Category: Science

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “The Butterfly Conspiracy” (Book One: A Merriweather & Royston Mystery) by Vivian Conroy

Posted Saturday, 14 September, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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Acquired Book By: I am quite active on the socially bookish side of the twitterverse (ie. #bookishTwitter); a lot of the writers and readers I enjoy conversing with on a yearly basis were first ‘met’ somewhere in a chat or a serendipitously lovely convo – either organised through a Twitter chat or a randomly engaged convo between them and I. I do not recollect how I first came to find Vivian Conroy or if in fact, she originally found me – I do know I immediately took to liking her Historical Fiction focused Twitter chat: #HistFicChat. Similar to my passion for #HistoricalFix (hosted and founded by Erin Lindsay McCabe – of which, due to her return to writing has been on sabbatical for two years) – this is a chat where Historical readers and writers can happily find each other, interact and chatter their bookish hearts out about the historic past whilst discovering new #mustreads!

She had mentioned to me she had two new stories being published to celebrate the fact she would have her 10th novel published in [2018]. She first mentioned to me about “The Butterfly Conspiracy” and then, “In Peppermint Peril”. I had meant to plan my reviews to be shared on my blog leading into the holiday season of [2018]; however, my health issues grew past what I could overcome and my reading life was dearly affected. I was thankful to share my review of “In Peppermint Peril” prior to re-reading “The Butterfly Conspiracy” at the end of Summer to coincide with featuring Ms Conroy during @SatBookChat wherein the main focus of the chat is this series whilst also talking a bit about her collective works from her Cosy Mysteries to her new Romance novel.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Butterfly Conspiracy” direct from the publisher Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What drew me into wanting to read “The Butterfly Conspiracy”:

I grew up on atmospheric mysteries and novels of suspense as much as I avidly watched films and tv series involving murder and intrigue! Everything from the Miss Marple series by Dame Christie to Murder, She Wrote and Alfred Hitchcock! The latter of whom granted me a deep appreciation for Gothic and Psychological Suspense! I love the pull of this kind of narrative and the grace of dissolving inside a story set in the historical past. The fact the lead character is a Victorian Zoologist reminded me why I loved Dr Julia Ogden (the ME) on Murdoch Mysteries – I love strong female characters in the historic past who are solving crimes!

Quite curiously, I remember vividly soaking inside this novel and writing reflective thoughts on its behalf – I wasn’t blogging my notes though, as I was using a word processing programme instead – and yet, when I went back to transcribe those notes back into my blog to share on this review, guess whose lost the file? I searched for over a month to find them – waiting out my recovery from a Winter virus and the leftover effects of migraines; to no avail. I had to resolve whatever those original reactions were – I could either re-tap into them when I went to re-read those passages or I would have to share wholly new, original takeaways which would start to curate on my review written more than a year after I first began reading The Butterfly Conspiracy.

For the reasons I’ve stated which first encouraged me into wanting to seek out this title – what was quite lovely of the experience of receiving it is having had the proper chance to dig into the heart of the story-line through a series of Twitter chats which sought out to delve into the back-story of how Ms Conroy wrote the novel but also, how she developed the back-histories of her characters, curating how the crime was centered inside the mystery and why she personally has a passion for writing Cosies.

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#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “The Butterfly Conspiracy” (Book One: A Merriweather & Royston Mystery) by Vivian ConroyThe Butterfly Conspiracy
Subtitle: A Merriweather & Royston Mystery
by Vivian Conroy
Source: Direct from Publisher

In late Victorian times, when new inventions cause both excitement and terror, a mysterious death at a zoological lecture brings together two unlikely allies in a quest through London’s upper crust and underbelly to unravel the ingenious murder method and killer behind it.

Miss Merula Merriweather is not like other women her age: instead of hunting for a husband at balls and soirees she spends her time in a conservatory hatching exotic creatures. As the Royal Zoological Society won’t accept a woman’s accomplishments, she has her uncle Rupert take credit for her achievements. But at a zoological lecture, the guest of honor dies after contact with one of Merula’s butterflies, and Merula’s uncle is arrested for murder.

In an attempt to safeguard evidence to prove his innocence, Merula almost gets killed but for the timely interference of enigmatic Lord Raven Royston. Viewing natural history as a last resort to regain respectability lost by too many dubious business investments, Raven didn’t expect his first lecture to take a murderous turn. Feeling partially responsible because he encouraged Merula to release the gigantic butterfly from the glass case in which it was kept, Raven suggests they solve the puzzle of Lady Sophia’s sudden death together by looking closer at her relations with estranged friends, long suffering staff and the man groomed to be her heir, so close to her money and yet unable to touch any of it.

With the police looking for them, and every new discovery raising more questions than answers, especially about the murder method which left no traces of foul play on the body, Merula will have to risk her own life to get at the truth and save her uncle from the gallows in The Butterfly Conspiracy, Vivian Conroy’s enchanting series debut.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-68331-765-4

Genres: Amateur Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction


Published by Crooked Lane Books

on 7th August, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 297

Published By: Crooked Lane Books (@crookedlanebks)

Merriweather & Royston Mysteries:

The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian ConroyDeath Comes to Dartmoor by Vivian Conroy

The Butterfly Conspiracy – Book One

Death Comes to Dartmoor – Book Two
← released 13th August, 2019

Available Formats: Hardback and Ebook

Converse via: #Conroy10, #CosyMystery + #Victorian
and #MerriweatherAndRoystonMysteries

About Vivian Conroy

Having spent many afternoons as a teen on the Nile with Poirot or confronting sinister spinsters in sleepy English towns with Miss Marple, it was only natural Vivian Conroy would start writing mysteries of her own.

Atmospheric descriptions, well developed characters and clever plotting made several of her cozy mysteries #1 Amazon US and Canada bestsellers in multiple categories.

Her new Victorian mystery series features a female zoologist, allowing Vivian to share her fascination with natural history, a field where in the Victorian age costly deceit, questionable experiments and extraordinary theories offer great inspiration for a mystery writer’s fertile imagination.

Besides writing, Vivian enjoys hiking, collecting stationery and trying new desserts, especially if chocolate is involved.

Due note: She is also the hostess of a wicked brilliant Twitter chat: #HistFicChat which arrives in the twitterverse every Thursday at 3p NYC (EST) and 8p UK. This is the best way to interact with fellow Historical Fiction readers and writers outside of Jorie's other beloved #HistFic quarterly chat: #HistoricalFix!

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 14 September, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Amateur Detective, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Botany, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Lady Detective Fiction, Science, the Victorian era, Zoology

#SaturdaysAreBookish | Book Review | “The Summer Guests” by Mary Alice Monroe

Posted Saturday, 22 June, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I have been hosting blog tours and reviews for Simon & Schuster off and on for nearly a year now. I’ve had the joy of discovering their stories through Contemporary and Historical narratives whilst happily finding a lot of their authors are writing the kinds of stories which keep me engaged and rooted in their narratives. Such as the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley – which is why when I first saw the note about the tour for ‘The Summer Guests’, I was most curious – not just of this potentially becoming my first Monroe novel to read but because of where the story was set. I happen to love the mountainous regions of my country and this one in particular hugs close to Appalachia which happens to be the mountain range I am most familiar with due to how oft I read stories set there. It has only been in recent years I’ve exchanged the Eastern mountains for the Rockies; thus, when I learnt the setting was in Western North Carolina and centred round hurricanes, natural disasters and overcoming life’s adversities – I was quite smitten with the plot!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Summer Guests” direct from the publisher Gallery Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why this particular story perked an interest to read:

First and foremost, I love stories about horses, horse culture and horsemanship. I’m the girl who grew up reading about the wilds of the West, farms, ranches and cowboys because the wide open landscapes of those stories called to my spirit, to my soul. They were enriching in how families hugged close together, how life was better lived together and how if you needed some space, the wide open plains provided the best place to seek it out on a horse. The concept of being able to wake with the roosters, put on your riding clothes and hide out to chase after dawn’s first break of dawn was something that truly appealled to a girl who loved horse-back riding but wasn’t able to continue it forward into her teens and adult years. I still long for the day where I could get back on a horse and reconnect with a sport I have loved since I was quite young.

You can see this love of mine coming through Jorie Loves A Story – from the stories of Karen Rock (her Rocky Mountain Cowboys series), the limited serial Return of the Blackwell Brothers, the enduring and brilliant dramatic Catherine Ryan Hyde novel The Language of Hoofbeats and a forthcoming review by a new series of Harlequin Heartwarming entitled Reunited with the Cowboy. It is also seen in my choices of television and motion pictures – I have been passionately attached to the production of Heartland – streaming it first on Netflix for the first nine seasons and finding the tenth happily available to stream via Hallmark Movies Now. I’m hoping to stream the eleventh season if Hallmark acquires the rights to it as the series is currently in production for their 13th season.

Whilst at the same time, I also have a healthy appreciation for the mountains – Appalachia on the East and the Rockies on the West. Growing up natural disasters were as much a part of my life as they are a part of a lot of people’s lives today. There were some honest whoppers of destruction back in the ’80s and ’90s; some even set the record books before they were re-broken in the 21st Century by fiercer storms and/or worse disasters than our imaginations could have conceived. I still have shivers of anxiety just contemplating Hurricane Sandy for the folks on the Mid-Atlantic Coast! Not to mention the fires and floods of the West Coast and the persistent tornadoes of the Mid-West this Spring have re-set how we view natural disasters and how we survive them.

Finding this was a story about an eclectic group of people who not just evacuated but found themselves in a place they weren’t expecting with people they weren’t planning to connect with felt like a wicked good read. It also felt like an alternative view of what we think about most when we connect a natural disaster in our minds with the chaos we see on television. There is always much more to the ‘story’ than what the stories are revealling to us in a televised recapture of events and that is why I felt reading The Summer Guests would be a brilliant way to kick-off my #SummerReads for Women’s Fiction!

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#SaturdaysAreBookish | Book Review | “The Summer Guests” by Mary Alice MonroeThe Summer Guests
by Mary Alice Monroe
Source: Direct from Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781501193620

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Women's Fiction


Setting: Western (Mountains) of North Carolina


Published by Gallery Books

on 11th June, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 368

Published By: Gallery Books ()
(an imprint of Simon & Schuster )

Formats Available: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheSummerGuests, #SummerReads and #SaturdaysAreBookish

About Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe Photo Credit Mic Smith Photography

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion.

She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction.

Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina.

Photo Credit: Mic Smith Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 22 June, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 21st Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Fly in the Ointment, Horse Drama & Fiction, Latter-life Adventures, Life Shift, Low Country South Carolina, Meteorology, Modern Day, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Non-traditional characters, North Carolina, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Rescue & Adoption of Animals, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Vulgarity in Literature, Western North Carolina Mountains, Women of a Certain Age, Women's Fiction

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Nebula Awards Showcase 2016” (edited by) Mercedes Lackey

Posted Wednesday, 8 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of “Nebula Awards 2016” direct from the publisher PYR (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. Note: This review is part of my backlogue of reviews and predates PYR being acquired by Smart Publishing who now owns both Seventh Street Books and Pyr.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Why I love reading the Nebula Awards Showcase:

I loved how Bear championed the integrity of writing what you know to be true even if editors later change that truth for their own needs (i.e. regards to his article being altered for publication) even if it has consequences you cannot foresee. He wrote with a lot of levity and insight – how the Awards come regularly like any natural season and how writers are both on pins to hear whose won but also, elated if their name is called. It’s a quirky balance of anxiety and exultation of joy – the brilliant combination of emotions any writer can claim as their own. Writing is such an intrapersonal experience – we put our imagination and our words on the line, hoping to inspire a reader to feel as connected to our stories as we do ourselves and thus, I could concur with Bear about the curiously curious attachment we have to seeing how our peers interpret our stories and if the stories resonate with our peers inasmuch as the readers.

This particular collection of stories, antidotes and murmurings of Science Fiction had within it’s pages such a cartography of human emotions! You could quite literally feel every ounce of your humanness by reading it’s collection because each of the writers in turn found a way to etch a catalyst of emotional fortitude into their stories. Their characters were facing incredible odds and had to somehow find a way to stomach the vacuumed despair or else, find their lives empty of all hope.

The words these writers have used to paint their portraits of life in futuristic places are humbling and eagerly on-point to curtain off a certain sense about the world today. There are cross-applications to these stories – of origins you can perceive of what inspired them and of why these stories were being penned when they were and how they were being expressed. It’s a collection to take to heart – to ponder and lay thought upon long after you put the stories down the first time you’ve read them. Most are cautionary in nature, others are thought-provoking social conscious works of creative expression. All of them hold a kernel of where Science Fiction and Consciousness co-merge into a working consciousness of forward thought and internal supposition of what a near-off future could hold inside it’s palm. Truly a remarkable reading for today’s inquisitive reader seeking stories which speak towards the edge of where truth and reality blur and find their own voice.

-quoted from my review of the Nebula Awards Showcase 2015

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Nebula Awards Showcase 2016” (edited by) Mercedes LackeyNebula Awards Showcase: 2016
Subtitle: Stories, Excerpts and Essays
by Mercedes Lackey
Source: Direct from Publisher

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

The editor of this year’s volume, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is American science fiction and fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey.

This anthology includes the winners Ursula Vernon, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Nancy Kress, and Jeff VanderMeer, with Alaya Dawn Johnson winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881389

Also in this series: Nebula Awards Showcase: 2015


Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Fantasy Fiction, Science Fiction


Published by Pyr

on 3rd May, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 412

Published By: Pyr (@Pyr_Books)

The Nebula Awards Showcases I’ve read:

Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 (edited by) Greg Bear. Published by PYR.Nebula Awards Showcase 2016 (edited by) Mercedes Lackey. Published by PYR.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

(edited by) Mercedes Lackey ( Site | @mercedeslackey )

Converse via: #NebulaAwards + #MercedesLackey

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 8 May, 2019 by jorielov in Asteroid Science, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Climate Change, Ecology, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Hard Science Fiction, Horticulture, Prometheus Books, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction

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

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

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re-visiting “The Spirit Keeper”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-quoted from my review of The Spirit Keeper

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

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

Much has happened since my last writing,..

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

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

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

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732886216

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


Published by Self Published Author

on 7th January, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 372

the spirit keeper duology:

The Spirit keeper & the gift of the seer

This is a Self-Published novel

Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Ebook

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

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About K.B. Laugheed

The Gift of the Seer by K.B. Laugheed

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

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

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

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

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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