Category: Indie Book Trade

#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “Hers to Protect” (Book No.11 of the Shores of Indian Lake series) by Catherine Lanigan

Posted Wednesday, 22 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.

I received a complimentary copy of “Hers to Protect” direct from the author Catherine Lanigan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this story & continue with the series itself:

After reading the ninth and tenth story in the Shores of Indian Lake, I knew I wanted to back-read the rest of the series except of course, my path back inside the series has taken a few detours! I did manage to acquire a second-hand copy of Sophie’s Path – however, after multiple migraines this May coupled with the adversities within March and April – you could say, I decided to ‘push-off’ reading through the series as in effect I wouldn’t have time to borrow the books from my libraries. I believe most of the series is going to be available through inter-library loans vs being to borrow them locally (though I could be surprised!) which is why I need to begin this when I have a few months between the releases rather than the month a new one appears.

I truly love tucking back inside Indian Lake – I have come to love the Contemporary Romantic style Ms Lanigan infuses into her stories and each new visit I have within the series is a happy homecoming! It has become one of my favourite Harlequin Heartwarming series and I am truly blessed to be in a position to continue reading this series per each new book which goes on tour with PRISM.

If you read the previous reviews I’ve shared on behalf of Indian Lake you’ll find out what continues to draw my eye into the stories within the series itself but also, what I am appreciating about how Ms Lanigan chooses to write them. Contemporaries used to be a hard-won battle to find authors who are writing the stories I love to read – with Harlequin Heartwarming & #LoveINSPIRED Suspense – I am finding more novelists now who understand the readers like me who are seeking relationship-based romances whilst giving us a firm grounding of reality within a world which is a mirror composite of our own. It is a lovely discovery as previously I felt I could only find these kinds of stories within the INSPY side of the Romance market due to a lot of hit/miss results within the mainstream.

The beauty really are the authors Harlequin has within Heartwarming and Love Inspired – they know how to write the drama within the romance but also how to write compelling series with realistic characters & narratives which are a joy to be reading. I get quite giddy whenever there is a new author to read from Heartwarming or Love Inspired – whilst having the chance to participate on one of their blog tours is quite icing on the romantic cake! I love celebrating authors who are writing the STORIES which give me a heart full of blissitude to be #amreading – thus, for the past two years I’ve been hosting PRISM’s blog tours, I’ve been doubly blessed to become acquainted with the Heartwarming imprint and their series!

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Before I begin sharing my thoughts on this 11th installment,
let’s look back and re-visit what drew me into the style
and heart of Ms Lanigan’s writings:

Fire waits for no man. Neither does Ms Lanigan waste time settling us into the scene where a fire is slowly arching its way towards Beatrice and her youth camp. You feel as if you’ve travelled straight into the fire itself – seeing what Beatrice and her staff are seeing, dampening down your fears, swallowing your anxiety and acting on instinct to protect the children. In other words, Lanigan knits you so close to the reality of how fast a fire can erupt out of nowhere, you do not have time to pause to think about the implications because you feel as if she’s placed you squarely into Beatrice’s shoes and are living this nightmare in real-time.

The quickening pace to outwit a fire is quite real – you don’t have to rely on television series or films to know how dangerous a fire can become. Anyone who lives near a forest (which is let’s face it nearly most of us!) to any degree of acres knows how dire it is for rangers and keepers of the forest to maintain the vegetation and undergrowth during the dry seasons where moisture is absent and lightning is a devil’s wand of chaos which ignites within seconds of a strike. Though in truth, even controlled burns give my heart and chest a flutter of anxiety – if the wind were to shift or the burn itself were to outgrow its perimeter, whose to say what would become of the fire line?

Your heart goes out to Beatrice – she made a singular act of courage take on the higher proportions of risk associated with a fire when she made a desperate sprint into the forest where trees were exploding, pine cones were melting and two young boys were lost in the smoke and mayhem of the fire! I was drinking in the words at such a fast clip by that point, I had to slow down just to understand what was going to happen next! You really feel like your heart is in the fire, wondering how Beatrice and the boys can emerge alive and also, what the after effects of surviving the fire will have on her and them long term. Mostly though – your nerves are frayed and your emotionally connected to the story in such a way, you don’t dare pause longer than it takes to catch your breath!

By the time the fire is smoldering itself out of its fury, your still catching up to the fact Rand found Chris and Beatrice was in the ER nursing a badly broken foot! What you did notice though is Rand was able to get through to Chris in a way the camp counselors hadn’t and with that revelation, he knew Chris had a secret. The kind of secret I’d suspect no fireman wanted to keep for long and then, of course leads into a lovely foreshadow of what is yet to come – I liked how the layers were set early-on, how Lanigan gives you a glimpse of where she wants this story to go direction wise but holds back some of the key bits as well. She wants you to wait it out and see how it unfolds – taking it gently and allowing you to understand her characters without prejudgement.

As soon as you dig into Rescued by the Firefighter you almost think your reading a #LoveINSPIRED Suspense novel due to the wicked pacing, the high octane suspense (fire is never static nor predictable!) and the cleverness of how we’re inserted into the horrors of a raging wildfire! I literally felt at one point I would wheeze on the smoke!

I warmed to Rand quite quickly – he was frustrated by finding a child who hadn’t wanted his help nor his attention but there was something else in that moment of reckoning he spent with Chris. A murmur of a memory – a reflection of something he wasn’t quite explaining outright and it gave me the idea that Rand himself had either a past he didn’t want to talk about openly or he knew someone who had a past similar to Chris. It is interesting how those threads knit together – how two people are meant to meet and why their meant to be in each others lives; if only for a brief period of time.

-quoted from my review of Rescued by the Firefighter

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#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “Hers to Protect” (Book No.11 of the Shores of Indian Lake series) by Catherine LaniganHers to Protect
Subtitle: Shores of Indian Lake
by Catherine Lanigan
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

She’s sworn to protect…

But does that include a speeding celebrity?

Violet Hawks is a by-the-books police officer—so when she catches a man speeding, she arrests him. Only, the man is famous race car driver Josh Stevens. To make amends, Josh launches a charm campaign, and it works on the small town…and on Violet. But when Josh is connected to an investigation, Violet begins to wonder—can she trust her instincts when her heart is involved?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335510662

Also by this author: His Baby Dilemma, Rescued by the Firefighter

Also in this series: His Baby Dilemma, Rescued by the Firefighter


Genres: Contemporary Romance, Police Procedural, Romance Fiction


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 7th May, 2019

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Pages: 384

The Shores of Indian Lake series:

Shores of Indian Lake series collage provided by Prism Book Tours

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Previously I’ve read the following in the series:

His Baby Dilemma (book nine) | see also Review

Rescued by the Firefighter (book ten) | see also Review

(*) I’ve acquired a copy of “Sophie’s Path” to be read in conjunction with borrowing the rest of the series via inter-library loan

Note: Home for Christmas → forthcoming 12th novel this November!

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books

Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook

*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions
which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.

Converse via: #ShoresOfIndianLake and #HarlequinHeartwarming

About Catherine Lanigan

Catherine Lanigan

Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of forty published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, as well as over half a dozen anthologies, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living your Dream”, “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”, and more.

Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into dozens of languages including German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Ms. Lanigan’s novels are also available in E-books on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, Apple Store, Mobi and Kobo. Several of her titles have been chosen for The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Her Vietnam war-based novel, The Christmas Star, won the Gold Medal Award Top Pick from Romantic Times Magazine and has also won Book of the Year Romance Gold Award from ForeWord Magazine as well as Book of the Year Romance from Reader’s Preference.

Lanigan is the author of a trilogy of non- fiction books regarding angelic intervention in human life: Angel Watch, Divine Nudges and Angel Tales published by HCI and Cedar Fort. Skyhorse published Lanigan’s “how-to” book on writing: Writing the Great American Romance Novel. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid Foundation to write a non-fiction book addressing teen addictions. Ms. Lanigan’s first Young Adult adventure novel, The Adventures of Lillie and Zane: The Golden Flute, was published by Cedar Fort.

Currently, she has published eight novels in the Shores of Indian Lake series for Harlequin Heartwarming: Love Shadows, Heart’s Desire, A Fine Year for Love, Katia’s Promise, Fear of Falling, Sophie’s Path and Protecting the Single Mom. Family of His Own pubs July, 2016. She has recently contracted for one more in the series: His Baby Dilemma.

As a cancer survivor, Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books.

She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. (THE EVOLVING WOMAN). She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 22 May, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Contemporary Romance, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Foster Care, Indie Author, Modern Day, Orphans & Guardians, Police Procedural, Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Social Services

A Paranormal Suspense #Audiobook Spotlight during #WyrdAndWonder | “The Haunting of Hillwood Farm” by Kathryn Knight, narrated by Kristin James

Posted Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “The Haunting of Hillwood Farm” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with Sara Pascoe on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

What inspired me to listen to this audiobook:

I love watching Paranormal Suspense stories on television whilst I also have a healthy appetite for them in fiction. Series like “Ghost Whisperer” have such a layered effect of bridging the paranormal into our contemporary & modern world with a healthy effect of keeping the unseen world spilt & splintered from our view in the foreground of the stories.

It is a curious thought to recognise that not everything can be readily explained – that there are things which can seek to do harm which go unseen from most who never are aware of anything amiss. And, this story felt like it was walking between those concepts – as it is a ghost story with an unforeseen foe and you have to determine as you listen to the story – was this a benign presence or one who had malicious intentions?

I wanted to seek out the paranormal during #WyrdAndWonder – as during this 2nd Year, although I’m predominately focusing on traditional Fantasy, there are aspects within Fantasy such as Magical Realism, Paranormal Suspense & Witchy story-lines which hug closer to Fantasy than they do other sub-niches of Speculative Fiction. Therefore, as I sought out my reading list for the month, I decided to cast a bit of a wider net this year and see which of the stories I was going to pursue would become the reads I could not put down.

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A Paranormal Suspense #Audiobook Spotlight during #WyrdAndWonder | “The Haunting of Hillwood Farm” by Kathryn Knight, narrated by Kristin JamesThe Haunting of Hillwood Farm
by Kathryn Knight
Narrator: Kristin James

After tragedy strikes, Callie Sinclair is left with a gift she never wanted - the ability to communicate with ghosts. But when a desperate widow begs for her help, she reluctantly agrees to investigate the strange occurrences at Hillwood Farm. She quickly realizes she’s dealing with a dangerous presence beyond anything she’s ever experienced, and something else becomes equally clear - the only other living person in the house, Mrs. Turner’s handsome grandson, thinks she’s a scam artist. While she’d prefer to just ignore him, her heart beats a little faster every time he’s nearby.

Luke Turner doesn’t believe in spirits. He’s moved back to restore the family farm, but living on the property serves a dual purpose - he can watch out for his grandmother. He’s not happy about the sudden appearance of a self-described psychic, or his inexplicable attraction to her. His initial suspicions crumble as evidence points to an actual haunting, but he’s still determined not to fall for Callie - the past has taught him it’s best to avoid relationships.

As Callie is drawn deeper into the mystery, she becomes the target of a vengeful spirit, and Luke can no longer fight his feelings for her. Unable to resist their desire, passion ignites…even as the paranormal activity escalates to a final deadly confrontation.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07QMZNFCZ

Genres: Ghost Story, Gothic Literature, Paranormal Suspense


Published by Self Published Author

on 15th April, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 5 hours and 18 minutes (unabridged)

This is a self-published audiobook.

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #TheHauntingOfHillwoodFarm + #AudioReads, #Audiobook

OR #Paranormal, #ParanormalSuspense and #WyrdAndWonder

About Kathryn Knight

Kathryn Knight

Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense.

Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love. Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble Bestsellers and RomCon Reader-Rated picks.

When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching fitness classes. She lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets.

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Posted Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Good vs. Evil, Gothic Literature, Gothic Mystery, Haunting & Ethereal, Indie Author, Mediums & Clairvoyants, Mental Health, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Urban Fantasy

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.

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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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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