Category: Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction

Book Review | “A Woman of Note” by Carol M. Cram

Posted Thursday, 15 October, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am becoming a regular tour hostess and reviewer for BookSparks, as I began to host for them in the Spring ahead of #SRC2015. I am posting my Summer Challenge reviews during October and November due to the aftereffects of severe lightning storms during July and August. As I make amends for the challenge reads I was unable to post until Autumn; I am also catching up with my YA challenge reads and the blog tours I missed as well. This blog tour marks one of the books I felt curious to read independent of the previous selections. I look forward to continuing to work with BookSparks once I am fully current with the stories I am reading for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Woman of Note” direct from the publicist at BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title stood out to me to read:

I personally grew up listening to classical music – either by vinyl records my family had collected or live in person at symphonies and musical concerts. I was instantly drawn to the verbosity of the classical composers and the emotionally keen insight their chords of choice drew out of their compositions. There is an eloquence and a hidden language to classical music – it’s so very evoking of thought and feeling it’s hard to listen to a piece and not become moved by the experience.

I’ve had my eye on Indie Writers for awhile now, and being a book blogger I try to seek out hosting an independently published author whenever a chance presents itself. I must admit, I was a bit surprised Lake Union Publishing is attached to a particular online giant, but it’s the stories the authors are telling which has given me the chance to celebrate their novels. For this reason, I am thankful I found Catherine Ryan Hyde’s The Language of Hoofbeats about a blended family of at-risk foster children who find a safe haven after placement and adoption. (review) And, quite surprised to find the heart-warming historical tale of The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty where I was caught up inside a beautiful horse drama. (review) Sometimes the best stories are the ones which unexpected alight in your hands to read!

And, yet this isn’t my first musical fiction story I’ve ruminated about as I have started to find a secret niche of stories emerging of late where music is centered into the heart of the novel. Imagine my joy in being able to travel through the different centuries and imaginations of the writers who are bringing music into a literary showcase?

You can happily view my other thoughts on behalf of the following stories, where I reveal a few more tidbits about my own appreciation and passion for the musical arts:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Note on the Cover Art: I felt the portrait of Isabette on the cover was quite a clever one to be showcased because it showed her passion for her artistry. It has a very touching simplicity to it and reflects well the century in which the story is taking place. I liked the little details of the rose on her dress to the crimson colour of her outfit to the bracelets she’s wearing. It gives a small impression of the character’s personality whilst clearing stating how keenly important music was to her as it was her soul’s passion.

Book Review | “A Woman of Note” by Carol M. CramA Woman of Note
by Carol M. Cram
Source: Publicist via BookSparks

Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and Josef Hauser, an ambitious young composer. But even they cannot fully comprehend the depths of Isabette’s talent.

Her ambitions come with a price when Isabette embarks on a journey that delicately walks the line between duty and passion. Amid heartbreak and sacrifice, music remains her one constant. With cameos from classical music figures such as Chopin, Schubert, and Berlioz, A Woman of Note is an intricately crafted and fascinating tale about one woman’s struggle to find her soul’s song in a dissonant world.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781503946835

Also by this author: Author Q&A with Carol M. Cram

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


Published by Lake Union Publishing

on 8th September 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 358

Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, and Ebook

About Carol M. Cram

Carol M. Cram

Before her debut as a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction, Carol M. Cram wrote dozens of bestselling college textbooks for courses in computer applications and communications. She served on the faculty at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada, for more than two decades and facilitated workshops for corporate and government clients in her role as vice president of Clear Communication Consultants. Carol holds a master’s degree in drama from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in business administration from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She lives on Bowen Island near Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, painter Gregg Simpson.

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Posted Thursday, 15 October, 2015 by jorielov in 19th Century, Austria, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, BookSparks, Coming-Of Age, Composer, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Mental Health, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Psychiatric Facilities, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca Rotert

Posted Thursday, 30 April, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on “Last Night at the Blue Angel” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

A Note on the Cover Art Design:

I can honestly say that this is one time where I prefer the cover art design on the first edition rather than the P.S. Edition, as you will see via the SoundCloud Novel Excerpt and the After Story feature below the review, the original design I felt befit the story much better than this new version which only sought to confuse me when I first received the book. You have to look at it from afar if you can even hope to understand what the image is representing whereas the original design had the elements of the synopsis held within the gaze. The colour hues of the original fit better to as far as atmosphere of the kind of story your about to read.

Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca RotertLast Night at the Blue Angel
by Rebecca Rotert
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Set against the turbulence of 1960s Chicago—a city in transformation—and its legendary jazz scene, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a lush and immensely heartfelt mother-daughter tale about a talented but troubled singer’s relationship with her precocious ten-year-old daughter.

 It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is teeming with the tensions of the day—segregation, sexual experimentation, the Cold War and Vietnam—but it is also home to some of the country’s most influential jazz. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. But when her big break, the cover of Look magazine, finally arrives, it carries with it an enormous personal cost. Sensual and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet self-destructive woman whose charms tend to hurt those around her, and no one knows this better than her daughter, Sophia.

As the only child of a single mother growing up in an adult world, Sophia is wise beyond her years, a casualty of her mother’s desperate struggle for fame and adoration. Unsettled by her home life, she harbors a terrible fear that her world could disappear at any moment, and compulsively maintains a list of everyday objects she might need to reinvent should nuclear catastrophe strike. Her only constant is the colorful and unconventional family that surrounds her and her mother, particularly the photographer, Jim, who is Sophia’s best friend, surrogate father, and protector—but Jim is also deeply in love with Naomi.

Weaving between the perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a poignant and unforgettable story about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have. Part stylish period piece, part heartbreaking family drama, it’s a novel rife with revelations, a vivid and propulsive page-turner—and the major debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by William Morrow

on 14th April, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Hardback, P.S. Edition paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #LastNightAtTheBlueAngel

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com
Listen to an Excerpt of the Novel:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Rebecca Rotert

Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and other publications. She's also an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.

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Posted Thursday, 30 April, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobook Excerpt, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Chicago, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, History, Jazz Musicians, Jazz Singers, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Nun, Photography, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Soundcloud, The Sixties, TLC Book Tours

+Blog Book Tour+ Come Dancing by Leslie Wells An unsuspecting #Contemporary #Romance novel set against the backdrop of the 80s rock scene & the book publishing industry.

Posted Tuesday, 21 October, 2014 by jorielov , , 3 Comments

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Come Dancing by Leslie Wells

Published By: Allium Press
Official Author Websites:  Site | Blog | Facebook | GoodReads

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #ComeDancingBlogTour

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Come Dancing” virtual book tour through Book Junkie Promotions. This is my first tour to host for Amy Bruno’s new endeavour where she is now able to host authors across genres and not limited to Historical Fiction! I look forward to successive tours with her in this new vein of book publicity and am thankful I was chosen for this one! I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Leslie Wells, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Interested in Reading:

I knew as soon as I read the premise for this story, it was going to be straight-up ChickLit and a bit of a departure from what I regularly read; yet that is exactly why I wanted to request it for review! I am always lamenting about how I like to break-out of my comfort zones in literature, try a story that is writ in a style and method that is not within my preferred niche of selections and take a chance on something uniquely different. I think it allows readers not to become clogged into a pattern of repetitive thematics and draws an expansive circle around the hearty breadth of what is regularly offered. I will admit, I can stumble a bit here or there, even find a miss amongst the gems, but what I appreciate about the journey is the unexpected joys, the startling wicked discoveries, and the wide expanse of what is being written across all spectrum’s of literature today. Mind you, as I already disclosed on my Review Policy, a bit of ‘heat’ isn’t something I blush away from reading, as I am far more concerned about the level of vulgarity in novels than I am about a bit of romance! And, as far as vulgarity is concerned — I prefer it to be non-inclusive or sparsely sprinkled if a necessity at best.

 +Blog Book Tour+ Come Dancing by Leslie Wells An unsuspecting #Contemporary #Romance novel set against the backdrop of the 80s rock scene & the book publishing industry.Come Dancing
by Leslie Wells
Source: Author via Book Junkie Promotions

Julia is a book-loving publisher’s assistant. Jack is a famous British rock star. “Opposites attract” is an understatement.

It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in Manhattan, where she works as a publisher’s assistant. She dreams of becoming an editor with her own stable of bestselling authors—but it is hard to get promoted in the recession-clobbered book biz.

Julia blows off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a hot British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack chooses Julia as his girl for the evening—and when Jack Kipling picks you, you go with it. The trouble is … he’s never met a girl like her before. And she resists being just one in a long line.

Jack exposes her to new experiences, from exclusive nightclubs in SoHo to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood; from mind-bending recording sessions to wild backstage parties. Yet Julia is afraid to fall for him. Past relationships have left her fragile; one more betrayal just might break her.

As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s torrid relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never imagined.

With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is witty, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.

Places to find the book:

Also by this author:

Genres: Contemporary Romance


Published by Allium Press

on 8th June, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 382

Author Biography:

Leslie Wells
Photo Credit: © Leslie Wells

Leslie Wells left her small Southern town in 1979 for graduate school in Manhattan, after which she got her first job in book publishing. She has edited forty-eight New York Times bestsellers in her over thirty-year career, including thirteen number one New York Times bestsellers. Leslie has worked with numerous internationally known authors, musicians, actors, actresses, television and radio personalities, athletes, and coaches. She lives on Long Island, New York.

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Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

Chapter 1: One Way or Another

“Are you ever getting out of there?” my friend Vicky complained.

I crooked the receiver in my shoulder, scrabbling papers together.  “I’m heading out now. Harvey dumped a bunch of stuff on me right before he took off.” My boss, the publisher, liked to clear his desk at the end of the week—which meant I got to stay late every Friday night.

“About time. I’ll see you at your place in an hour.”

“We’re going to stick together tonight, right? Avoid the meat market?” I loved dancing off my pent-up energy from long hours sitting at my desk. Vicky saw it more as a smorgasbord of men, served up buffet-style.

“Depends what’s on the menu. See you in a few.”

The minute she hung up, my line rang again. “Is this Julia?” a familiar voice screeched.

“Hi, Louise. How’s it going in Seattle?” Our high-strung author was on a twelve-city tour for her new thriller, and the campaign had been plagued with problems. A celebrated Texas crime reporter, she had braved drug dealers’ bullets but couldn’t cope with delayed flights and lumpy hotel pillows. Harvey had stopped taking her calls a week ago, and ever since she’d been haranguing me.

“The escort hasn’t shown up yet. Why can’t these people be prompt?” Louise fretted.

I held back from pointing out that it was over three hours until her event. “Let me see if anyone’s left in publicity; maybe they can locate her.”

I scurried around the corner to the desolate PR department. The lights in Erin’s cubicle were still on, which gave me hope. A few doors down, I found her on her knees in front of the copy machine. Erin looked up at me and smiled. “Got it!” she exclaimed, extracting an inky wad.

“Could you come deal with Louise? She’s all pumped up for her signing, but the escort has gone awol.” I rolled my eyes.

“God forbid she should ask the front desk to call her a cab,” Erin grumbled as she followed me down the hall. “She’s stared down gun-toting Mafiosi, but on the road she turns into a quivering mass of jelly.”

“Typical of her,” I said.  Most of our authors were great, but a few were real doozies. “Do you want to come out with me and Vicky later? We’re going to hit the Palladium around eleven.”

“I have to finish a press release for that astrology guide. Another glam night in the big city.”

“Okay, be that way. Call me if you change your mind.” I ducked into my office and switched Louise over to Erin, covered my typewriter, then crammed my weekend reading into my backpack.

I sprinted down the deserted hall past shelves overflowing with manuscripts, a few framed awards gathering dust. Our titles ranged from literary to pure fluff; with the economy still in the pits, we were hawking anything from pop psychology to diet fads. This had been a shock when I’d arrived as a starry-eyed editorial assistant after a brief stint in grad school, thinking I’d be spending my weekends holed up with hot talent from The New Yorker. But now I was seasoned enough to plow through the B-list celebrity memoirs and breastfeeding manuals, while relishing any good novels that came my way.

I caught the elevator with a jittery messenger who bounced his bike tire, making the floor shimmy. I waved to the security guard and headed down lower Park Avenue in the balmy air. Usually I walked home to save money on subway tokens; I figured I had time tonight since my best friend was probably still primping.

Vicky had left the company a few months ago to join the publicity department of a larger midtown publisher. I missed her at the office, and I was also envious of her escape from assistantdom. But we still got together on weekends, and now I couldn’t wait to go to our favorite club. We liked the Palladium for its edgy mix of punks, rockers, and regular people like us.

I wove through some guys hissing “Sens, sensimilla!” in Washington Square and stopped at a street vendor selling earrings. A pair with long strands of beads and feathers caught my eye. I fingered them for a minute, calculating. Seven bucks for drinks; three for a cab home tonight … Reluctantly I put them back.

Halfway down MacDougal, I came to a screeching halt. An absolutely perfect small table was sitting right in the middle of the sidewalk.  I stepped close for a better look. Gold leaf curlicues adorned its surface, and ornate lion heads were carved into its corners. I gave it a shake to see if the legs were loose, but it didn’t even wobble. I couldn’t believe someone had thrown out something this nice—it wasn’t even large garbage night! At last I could get rid of the stacked milk crates I ate on.

Now I just had to get it home. My place on Broome Street was eight blocks away, and the table was about three feet square. Maybe if I swung my backpack around to the front and hoisted the table on my back …

As I stood there considering, a guy in a dirty tee-shirt approached, holding a can of beer. “You need some help with that?” he asked, swaying a little.

“I think I can get it. Thanks anyway.”

The man leaned against the brick wall of the apartment building to watch. Turning around, I backed up to the table.  I tried to reach behind and grasp its sides, but I couldn’t bend back far enough—why I’d always stunk at the limbo-la. Maybe if I bent lower …   I crouched down, the backpack wedged against my belly like an unwanted pregnancy, and strained to get a grip on its legs.

Suddenly a woman ran screeching out of the building. “Stop that! What are you doing with my table?”

I stared at her. “This is yours? I thought somebody was throwing it away.”

“Are you kidding? This is an antique! You couldn’t have thought it was being thrown out.” The woman glared at me, hand on her hip.

Oh my god, how embarrassing. “I didn’t realize—I mean, it was sitting here all by itself with no note on it or anything. I thought it was meant for the garbage.”

“The garbage!” the woman shrieked. “I paid six hundred dollars for that! I was waiting for my husband to bring it upstairs! You should keep your paws off things that aren’t yours,” she huffed as she flounced back inside.

The man in the tee-shirt smiled and took a gulp of beer. “Baby, you just took a bite of the B-i-i-i-g Apple.”

“Actually, I think it just bit me.”

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Posted Tuesday, 21 October, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Excerpt, Book Junkie Promotions, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Dating & Humour Therein, Drugs & Alcohol, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Romance Fiction, Singletons & Commitment, Vulgarity in Literature, Writing Style & Voice

+Blog Book Tour+ The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy Lorenz

Posted Sunday, 21 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy Lorenz

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)

Official Author Websites:  Site @NancyLorenzbks | Facebook

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #TheStrengthofBallerinas OR #NancyLorenz

On the footheels of the sequel: #StrengthOfBallerinas (to imply a series)

Acquired Book By: 

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “The Strength of Ballerinas” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

One area of motion pictures I have always been drawn into is the world of dance, as there is something quite magical about how emotion and fluidity of movement can merge into one. Creatively dance evokes such a strong passion of observation and a compelling experience for the audience who watch the dancers moving through their time on the floor. I appreciate nearly all of the different forms of dance, including urban dance crews such as the ones on ABDC (America’s Best Dance Crew) which had aired on MTV, and of which I no longer believe is hosted. The films which always spoke to me the most in different ways are the following: Dirty Dancing (with Jennifer Grey & Patrick Swayze), Save the Last Dance (with Julia Stiles), the Step Up franchise of films (each one unique in of itself), Footloose (original & remake), Flashdance, Singin’ in the Rain, every Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers film, most of the classic films of dance and/or musical variety (including works featuring: Danny Kay, Gene Kelly & others; The Ziegfeldd Follies), Chicago, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, Shall We Dance? (with Richard Gere), Greese, Burlesque (with Christina Aquilera), Honey (with Jessica Alba), Moulin Rouge, The Nanny Express (with Brennan Elliott) and of course I grew up on the tv series Fame. The films which speak directly to ballet and the world of those who dare to push the limits of their bodies are: Centerstage (my favourite favourite!), Ballet Shoes (with Emma Watson), and First Position (documentary). The ones I want to see are Billy Elliott, An American Girl: Isabelle Dances into the Spotlight, & Mao’s Last Dancer. I positively adored seeing a regional ensemble for The Nutcracker in Baltimore as well.

 First Position Official Trailer via First Position films

My own foray into the world of dance ended in my early childhood as I was very self-aware and knew which steps interested me in the room across from my own lessons. Unfortunately for me, they did not give freedom of choice to children under the age of 6. As an adult, I have wanted to re-take up the interest I have in dance and start to seek out lessons for ballroom dance as I love the agility and the grace of the sequences. I do not aim to compete, but rather to find a harmony of the steps whilst dancing against the music. I do have a sideline notion of taking up tap dancing, as I learnt for dyslexic learners tap can actually help us fuse the steps into our muscle memory. It also gives a better grounding for dance overall if you learn differently and of course, by wearing two different coloured shoes I’ll be able to ‘catch’ on a bit faster! I cannot wait to try!

I am simply drawn into stories of dance and the dancers who give us the light of their innermost joy. I was inspired to read this novel originally as it felt as though it would become a most beloved story of strength and the humbling grace of living on faith. I was only a bit worried about what the debilitating illness might be but thankfully my fears were put aside as I asked the tour director only one question: does the story involve cancer? And, the answer was no. I couldn’t wait to dive into this story as soon as I heard that and signed up for the tour! Trust me when I say that this is a story any sensitive heart can handle!

A note on the cover art design:

I was especially endeared to the choice of the cover art for this novel as it is a reflection of who Kendra is and the image of who Kendra has as a reflection of herself. There is a lot of metaphor in the novel, pointing to direct young adults and all readers who pick up the novel to reconsider how they view themselves as much as learning from Kendra’s lead. It is a clever book cover in what it is focusing on and how that focus translates into who Kendra is as a person.

+Blog Book Tour+ The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy LorenzThe Strength of Ballerinas
by Nancy Lorenz
Source: Direct from Publisher

All Kendra has ever wanted to do is dance. But when her father's job takes their family from the city lights of Manhattan to quiet Napa Valley in California, Kendra's dreams are shattered.

Still determined to dance, she tries to adjust to her new life until a debilitating diagnosis threatens to change everything. Now Kendra must decide which dreams are really worth fighting for.

Step onto the dance floor and into Kendra's heart in this poignant and compelling story. Written by ballet lover Nancy Lorenz, this is a debut novel you won't want to put down.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Genres: Young Adult Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 9th of September, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 256

Author Biography: 

NancyLorenz

Nancy Lorenz currently teaches as an English adjunct at several colleges. She worked in publishing, public relations and in network television. She studied ballet in New York City at numerous studios, including open level classes at American Ballet Theater in the 1980’s, and continues to study ballet for the sheer love of it. She recommends that you love what you do, but also to branch out to the many subjects out there yet to discover. The more you learn, the more you can bring back into your art.

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A story about family & our desire to find our niche in the world:

I always appreciate fiction that drives into the heart of who we are as individuals and the discover of our own personal niche inside the world itself. The Strength of Ballerinas at it’s core is about a teenage ballerina in tutelage at the Manhattan Dance Company who unexpectedly is pulled from her rigorous training and transplanted into the vineyards of Napa Valley due to a job transfer of her father’s. All the whilst attempting to sort through regular teenage angst and anguish of understanding your person, your internal world of thought, body image & self worth issues, and the navigation of the world within the structure of school. School is always a rapid-fire crazy chaos of sorting out how to fit in or rather blend in without drawing attention to yourself if your own self-confidence is faltering due to an internal battle of frustration with your circumstances. In this light, Lorenz paints Kendra’s world brilliantly, as she shows how difficult the relocation was from the point-of-view of a ballerina in training and how life can throw a curve ball you’d rather have dodged completely!

I like the empathsis on Kendra’s family life, on how she lost her Mum at a young age, how her brother has autism, and how her father feels a bit lost in the shuffle of everything that keeps happening to his family. He’s written well on his own behalf, as parents are not always fleshed out in Children’s Literature (across the board from Juvenile, Middle Grade, or Young Adult fiction) nor do they come across as regular parents, but rather caricatures of who they should be. Lorenz takes the parents of the novel and gives them an honest portrayal of caring & nurturing presences inside the lives of the teens. I appreciated seeing Mr. Sutton (Kendra’s Dad) as much as I did Mrs. Cassidy (the widow mother of Becca & Troy), as it sparks a new vein of realism inside this genre of Young Adult.

My Review of The Strength of Ballerinas:

Kendra’s world crashes in the blink of an eye when on the larkspur joy of completing a milestone in her quest to become an apprentice ballerina (she achieved twenty fouettés), her father informs her they are going to embark on a cross-country job transfer. Her young life and world is surrounded by dance – to perfect the grace and the maturity needed to handle the arduous competitive state of ballet. She lives and breathes her art, denying herself any other joy outside of the practice and has no interest in food except enough to satisfy her father’s concern on behalf of her health. What compelled me about the start of The Strength of Ballerinas is how within the opening sequences of the story, Lorenz gives you a breath of a whisper to what is going to be alighting next in successive chapters. A mere hinting of a foreshadow, but enough to compel me forward into the heart of the novel.

Lorenz writes with a passion for the ballet and for an understanding of the internal world of a ballerina. She pulls you into that mindset and allows for the characters to be honest about their feelings and their thoughts as they arise naturally through dialogue. I always find this is especially important when writing stories for YA audiences, as it gives a firm and compelling addition to literature for younger audiences who are thirsty for realism and heart.

As Kendra progresses through the early stages of being the new student at the Napa Valley high school, we start to see her undergo a bit of a metamorphosis in how she views her position in her life. Prior to the relocation from New York City to California, she centered her life around ballet. She never even considered the role she had as a big sister to Petey her younger brother afflicted with autism, nor did she count the difficulties her widowed father might have as well. She was focused intently on her dream to be a prima ballerina but what she was missing was the grounding roots of a well-balanced and well-lived life. By exchanging one Coast for the other, we start to see her emerge out of her shell a bit, reconsidering a few things she had always ignored (especially the warning signs of her muscles), and even ventured to appreciate food for something more than sustenance. I appreciated this character growth occurring in the novel, as if there is a teen who is career driven themselves, they might start to see that you can have a rounded world full of experiences without limiting your scope to what you want to do professionally.

Seeing Kendra’s happiness at the pumpkin patch of the Cassidy’s was one of my favourite scenes, as she had pure joy inside her heart and she carried this into being a big sister to Petey of whom she tried to share the happiness with as well. I felt it was a turning point in her outlook and of her growth towards being a bit more than she was when she was in New York.

The interesting part of the novel is how Kendra believed as strongly in her brother’s abilities as their mother yet she would find that her father could only believe what he sees. Coincidently, he is also the father who disbelieves what he sees when his son starts to show signs he’s participating rather than not understanding anything at all. I think this was a good show of how hard it is for parents to trust in something that they do not fully understand but hope will have a positive outcome. I can imagine how frustrating it is for the parents of autistic children to find joy inside everyday hours, when attempting to simply make a small connection to a child who does not know how to communicate. I have often run across autistic children whilst I am out at malls or stores, and I always remember to have a bit more patience, as I never know if something I say or if I move too quickly will affect their child. This was especially the case when I was riding in an elevator with an autistic child at a department store. I thought closer about my words and my tone, and I didn’t make any sudden movements – not that I do normally, but I was mindful the child might misread anything outside their own family and environment. The mother thanked me and we talked a bit before she had to go on with her day. I smiled and said a prayer of gratitude for remembering what I had read and heard in documentaries. The memory triggered to mind as I read this story, however, as how one parent differs from another; and how all parents have their breaking moments of feeling exasperated. I can only hope if others were to come across a child whose responses clued them into the fact they had special needs, they’d take a few extra steps to make them feel comfortable as I had and give their Mum or Dad a breathing space. As I think that is what Kendra’s Dad needed — he needed breathing space.

I simply soaked straight into this novel and was absent from noticing the erasure of the hours off the clock! I simply found myself unable to put the book down, much less draw a pause to blog my thoughts about it! What was so very compelling about The Strength of Ballerinas is how universal the message is of the story: to not only believe in your own unique talent but to treasure the experiences and choices you have to create a future you were always meant to walk. It is powerful and empowering at the very same time – to live for a short spell inside Kendra’s shoes and watch as she grows inside this beautiful coming-of age story of strength, spiritual fortitude, and a conviction of personal will to overcome what comes along in our lives that scare us as much as they define our character.

Nancy Lorenz is a writer in YA I want to keep my eye on:

Lorenz has such a beautiful gift for writing compelling teenage drama and realistic life circumstances, that I know she is most definitely a writer in YA I want to keep my eye on! I cannot wait to see where she takes us next, and the fact she was so convicting in a novel of dance, I’d be keen to see more exploits of the creative arts; if not dance! She truly knows how to get into the heart of her characters and I appreciate this the most, as they are uniquely different and approachable. She keeps a clear eye on the economic front of America as well, and she ties-in realistic examples of modern American life as well. She’s not cliche and she honours the characters by giving them full flexibility and a rite of passage that befits who they are as well. I am most definitely going to be keeping my eyes on the look-out for her next releases through Sweetwater Books!

One of the most beautiful things is how she found a way to transition the terminology of the dance into a tangible visual representation of the ballet without having hiccups in the translation. I felt caught up in the delight of reading this novel, because the author’s vision for the storm guided my heart and my imagination towards her impression of where she wanted us to go as reader’s. It is a special gift to translate visually what you write through words, and her expressions and palette of choice in descriptions matched how I felt this story would be represented in life.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Strength of Ballerinas Book Trailer via The Strength of Ballerinas

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Virtual Road Map of “The Strength of Ballerinas” Blog Tour can be found here:

This is my second Young Adult book review outside of Speculative Fiction and the second for Equality in Literature. Wonder was the first one I blogged about where a brother is different from his sister and the story is rooted in family & coming-of age.

The Strength of Ballerinas Blog Tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Click-through to mark your calendars for:

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I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, and I have happily made sure that I could reacquire the WP Comments where you can leave me a comment by using: WP (WordPress), Twitter, Facebook, Google+, & Email! Kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon! 

{SOURCES: Author photograph and the Book Cover of “The Strength of Ballerinas” were provided by the author Nancy Lorenz and used with permission. The Cedar Fort badge, the Book Synopsis, and the Author Biography were provided by Cedar Fort, Inc. and used by permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Book Trailer for The Strength of Ballerinas via the novel’s YouTube Channel & the trailer for First Position by First Position Films had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed these media portals to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “The Strength of Ballerinas”:

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Updates about this becoming a series:

*This last tweet was RT at least 5x!

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Posted Sunday, 21 September, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Autism, Ballet, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Brothers and Sisters, California, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Diet Weight & Body Image, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Documentary on Topic or Subject, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Geographically Specific, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Napa Valley, New York City, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Questioning Faith as a Teen, Realistic Fiction, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, Special Needs Children, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Transfer Student at School, Urban Life, Vintages and Vineyards, Women's Health, Young Adult Fiction