Category: Domestic Violence

+Blog Book Tour+ Tower of Tears {Book No. 1: the McClusky series} by Rhoda E’ttore

Posted Friday, 12 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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Tower of Tears by Rhoda D’Ettore

Published by: Self-Published Author

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

 Official Author Websites: Site | @rhodadettore | Facebook

Converse via: #TowerofTearsBlogTour

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Tower of Tears” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Rhoda D’Ettore, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

When I first learnt of this novel going on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, I was a bit intrigued by the premise, as I have been reading quite a few immigrant stories of late, and this particular one interested me because the McClusky family was arriving in America from Ireland. I have newly defined ancestral roots to Ireland, and now that I know for a bonefide fact I descended from an Irishman, I have noticed my appreciation for reading about the Irish who came to America has increased tenfold. A bit due to the fact there is such a breadth of unknown factors and stories that are simply out in the void of the past; inches away from knowing anything further about this side of my family and perhaps even, the route they took to arrive not only in America but as settlers on land they chose to farm.

I was captured by this one particular family’s plight to forge their own future in a country so far removed from their own, and encouraged by their determined spirit to make it irregardless of what would come across their path! 

– quoted from my Interview of the author who is going to pen a series around the McClusky’s and giving us a bit of a taste of who they are inside Tower of Tears

+Blog Book Tour+ Tower of Tears {Book No. 1: the McClusky series} by Rhoda E’ttoreTower of Tears
by Jonathan West, Rhoda D’Ettore
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

Chapter 1: The Voyage

Betrayal. Despair. Murder. Mystery. Romance. Blackmail. “If God be good, Mr. Landon will burn in the eternal flames of hell. If God be bad, he will suffer much worse.” In 1820, a young woman and her son leave Ireland for a better life in America. She soon suffers heartache and tragedy, while residing with family whom she has never met.

Unbeknownst to her, the family had already set her up with employment in a factory–a factory run by a lecherous man. This is the first book in a series that will follow the McClusky family while they become Americanized while face with the Potato Famine, the US Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution.

Genres: Historical Fiction

Places to find the book:

Also by this author:

Series: McClusky,

Published by Self Published

on 25th May, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 308

Author Biography:

Rhoda D'EttoreRhoda D’Ettore was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, into a family of 5 siblings–which has provided her with plenty of comical material. She began working at the United States Postal Service at 25 years old, and over the past 15 years has accumulated many humorous stories about situations that the public never gets to know about. Her first ebook, “Goin’ Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker” was so popular that readers requested it in paperback. Recently, she published the humorous “Goin’ Postal” in paperback along with another story entitled, “The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive”. Combining these two into one book may seem strange, as one is humorous and the other is a heart wrenching historical fiction, however, doing so proves to the reader Rhoda D’Ettore’s versatility.

Rhoda D’Ettore received her degree in Human & Social Services while working at USPS, has travelled extensively, and loves history. Over the years she has volunteered for several community service organizations, including fostering abused and neglected dogs for a Dalmatian rescue.

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The Irish & America as a new place to lay one’s hat:

D’Ettore honoured her Irish characters by allowing them to speak in a vernacular which would befit the era and the time in which they were living. I always appreciate the syntax of language and of dialect of characters who either originated from one country and moved to another, or simply lived within a country and culture other than my own completely. I like getting the proper sense of life being lived elsewhere and within historical fiction it is always nice to root around and see where a writer’s own research and heart for the story led them to create the essence of whom they are writing about the most. The Irish are represented well in the novel, as not only are the obstacles in their path representative of time appropriate events, but they are given that determined grit and reserved emotional life that is characteristic of their nature.

One of the bits I appreciated on the voyage was the close kinship Jane felt towards Anna; two women attempting to change the stars for their children and daring to see into the unknown beyond anything they could have dreamt. I appreciated she had someone she could connect too and of course, Anna is one of those pure optimistic spirits who can wiggle out a ray of light even when darkness threatens to supersede your thoughts! I even enjoyed how she turnt the supposed horrid news of an unexpected pregnancy (on Jane’s behalf) to a light of joy!

My Review of Tower of Tears:

As the story opens we are settling into the new life Jane McClusky is attempting to carve out for her three year old son Liam, her husband Thomas (still in Ireland), and herself – she quite literally embarked on a transatlantic voyage to the New World devoid of understanding the hardships and tribulations she would greet once she landed on American soil. She had conversed with her husband about the necessities and the monies she would need to survive living with her Cousins in Philadelphia, but as soon as the wind is back in her chest and rest has given her clarity of mind, her American Cousins who emigrated ahead of her are not as they appear inside their letters. She had a growing fear of this as she was never quite sure if they were as open as they seemed inside their conversations within the postal correspondences. She strove to leave behind the adversities which plagued Ireland at the time: short life expectancy, no forward motion of families as they were co-dependent on the crop yields per annum, little to no hope of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, and the worst of all — a constant worriment over the life your child will have as he’s reared through the hurdles of trying to survive Summer to Summer. The major crop was potatoes (of which I had known before I opened the novel, but hadn’t realise how dependent they were on its yield) yet the greatest hope any of the farmers had were to attempt a new life elsewhere, whilst leaving behind family, nationality and the certainty of self-identity.

D’Ettore is not shy from disclosing the lesser known facts of what such a life shift would entail to those who were brave enough to set sail. She gives you a bird’s eye glimpse at how harsh an immigrant life was for someone to forge as much as how everything changes from an accord you struck prior to your voyage. I always found it interesting studying history that there were always prejudicial misconceptions about immigrants and thus, direct consequences were faced in the work force. In this particular story we are seeing the point-of-view of the Irish, which interested me due to my own newly found ancestral roots stemming from the Emerald Isle; however, I have also read other stories about how Italians and Jewish families were equally displaced with unequal opportunities. I find all of our ancestors were hardened not only by the way in which life affected them, but how their lives were constantly challenged by everything they attempted to do in order to provide an honest wage.

The story shifts view from Jane’s new world in America to the life her husband Thomas was living without her back home on their farm in Ireland. A very typical situation starts to incur inside Thomas’s life; re-pleasant of loneliness and the insecurity of understanding his new role in his wife’s life. Unfortunately, I suppose I had hoped perhaps her husband might have held more honour inside his heart, as their love had such a strong bond to crumble due to distance of only a handful of months felt dishonest to the strength inside Jane’s own mind and fortitude to overcome their situation. Yet, this is a very honest interpretation of a family attempting to change their lives; not every family has an upward light shining to keep them on a path without strife in marriage.

I personally had to stop reading this novel between a rape scene of a pregnant woman and the murder of her abuser, which is a bit of spoiler but not the whole truth of the story. I felt the heinous attack on someone withchild was a bit too much for me to be included — it simply didn’t warrant to happen. I felt a more fitting scene would have been seeing the start of Jane’s affection towards Richard her Cousin in America. Her affection for him and his in return for her were being nurtured from the beginning when they first started to work together. There was already a story-line in place that would have allowed their love to blossom legally and affirmatively, so I am not as sure why the thread of story-line was pitched to take the route of severe emotional and physical abuse. It was quite shocking to read and it didn’t sit well with my conscience either. I could not continue because I simply could not find a reason to go forward as instead of finding a bit of light in the undertone of the novel, I felt the story was growing in oppressive anguish and upturnt devastation.

Fly in the Ointment:

A continuity issue arose when I reached page 26, as Jane is reflecting to her Cousin Richard as they are walking to work about her mother; in this scene she mentioned her name was Erin. Yet, on page 18 Erin is clearly the name of her sister, as she is having a flashback memory of when they were younger. Of course, she might have been named after the Mum, but I was a bit confused by the omission of knowing Jane’s Mum’s name. The few hiccups in proofreading I overlooked as I oft find a few here or there in most of the books I read. Continuity however is something I take a closer gander at as it can alter the perception of the pace and flow of where the story is heading.

The story turnt out to be a bit more brutal and absent of what I was hoping it would yield — there are moments where violence and even violation of a person’s rights has plausible appeal, but for some reason I simply felt there were a few too many circumstances alighting in Jane’s life for her to overcome. Every chance she tried to stand on her feet, something else was taken away from her. I also thought it was a mis-step not to include Anna as an anchor for Jane; there was an absence of aligning Jane with a circle of support from the beginning. And, the family she believed she was welcomed into with open arms was a deceptive web which rankled my joy a bit because I had believed this was a story which was going to go in one direction but found it headed in the opposite instead.

As this is not a comedy of errors, it is a historical fiction rooted in historical fact, and I was just a bit disappointed that one or two threads of narrative were explored, but not all of them combined. I could have even foreseen an issue with Jane’s boss as it is well-known women were not always treated equally or fairly throughout history in employment; but it is the lengths of which her life unravells and how it unravells that left me feeling uncomfortable as I turnt the pages. I was disheartened as I had hoped this would be a multi-generational saga centered around a family I would enjoy reading as the series continued.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBlog Book Tour Stop,
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Virtual Road Map of “Tower of Tears” Blog Tour found here:

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{SOURCES: Book Cover for “Tower of Tears”, Author Photograph of Rhoda D’Ettore,  & Author Biography were provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Jorie asked to host the author ahead of reading the novel as she is most keen on Jane Austen & the sequel authors who give us such a wonderful joy to read their literary muse after being inspired by Austen herself; she was most happy to receive his replies from the Interview through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours via the author himself.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Friday, 12 September, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, Abortion, Adulterous Affair, Blog Tour Host, Domestic Violence, Feminine Heroism, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Immigrant Stories, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Unexpected Pregnancy, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights

+Blog Book Tour+ The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia H. Long

Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia Long

Published By: BookTrope (@booktrope)
Official Author Websites: Site | Blog@clongnovels | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #DuelForConsueloBlogTour & #TheDuelForConsuelo

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Duel for Consuelo” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Claudia H. Long, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

+Blog Book Tour+ The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia H. LongThe Duel for Consuelo
by Claudia H. Long
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

History, love, and faith combine in a gripping novel set in early 1700’s Mexico. In this second passionate and thrilling story of the Castillo family, the daughter of a secret Jew is caught between love and the burdens of a despised and threatened religion. The Enlightenment is making slow in-roads, but Consuelo’s world is still under the dark cloud of the Inquisition. Forced to choose between protecting her ailing mother and the love of dashing Juan Carlos Castillo, Consuelo’s personal dilemma reflects the conflicts of history as they unfold in 1711 Mexico.

A rich, romantic story illuminating the timeless complexities of family, faith, and love.

Genres: Historical Fiction

Places to find the book:

Series: The Castillo Family,

Published by Booktrope Editions

on 2nd of June, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 231

Author Biography:Claudia H. Long

Claudia Long is a highly caffeinated, terminally optimistic married lady living in Northern California. She writes about early 1700’s Mexico and modern day and roaring 20′s California. Claudia practices law as a mediator for employment disputes and business collapses, has two formerly rambunctious–now grown kids, and owns four dogs and a cat. Her first mainstream novel was Josefina’s Sin, published by Simon & Schuster in 2011. Her second one, The Harlot’s Pen, was published with Devine Destinies in February 2014. Claudia grew up in Mexico City and New York, and she now lives in California.

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The breadth of history knitted into the text:

I will admit, part of the reason I was drawn into reading this novel, is because although I have travelled to Mexico in my youth, I haven’t had the proper chance to seek out Mexican stories in fiction since the days I spent climbing pyramids and enjoying the local cuisine. I always appreciate stories whose characters are not only culturally diverse but religiously diverse as well – we live in such a beautiful melting pot of a world, that through literature we can all enlarge our compassion and empathy for others simply by picking up books whose characters have strong historically enriched backgrounds and are set during times in the world’s history that may or may not be highlighted in schools. I will admit, very little was covered about the Mexican history concurrent to the Americas time-line, outside of the more well-known events that are briefly covered. I was always a bit curious about our neighbour to the South, wondering about their own historical stories and the growth they had endured as their country grew through the centuries. I thankfully have started to make a bit of headway on my quest to seek out literature of Mexico and South America, as I previously read City of Promises.

I made an exception to read this novel out of sequence from its series, as when I read the full descriptions of the previous novel and cross-compared it with this novel, I felt this second novel was a better fit for me overall. I liked how the story was centered around a tumultuous slice of history with the family’s struggle for balance in a world that is fighting against their very will to find a measure of normalcy.

My Review of The Duel for Consuelo:

As soon as I opened the pages of The Duel for Consuelo, I was greeted by a passionate story-teller who wanted to not only impart the history of the time the story is set but to curate a connective thread to the family within the story itself. In the Prologue, there is a full sense of urgency to gain freedom on distant shores where both time and distance can help restore a blight on a family’s heritage moreso than staying where they have always lived. In this story, there appeared to be an issue of religious heritage that was giving the family a bit of grief, but as the next generation moved forward with their own life lived in the Americas, a sense of compassionate forgiveness was evident as was the hope for a new day for a family I had just barely begun to become acquainted with as the clock moved forward a century.

Yet, as I am settling into the story, the voice of Rosa’s granddaughter comes out quite strong as the narrative vehicle for which this story revolves; through her eyes it is evident that compassion and acceptance is still quite far away from being given. Through her maternal line of origin there is a history of Judaism, a reverence for Jewish culture and faith which is not aligning well for her family during the Spanish Inquisition. Her father comes across rather bearish as his ideal capitalistic pursuits are less shallow than his vain attempts to clarify his role in the community. Consuelo herself feels pulled through this duality of purpose – to be the daughter her father can be proud of and the caregiver of her mother, whose health is not as well as it had been in previous years. She is tied to the home, yet her dreams carry her outside the walls as she goes about her daily routines.

The most sinister moment was when it was revealed that despite her father’s efforts to quiet a blackmailer, his efforts were found out and his family was thus unprotected by the wrath of justice that would follow if he did not find a way to amend for his actions. This was a curious sideline of the opening structure of the story, as he barely agreed to the blackmail on one breath and he was found in the wrong on the next. I had almost felt that this might have carried forward as a dark secret for the duration of the story, but instead, it flickered and died.

Consuelo’s own gift was in her nurturing attentiveness to those who were ill and her maternal instincts to care for those who needed assistance. Although, I gathered she would have preferred to do more in her life than care for her mother, it was in so doing that she learnt her greatest gift was in the understanding of apothecarist healing practices and the strength of herbs. Her life was overshadowed by the forbearing presence of her father, a man who ruled his roost with a strong hand, and yet, never gave much consequence to his daughter or wife. He was much more interested in keeping up the appearance of who they were rather than being honest inside his relationships and business affairs.  How she found the strength to rise above each adverse and brutal moment of shocking distrust is a credit to her confidence in herself. She was not dealt an easy life nor one that aligned with how she believed her life would fall together – in life as in love, she was betrayed and it was through anguish she started to rise again.

Her father’s inability to forestall the Inquisition’s ransom and blackmail demands (although earlier I felt they were relieved of) played a larger part of the trials in which Consuelo found herself in the middle of succumbing. Her life was not necessarily her own, and her choices although valid in their own right, rarely had the light to shine on their own accord.  The most distraught part of the story is watching Consuelo attempt to right her stars only be dragged by through the mud carved out of her father’s transactions and misdirections of attempting to escape a worser fate. She was used as though she were a pawn, and despite that, she always had the hope for a future she could no longer envision probable. The acidity of rumours and insinuated falsehoods plagued her from the very start, as where truth and lies forged together as though welded in steel, it is within this nest of vipers Consuelo truly had to find a sword stronger than her entangled woes.

On the writing style of Claudia H. Long:

Long tells the story from different points of view which lately I am appreciating being given the opportunity to read with such frequency; as I originally only occasionally had come across this style of the craft. Each sequence is broken down into each of the character’s mindfulness of the events or the daily trials as they arise. As you shift through their connective chapters, you draw out more insight into how the family structure is maintained and who has the keener knowledge of what is actually going on. The ailing mother for instance is given reflective chapters where you are reading her internal thoughts rather than her spoken words in the moment. This is a bridge to understand and accept her husband and daughter, as she is revealing a bit of the unspoken truths that the other two leave amiss.

Long has infused her historical novel with such a breadth of history, you cannot help but acknowledge the dedication she had to researching this part of Mexico’s 17th and 18th Century past. She stitches into the everyday dialogue bits and bobbles of Spanish as well, and as I always lament, I appreciate when a native tongue can be included as it helps to strengthen the picture we have in our mind of the characters whose heritage is not only important to their identity but helps visualise who they are as they live inside the story.

The story is truly emotionally gutting in its intensity throughout the narrative arc, as the story is rooted in the historical knowledge of the time in which the events unfold. The brutal injustice and the prejudicial judgments of those who did not understand a different in faith and belief is quite shocking to read; even if the knowledge of the era is already known. The hardest part for me, was shifting through the more difficult passages to entreat back into the light and to see where Consuelo found her resolve and the strength to carry-on. I credit this to Long who gave her readers resolution even with the realisation that many might not have found the same in real life.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Duel for Consuelo”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov in 17th Century, 18th Century, Apothecary, Blog Tour Host, Christianity, Civil Rights, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Cultural Heritage, Domestic Violence, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Geographically Specific, Good vs. Evil, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Judaism in Fiction, Light vs Dark, Medical Fiction, Mental Illness, Mexico, Psychological Abuse, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, World Religions

+Blog Book Tour+ Willow Springs by Carolyn Steele #PureRomance a debut from Cedar Fort Publishing & Media!

Posted Sunday, 24 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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 Willow Springs by Carolyn Steele

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

Official Author Websites:  Site | @CarolynSteeleUT | Facebook

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #WillowSprings OR #CarolynSteele

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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 “Willow Springs” 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:

This particular book launches the new “Pure Romance” line of Inspirational Romance from Cedar Fort! I have a long-standing appreciation of reading inspiring stories of Romance (i.e. one of my original beloved stories was Frontier Lady by Judith Pella; you can read more on my review of Chain of Mercy) whether they are individual novels or novellas in print editions (i.e. Heartsong Presents or Love Inspired series),… I simply love being wrapped inside the lift of joy and spirit of a spiritual-centered romance! When I realised this was going to be the launch of a new series of novels, I simply could not pass up the chance to get to know this line from day one – forward! Besides, I have a soft spot for Westerns — if it has to do with the Frontier American small townes or life on the emerging frontier itself, there is a strong chance I’ll settle inside the story! Hence why I always loved watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman! (until the writing went a bit off-kilter in the latter seasons!)

One bit of an interesting connection to the story, is that part of my ancestry lies in Sweden! To read about a Swedish immigrant who was attempting to carve out a new life for herself felt like a natural fit for me! I always love reading stories that form connections to my ancestral past. Little snippets of insight I might not otherwise have had the pleasure of finding revealed.

+Blog Book Tour+ Willow Springs by Carolyn Steele #PureRomance a debut from Cedar Fort Publishing & Media!Willow Springs

Husbands. Crissa had to suppress a shudder at the thought. If I had wanted a husband, I would have stayed in Boston. Indeed, Crissa considered Willow Springs to be the nearest thing to her idea of purgatory. She certainly did not plan to stay here long.

Swedish immigrant Crissa Engleson fled Boston hoping to start a new life, unknown and unencumbered, on the American frontier. The quiet gold mining town of Willow Springs in the Utah desert seemed the perfect spot—until the intrigue of her past and rivalries of the town’s leading families enveloped her.

Unaware that a relentless bounty hunter is pursuing her, Crissa falls in love with Drake Adams, a handsome Pony Express rider and the son of an influential mine owner. While Drake returns Crissa’s interest, their courtship is thwarted by the pursuit of one of Drake’s rivals, who may be motivated more by malice than by love.

To realize her dreams, Crissa must confront her painful past and fight for her future head-on.

Places to find the book:

Series: Pure Romance,

Also in this series: Sophia, The Second Season, To Suit a Suitor, Mischief & Manors, Unexpected Love, Lies & Letters, The Darkest Summer, The Secret of Haversham House, Love and Secrets at Cassfield Manor, Enduring Promises of the Heart, Book Spotlight: The Promise of Miss Spencer

on 12 August, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 231

Carolyn Steele

Author Biography:

Born and raised in Utah, Carolyn Steele was introduced to western novels at a very young age by her grandfather, the son of a gold miner. She has been writing technical and marketing communications for most of her adult life. Her nonfiction articles have appeared in numerous national magazines. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah.

Married and living in Salt Lake City, Utah, Carolyn loves researching obscure history then weaving it into stories. She also enjoys family dinners with her children and grandchildren, photography, travel, golf, reading, and all forms of needlework.

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Frontier Americana : Small Townes & Immigrants:

The American West was such a difficult area for settlers, frontier families, and those who were striving to make a new beginning inside their lives for the better. It is in a small towne on the route of the Pony Express, we enter the life of an immigrant (Crissa) who is living away from her parents in order to make a proper living for all of them. Here on the outskirts of the wilds of the West, we discover that for all the graces of small towne living one of the worst bits is uncovering projected jealousy through misunderstandings! I appreciated how the dusty and exhausted mining towne was brought to life, to show a reflection of difference between those who worked the mines and the townesfolk themselves, who attempted to provide the civilisation! It is rather interesting that I am reading about a second towne on the edge of elsewhere directly supported by a mine! The last story of course, was Flight to Coorah Creek, where I found myself over the moon in love with the inhabitants and the life of an ambulance aeroplane pilot! The similarities had me in a fit of smiles as I started to read Willow Springs!

I always have a particularly keen interest in ‘second chance stories’ and ‘stories of new beginnings’, where people are working hard to redeem their past and/or simply want to take off someplace new and forge a different kind of life than they had previously. I love the adventurous spirit as much as the true strength of belief that leaving everything you knew behind in your old life was necessary to create a new future; once you find where your feet land. Small towne fiction is always an ideal setting where characters can interact and yet, remain apart from each other as long as necessary at the same time. Observing the inter-dramatics of where the towne bends or yields rather to whichever new presence has arrived is part of the delight taking the journey through the story itself! Most of our ancestors, including my own, took it upon themselves to dig deep and strive towards seeking out new land, new experiences, and a new way of living when they originally came over from the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond. How lovely then it is to curl inside a historical story just a few stones outside our own living history to walk inside a person’s shoes who dared to do what our own ancestors did!

My Review of Willow Springs:

Inns, boarding houses, and restaurants were the bare necessities to keep frontier life on the cusp of being a bit more self-sufficient on a similar vein as their neighbouring large cities. I love how the action of hosting and waitressing inside of a small mining towne opens this inspiring romance to the expanding picture that surrounds Willow Springs! A towne where an unforgiving and oft-times judgmental township of residents eagerly jump on a bandwagon if it suits their fancy to cast aspersions on someone they hardly know properly! The fitting strength of determined grit and the lift of faith in knowing she was on the right path towards supporting her own kin, is what roots Crissa Engleson into the heart of the story; and sympathetically into a reader’s heart as well. Here we find her balancing an honest day’s work against the joys of spending time with the Inn Owner’s (Molly) children. The fact that she finds the dashingly handsome and coy mannerisms of one of the Pony Express Riders rounds out the introductory joy!

Most Western dramas have a darker shade of a soul living near to the main characters, and Steele doesn’t disappoint by including Garth Wight into the folds of the chapters! An ego-ridden brute of a bloke bent against years of angst, drunken reverie, and a path never materialising in front of him to stake a claim for gold, Garth is the type of fellow any girl would be smart to avoid! His bold and curt behaviour towards Crissa was not only uncalled for but it stirred the stoking fire of where the arc of the climax might take this sweet girl from Sweden! Seeing her speak in her native tongue as she attempts to make sense out of her everyday blights and adventures warmed my spirit as I appreciate when speakers of different languages can find their own voices to be heard in fiction. It gives a proper sense of dimension and an equality in literature that strives to reflect the world’s melting pot.

Crissa’s friendship with the Inn’s cook Marida, gives the most comedic moments by far, as the cook is never far from giving her a jolt of common sense intermixed with a reassuring ear when life is turnt upside down. Marida is feisty as she is nurturing, although I’d wager she’d rather be known for the former! Yet, when Crissa was celebrating the good news Marida had given her about her beau, she internally could not help but stop to wonder if a similar life of happiness was indeed meant for her own path. It was in this moment of uncertainty laced with thoughts of the past, Crissa was taken off guard and attacked quite brutally by Garth. His arrogance and aggression left her shattered emotionally, physically bruised, and inside the tight-knit community she found her footing was lost; the eyes of the towne judging her negatively though she did nothing wrong. This is typical of the era in which Crissa lived, but for me, I felt for her dearly in this moment as she was attempting to align herself with a solid group of trusted friends whilst she tried to make Willow Springs her home.

On the footheels of that fated night behind her, Crissa in true fashion to settle down the rumours had to make a quick exit out of towne, which led her directly back to a loving couple who were her surrogate family. Seeing the landscape of Salt Lake City (a city I’ve only seen visually on camera and/or during the Winter Olympics coverage) is painted beautifully for any reader who loves to knit inside of a backdrop which has a propensity for natural beauty. Steele gives out such a breath of wonder for a part of the country I know very little about, I nearly felt as though I were breathing in the vistas as Crissa observed them herself.

Your heart stirs as you read the story, as the drama continues to unfold at an alarming rate, especially after a precognitive dream cuts Crissa’s visiting plans short. The pulse of emotion is tight as the successive chapters reveal a bit of darkness looming over her young shoulders, and a bit of anguished grief as well. Her heart swells and bleeds through the intrepid sorrow of losing a dear friend of hers and in an attempt to bring normalcy to the children left behind, she starts to further question if her own path is going to be set to rights. The inclusion of her letters and her innermost thoughts as she tries to work out the best path through spiritual guidance and a cluster of hope tethered to her frazzled nerves, Crissa once more has to pick up the pieces of her life.

Steele has written an aptly real and raw romantic suspense novel, as just when you think every wicked and evil reason Crissa has turnt to live outside the shadow of her past, something new arises to draw her closer into harm. The vileness of how human behaviour can be quickly turnt to malice under the right circumstances knits the suspense into the backdrop of the romance; half budding and delayed from blooming. Intermixed into the thick of it is a beautiful yet deadly storyline about herbalists and the various uses of apothecary knowledge. All of this accumulates to a thundering run towards the ending — where your lurching forward with eager anticipation and with a bit of shock horror how one woman’s plight could take her so far deep into the psychosis of the human mind.

On the writing style of Carolyn Steele:

As soon as I started to read this novel, I was instantly thinking about a new Hallmark Channel tv series (thankfully, renewed for a second season!) When Calls The Heart (also a small mining towne); mostly as women in both story-lines have to prove their moxy, their faith, and their willingness to forge a life in a place where ‘rough and ready’ has yet to docile the wilds of the West. Her gentleness in conviction of a faith-centered life is a true lift of joy to read, as she allows her characters the grace to experience their lives with a spirituality that shines through their actions. The inner-workings of seeing where their personal thoughts lie (especially Crissa’s) on how their life is stitching together is a bit of bliss, as each shared moment of their internal world is written in italics (the same with the letters). The full effect of the latter years of the 19th Century are representative of the dialogue exchanges Crissa has with Marida, as Marida’s accented (of Italian decent) English is a bit different from Crissa’s who talks more like an avid reader than a regular commoner.

A sturdy voice for a romance, Carolyn Steele’s debut novel is wrapped inside the Inspirational category of offerings creating a heart-warming fixture for any reader of clean romance. The fact it happens to be the launching novel for the new series of stories under the ‘Pure Romance’ line of novels by Cedar Fort, extends the joy of finding it. The joy of reading the story was a double-fold blessing as the lulling canopy of reading this novel helped to ease my own tensions from being a new self-hosted book blogger. I felt a lot of anxiety consume me over the weekend, as the hours spent sorting out a new hosted site and a heap of upgrades made me feel a bit harried to say the least. Soaking inside Willow Springs, is like walking inside the comfort of a familiar tale of a family friend whose strength and spirit helped renew your own. Reading is such a calming balm to me and this story was a pure joy to consume. I cannot wait to discover what Ms. Steele will pen next nor to follow the joy of where the Pure Romance line will be taken through Cedar Fort!

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

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Virtual Road Map of “Willow Springs” Blog Tour can be found here:

Willow Springs Blog Tour with Cedar Fort

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{SOURCES: Author photograph, Author Biography, Book Synopsis and Book Cover of “Willow Springs” were provided by the author Carolyn Steele and used with permission. The Cedar Fort badge was 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.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Sunday, 24 August, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, Apothecary, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Brigham Young, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Deception Before Matrimony, Domestic Violence, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life in Another Country, Mormonism, Naturopathic Medicine, Salt Lake City, Small Towne Fiction, Utah, Western Fiction, Western Romance, Widows & Widowers

+Blog Book Tour+ The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar *Release Day!* #literary fiction

Posted Tuesday, 19 August, 2014 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Published by: HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins), 19 August, 2014

Available Formats:Hardback, Ebook
Page Count:336

Official Author WebsitesSite@ThrityUmrigar  | Facebook

Converse via: #ThirtyUmrigar

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Acquried Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Story Hour” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher HarperCollins Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Book Synopsis:

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

From the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Uscomes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, love, and second chances.

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she agrees to treat a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store, Lakshmi is desperately lonely.

Moved by Lakshmi’s plight, Maggie offers to see her as an outpatient for free. In the course of their first sessions in Maggie’s home office, she quickly realizes that what Lakshmi really needs is not a shrink but a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient become close. Even though they seemingly have nothing in common, both women are haunted by loss and truths that they are afraid to reveal.

However, crossing professional boundaries has its price. As Maggie and Lakshmi’s relationship deepens, long-buried secrets come to light that shake their faith in each other and force them to confront painful choices in their own lives.

With Thrity Umrigar’s remarkable sensitivity and singular gift for an absorbing narrative,The Story Hour explores the bonds of friendship and the margins of forgiveness.

Author Biography:Thrity Umrigar

Thrity Umrigar is the author of five other novels—The World We Found, The Weight of Heaven, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. An award-winning journalist, she has been a contributor to the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, the 2009 Cleveland Arts Prize, and the Seth Rosenberg Prize. A professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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My Review of The Story Hour:

The voice of whom greets you as Chapter One opens is a woman whose English is not second nature, as she struggles a bit to fuse words to match her thoughts and emotions. Yet even in the manner of which she voices her innermost concerns, her voice has depth of awareness; of sensing her place as it is in the world and of where she is in her life. We are greeting Lakshmi at the very moment she is attempting to take her own life. Everything is planned and laid out within the opening page, except for getting to the root of what has caused her such a deeply felt psychological anguish as to effectively want to exit her life. The details of ‘why’ she is choosing what she is doing will surely come forward lateron, but in this heightened moment we are witnessing her actions without a way to decrease the tension of the moment. As she starts to move towards completing her task to remove herself from this world, her mind flickers back through memories of how unfair and unjust her situation has become whilst living in America.

We start to see how she has a torrent of psychological abuse stemming from her husband and how even the kind favour of a gift of gratitude will be interpreted with disfavour by others. She is struggling to make sense of her self-worth and her position in life now that she is no longer with her family back in India, where she even kept an elephant as a pet. Whilst her voice draws quieter through her ordeal, the next person to step into focus is her soon-to-be psychologist Maggie who is an African-American married to an Indian; her marriage is the leaverage her boss is hoping will open a door of dialogue with Lakshmi. I could understand Maggie’s instinctive reaction of disgust realising that the merits of her work ethic and capabilities as a psychologist were only second to being a woman of colour and living in a multicultural home. She tabled her own restless thoughts as she knew they were stemming out of anger ‘in the moment’ rather than out of experience with being around her boss. In this one scene, very early-on in the novel, Umrigar humbles her psychologist by allowing the reader to visually see her own flaws, misgivings, and humanistic reactions.

I felt myself distracted a bit by the pacing inside the novel, and the shifting points of time — as it was not always easily known if we were reading the present circumstances or withdrawing back into a flashback sequence of memories. What I did enjoy was seeing how the psychologist was starting to spiral a bit from the pressure of everything she had to endure internally as she listened to other people’s stories. It is rare when it is mentioned that psychologists have a weight placed on them that nearly expects them to be inhuman. To be more than they are, as they are not able to be shielded nor numb to what they listen to during their sessions. They still have to internalise the words, the horrific stories, and find some semblance of hope to share with their patients. This is a story that honours the psychologists who for whichever reason, have reached a point in their careers where carrying on as usual is not as easy as it once were.

Although Lakshmi’s voice is a strong undercurrent of the story, I nearly felt as though it was her personal plight in life and cross to bear that gave the freedom for Maggie to heal herself. Maggie was just as much in need as counsel and consolation as Lakshmi. Their paths crossed at a critical point in both of their lives, to where the sessions Lakshmi needed to talk out her life’s experiences and the emotional vaccum that had encased her past the point of wellness; gave Maggie a chance to re-examine her own difficult past. Both women share turbulance and domestic abuse to a certain extent, and both women never could be open and honest about who they each faced inside the mirror.

Yet the danger of allowing yourself to erase the distance needed to be a psychologist and effectively help your patient grow through healing is that the side effect could be devasting to your own affairs. The closer Lakshmi came to growing wings to fly on her own accord and stand on her own two feet, the closer Maggie came to watching her life spiral competely down the drain. The threads which connected them were a double-edge sword, as where on one hand a doctor is meant to heal and do no harm; the opposite is making yourself vulnerable to where the lines are too blurred to see who the patient is. The Story Hour is a domestic drama about two women from different walks of life whose path brings them into the forefront of each other’s awakening hour.

Fly in the Ointment: 

Although the randomness of the stronger words used in the novel are idly placed and randomly inclusive to the story, they are the little nettles of disappointment for me. I did not feel the words enhanced the storyline, nor the continuance of the character’s thoughts, if anything they felt like a simple way to express their emotions. I also felt a bit disconjointed from the dialogue and narrative passages, as one moment we are in the present and a second later we are in the middle of a flashback. I believe the effect was to be a continuing stream of conscienceness, but for some aspects of it, I felt muddled. As I wasn’t sure if I was still in the present, learning about the recent past, or ‘somewhere’ neither here nor there completely. There is a fair bit of crudeness as well, not as much as in crude humour but simply in crude ways of expressing certain things that the characters are attempting to reflect about themselves.

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

The Story Hour
by Thrity Umrigar
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Genres: Literary Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

on 19th August, 2015

Pages: 336

click-through to follow the blogosphere tour.TLC Book Tours | Tour Host

Earlier today, I hosted an Author Interview with Thrity Umrigar.

Previously I enjoyed the story Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter.

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Comments make me smile! Let’s start a conversation! I appreciate your visit & look forward to your return! I do moderate the comment threads; do not worry if the comment is delayed in being seen! Drop back soon!

Reader Interactive Question:

What are your own thoughts about the connection between the books we read, the authors who pen them, and the unique bridge of connective thoughts which unite all of us together!?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Story Hour”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Author Interview badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.


Posted Tuesday, 19 August, 2014 by jorielov in Adulterous Affair, ARC | Galley Copy, Blog Tour Host, BlogTalkRadio, Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Disillusionment in Marriage, Divorce & Martial Strife, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Hindi Words & Phrases, Library Find, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Literature of India, Medicated Against Will, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Psychiatric Facilities, Psychological Abuse, Realistic Fiction, Self-Harm Practices, Social Services, TLC Book Tours, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Vulgarity in Literature