Category: Clever Turns of Phrase

Blog Book Tour | “Girl Runner” by Carrie Snyder

Posted Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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

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 & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, 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 & Reviewer, 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

 Parajunkee Designs

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

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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 & Reviewer, 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

Blog Book Tour | “The Vineyard” by Michael Hurley

Posted Wednesday, 12 November, 2014 by jorielov , , 3 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

Published By: Ragbagger Press
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, E-book

Converse on Twitter via:#TheVineyard

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Vineyard” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Michael Hurley, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note about the Cover Art Design:

Prior to receiving the novel for review, there was a discussion threaded through TLC Book Tours via Twitter on which cover art design we would vote for in regards to the cover art for this particular novel. I must confess, I didn’t quite understand why the woman underwater would make any sense to be used, as I voted for the cover that placed the image of a woman at the edge of the shore instead. At least, I believe that was the scene I opted to choose, as it was a bit ago since I cast my vote! It wasn’t until I opened up the first chapter of “The Vineyard” that I had realised the basis for the cover image is the fact one of the women in the story is contemplating ending her life; and of all the methods available to her it is drowning in the ocean that appeals to her the most. On this level, the feeling of overwhelming emotion and to be put within the vise of a life-altering choice between life and death; yes, the cover art makes a bit more sense. The title however, I do agree was slightly misleading if you did not realise it was the shortened name for “Martha’s Vineyard” in regards to where the story is set.

The author included a small bookmark with the original cover art on display, which was a green and blue colour theme with leaves of a vine between both colours which take up 50% of the space for the cover itself. Almost as if the leaves were an underlay and overlay at the same time. To me it clued in to a dimensional thread of narrative where what is not readily known or able to be seen becomes a puncture of emotional drama. Or perhaps I prefer ambient gestures in cover art sometimes as opposed to curious images that do not always feel they are a strong fit such as the woman underwater tipping her finger to the surface. It does paint a different image altogether when pondering the story itself.

Blog Book Tour | “The Vineyard” by Michael HurleyThe Vineyard
by Michael Hurley
Source: Author via TLC Book Tours

Ten years after college, three very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with various challenges in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive fisherman threatens to change everything they believe about their world—and each other.

Places to find the book:

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by Ragbagger Press

on 25th November, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 384

About Michael Hurley

Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.
The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press in December 2014.
Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005. It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.
When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house. His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.

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My Review of The Vineyard:

Charlotte Harris a mother on a mission to save her daughter’s soul in death and to quell the anguish of her mother’s heart from the disillusionment her life became in the circumstances which catapulted her from a woman with a zest of life to one who was broken by the absurdity of regulations of the Catholic Church; at least to her mind and reason. Any mother grieving the loss of her deceased child would feel bound by angst out of spiteful rules that felt cruel and indifferent to the choices she had wanted to give her daughter; the baptismal blessing of a daughter whose mother wanted her to align on the side of Heaven was given a hard choice between accepting the limits of her faith and pursuing a route towards self-redemption. Her entire state of mind within the opening chapter hinges between sanity and the furrowing line of insanity — a sanction only Charlotte Harris could make a discernible ascertain as to which line she was living at that particular moment.

Charlotte received an invitation to the Vineyard which would single-handedly allow her to shape where her destiny was attempting to align her stars — Dory, the vagabond free-spirit friend of her youth encouraged her a Summery respite from the city to spend time with her by the ocean and hours filled to the brim with spontaneity. Dory was the type of friend who saw a friend spiraling into a well of depression and before it could be fully rotated into a sea of darkness, attempts to pull you out of your malaise. Dory’s family is old money as they say, a woman of means who lives an ordinary life (by her own justifications) but Charlotte is straight-up middle class with insecurities about her body image as much as the choices she made in life that feel unwarranted of declaring she lived life well.

Charlotte is a strong willed woman whose mission to greet her daughter in the in-between worlds of life and death blurred a bit whilst she attempted the unthinkable. In one figurative moment of where you could not back out of a course you struck out on, an intervention is given on behalf of what could have been Charlotte’s final hour. There is an immediate mystery surrounding how Charlotte is found bobbling offshore in a boat she doesn’t even remember taking out on her own as much as the identity of the person she’s convinced saved her life. Meanwhile, a third woman joins Dory and Charlotte; Turner who appears to be stuck in her own void whilst seizing an opportunity to promote Charlotte’s mysterious resurrection on her blog. The story not only goes viral but becomes the turning point for how their lives are suddenly stop drifting and start taking a trajectory that has merit of being explored.

Terminal illnesses play a central focus on the story – which I was a bit surprised to find but they are included at different integral parts of the novel. In regards to Charlotte’s daughter and in regards to the health of her beloved friend Dory; I generally steer clear of stories involving terminal illnesses due to the heavy weight of the yoke these stories affect on my mind and heart. However, I can say, that despite the heaviness of the subject they are treated with respect and consideration not only for the reader but for the characters who are living through the circumstances as revelations become known to them.

The issues started to arise for me after the mid-way point of the novel, where the entire foundation of where I felt this story was taking me ended up being shattered by a completely different story-line. Prior to my detachment with the novel and stopping to read it forthwith, I was perplexed by how the style and tone of the novel changed so suddenly. I had originally felt this about the writing style of the author:

Hurley has an incredible arc of characterising the level of depth a human can emote through life as much as internalise in an attempt to process what is perceived, felt, and layered into our unconscience. He knits into his story a level of uncanny perceptive intuition, where the details he describes are both perspicacious and viscerally accurate. His narrative prose gives this literary novel an elevation of tone, body, and attachment to the reader’s own ruminations to fall in step with the words he’s left behind for us to read off the printed page.

Yet at the point where I stopped reading his novel, I no longer felt the same. The transition from the first half to the second half of The Vineyard simply did not sit well with me. Especially as it explores the darker side of how vulnerable women can be taken advantage of, but the fact that the assault is attached to the priest was stepping a bit too far outside the lines of where I want to see a story shift forward. Prior to that moment, I appreciated the intuitiveness of his writing, but afterwards, I felt as though I wasted my time reading the built-up of emotional drama.

On the writing style of Michael Hurley:

Although I grew up in an industry akin and adjacent to the life of a medical examiner, the way in which Hurley chooses to describe the desperate act of a mother resolute in her belief that committing suicide is the only way in which to free her child and herself in oblique harmony can only be taken straight from an medical examiner’s journal of cases. Yet even within the framework of how the act could theoretically be carried through, he gives his character a pause to allow reason and the humanistic desire of holding onto life a chance to breathe. He gives Charlotte the window of exploring the depths of her soul and the gutting reality of a mother who has lost her child; allowing her the time to sort through her emotional heart and her soul wrenched memories of gutting grief.

Having the fisherman who gives Charlotte the shrimp in the beginning a scant view of the note Charlotte intended to leave behind for Dory to find was a nice eclipse of tide. It gave Charlotte a crimson flush of embarrassment yes, but it also alerted her mind to realise she was in a deeply wrought depression. A stop-start of realisation of where her act could lead and how it would affect everyone in her wake of sudden death.

Fly in the Ointment:

At first the inclusions of stronger choices of words was intermittent and infrequent, but by the time I reached the middle of the novel, they became a bit more repetitive and inclusive. They are still not the main focal point of the tone or voice of the novel itself, as they are included in moments of high tension and/or emotional disbelief. However, I will always contend I can read a novel without any vulgarity within its pages and still perceive the eclipse of the emotional turbulence all the same.

I do have issues with stories that involve impropriety between spiritual leaders and their flock; as it simply isn’t a story-line I would normally walk into blind. I originally felt this was a story rooted in sisterhood friendships and a life affirmative jaunt of a Summer where they would renew their spirits whilst celebrating their friendship. What I received instead is a darkening cloud of a drama leading me into a story I felt I hadn’t signed up to read. If that one thread of narrative had been removed, it would have told a completely different story. One that I might have wanted to finish reading.

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:
{ click-through to follow the blogosphere tour }

TLC Book Tours | Tour Host

See what I am hosting next by stopping by my Bookish Events page!

I created a list on Riffle to share the books that I simply could not become attached to as a reader myself, but stories which would benefit a reader to find them, and appreciate them for what each writer gave to their story. For me, the reason I included The Vineyard is because I did not feel it appropriate to explore the infidelity and impropriety of a priest nor to have such an illicit disconnect from the opening first half of the novel tot he middle portion. Therefore, this is now listed on my Riffle List entitled: Stories Seeking Love from Readers.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Vineyard”, author photograph, author biography, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
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Posted Wednesday, 12 November, 2014 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cancer Scare, Cape Cod, Catholicism, Clever Turns of Phrase, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Diet Weight & Body Image, Disillusionment in Marriage, Divorce & Martial Strife, Family Drama, Fly in the Ointment, Go Indie, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Literary Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Near-Death Experience, Passionate Researcher, Reading Challenges, Realistic Fiction, Self-Harm Practices, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, TLC Book Tours, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Women's Health, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Writing Style & Voice