Category: Indie Book Trade

#SaturdaysAreBookish Audiobook Review | “Jesse’s Girl” by Tara September, narrated by Verla Bond

Posted Saturday, 19 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Starting in August 2020, I started hosting for Random Things Tours as a new book blogger working with them to either review and/or host guest author features on behalf of their authors. I was thankful to join their book blogger team and look forward to joining the tours which are highlighting the stories I actively enjoy reading and discovering. I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Jesse’s Girl” from Random Things Tours in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why “Jesse’s Girl” felt like a good fit for a Contemporary Romance:

I love second chance romances and stories of redemption – I have a preference for slow burning romances and getting the chance to have a new relationship repair the angst of a past relationship which seemed to be the case with ‘Jesse’s Girl’ as Gwen was finding her life completely erased from the life she had with Jesse once Jesse left her and his daughter for a fling with a colleague.

What appealled to me the most was the shortness of the story itself – as this was an audiobook under five hours and I felt that was a good length for me at this time to listen too. The shorter audiobooks are fast becoming my new ‘favourites’ and when it comes to Contemporary Romances, I am still navigating the genre to root out who my new favourite voices are for this genre. Having said all that, as you will see on my review, I reached a point in the narration where I could not move forward and what I had hoped to have found in the story was not quite the experience I was given. Despite that, I have some strong observations to relate to my readers who can hopefully discern if this is a romance better fitted to them and their readerly habits.

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#SaturdaysAreBookish Audiobook Review | “Jesse’s Girl” by Tara September, narrated by Verla BondJesse's Girl
by Tara September
Source: Direct from Author via Random Things Tours
Narrator: Verla Bond

“I wish that I had Jesse’s Girl”

Successful Texas lawyer, Reade Walker, curses that damn song every time it plays, all too aware of the irony of its lyrics. After all, he has been secretly and painfully enamored with Jesse’s girl, Gwen, for nearly a decade. It was love at first sight for him, but sadly she’s not his girl. She belongs to the one man who betrayed him and knows Reade’s hidden family secret. Yet Reade can’t seem to love anyone except the one woman he can't have. Or can he make her mine?

When Gwen Clark’s senator husband runs off with his intern and all their money, the ensuing scandal turns her life upside down. Deserted, penniless and desperate to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Gwen has no one to turn to but Reade Walker. The one man her heart desperately wants, but her pride dreads having to ask for help. Despite welcoming them into his home, it seems like Reade can barely stand being in the same room with her anymore, let alone under the same roof—in the same bedroom. But Gwen is determined to get her life back on track. It is past time to rediscover her own dreams…if only she can keep her aching heart from breaking all over again.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy (Rom Com), Short Story or Novella


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Heat Factor for Romance
three-flames

ISBN: 9781093176131

ASIN: B07XBWTWNJ

Published by Plus It Up

on 6th September, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 3 hours and 37 minutes (unabridged)

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Published by: Plus It Up

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #RomCom or #Romance and #JessesGirl
as well as #audioreads, #audiobook or #loveaudiobooks

About Tara September

Blogger and former PR executive for The Walt Disney Company, Tara holds a Master’s degree in journalism & communications from New York University. She also spent a semester abroad during her undergrad at Queen Mary University in London. For over a decade before publishing, Tara has penned a popular lifestyle, travel and parenting blog at TaraMetBlog.com.

Always an avid romance reader, she has been daydreaming about being an author since school. Dozens of bad dates, four cities and adventures later, she still finds it impossible that she met her husband on a New York City subway. They now live in sunny Florida with identical twin boys and four cats underfoot/on her laptop/everywhere. Fueled by an IV of green tea and sometimes Champagne, she's finally writing the happily ever after tales she's been dreaming about.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 19 September, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Audiobook, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Random Things Tours, Romance Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Vulgarity in Literature

An #EnterTheFantastic Book Spotlight with Notes + Extract | featuring “Tree Magic” (Tree Magic series, Book One) by Harriet Springbett

Posted Monday, 14 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 7 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I have had a firm attachment to the natural world ever since I was a young girl – growing up with a fascination and wonderment about nature, wildlife and especially of trees! This is why when I first saw this blog tour being announced, I was super giddy about participating on the tour because any writer who can celebrate and champion the natural world in a pro-positive way is an author I would love to feature on Jorie Loves A Story!

I could immediately connect with the premise with this novel which is why I am trying to seek out a copy of this in print through my local library – there is something quite magical about how trees are the guardians within the natural habitats we visit whilst hiking or walking in natural landscapes; they know things and they remember everything. This is partially why it is soul-crushing whenever there are huge wildfire seasons like the ones that are affecting the Western United States right now and/or the fires in Australia at the turning of the New Year. Nature grieves for the losses those fires bring to those habitats but I oft felt the trees especially are full of the grief of what could not be protected and what fell at their feet due to how the forests have not been able to withstand fire as they had in the past. I still remember hearing about the old growth forests of the Redwoods recently and of how achingly hard it was to see them aflame.

I have regularly spoken about the natural world on Jorie Loves A Story – from the stories I am reading to the context of the stories which seek to bring an ecological mindset and heart for conservation onto my blog because I believe strongly those stories are necessary for today’s world. Not just due to the climatic changes we’re all experiencing but to help re-connect readers with the knowledge about the natural ecosystems they might overlook and not be as familiar with as I have become myself. Knowledge is the first step towards change and to remain connected to the connectivity of how the natural world and our world intersect is one step closer to finding better balance in how to keep Earth a healthier place.

Today, I am wicked thankful I can bring you a short extract from “Tree Magic” whilst I am also supporting the author again in October with an interview when “Tree Slayer” the sequel to this lovely novel goes on tour. I look forward to conversing with you then about the series whilst today serves a preview of how the series begins! If you love fantastical stories featuring Magical Realism plots and the curious connections between nature and humans, I think this might be a good fit for you as a reader as I feel it is for myself.

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An #EnterTheFantastic Book Spotlight with Notes + Extract | featuring “Tree Magic” (Tree Magic series, Book One) by Harriet SpringbettTree Magic
by Harriet Springbett
Source: Chapter Sampler

Thirteen-year-old Rainbow discovers she can communicate with trees.

But that’s just the beginning. Her magic hands can shape trees at her will, but her gift is dangerous and has fatal consequences. An accident that leaves Rainbow unconscious leads her mother to make a confession that will change Rainbow’s life forever. Are her abilities a gift or a curse? Can Rainbow really trust her mother? From England to France, through secrets, fears and parallel worlds, Rainbow’s journey to understand her powers takes her beyond everything she’s ever known.

To find the truth, she must also find herself.

Genres: Magical Realism, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-911293-63-7

ASIN: B087MCBT53

Published by Impress Books

on 11th August, 2020

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

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Published by:

Available Formats: Trade Paperback* and Ebook

NOTE: Although this title was released into print, I am having trouble sourcing where it is currently available to be purchased as it is listed as being out of stock. However, I am going to try to source this through my local library’s ILL services – perhaps through inter-library loan I can fetch a copy? This is being newly released digitally and the pub date reflected is for the ebook.

Further Enquiries: I was thankful the author updated me on the new ISBN for the print edition of this novel – I’ve updated the listing for this post to reflect the ISBN for the August 2020 print edition of “Tree Magic” – however, the only bookstore online I can find this listed on is Book Depository. Thereby it is still a bit harder for me to source and I am going to try to get this either by way of the older edition via ILL at my local library or hopefully through a new purchase request through one of my regional libraries. I shall keep my readers updated on my progress. The link for LibraryThing has been updated to reflect the new ISBN however I left WorldCat’s link to route to the older edition in case other readers like me need to seek the book through inter-library loans.

Converse via: #YALit, #Trees and #Magic, #MagicalRealism, #YAFantasy
as well as #LoveBooksTours & #TreeMagic

About Harriet Springbett

Harriet Springbett

Harriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.

She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.

Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.

Harriet leads writing workshops, has judged the Segora international short story competition.

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Posted Monday, 14 September, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Love Books Tours, Magical Realism, Young Adult Fiction

An Audiobook Review during #RIPXV | “A Lock of Hair” by A. Rose Pritchett, narrated by Melanie Huesz

Posted Saturday, 12 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 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, knitting and playing solitaire agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I 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 Audiobookworm Promotions, 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. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue wherein I can also request new digital audiobooks to become added to their OverDrive selections. Aside from OverDrive I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I have been able to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year since 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “A Lock of Hair” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with A. Rose Pritchett on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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A Q&A with the author A. Rose Pritchett

I would normally compile questions for an author to respond to whilst hosting a blog tour, however due to the amount of personal stress & adverse medical emergencies in my family recently, I honestly had forgotten to submit questions to Ms Pritchett. Thereby, I chose a selection of the questions she responded to which were based on questions Ms Jess asked herself as I found her replies to fit in-line with topics I would have broached myself if I had had the chance to ask her questions of my own.

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Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

Pritchett responds: When I first published my book a year ago, I knew I wanted to turn it into an audiobook, but didn’t know how to go about it. It seemed expensive and I already invested so much into editing and publishing. Then, after some research, I discovered that ACX has a royalty-share program, which means that I pay nothing upfront, but just split my royalties with the narrator. I auditioned a few narrators, and ended up choosing Melanie Huesz because she gave each character a unique voice, which I knew was a major challenge. After all, there are characters from Boston, Ireland and the South. Some are young, some are old, and one has Down Syndrome. After a couple months of back-and-forth, we got an audiobook produced.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

Pritchett responds: Mildred’s dog, Nightshade, is inspired by my dog, Isabel. Even though they’re different breeds, Nightshade acts a lot like Isabel. Also, I took a Meyers-Briggs test from Mildred’s POV for the heck of it, and she’s an INFJ like me, so there’s that.

How do you manage to avoid burn-out?
What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

Pritchett responds: Contrary to popular advice, I don’t write every day. A lot of times, I’ll switch my focus to one of my many, many hobbies. In fact, part of my routine on days that I write is to take a break to draw or cross stitch, just to be away from the screen. I also allow myself to take “lazy days”, which are days (usually Sunday) where I just do nothing at all except watch cheesy movies and play Sims. It gives my mind a rest so that I’m not half-dead the next time I stare at the little blinking line on the blank screen.

What’s next for you?

Pritchett responds: I have a completed draft of my second book set during WW2 that I’m trying to get published, and I’m currently working on my third book, which is a fantasy that I’m really in love with. I’ve also dabbled in screenplay writing, with a pilot for a miniseries inspired by my childhood growing up in the restaurant industry and a script that I’m working on-and-off based on my experiences going from my preppy middle school to my arts high school (total culture shock!). All of my works have the same snarkiness that A Lock of Hair has.

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An Audiobook Review during #RIPXV  | “A Lock of Hair” by A. Rose Pritchett, narrated by Melanie HueszA Lock of Hair
by A. Rose Pritchett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Melanie Huesz

Boston, 1846. Eighteen-year-old Mildred Parish, a barber's daughter, practices practical witchcraft using locks of hair obtained from her father's customers. She's very selective about who knows her secret and the kinds of spells she casts. Only people she trusts can know, and she must never cast a spell to harm another person.

One of her father's clients is Theodore O'Brian, an Irish immigrant whose family is fortunate enough to be wealthy. Mildred is head over heels in love with him, but he's destined to be with someone else. One day, a woman named Trinity Hartell comes knocking on Mildred's door. She has a vendetta against an entire family and wants Mildred to cast a death spell on them. The family? The O'Brians, including Theodore. Mildred refuses, but Trinity is set on getting what she wants, one way or another.

Mildred now feels she must protect the O'Brian family and the man she loves, but she must also protect herself. How can she make sure Trinity is stopped without telling the entire city of Boston that she's a witch?

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


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B089YD7759

Published by Self Published

on 11th June, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours and 7 minutes (unabridged)

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Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #AudioReads, #Audiobook and #AudiobookwormPromotions

as well as #HistoricalFiction and/or #HistFic

About A. Rose Pritchett

A. Rose Pritchett

A. Rose Pritchett's writing career started in kindergarten when she daydreamed about being a fairy princess instead of learning subtraction. Her childhood obsession with American Girl turned her into an avid history lover.

At seventeen, she moved from her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, where she earned her BA in writing with a history minor from Georgia Southern University. She continues to live in Savannah, still daydreaming about princesses wearing gorgeous dresses. A LOCK OF HAIR is her debut novel.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 12 September, 2020 by jorielov in 17th Century, African-American History, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Boston, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Down Syndrome, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, History, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Special Needs Children

#WaitingOnWednesday No. XI | Celebrating the news of the next “Ella Shane Mystery!” whilst reading and listening to the first novel!

Posted Wednesday, 9 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

a word about ‘waiting on Wednesday’:

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

I have decided to start participating in this book blogosphere meme with a few small changes of how it’s regularly blogged about by my fellow book bloggers. I will either be introducing my current reads of upcoming releases as I am in the process of reading them and/or I might be releasing a book review about a forthcoming title by which I had been blessed to read ahead of publication. The main purpose behind the meme is to encourage readers and your fellow book bloggers to become aware of new books being released which caught your eye and which held your interest to read. Sometimes if your still in the process of reading the books, its the titles which encouraged your bookish heart. I look forward to spending the next seasons of the year, talking about the books I have on hand to read, the books I’ve been reading and the books I might not even have a copy to read but which are of wicked sweet interest to become a #nextread of mine.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I am wicked thankful to bring news about a sequel for a series I am still wickedly absorbing through the first installment wherein I have the most delightful joy in both reading the story and listening to the narrator narrate it in my ears! However, I am getting a bit ahead of myself! Let me first explain how this series [the Ella Shane Mysteries] came to alight on my bookish path and how delighted I am to be championing the author behind them as I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her better in the weeks & months since she first guested on my @SatBookChat!

Ms Kalb sought me out to be a guest on my bookish chat which celebrates Romance & Women’s Fiction (how I founded the chat) whilst throughout 2020 I have expanded on our roots to now become inclusive of all genres which represent strong female characters and/or Feminist Lit. It is a merger of change which better represents the stories I am most intrigued to be reading myself a a reader whilst continuing to offer a bridge of focus between my blog Jorie Loves A Story and my chat @SatBookChat. The reviews are generally featured during my #SaturdaysAreBookish featured showcases running on Saturdays but sometimes if I fall behind schedule, they are re-funnelled into other showcases I have such as #RomanceTuesdays and/or #HistoricalMondays depending on the genre in which the stories represent within them.

I was so dearly thankful Ms Kalb had found my chat and wanted to become a guest – as most of this past year of 2020, the chat itself has been organically knitting itself together with guest authors & stories to discuss as it was one year where I had intented to give it my all to help grow the chat and also help re-direct it further from where I had regenerated it in Autumn, 2019. This year just felt a bit more oppressive than others personally and having authors step forward to query me about the chat was an unexpected blessing of grace and it allowed me to continue hosting without feeling the guilt of not being able to send as many queries out myself.

What struck my interest about this Cosy Historical Mystery series is how it takes place in the world of theatre and is set during the 19th Century Gilded Age! A place in history that I am most curious about exploring further and one I do not always get the chance to read about myself. As you will see, I am already fully anchoured into the story and the narration by Ms Bentley for this first novel – I am hopeful she will be the narrator for the sequel but I haven’t heard the news about whose narrating book two as of yet.

Today, I wanted to help shine a light on this series and also to give a few early glimpses into my reactions to reading “A Fatal Finale” whilst championing the announced release of the sequel “A Fatal First Night”!! If you haven’t seen this series on your Cosy Historical Mystery radar – be sure to follow the links to the archives of #SatBookChat, as we happily discussed the series and the author’s style of writing it in full detail.

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Posted Wednesday, 9 September, 2020 by jorielov in Book Spotlight, Bookish Memes, Indie Author, Waiting on Wednesday

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

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

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My reactions to reading Kathleen Shoop:

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

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

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

-quoted from my review of After the Fog

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

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

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

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

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

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

-quoted from my review of The Strongman and the Mermaid

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

For everyone who hopes to find the perfect match…

1875 Des Moines, Iowa

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

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

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

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


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1708629236

Also by this author: The Strongman and the Mermaid

Published by Self Published

on 3rd December, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 172

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The Letter series:

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

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

The Last Letter (book one)

The Road Home (book two)

The Kitchen Mistress (book three)

The Thief’s Heart (book four)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and ebook

About Kathleen Shoop

Kathleen Shoop

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

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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