonlit sky and Lukasz rescues Mary from a fall into frigid river water. The attraction between them is sudden and consuming, turning the pair onto an unexpected path. With mounting disapproval from Mary’s parents, and increased pressure on Lukasz, they must decide if love is enough to risk losing everything else that matters.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781731561138

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


Published by Self Published Author

on 28th February, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 563

This is a self-published novel

The Donora Story Collection:

After the Fog by Kathleen ShoopThe Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop

After the Fog (book one)

The Strongman & the Mermaid (book two)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Kathleen Shoop

Kathleen Shoop

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

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 20 May, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 20th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Content Note, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Self-Published Author, The Steel Industry, Vulgarity in Literature

#SaturdaysAreBookish | “The Moon Sister” (Book No. 5 of the Seven Sisters series) by Lucinda Riley

Posted Saturday, 23 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

After launching this lovely new feature of mine during [Autumn, 2018] it is a pleasure of joy to continue to bring #SaturdaysAreBookish as a compliment focus of my Twitter chat @SatBookChat. If you see the chat icon at the top of my blog (header bar) you can click over to visit with us. The complimentary showcases on my blog will reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of the chat are the stories I am reading which compliment the conversations.

#SaturdaysAreBookish throughout [2019] will be featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read across genre and point of interest. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – the stories I am reading might simply inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

I am excited about where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction. Here’s a lovely New Year full of new authors and their stories to celebrate!

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Acquired Book By: Last year, I had the chance to become introduced to the Seven Sisters book series by Lucinda Riley – the experience became one of my *favourite!* reading experiences for the year – happily I was invited to join the blog tour celebrating the fifth release this February, 2019 – for “The Moon Sister”. I was simply overjoyed and humbled I could continue to champion this author and her series which I have found emotionally convicting and soul lifting with a delightfully lush narrative which is wicked brilliant for its continuity.

Ahead of reading the fourth release “The Pearl Sister” last year, I decided to back-read the entire series – which is why I have felt so dearly connected to this series ever since and why I applaud the brilliant continuity running through the series.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Moon Sister” direct from the publisher Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On how I felt after I read the fourth installment of the series:

CeCe had felt Star pulling away from her even before Star knew how to articulate the reasons why she was seeking a life outside of being with CeCe; this made her feel unwanted in such an extreme way, she felt the only way to rectify her emotions was to make a radical change. Boarding a flight for Thailand – the one place she considered her respite in the world before taking the last leg of her journey to Australia (as this is where her clues led her to travel) felt right somehow. What was interesting is that you oft felt CeCe held all the confidence in the world – she never came across as being especially vulnerable, she seemed quite the opposite: like a bear to take-on the world and be the protector of Star. In reality, both sisters were equally vulnerable and had yielded to life being lived side by side rather than separately; until now, of course, when they both felt it was time to simply sort out how to live independently.

One critical thing CeCe shared is how the opinions of others can destroy your well-being and break your spirit. The kind of criticism which doesn’t seek to aide you on your journey towards being a creative artist (as she leans towards industrial art and found art installations; whilst sorting out what kind of paintings she likes to create) but rather to dissuade you from the pursuit itself. No one should have to endure that kind of judgement and for whichever reason, I found CeCe didn’t confide in her Ma or in Star (although, perhaps she felt she wouldn’t have cared) – one thing which helped me the most in life is being able to turn to my parents. Sadly, I think the confidante in her life was Pa Salt and without him nearby, she felt like she’d lost her anchour; and rightly so!

I loved how she felt Buddhism was her most comfortable religion to feel attracted to practicing because of how she felt the inner peace of what it provides to us all. CeCe was quite the deep thinker and spiritualist without realising any of this about herself. She also held back her fears, the nightmares and the questions of sanity from her family; she had a lot moving through her mind, things which you would have thought she’d want to openly discuss if only to disallow them from festering further afield. Yet, CeCe was a very private individual such was a trend of her sisters – each of them thinking they could take-on whatever they needed to face alone.

Some of my favourite moments of watching one of the seasons of The Amazing Race (in the early days) was observing the larger than life Buddha statues found throughout the South Pacific and the Pacific Rim! I was in absolute awe – due to the high definition of the cameras being used, you didn’t need to hop a plane to see them either – they seemed like they had somehow come straight through your television to where you felt as if you were standing right ‘next to them’ yourself! I thought of this as I read about how CeCe felt calm near the Buddha she was mediating near as she went to her favourite spiritual spot for a bit of solitude and causal companionship with others doing the same. Causal here referring to the fact although they were in the same place at the same time everyone was internalising their own thoughts without saying a word aloud. This close proximity to others allowed CeCea respite from feeling she was entirely alone and cast out into the world without knowing how to land on solid ground again.

The beauty of CeCe’s story is how like Star, she started to reach outside her zone of comfort, trusting people, letting them into her internal world. She might not have felt she was a good judge of character due to the fall-out with her relationship with Ace (as throughout her trip in Australia the headlines and newsprint articles were growing worse!) but with Chrissie and others she was trusting, she was finding true friends. Each of them were helping her on her journey towards positive self-growth and a deepening awareness of her roots; where her origins were only the first part of her foundation as Pa Salt helped her find herself since she left her home country. By returning back to Australia she was finding the symmetry necessary to meet her future with a balanced sense of place and self – as so much is tied to how we self-identify ourselves. For CeCe, she didn’t have a positive impression about being dyslexic as it wasn’t something she could compensate for like I could, rather it was her lifetime ‘fly in the ointment’; she couldn’t shake it if she tried. She also didn’t see it as a gift but a slight curse because she only saw how it affected her from doing things others took for granted.

In Australia, she was finding her muse again – of what inspired her to create her art and how her art was an expression of herself in a way which left her raw and vulnerable. She created artwork which spoke to her on a soul level of heightened intuition – her art was not like other people’s and that’s the way it should be for each artist has a new vision of the world around them. She simply had forgotten to trust in the process of creating and to be comfortable as a an artist who didn’t use words to share a portion of herself but she used visual media.

The best message of CeCe’s story is that in order to live free you have to be honest about who you are – in every facet of your life because if you start to hide who you are from everyone, you can literally disappear from your own spirit too. CeCe was encouraged by Pa Salt to be who she was no matter who she realised she was at the core of her being but knowing she was accepted by her father and understanding who she was on those levels of awareness were two very different things. Her sexuality was part of her identity she never addressed, it wasn’t on her radar to even look at it from an angle of enlightenment because she had a lot of fears to overcome in general. She was a woman who was afraid to live by most counts but this journey she was taking towards her past was what truly gave her the inspiration to finally see herself and face herself for the first time in the mirror. The best takeaway for me was watching her blossom into being the artist Pa Salt knew she was destined to become; as he truly saw his daughters true essence and wanted them to see themselves the way in which he did all along.

-quoted from my review of The Pearl Sister

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#SaturdaysAreBookish | “The Moon Sister” (Book No. 5 of the Seven Sisters series) by Lucinda RileyThe Moon Sister
by Lucinda Riley
Source: Direct from Publisher, Scribd | Subscription
Narrator: Imogen Wilde

Tiggy D’Aplièse spends her days experiencing the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands doing a job she loves at a deer sanctuary. But when the sanctuary is forced to close, she is offered a job as a wildlife consultant on the vast and isolated estate of the elusive and troubled laird, Charlie Kinnaird. She has no idea that the move will not only irrevocably alter her future, but also bring her face-to-face with her past.

At the estate, she meets Chilly, an elderly Romani man who fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense passed down from her ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home…

In 1912, in the poor Romani community outside the city walls of Granada, Lucía Amaya-Albaycin is born. Destined to be the greatest flamenco dancer of her generation—and named La Candela, due to the inner flame that burns through her when she dances— Lucía is whisked away by her ambitious and talented guitarist father at the tender age of ten to dance in the flamenco bars of Barcelona. Her mother is devastated by the loss of her daughter and as civil war threatens in Spain, tragedy strikes the rest of her family. Now in Madrid, Lucía and her troupe of dancers are forced to flee for their lives, their journey taking them far across the water to South America and eventually, to North America and New York—Lucía’s long-held dream. But to pursue it, she must choose between her passion for her career and the man she adores.

THE MOON SISTER follows these two women bound across time and distance on their journey to discover their true futures—but at the risk of potentially losing the men they had hoped to build futures with.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781982110611

ASIN: B07GS4SYDB

Also by this author: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister, The Pearl Sister

Also in this series: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister, The Pearl Sister


Genres: Adoption & Foster Care, Biographical Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift, Women's Fiction


Published by Atria Books

on 19th February, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 544

Length: 19 hours and 53 minutes (unabridged)

 Published By: Atria ()
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

I *love!* finding videos by authors who love to engage with readers about the inspiration behind their stories – this truly is a wonderful way to find yourself immersed even further into the settings as by catching small glimpses of the characters your reading about – you start to re-align what you’ve read with what they are seeing with their own eyes whilst feeling thankful the author took a very immersive path into the heart of this book series!

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The Seven Sisters Series: of whom are Maia, Ally (Alcyone), Star (Asterope), CeCe (Celeano), Tiggy (Taygete), Electra and Merope – the series is based on the mythology of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades – interestingly enough, this is a constellation in close proximity to Orion*.

The Seven Sisters : Maia’s Story (Book One) | (see also Review)

The Storm Sister : Ally’s Story (Book Two) | (see also Review)

The Shadow Sister : Star’s Story (Book Three) | (see also Review)

The Pearl Sister : CeCe’s Story (Book Four) | (see also Review)

The Moon Sister : Tiggy’s Story (Book Five)

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook, Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #SevenSistersSeries

#whoispasalt ← I advise not visiting the second tag on Twitter as it tends to reveal a few things ahead of reading the stories themselves.

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including Hothouse Flower and The Seven Sisters. Her books have sold more than ten million copies in over 30 languages. Lucinda divides her time between West Cork, Ireland, and Norfolk, England with her husband and four children.

Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 23 February, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Adoption, Ancestry & Genealogy, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Films, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Fathers and Daughters, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, History, Inheritance & Identity, Inspiring Video Related to Content, Life Shift, Modern Day, Orphans & Guardians, Passionate Researcher, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Single Fathers, Sisterhood friendships, Time Shift, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

#HistoricalMondays | Book Review | “The Gift of the Seer” [long awaited sequel to “The Spirit Keeper” (2013)] by K.B. Laugheed

Posted Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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Acquired Book By: In [2013] I was still participating in the Early Reviewer programme via Book Browse wherein I received an ARC for “The Spirit Keeper” – a new Historical Fiction narrative which sought to break boundaries of its genre and which captured me heart and soul as I read it. It was an emotionally gutting read, a historical reckoning of a story and it left me ruminatively curious about what the ‘next’ chapter of this extraordinary character’s life would be in the sequel. 

I decided to write an expanded review on my blog for my own edification after having contributed my Early Reviewer review to Book Browse – it was one of the few times I was able to do this even though there are a few other ARCs I received from Book Browse I’d like to still blog about in the near future which fittingly have more to be said on their behalf from my readerly experience.

Likewise, I also reached out to the author directly shortly after I posted my review in September of 2013; remember dear hearts, I launched my blog live on the 6th of August, 2013 – so this expanded review became one of the first officially celebrated novels of Jorie Loves A Story in the beginning of finding my writerly voice and my bookish presence in the book blogosphere. It pre-dated hosting blog tours and working with publishers, publicists and authors directly.

Although I remained in contact with the author a bit over the years – simply checking the status on the sequel or offering encouraging thoughts on writing it – I don’t consider this a conflict of interest as to be honest, it was not constant contact and we weren’t in contact on a regular basis nor did we touch base each year since 2013.

When I received an email from Ms Laugheed this past December, 2018 – to say I was pleasantly gobsmacked to have heard from her after a long absence of communication is putting it mildly! I was overjoyed – more for her than for me – as she was announcing the sequel was being published! She decided at long last to go the Indie route towards  publication and I was full of joy and happiness for her as this was a very long and dedicated route back to publishing a sequel I believed in as a reader (and there are others like me out there) but of which I wasn’t sure if any of us would get a chance to embrace it in published form.

Thereby, I did not hesitate to respond to her request to accept this new novel for review consideration – the only thing which delayed my entrance into its chapters was my five week Winter virus (from before Christmas to the early weeks of January, 2019) and my three successive migraines (from mid-January to early February). I read this immediately after recovering from my third migraine and was thrilled I could finally attach my mind and heart round the continuing journey of Katie and Hector!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Gift of the Seer” by the author K.B. Laugheed in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Re-visiting “The Spirit Keeper”

My original motivation to read the novel: I wanted to partake in her journey untoward becoming one man’s living vision of ‘a creature of fire and ice’ and to see if they could fulfill each other’s destinies therein. It is such a curious proposition, to be taken by force from one’s own family, and re-positioned into a life, by which, you’re in complete unfamiliar territory, amongst people who speak a different tongue than your own, and by your own wits, have to determine how to survive. I was curious by how she was going to effectively change her life and heart; and to what end she must do so! This felt to me like a piece of Magical Realism wrapped up inside a Historical Fiction, rooted into the conscience of the American Frontier! I was besotted with the plot, and needed to read it to ascertain what the story truly was about! The Spirit Keeper spoke to me, as a book I needed to read rather than merely a book I wanted to read! I listen to my intuition in other words!

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Ms Laugheed advised me to re-read “The Spirit Keeper” ahead of reading “The Gift of the Seer” – what I hadn’t the heart to tell her is my copy of the novel is packed as most of my personal library has been packed for the last four years. I couldn’t sort out which box it is held within if I had a compass as I literally have quite the expansive library being stored right now. This is one key reason why I can’t always re-read the novels I’m reviewing – as I only have a handful of books I’ve reviewed the past few years unpacked and shelved – most of which, are first or seconds in series, awaiting new releases to where I can turn back to and re-read a bit ahead of delving into the next installment. I did have The Spirit Keeper prominently shelved for quite a few years after it was released – it was only recently I had to make the hard choice to pack it away for safe keeping til I can restore my library back to rights.

Therefore, I did what any other book blogger would do in this situation – I borrowed a well-loved copy from my local library and as I re-entered the story, I was quite shocked by what I discovered! I hadn’t forgotten as much as I was expecting, too! I re-read the opening bridge of the novel – re-visiting how Katie was taken from her family, the traumatic transitioning into life with the Spirit Keeper and Hector as much as re-aligning in my mind the era this series is set and the mannerisms of how the story is told. As Ms Laugheed has a very distinctive style of historical story-telling; it is one reason I was hugged so dearly close into the story originally.

Secondly, as I noticed a lot of readerly flashbacks moving through my mind’s eye after that particular re-visitation – I immediately flipped to the last quarter of the novel, resumed as if I hadn’t been absent from this story for :six: long years and re-lived the concluding chapters, as fresh as dew on recently mowed grass. I seriously was re-captured by what was left behind for my eyes and heart to find – thereby, I knew with certainty I was prepared as I ever could be to re-enter Katie and Hector’s world.

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For those of you who might never have had the pleasure of joy reading this novel, let me select a few quotations from my original review – both from what I shared with Book Browse after first reading the ARC and what I expounded upon on Jorie Loves A Story thereafter.

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The inertia of reality that besots you as soon as you enter into the world of The Spirit Keeper, is quite a hard bullet to bite, because before you can wrap your eyes and heart around what your visually aware of, your niched into the story! I credit this to the author, as Laugheed endeavours you to jump straight out of your comfort zone, wholly free-falling into a brutal, raw, and untamed section of the American Frontier in the mid-1700s and take a quest towards unraveling the complexities of building a new life in a foreign land. The thematics that are entrenched in the story parlay an exposition on language, translation, and sense of being. She readily elevates our awareness that our words can draw an impact that is not always aware to us, but like the life paths we are walking, we are not always in charge of their meaning or purpose of use.

I will lament, that if you’re a reader who begs off for lighter faire, you might want to caution yourself, as within Chapter One, the author does not hold back on the grim realities of what it was like in the 1700s when an Indian War Party descended upon a settler’s family.

The beauty of the outside world envelopes you from the jump-start, as the open wilderness is the footing for setting this story outside the reach of our known world. Even for those of us who are akin to the natural environment and the inhabitants therein, there is still so much of that world that is readily just outside our scope, outside our understanding. The Native Americans who are on the forefront of the story, evoke a cultural education into accepting stark differences of living, as much as embracing traditions that hold merit  (such as the menstrual huts for women).

Flickerments of “Medicine Man” (the motion picture) streamed through my mind, as did “Dances with Wolves” (the motion picture), as in each story, those who only spoke English, learnt to adapt and to live amongst the natives by which they found themselves belonging too better than their own kind. I am drawn into stories that attach us to whole new cultures, traditions, religions, and walks of life. Stories that etch into our imaginations a wholly new world, where there are similarities, but otherwise, as we dip into their narratives, we find ourselves in a foreign land, attempting to understand what we cannot yet conceive possible.

An incredible journey of self-preservation, fortitude of spirit, and overwhelming grief: I was not quite prepared for the journey that Katie, Syawa, and Hector embark upon! It wasn’t so much the long distances that they must traverse through rough hewn terrain, but rather, they are each going through a personal, intimate, internal journey concurrent to their outward journey towards the men’s originating homeland! Each is carrying secrets of their own experiences, and in Katie’s instance, her life is muddled and blighted with far more devastation than anyone could ill-afford possible to a seventeen year old young lady!

Her lot in life has been tempered by abuse and misguided notions of love, unto where she has encouraged a naïve sense of the living world, and has grown an ignorance of how right a life can be lived! I grieved for her and bleed emotions with her recollections of past memories,.. memories that were nearly too hard to bare and to ruminatively lay pause upon. It is through Syawa’s gentleness and effective way of easing her out of her shell, that she truly started to see who she was and who she could be. I only wish I could pronounce Syawa’s name, as I feel as guilty she does in her own story, about the misunderstandings that evolve out of not understanding language and meaning of words, phrases, or names outside our own native tongues!

Language & Translation: the Invisible Barriers we never foresee: Laugheed paints a clear window towards our greatest struggle in accepting and understanding each other, as we present ourselves to each other in our conversations! Each inflection of tone, voice, and the words we use to explain ourselves, can lead us down a path of misunderstanding and of misalignment in what we are attempting to represent as our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and passions. Throughout the story, we are seeing the story as a first-hand account of a diary the protagonist is writing to assert her own history back in her life, as she’s amongst those who do not understand the necessity of having a living history or a story to be told of one’s heritage. She values her experiences, her struggles of faith, and the lessons she is ought being taught as she walks forward into her future. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives, but she isn’t going to allow herself to wallow in the situations she could never effectively change, but rather, pull out a strength deep from within her, to carry her through the tribulations that she was certain were still to come.

Whilst she’s (Katie O’ Toole) recounting her days in her diary, I mused about how this differed from the diary of Robinson Crusoe as it contained more of her essence, her internal quagmire of thoughts, and the irrevocable distraught by which she plagued herself with for most of her arduous journey towards Syawa and Hector’s homeland. From the moment I read the opening page, by which the author departed a precognitive knowledge of how the story might transform as you read the words, I was left with a museful pre-occupation of how that would transpire, and further still, of one particular scene that I had presumed was forgotten within the re-writes and draughts, leading up to publication! However, this falls perfectly into this category of observation about ‘language and translation’, about how what we first perceive to be just and truth, can altogether change and alter, either by the different perception we’ve learnt through experience OR through reading a book that is quite unlike another! This book truly lives up to the proportions of what Laugheed mentions at the start gate: the words transcend their own meaning as you etch closer to the ending, the whole of the story is much larger than the sum of the parts as they are revealed!

In this way,  she is giving each of us to turn on our heels, the gross misconception of how we drink in words, knowledge, and observational data. The reader is very much at the heart of this story, and I think, is as central as Katie’s voice in re-telling her own history. What is humbling too, is how as our knowledge expands, the words that were once lost on us, as being completely irreverent suddenly take on new meanings, as they now evoke an ’emotion’, a ‘resolution’, or a ‘truth’ we did not understand previously. An Irish girl cast out into the wilderness of the wild frontier, with two Indian’s as her sole guides and protectors, makes for a curious precept initially, but it’s how they interact with each other, during the everyday hours, that Laugheed excels in not disappointing her reader! She never makes their interactions dull or predictable, because she has woven their personalities into the core of how they interact with each other! You pick up little character traits that come to play a larger part of the story as it threads through its climax, but inside these key portals of frontier life in campsites and canoes, you start to see how its possible to thread a new life together out of the ashes of the old! In this way, I was quietly savouring each exchange between the threesome, curious how they would come to depend on each other, and how they would draw strength by each others’ presence.

The art of story-telling plays a center part of The Spirit Keeper’s heart, but it’s the transformative power of understanding the words that are imparted throughout the story, that turn everything into a new light once the conclusion arrives. What the reader first mistook as a course of events, was truly a resounding precognitive journey that guided two characters forward into a future they would not have been strong enough to embrace otherwise. It’s the redemptive nature of grasping a hold of the essence of those who pass forward and away from our living world that is truly the most remarkable arc of the story! For we all have the ability to be a keeper of a spirit whose touched us deeply and left us remorseful for their presence! We only need the strength to transcend our perception and view our experiences from a different angle to see how the threads stitch together the pattern of our living tapestry!

An environmental conscience: Is cleverly hidden within the context of the story, but is one of the inclusions that I found to be the most illuminating to see!! I oft have found myself the most happiest amongst the trees, rivers, lakes, streams, and out-of-door hideaways that only a person can walk to find! Nature’s door is ever beckoning us to re-enter that sacred space between the natural world and the world by which we live as men. We are drawn towards nature as keenly as we are attached to water as a source of lifeblood, but it isn’t always an easy attachment to maintain, when the hectic nature of our lifestyles can circumvent our efforts to keep our hearts and souls aligned with the seasons and timescape of the natural world just past our windows! Laugheed draws a breath of vitality into the forest, where you can nearly hear the echoings of the trees, the rushing power of the rivers, and the harmonious tickings of the inhabitants therein. I appreciated that the animals that were killed in the book were used for what they could give back to the ones who fell them. I always respected this aspect of Native American beliefs, as they take what they need and only what they can use, at the time they go hunting. It’s a beautiful circle of life, as nothing is wasted and everything is respected. She wants you to see the beauty past what you expect to find whilst out in the deep woods, as the forest plays a fourth character or rather, that of a narrator that has not yet found its voice.

-quoted from my review of The Spirit Keeper

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#HistoricalMondays | Book Review | “The Gift of the Seer” [long awaited sequel to “The Spirit Keeper” (2013)] by K.B. LaugheedThe Gift of the Seer
by K.B. Laugheed
Source: Direct from Author

Katie O' Toole's epic adventure began in "The Spirit Keeper" (Plume 2013) when she was rescued from a 1747 frontier massacre only to find herself chosen as the "Spirit Keeper" of a dying Indian seer. She hesitated to accept this mysterious obligation until she fell in love with the Seer's bodyguard, an Indian man she called Hector.

Much has happened since my last writing,..

In The Gift of the Seer, Katie and Hector continue their journey across the continent, but the more Katie learns about the peculiar ways of her husband's people, the more she dreads arriving at their destination. Will anyone believe she is the Spirit Keeper she pretends to be? Equally troubling, Katie knows the Seer expected her to prove his Vision - a Vision which foretold of infinite Invaders coming to his world - but to prove this prophecy, she must give his people the great Gift he also predicted. The only problem is that Katie has no gift to give.

Years pass as she desperately searches for a way to fulfill her promise to the dead Seer, but when his former rival threatens to expose her as a fraud, Katie finally understands that her life and the life of all the people in her new world hang in the balance. That's when she knows she must give a Gift - she must - before it is too late.

Did you honestly think you could get so much and give nothing in return?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732886216

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Native American Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Women's Studies


Published by Self Published Author

on 7th January, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 372

the spirit keeper duology:

The Spirit keeper & the gift of the seer

This is a Self-Published novel

Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Ebook

Converse on Twitter: #GiftOfTheSeer, #TheSpiritKeeper Sequel + #KBLaugheed
as well as #HistNov + #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic

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About K.B. Laugheed

The Gift of the Seer by K.B. Laugheed

K.B. Laugheed is an organic gardener and master naturalist who wrote her first published novel, The Spirit Keeper, as part penance for the sins of her family’s pioneer past, part tribute to all our ancestors, and part grandiose delusion as she hopes to remind modern Americans of the grim price we paid for the glorious life we take for granted today.

But The Spirit Keeper is not a story about guilt. It’s about gratitude.

The Gift of the Seer is officially available worldwide as it was published on the 7th of January, 2019.

To support the author directly, kindly consider purchasing her novels through her online store.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, #JorieLovesIndies, 18th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Browse, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Colonial America, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Cultural Heritage, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Diary Accountment of Life, Domestic Violence, Early Colonial America, Environmental Conscience, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, First Impressions, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Folklore, Genre-bender, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, History, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Loss of an unbourne child, Magical Realism, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Midwives & Childbirth, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Native American Fiction, Native American Spirituality, Old World Arts & Crafts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Psychological Abuse, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Social Change, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Story in Diary-Style Format, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, The American Frontier, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Unexpected Pregnancy, Vulgarity in Literature, Wilderness Adventures, Women's Health