Category: Clever Turns of Phrase

Blog Tour | “Mist of Midnight” {Book 1: Daughters of Hampshire} by Sandra Byrd

Posted Thursday, 5 March, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By:

I was contacted by the author’s (Sandra Byrd) CBA Tour Coordinator (Renee Chaw) back in November, 2014 about the possibility of receiving “Mist of Midnight” in exchange for an honest review which would be included on Ms Byrd’s official blog tour for it’s March release! I was beyond delighted at having been approached by her and readily agreed. As I have a non-giveaway policy for Jorie Loves A Story, this blog tour stop is not hosting the tour giveaway, but rather is solely a book review of the novel which is posted whilst the official tour is going on. I received my complimentary ARC copy of Mist of Midnight direct from Howard Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. In December 2014, I received the press materials from her publicist Ms Chaw. I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity, not only to read my first novel by Ms Byrd but to host my first blog tour book review for Howard Books! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Intrigued to Read:

I unequivocally can declare when it comes to Gothic Lit & the Historical Fiction side of literature, I am unabashedly intrigued by each new story and author I stumble across! Imagine my good cheer in finding an author had found me for her blog tour? I hadn’t realised it at the time, but Ms Byrd has been on my TBR for awhile now, as I had to remind myself I had spied her Ladies in Waiting series previously!

When it comes to Gothic Lit, the reason I am caught instinctively inside the pages of stories which befall this category is because I have a passionate affection for ‘psychological suspense’ and most of what I enjoy reading within this realm of plausibility curates this experience for me! I have a penchant for the Victorian era of which I believe might be deduced by my literary wanderings time after time; however, it’s this wicked joy I have bubbling up inside me when I know I am about to plunder inside an enriched atmospheric novel I find the most inspiring! As well noted by now throughout my blog, I’m a hybrid reader (dancing through genres of literature between mainstream & INSPY markets) and I cannot even properly express how wicked happy I was to discover Mist of Midnight!

I have recently read a re-telling of Jane Eyre, entitled: Keeping Kate on behalf of a blog tour for Cedar Fort Publishing & Media; this on the footheels of having learnt there was a readalong for Jane Eyre! Mind you, my unhealthy time consumption in February solely focused on technical malfunctions and ISP unknown tech issues caused my blogging life to be put on hold for most of the month; notwithstanding, I simply lost too many hours within my personal life outside of this blog to soak inside even one book more than I managed to feature within the month just extinguished from view. I still fully intend to read Jane Eyre and go back through the readalong posts, however, sadly it was ill-fated for me to participate as a whole. Thrice this has happened to me, where I had sought out a RAL for Charlotte Bronté’s classic tale, yet it did not stop me from absorbing myself straight into Keeping Kate!

Bringing me round to what I wanted to share, as I have slated in my mind and gathered a bit of my intentions of what to read next on my tCC List in direct reflection to this curiously addictive focus I have on Gothic Lit! What comes to mind after I muse about Eyre, is how in earnest I attempted to borrow and consume the narrative within the pages of The Distant Hours by Kate Morton or even The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates; two novels continuously whetting my palette with hearty intrigue.

Now when it comes to ‘inheritance stories’ I must confess, I have a particular interest in them because they bring a swirl of excitement to central focus within the heart of where the story leads us to go as the lead character is nearly always at odds in these situations with an interloper! Someone who either has a hardened heart turnt black and whose ill will seeks to cause them extreme duress if not personal harm, has a shadowy allure to soak into your imagination due to the very nature of what pulls this context forward! You start to gather the facts inside your own mind, weigh and counterbalance what is perceived against what is known (as so oft-times the writer holds the reader in the dark and/or gives only ‘just so’ much information to leave the climax plausibly aloof) and hold a firm grasp on your emotional heart as the drama surrounding the entire tale will leave you up late into the night wicking at the flames of a candle!

Yes, I must confess, when it comes to seeking stories — the ones of which give me a hitch of wicked joy are the ones shrouded in suspense with the framework of a relationship that may or may not yield in romantic overtures. The mystery itself is well worth the wait to see how everything unfolds! With haste and felicity, I took up the pages of Mist of Midnight! Top cheers to Ms Byrd for allowing us the grace of seeing this is only one installment of a new series yet to bewitch us wholly and true!

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

Blog Tour | “Mist of Midnight” {Book 1: Daughters of Hampshire} by Sandra ByrdMist of Midnight
by Sandra Byrd
Source: Direct from Publisher

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Series: Daughters of Hampshire,


Genres: Gothic Literature, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Howard Books

on 10th March, 2015

Pages: 384

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Howard Books (@Howard_Books)
(an imprint of Simon & Schuster: )

Available Formats:  Hardback & E-Book

Converse on Twitter: #MistOFMidnight

About Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd is a best-selling author and has earned Library Journal's Best Books of the year pick twice, in 2011 for To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, and in 2012 for The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr. She's twice been a Christy Award finalist, for To Die For and for Let Them Eat Cake: A Novel. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published April 2013

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Posted Thursday, 5 March, 2015 by jorielov in 19th Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, British Literature, Castles & Estates, Cemeteries & Graveyards, Clever Turns of Phrase, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, England, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Genre-bender, Gothic Literature, Gothic Mystery, Gothic Romance, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Haunting & Ethereal, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Historical Thriller Suspense, India, Inheritance & Identity, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Literature of India, Lyrical Quotations, Military Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Orphans & Guardians, Passionate Researcher, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Singletons & Commitment, Suspense, the Victorian era, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions

Blog Book Tour | “The Way of Tea and Justice” by Rev. Becca Stevens A non-fiction reflection on social justice, empowering women, and striving for a world where ‘fair trade’ truly lives up to it’s name!

Posted Friday, 27 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Way of Tea and Justice” virtual book tour through JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. I received my complimentary copy of The Way of Tea and Justice direct from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Ever since I first started watching Law & Order: SVU I’ve been keenly aware of non-profit organisations that reach out to women in need as much as women who need help to turn their lives around after domestic violence or tragedy. Even before my watching of the series, there were segments on a life-changing non-profit knitted into Walker, Texas Ranger where Alex (Walker’s future wife) would reach out to the women in her community and help them get a fresh start to their lives. The lead actress in SVU was inspired through her character to create the Joyful Heart Foundation to help women in real-life the show depicts through the gritty story-lines. I became a strong advocate for Gimme Shelter before it was releasing in the theaters, as I had stumbled across the real-life story of the woman who founded the center where unwed mothers could find safe harbour for themselves and their unbourne children. By the time I caught sight of The Way of Justice and Tea it simply felt like the right book to read at the right time as I love celebrating how women are empowering other women to carry forward after devastating adversity.

– I originally expressed this earlier in the month on Jorie’s Box of Joy

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

Blog Book Tour | “The Way of Tea and Justice” by Rev. Becca Stevens A non-fiction reflection on social justice, empowering women, and striving for a world where ‘fair trade’ truly lives up to it’s name!The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World's Favourite Beverage from it's Violent History
by Rev. Becca Stevens

What started as an impossible dream-to build a café that employs women recovering from prostitution and addiction-is helping to fuel an astonishing movement to bring freedom and fair wages to women producers worldwide where tea and trafficking are linked by oppression and the opiate wars.

Becca Stevens started the Thistle Stop Café to empower women survivors. But when she discovered a connection between café workers and tea laborers overseas, she embarked on a global mission called “Shared Trade” to increase the value of women survivors and producers across the globe.

As she recounts the victories and unexpected challenges of building the café, Becca also sweeps the reader into the world of tea, where timeless rituals transport to an era of beauty and the challenging truths about tea’s darker, more violent history. She offers moving reflections of the meaning of tea in our lives, plus recipes for tea blends that readers can make themselves.

In this journey of triumph for impoverished tea laborers, hope for café workers, and insight into the history of tea, Becca sets out to defy the odds and prove that love is the most powerful force for transformation on earth.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Current Events, Non-Fiction, Women's Studies


Published by Jericho Books

on 4th November, 2014

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 256

Published by: Jericho Books (@JerichoBooks)

an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteUS)

Available FormatsHardback, Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Converse via: #TeaAndJustice

About Rev. Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens is one of the premiere preachers and speakers in the United States proclaiming love as the most powerful force for social change. She is an Episcopal priest and founder of Magdalene, residential communities of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction. She founded Thistle Farms in 2001 which currently employs nearly 50 residents and graduates, and houses a natural body care line, a paper and sewing studio and the Thistle Stop Café. She demonstrates that love is good business and raises millions of dollars annually for the organizations she runs.

She is a prolific writer and has been featured in the New York Times and on ABC World News, NPR, PBS, CNN, and Huffington Post and named by the White House as one of 15 Champions of Change for violence against women in 2011. She was recently named 2014 Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America, has been inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame, and was conferred an honorary doctorate by Sewanee: The University of the South.

In fall 2013, Stevens launched the first Thistle Farms national conference welcoming attendees from over 30 states. Her newest book, “The Way of Tea & Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage from its Violent History,” will release in 2014. Stevens lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.

{ Excerpt taken from her Press Release Q&A }

Why was a café your next step to expand your current initiatives with Thistle Farms and Magdalene?

Thistle Farms, as a national model for social enterprises run by survivors, began in 2012 to welcome more than 1,000 individual per year coming to immerse themselves in our model. It made sense to open a café and offer healing tea, while at the same time expanding employment opportunities for some of the residents and graduates of the residential program called Magdalene.

Why do you think tea is so powerful? What is it about tea in particular that brings people together?

Tea can’t help but draw people together as the kettle is heated and the tea is steeping. Some tea connoisseurs have referred to tea as an elixir of the gods! It is calming and invigorating. It is warm and healing.

Hundreds of teacups were donated to the café, each with a story attached. What is one of your favorite “teacup stories?”

There are so many stories of survivors that are inspiring. I love the Japanese cup from a survivor of an internment camp during World War II who was in her 80s, and wanted to remind the women of Thistle Farms to never lose hope.

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Posted Friday, 27 February, 2015 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Domestic Violence, Eco-Friendly, Environmental Activism, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Green-Minded Social Awareness, History, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Lessons from Scripture, Lyrical Quotations, Memoir, Mental Health, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Non-Fiction, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Poetry, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Social Change, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, Tea History, The Natural World, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Travel, Travel Narrative | Memoir, Travel Writing, Vignettes of Real Life, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions

Blog Book Tour | “Girl Runner” by Carrie Snyder

Posted Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Girl Runner” 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.

Inspired to Read:

I grew up watching the Winter (Olympic) Games, whilst the Games themselves inspired me to correspond with other girls who lived overseas, as my original pen pals were sought through a friendship exchange linked to the Norwegian Games in the early 1990s. Those friendships dissolved in my early to mid twenties, but the friendships sparked a love of exchanging postal mail and letters of correspondence! A tradition that I still carry forward today, as I will be blogging a bit more about my love for postal mail, stationeries, mixed media collage and postal mail art; intermixed with my love of knitting, as segues of how a bookish girl like me has found beauty and joy in lost arts of the recent past.

The Games themselves by definition and by example, lead us towards a world that is close-knit and tied together through sportsmanship and the honour of competing not merely against each other on teams, but against our ‘best moment inside the sport itself’ to better ourselves and strengthen our abilities therein. It’s a magical and inspirational time every four years, as we get to dip inside a country’s history and the passion they have for not only the continuation of the Games themselves but the diplomacy and the curated friendships that athletes find amongst the community of which they find themselves living for this moment in time and history. The Olympic Village stories combine with the Opening & Closing Ceremonies and the documentaries on the host country, to knit together my overall joy of watching from afar as the Games pursue as the telecast feeds are limited by time zone and distance.

I anchoured myself into the Winter Games a bit quicker than the Summer Games, but I enjoy each of them quite equally, whilst finding the X-Games are a wicked sweet surprise in-between! I have fond memories extending out of Nagano, Japan; Vancouver, British Columbia; London, England; and Beijing, China which gives an overview of my favourite Winter & Summer Games of the past decade or so. When I came to discover the narrative behind Girl Runner, I must confess I had an intense cascade of beautiful memories alighting through my mind’s eye as I considered accepting this novel for review. To explore a part of the Olympic past cast against a fictional character’s story simply enveloped me in full anticipation of what I would discover within the pages themselves!

On a separate note, I had to remind myself that I was a charity runner when I was nine years old who accomplished more than the runners twice her age or older. I hadn’t even realised I was running further and faster than the others around me; as I did experience a bit of what Snyder talks about in her novel Girl Runner where everything outside your run starts to blur and it is you alone on the track or path you’ve elected to race. Running a race isn’t always about a specific end result, it can be for the clock in competition or it can simply be a defining moment where you seek to prove your own fortitude of strength. How far can you personally take yourself to run? How far will you go? The irony is that before I picked up Girl Runner I had forgotten I was a runner myself; one who elected not to run for sport, but to run for myself. I gave myself the freedom to pace my extensions and my distance by what I knew I could achieve against the clock of how long the charity run would last. The best joy was knowing my true best was better than I could have dreamt.

Running gives you an honest account and assessment of your capabilities — how far you can push yourself and how where your own barriers might lie to hold you back from what you can do. There is freedom of spirit in running over and beyond where you felt you physically could travel.

I was encouraged to run during recess and P.E. even though I knew I could not compete with the girls who would make the track team. I decided to find my own buoyancy of rhythm, to tap into where my breath could match my feet and where my gait could extend itself into an individual pace of quickness. I hadn’t realised how I have missed that feeling of achieving something I never expected to gain. Running is an elevated joy from walking; but being in motion in and out of time itself is the appeal.

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

Blog Book Tour | “Girl Runner” by Carrie SnyderGirl Runner
by Carrie Snyder
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

An unforgettable novel about competition, ambition, and a woman’s struggle to earn a place in a man’s world, Girl Runner is the story of 1928 Olympic gold medalist Aganetha Smart. Will Aganetha’s undeniable talent help her to outrun the social conventions of her time, or the burden of her family’s secrets?

As a young runner, Aganetha Smart defied everyone’s expectations to win a gold medal for Canada in the 1928 Olympics. It was a revolutionary victory, because these were the first Games in which women could compete in track events—and they did so despite opposition. But now Aganetha is in a nursing home, and nobody realizes that the frail centenarian was once a bold pioneer.

When two young strangers appear asking to interview Aganetha for their documentary about female athletes, she readily agrees. Despite her frailty, she yearns for adventure and escape, and though her achievement may have been forgotten by history, her memories of chasing gold in Amsterdam remain sharp. But that triumph is only one thread in the rich tapestry of her life. Her remarkable story is colored by tragedy as well as joy, and as much as Aganetha tries, she cannot outrun her past.

Part historical page-turner, part contemporary mystery, Girl Runner peels back the layers of time to reveal how Aganetha’s amazing gift helped her break away from a family haunted by betrayals and sorrow. But as the pieces of her life take shape, it becomes clear that the power of blood ties does not diminish through the years, and that these filmmakers may not be who they claim to be. . . .

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780062336057

Genres: Canadian Lit, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


Published by Harper Books

on 3rd February, 2015

Pages: 288

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published by: Harper Books (@harperbooks)

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Available FormatsHardback & Ebook

Converse via: #GirlRunner

About Carrie Snyder

Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner is shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her previous book, The Juliet Stories, was shortlisted for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award and named one of the Globe and Mail‘s Top 100 Books of the Year. Her first book, the short story collection Hair Hat, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award for Short Fiction. A mother of four, Carrie lives with her family in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

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Posted Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, ARC | Galley Copy, Audio Play, Audiobook, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Bookish Films, Canada, Canadian Literature, Cats and Kittens, Chapter or Novel Adaptation in Audio, Clever Turns of Phrase, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, During WWI, Geographically Specific, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Literary Fiction, Lyrical Quotations, Midwife | Midwifery, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Soundcloud, Sports, The Olympic Games (Winter or Summer), the Roaring Twenties, TLC Book Tours, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

Blog Book Tour | “Softly Falling” by Carla Kelly

Posted Saturday, 22 November, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Softly Falling by Carla Kelly

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

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #SoftlyFalling, #histfic, #diverselit

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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 “Softly Falling” 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:

I simply adore historical romances, and I have a soft spot for Westerns! I love the intensity of the moment where the two main characters find themselves in a place where they have to fight alongside each other for survival! A great place to curate drama and romance!

Blog Book Tour | “Softly Falling” by Carla KellySoftly Falling
by Carla Kelly
Source: Direct from Publisher

Lily looked at the vastness of the plains, full of cattle, and then up at the sky without a cloud in sight.

"What's going to happen, Mr. Sinclair?" she asked.

"What do you know?"

Fresh off the train from New York City,  Lily Carteret arrives in picturesque Wynoming only to discover that her wayward father has lost his cattle ranch to a lowly cowboy in a card game!

Determined not to let her father's folly ruin her life, Lily becomes a teacher on the ranch. There she learns that the handsome cowboy, Jack Sinclair, has made some wild predictions about the upcoming winter - that it will be unlike anything Wyoming has ever seen. Lily must either cast off her skepticism to work with Jack or risk losing everything she holds dear.

This latest novel by bestselling romance author Carla Kelly is sure to please new and old fans alike. Stirring, tense, and filled with swoon-worthy moments, it's a delectable read that will leave you begging for more!

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462113958

Also by this author: Summer Campaign, Courting Carrie in Wonderland, A Season of Love

Genres: Historical Fiction, Western Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 11th of November, 2014

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 288

About Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light, My Loving Vigil Keeping and Softly Falling.

Photo Credit: Marie Bryner-Bowles, Bryner Photography

Rugged yet full of Heart: the American West was for spirited survivors:

One of the reasons I love snuggling into a historical fiction drama set within the Rocky Mountain range of majestic jeweled peaks, is because I love the ruggedness of the land with the warm fire of spirit of the people who call the territories home. This was a portion of America where only the rugged at heart could carve out a living and find the joy in the seasons, as hard as they were to survive on little to no means of surplus provisions. This is where the men and women who dared to thrive found themselves in pickles when the heaviest of the storms plundered down around them in the Spring and Winter.

I have always been encouraged by their fiery spirit and their camaraderie to find sparkles of happiness out of a rough-hewn life forged out of necessity and honour. They could teach the art of simplicity and the wealth of faith rooted out of everyday joy and celebrations. Reading stories underlit by raw courage and a sense of instincts labouring to endure whatever nature could see to challenge them with is one reason I find myself drawn into the Western genre; soaking inside one story after another, and gaining a bit of insight into the way the West was settled.

My Review of Softly Falling:

Miss Lily Carteret has not had an easy upbringing; she is the daughter of her father’s heart, but her family in England was quite proper and never fully accepted her uniqueness as a quality they could appreciate. Her grace of statue and her calm fire in spite of such uneasy attitudes gave her a bit of a headway into understanding how to survive in a world of injustices. The colour of her skin held within it’s own beauty of her spirit and the compassion of her mother of whom she rarely speaks of but intuitively knows she had gained a grounding of character. Lily is a formidable woman in an age and time during our historical past where women were not given many opportunities nor a chance to define their lives on the merits of their own capabilities. Yet, due to a change of circumstance in both her station and in her location, Lily not only accepts her plight but shines a light on what is possible inside her mind’s eye.

The story begins on a premise of words whispering out of Thomas Edison about how never to compromise a defeat if you haven’t first uncovered every stone cast against your path. The strength of the quotation is explored through Lily as much as it is in Jack; two unlikely souls finding themselves in the same bit of Wyoming territory where a harsh clime and an undying level of optimism can take you further than a stubborn attitude against change. They each are residing near a rambling ranch where a lone schoolhouse looms silent within a stone’s throw of a towne with less than a dozen children residing inside it. The potential for what the schoolhouse could give Lily is enough of a will for Jack to encourage the lass to consider all options outside the box in an attempt to inspire her forward when life has left her feeling as though she is slowly falling into a vacuum. Neither moving forward or backwards, but rather sliding into a part of her life where uncertainty rules the roost of the early dawn.

The schoolhouse not only offered shelter for a small group of knowledge thirsty children to gain insight into how to read, write and do arithmetic but it sheltered them from a blizzard which arrived without warning and without a whispering sound! Snow funneled down to the earth in such earnest strides towards whitening out the entire ranch, giving Lily only time enough to assess her supplies and attempt to bring a bit of normalcy to the growing tension rising between her and the children. Her mind was filled with concern for her father (recently enroute to the city) and for Jack (elsewhere at the moment) whilst the world turnt dark, cold and frightening otherworldly. The snow’s wrath and extended conditions reminded me of the snowstorm greeting the Northern Tier of the states and provinces of Canada this November of 2014!

In the very beginning of the novel, Jack proffered Lily a premonition of what might come as soon as Winter set in on this small portion of the Wyoming Territory; knowing his intuition was set to rights was one thing, watching it arrive before her eyes was nearly too much weight for Lily to bear. She had grown not in years but in depths of what she was individually capable of achieving since she first arrived off the train; she had taken the bleak situation presented to her and turnt lemons into lemonade. She found her true calling in life (teaching) and she found self-worth was never too far away if you had a bit of ingenuity up your sleeve. Her presence warmed the hearts of the ranch hands and the help of the ramshackle ranch; where even the children learnt prejudice of others had no place in their world. She was not the only multicultural resident, but she was the one who breathed acceptance and tolerance into a slice of the territory which had long since needed to evolve past ignorance.

What I loved the most about Softly Falling is how the pieces of Lily’s life started to fall as soft as early Winter snowflakes, gentle and soft; warming to the spirit and endearing to the heart. She found she was never quite as alone as she felt she were in the world and that suddenly you can find yourself in a well sprung of kindness you never knew you had aligned on your path. The charming bits of the story remind me of a true epic saga, where you tuck yourself into the lives of the characters in such a way as to firmly and rather stubbornly do not move an inch off your seat until your fingers move the very last of the pages forward to gleam what is awaiting you in the ending paragraphs!

Softly Falling reminded me a bit of Love Comes Softly on the level where true love is not always a shower of sparks or lightning bolts, but a reassurance of commitment, trust, and compassion developing into something more solid as hours slide into days and days into months. Love isn’t always a firecracker explosion but true love can fall as softly as a snowflake and endure a soul to another as surely as a thousand year old oak can withstand a blizzard. A testament of strength irregardless of the ills and adversities of life; love can gather itself in thin soil and thrive in a pasture of a fertile harvest.

A soulful grace of story-telling where the characters alight naturally into view out of the pen of Carla Kelly:

Carla Kelly shines her soulful grace of the craft of story-telling within this novel, which accomplishes much more at it’s core than merely telling us a story wrought out of the Western genre within the folds of a Historical Fiction. No, this novel seeks a gentle truth towards telling a story rooted in the realism between the continental divides of race, identity, and personal worth as related to station, lifestyle, and locale. She interweaves a gentle hand of guidance within the minds of her characters, but it is how each of her characters bespeak of their innermost beliefs I found endeared me the most to the novel itself. A prime example of this is how Jack took awhile to realise his fond affection for Lily was far deeper than he was allowing himself to believe and yet, every chance he had to convey his thoughts to the reader, his love shone as bright as the Northern Lights:

My favourite passage from Jack relaying his thoughts on behalf of Lily & her mother:

He had no family, and the two women – one of color and the other of a creamy blend – filled his heart more than he knew at the time. They were ladies of quality but suspended in an unkind world, because they fit no mold.

– Jack from page 50, Chapter 7 of “Softly Falling” by Carla Kelly; see sources below

Kelly has captured my heart for the American West and given me a novel fully supported of cultural integrity and diversity of spirit, soul, heart, and the pursuit of finding your own path when life gives you an intercession of pause to choose how you want to live rather than having a life dictated to you.

An additional note on | character descriptions (per a convo I had on #K8Chat):

If I hadn’t ducked in on the lively and open-minded chat via #K8chat whilst I was working on this book review, I might not have thought to broach this subject, as part of the discussion was focused on how characters of race are presented within descriptive narratives. Specifically how writers tend to lean on descriptive choices pairing food with personal appearances as a method to convey differences in culture, race, and ethnicity. During the chat, I had expressed my thoughts on the topic by mentioning that oft-times when I find descriptive choices that lean on this writing technique to be of a ‘falling short of grace’ for me. Of course, within 140 characters I had to get a bit creative in how I expressed this but suffice to say, most choices come across as contrite, predictable, cliche or used in a way which does not befit the character nor the representation of the diversity the character is illuminating.

However, I said it does depend on context and content, as much as the story itself and not every writer writes the same way per each situation this would arise. Or at least, it was my intention to point this out, but chats on Twitter are such a rapid fire explosion of tweeting, you’d have better luck playing Quidditch! What I mostly have found though is that if you are limiting a person’s outside appearance to being described solely upon shapes, food, or discernible attributes which barter on a consensus of commonality within the trade of books — I feel as though the industry is simply missing out on the opportunity to use a palette of words which befit characters as defined as we would describe someone we met in real life.

I  personally do not see colour nor culture – I see people and their stories; stories yet to be shared or known, but everyone who walks earth has a story to tell. We are as diverse as the four winds, we are as colourful as a kaleidescope and we are as wonderfully unique as we were bourne to be. I always champion writers who find a way to allow their characters to be naturally wrought out of the text of their stories, emerging into the scenes as if they were not only living their truth but they were owning it at the same time.

In the opening chapters of Softly Falling, we are greeted by Lily’s disheveled and disillusioned father, who has never quite turnt an honest wage into an honest living irregardless of which country he’s living inside. A man whose soul was hinged to the bottle and a heart without the will to see past his daily tasks. His greatest gifts of love and joy were his wife and daughter, yet both were ethnically different from himself. Sadly, he was never quite the man either one of them deserved. Rather than establish a line of clarity on what his daughter would appear like disembarking from the train to the man he entrusted to collect her, he relates her origins in direct comparison to a specific type of tea.

What I appreciated seeing how Kelly treated the scene from two different points of view – that of Lily’s father (Clarence) and from Jack, is that Jack felt her appearance and her essence were not being properly voiced. He was embarrassed by the frankness of her father and of the method of his ability to describe her. Jack had more sense in his head than a father could bestow on his own flesh and blood. The dichotomy of their choices proved a telling point — no matter which era we call our own, there are always ripples of indifference in regards to who we are on the outside without seeing our beauty from the inside. I felt Kelly approached this quite well and I sided with Jack instantly on his compassion and his acceptance of Lily.

During the #K8Chat, I was surprised on how lively the discussion had become but one that was full of respect, innocent encouragement of exchanging ideas and an open forum for acceptance on both sides of the topic itself. Some voiced concerns over how descriptive narratives are used or how they are interpreted by readers whereas some who might have felt everything was acceptable were given fodder to chew at the end of the hour. To me the best way forward in a diverse world of literature is where every person (and their character counterpart) has the breathing space to become a part of the world stage of stories — we each have to remain open and honest about our thoughts, our impressions, and the believably of how stories are told. If truism and realism are important, even as book bloggers it would benefit us to remember to voice any concerns we might have as we read diversity in novels as much as celebrating the writers like Carla Kelly who get it right.

Don’t forget to give a nod of gratitude to her publisher, Sweetwater Books/Cedar Fort as well!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

(read more of the convo) (read the chat transcript)

(the chatter who sparked the topic : Melissa Robles (@MeliRobles) | The Reader & the Chef)

(read my essay from #atozchallenge: Letter E The World is a Melting Pot)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

 Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour:
Softly Falling Blog Tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media
This book review is being cross-promoted via:

#IndieWriterMonth Blog Feature of Jorie Loves A Story, badge created by Jorie in Canva

Return May, 2015 to see my second book review on behalf of a Carla Kelly novel:

Summer Campaign Blog Tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “Softly Falling”, author biography, book synopsis, blog tour badges and the badge for Cedar Fort Publishing & Media were provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Permission granted in notice of copyright for ‘brief passages embodied in critical reviews’ which is why I selected a small quotation to share on my review with the permission of the publisher. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. #IndieWriterMonth badge created by Jorie in Canva. Cross-Posted badge for Riffle created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The live reading tweets in regards to “Softly Falling”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
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Posted Saturday, 22 November, 2014 by jorielov in #K8chat, 19th Century, American Old West, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Cats and Kittens, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Father-Daughter Relationships, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Homestead Life, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Lyrical Quotations, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Native American Fiction, Old West Americana, Passionate Researcher, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Spontaneous Convos Inspired by Book, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Western Fiction, Western Romance, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Wyoming

Blog Book Tour | “The Spoils of Avalon” by Mary F. Burns a #cosy historical mystery which enraptures your head within a cleverly crafted suspense full-on of action & dialogue of centuries past!

Posted Monday, 17 November, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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The Spoils of Avalon by Mary F. Burns

{ Book 1: A John Singer Sargent | Violet Paget Mystery }

Published By: Sand Hill Review Press (@SandHillRP)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Converse via: #TheSpoilsOfAvalon, #JohnSingerSargent & #SpoilsOfAvalonBlogTour

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Spoils of Avalon” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher Sand Hill Review Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

A most auspiciously clever beginning:

I was most delightfully blissful to see where the reference to Holmes and Watson might have sparked a nodding glance by Ms. Spann, but before I could even dig deeper into the context of the novel itself, I was first greeted by such a curious note out of the pen of Ms. Paget herself — who auspiciously cast the most alluring footbridge into her introductory mystery! I always fancy writers who find a way to insert their lead character into the early bits of a novel’s opening sequence, wherein one of my favourite choices is the note ‘left for future readers’ and writ especially for the curious as to why this particular tale might be told and the merits behind it’s reading; alas, the reason I appreciate this most?! It allows a bit of an anchor between the writer, the chosen narrator of the story, and the reader who wants to take up the journey and see where everything of which is yet to unfold shall lead them to travel; as if vagabond to the action themselves!

The poem by William Blake highlighting a moment out of the life of Jesus was a special touch, as I had not had the pleasure of reading this poem previously and it knits together the setting of placing the story around Avalon most directly. I also appreciated the biographies of the two lead detectives: Sargent & Paget, as what originally appealed to me to read this particular cosy historical mystery is the fact the two lead characters are rooted within the historical past! Two individuals I am earnestly curious about learning more about and yet, never once in my pursuits of the fine arts did I see Sargent’s name mentioned; such a pity as I am drawn to watercolour painting techniques, as it works around my allergies to the more stringent oils.

A new foray of choice within the coattails of cosies are the ‘historicals’ which draw out such a breath of interest inside me heart that I am not even sure I will be able to read and appreciate all the lovelies I am seeking to read next! There is such a hearty breadth of choice these days for the historical reader who likes dig their chops into the art and skill behind sleuthing and murder mysteries! It has become a most delightful part of my blogging life to unearth such lovelies on blog tours therein having the honour of drawing a happy glow around the Indie Writers and the Indie Pubs who are producing such a wicked quality to the craft! It is my long-term goal to re-visit the authors I have previously reviewed, to see if their second or next novel in sequence have become released and thereby, potentially able to become acquired! I appreciate each cosy historical writer I am discovering for being uniquely different from each other and for capturing my passionate love of time travelling through the historical past!

Blog Book Tour | “The Spoils of Avalon” by Mary F. Burns a #cosy historical mystery which enraptures your head within a cleverly crafted suspense full-on of action & dialogue of centuries past!The Spoils of Avalon
by Mary F. Burns
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The death of a humble clergyman in 1877 leads amateur sleuths Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent into a medieval world of saints and kings—including the legendary Arthur—as they follow a trail of relics and antiquities lost since the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. Written in alternating chapters between the two time periods, The Spoils of Avalon creates a sparkling, magical mystery that bridges the gap between two worlds that could hardly be more different—the industrialized, Darwinian, materialistic Victorian Age and the agricultural, faith-infused life of a medieval abbey on the brink of violent change at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell.

First in a new series of historical mysteries, The Spoils of Avalon introduces two unlikely detectives and life-long friends—beginning as young people on the verge of making their names famous for the next several decades throughout Europe and America: the brilliant and brittle Violet Paget, known as the writer Vernon Lee, and the talented, genial portrait painter John Singer Sargent.

Friends from the age of ten, Paget and Sargent frequently met in the popular European watering places and capitals, frequenting the same salons and drawing rooms in London, Rome, Paris, Florence, Venice, Vienna and Madrid. Both were possessed of keen minds and bohemian tendencies, unorthodox educations and outsized egos (especially Paget). Their instant, natural bonding led them to address each other as “Twin”, and they corresponded frequently when they were apart.

Henry James once described Violet Paget as having “the most formidable mind” of their times, and he was an active fan and patron of John Sargent, introducing him to London society and his own inner circles of literary and artistic genius.

Places to find the book:

Also by this author: Mary F. Burns (Spoils of Avalon Interview)

Series: John Singer Sargent | Violet Paget mysteries,


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery


Published by Sand Hill Review Press

on 1st November, 2014

Pages: 300

About Mary F. Burns

Mary F. Burns

Mary F. Burns is the author of PORTRAITS OF AN ARTIST (Sand Hill Review Press, February 2013), a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a former member of the HNS Conference board of directors. A novella-length book, ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, is also being published by Sand Hill Review Press in 2014. Ms. Burns’ debut historical novel J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE was published in July 2010 by O-Books (John Hunt Publishers, UK). She has also written two cozy-village mysteries in a series titled The West Portal Mysteries (The Lucky Dog Lottery and The Tarot Card Murders).

Ms. Burns was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where she earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in English, along with a high school teaching certificate. She relocated to San Francisco in 1976 where she now lives with her husband Stuart in the West Portal neighborhood. Ms. Burns has a law degree from Golden Gate University, has been president of her neighborhood association and is active in citywide issues. During most of her working career she was employed as a director of employee communications, public relations and issues management at various San Francisco Bay Area corporations, was an editor and manager of the Books on Tape department for Ignatius Press, and has managed her own communications/PR consulting business, producing written communications, websites and video productions for numerous corporate and non-profit clients.

A timeslip between the 19th & 16th Centuries: 

Each new journal entry gives you a further perspective of the events unfolding per each timescape we are entering; therefore where one chapter relates to us where Sargent & Paget are finding themselves a bit bemused by unexpected developments at the start of their journey towards understanding a riddle within the note which carried them to Uncle Chaffee’s village, we are also returning back to the Abbey in due course. It is a good pace to set the timeslip, because just before you gain too much information in one particular time dimension, you’re embarking backwards or forwards as the case might be to the other one! The unknown suspense needling out around the edges of both interludes is pleasantly suspended as if a spider is still knitting their web. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 17 November, 2014 by jorielov in 16th Century, 19th Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Art, Arthurian Legend, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Britian, British Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Historical Mystery, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, John Singer Sargent, Story in Diary-Style Format, the Victorian era, Violet Paget, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Writing Style & Voice