Welcome to my tour stop for “Under Fortunate Stars”! I have been toying with the idea of spending Sundays focusing on my love of Science Fiction as whenever November comes round for @SciFiMonth (ie. #SciFiMonth) I have the tendency of being unable to get into all the lovelies I want to read during that singular month. I felt expanding my focuses to be curated year-round whilst doing a concentration of SciFi during November might be the better route to take moving forward! Therefore, I’ll be either sharing reviews, features, interviews (such as this one!) or spotlights – or other such posts during my newly established #SciFiSundays showcases on Jorie Loves A Story.
This weekend, I had hoped to read and focus on the story ‘Under Fortunate Stars’ however, my copy from the publisher hasn’t yet arrived – though, I did recently find out there is an audiobook edition which released ahead of the hardcover this June. I will have to keep you posted on which edition of the story I read which is why I changed my tour stop from a review to a spotlight. I would have loved to have assembled an interview for you all to enjoy today however, my May was wrecked with a lot of difficult work days whilst my health suffered a bit as well. I’m thereby thankful there was an extract I could select and feature instead of being able to absorb myself into this world myself.
The reason I wanted to read or listen to “Under Fortunate Stars” was due to my previous readings of “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” (see also Post) and the expansively engrossing The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda. (see also Reviews) I enjoy becoming invested in a story or series set inside a ship environment whilst also focusing on the characters who either have circumstances they have to overcome or have a unique situation happen to them and you get the joy of taking that journey alongside them.
Whilst you might have noticed I’m focusing on Fantasy throughout the month as well – as I’m co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder. There will be loads of new content featuring those stories as well as we move into our final week and a half of the event. Everyone has been gracious providing content for everyone to enjoy this year across socially bookish channels and we’re all delighted to see the event grow into such a larger and expansive community; similar to how Sci Fi Month found its own wings to fly several years ago.
Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.
The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five's legendary ship—and the Five's famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.
But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake...
Borrowed Book By:My path first crossed with Ms Kincaid during the #12DaysOfCozies Twitter chats hosted by @cozymysteryclub in December, 2020. It was a chance to interact with Cosy Mystery writers in a kick-off celebration of Cosies as a lead-up into the Christmas holidays. During the chats themselves there were several bookaways, wherein this novel was one of the prizes however I was meant to win a copy of another Cosy story in an anthology – however it never arrived by post. I did however receive a swag pack of bookmarks and stickers by the hostess of the chats and I have been using her #Sleuther bookmark to read all the lovely Cosies I borrow through my library whilst the other bookmarks I use either for books in my personal library or review books I receive for review consideration.
The chats were a benchmark of my 2020 Christmas celebrations as it allowed me to celebrate Christmas in a keenly special way last December whilst I was able to interact and seek out new series of Cosies to read this New Year, 2021 as well. I have quite a long list of stories and series I want to dive inside and this particular book marks the start of those readings. Ms Kincaid and I just happened to hit it off quite well and I knew I wanted to host her via @SatBookChat. This review is both a continued nod of celebration to #12DaysOfCozies and of course, a happy introduction to a new Cosy series I was thankful I have had myself courtesy of my local library!
I borrowed the hardbck copy of the novel “To Kill A Mocking Girl” direct from my local library. I was not obliged to post a review and am sharing my review on behalf of this novel for my own edification as much as continuing to share my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
This review has been a long time in coming to Jorie Loves A Story!! I’ve been wanting to host Ms Kincaid via #SatBookChat for most of Spring however, the timing for both the author and myself had to work out a few kinks. With my return to working full-time earlier in Spring and with some health afflictions in mid-Spring, we both decided to push this forward into June. I was grateful I finally had a chance to bring her into #SatBookChat’s community as I’ve been reading this novel off/on for as many months as we’ve been working on the schedule! Each time I thought I was close to finishing the novel, I had to boomerang the book back to the library! Laughs.
The joy for me on the morning of #SatBookChat today was waking up early enough to make more headway into the story and to find myself at the halfway mark before the chat began! It was my intentions to sneak into the book whenever I had an hour or so to spare to read it whilst hoping no one in my community wanted to read it this week as I had to re-fetch it! Smirks. Thankfully the stars aligned and whilst I wasn’t working, I happily tucked into the lives of Quinn, Sister Daria and Aiden.
For me, the character who stole my heart is Sister Daria and until I had the convo this morning with Ms Kincaid I couldn’t sort out why I leant more towards her than Quinn. Until of course the author pointed out Quinn is sweet and all but she’s a bit dull and mundane in comparision to Daria and I believe that’s true! Sister Daria is a renegade nun in so many ways – from her background and backhistory to how she approaches the sisterhood with ideals and beliefs that are not in-step with the rest of her sisters. I celebrated finding that inclusive of her storyline but again, it isn’t a conventional character and I think that in of itself is why I love her as much as I do!
After the chat, I quickly dove back into the story – I knew with an afternoon shift I didn’t want to put off reading more of the book or if I could, get into the ending as I was dearly curious about who was ‘behind’ the whole sequencing of events. This is one thinking mystery I was appreciating see develop because it didn’t seem to be an obvious choice in regards to whom the person was behind the crime. If you factor in the fact, Quinn was labelled as a person of interest early-on in the storyline, I knew I was ready to see where Kincaid would take us next to root out the truth and solve the case alongside Quinn and her family.
Why I enjoy Cosy Mysteries (Contemporary & Historical):
When it comes to Mysteries, stories of Suspense and even Thrillers, I have the tendency to read through the centuries as I appreciate a wicked good Contemporary as much as a thrillingly brilliant Historical which you can intuit from my Story Vault. (mind, its not updated for awhile) Focusing on the topic today, Cosy Mysteries (yes, I purposely spelt it this way!) have been my jam since I was quite young. I’ve openly discussed how much I struggled with reading when I was a young girl – before and after I learnt I was dyslexic and when it came to reading, Mysteries were a constant companion.
I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys before I quickly moved into Adult Cosies with Agatha Christie and her lovingly brilliant Miss Marple! I wouldn’t discover Poirot until an adult – through the film adaptations and series; whilst it is a goal of mine to read his stories at some point. Cosies have a particular fondness for me because I’m not a reader who enjoys gritty and gruesome scenes of violence nor do I enjoy heavy pepperings of vulgarity (see also Review for a recent read that went over the top). I’d much prefer to get into the heart of the investigations, follow the central lead and supporting characters’ journeys and settle into the setting of the mystery as well. Small townes are an especially favourite of mine because of how quirky they are by nature and how cleverly their organised by writers to be full of interestingly diverse and ecelctic characters.
I read Contemporary Suspense novels which are writ similarly to Cosies – as their with a faith-based imprint (ie. Love Inspired Suspense) but in general, I tend to categorise those separately from ‘Cosy’ as Cosy has its own guidelines and perimeters to adhere too, themselves. I do count Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cosies but I know their just ‘this side’ of Hard-Boiled, too. I like to peer into a Cosy’s characters’ life, take up residence there and enjoy the respite from other genres I regularly read. Cosies also have a cosy-comfortable vibe about them and you tend to get attached to the characters and/or the setting quite immediately.
When it comes to Cosy Historical Mysteries – I sometimes put a few ‘nearly Hard-Boiled’ lovelies into that category, too, such as the Susan Spann Hiro Hattori series I regularly have read through the last several years. For Historicals, rather than having myself feel anchoured into our modern world with pop cultural references which I devour in stories due to the fact it opens a lot of my geeky doors of delight – I prefer to feel more attached to the timescape in History. Similar to why I love reading Victorian, Regency and Edwardian Romances. I like to feel as if I’ve removed myself into that portal of the historical past and can see/sense everything I might have if I were physically removed.
The best bit of course is the suspension of reality to tuck close to a Cosy character, peer into the investigative processes and see if I can either guess or root out the culprits along with the sleuths in the story. Whether their professionals or amateurs, I love following along and seeing where the writer has chosen to take us through their own vision for the set-up and the reveal. Even the motivations for the characters who are villains is of interest as sometimes that can explain so much about the story and also, in the case of series, how that affects the characters who will return.
Cosy Mysteries are just a part of my bookish heart as much as Science Fiction, Fantasy & Historical Fiction – I rotate through genres on the regular and as you will denote by the events I co-host and/or participate inside every year, there is a genre of interest or flavour of story that might tempt you as you read the chronicles of my readerly life here on Jorie Loves A Story. It is harder to explain what led me into Cosies originally because my earliest memories of reading outside the moments I was listening to Mum (ie. the original narrator in my life) read to me were of Mysteries!! They’ve just always ‘been’ there, you know!?
My Connection to the Author: Harper Kincaid
Ms Kincaid and I truly loved interacting during the #12DaysOfCozies Twitter chat event during December, 2020. It sparked a wonderful connection between two writers and two avid readers wherein we found we share a heap in common with each other. and so, naturally a friendship started to develop. We’ve remained in contact over the months since as our schedules have allowed and I have been grateful to find someone I can relate too who is also celebrating being GenX through her series of Cosy Mysteries as the Bookbinding Mysteries is for readers who like GenX (and/or GenY) sensibilities in their stories.
I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her ahead of reading her novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. This is also true when I follow-up with them on future releases and celebrate the book birthdays which come after their initial publication.
Quinn Victoria Caine is back in her quirky town of Vienna, Virginia, starting her new life as a bookbinder in her family-owned, charm-for-days bookshop, Prose & Scones. With her trusty German Shephard RBG-‘Ruff Barker’ Ginsburg by her side, what can go wrong? Okay, sure, bumping into her ex, Scott, or her former high school nemesis, Tricia, is a drag. It certainly doesn’t help they have acquired the new hobby of shoving their recent engagement in her face every chance they get. But that doesn’t mean Quinn wanted to find Tricia dead in the road. So why does half the town think she may have done it?
Quinn is determined to find Tricia’s killer, even if it means partnering with her cousin-turned-nun, Sister Daria, and Detective Aiden Harrington, her older brother’s too-movie-star-handsome-for-his-own good, best friend. They believe she’s innocent, but of course that doesn’t influence the police, who peg her as their prime suspect. Or, at least until she’s poisoned.
But there is no way Quinn is going to stop now. Vienna is her town and-for better or worse-Tricia was one of their own. Someone may have killed the mocking girl, but no one’s going to stop the notorious QVC.
Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.
What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.
I received a complimentary copy of “Right Back Where We Started From” from the publisher Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
On why I elected to write a smaller review for this novel:
Earlier in May, I was able to resume full-time hours at work and since then, I’ve been working a lot of double shifts – which has altered some of my readings this May all the way round as I’ve been a bit more fatigued than I expected to be as I’ve been slowly re-adjusting to working full-time again since February. I decided to give a sampling of a preview of what my first impressions of “Right Back Where We Started From” were today rather than to feel guilty I’ve been reading this story a bit slower than others given the fact I’ve also have been working on most of my days off rather than to stress about trying to read this too fast. I am enjoying working again but I’ve found it to be a bit of an adjustment to re-find the balances in my life.
I am always keenly fascinated with Old Hollywood and the years from 1900-1949 which is why I have a firm affinity for Classic Movies and stories set round those decades. Everything was just becoming new again and discovered – if you extract the war years and focus on the homefront, it was an interesting time in American History. Especially as there were such landmark changes – for women and men alike and for the industries which were coming online for the first time. Back then, it was easier to find a niche of entrance into the film industry (or rather, perhaps it only appeared to be?) but it also was a moment of great change for our country.
This novel reads like a delishly alive Biographical Historical Fiction piece – as it is rooted in the telling of one family’s generational story – anchoured through the women and told with their own perspectives in tact. I love when authors can take that vantage point and run with it – as if you’ve not only had the chance to live their lives with them but you get to see the backdrop of where in History they had lived, too.
If misfortune hadn’t gotten in the way, Sandra Sanborn would be where she belongs–among the rich and privileged instead of standing outside a Hollywood studio wearing a sandwich board in the hope of someone discovering her. It’s tough breaking into the movies during the Great Depression, but Sandra knows that she’s destined for greatness. After all, her grandmother Vira crossed the country during the Gold Rush and established the Sanborns as one of San Francisco’s most prominent families, and her mother Mabel grew up in a lavish mansion and married into an agricultural empire. Success, Sandra feels, is in her blood. She just needs a chance to prove it.
In between failed auditions, Sandra receives a letter from a man claiming to be her father, which calls into question everything she believes about her family–and herself. As she tries to climb the social ladder, family secrets lurk in the background, pulling her down. Until Sandra confronts the truth about how Vira and Mabel gained and lost their fortunes, she will always end up right back where she started from.
Right Back Where We Started From is a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a meticulously layered saga–at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful–about three determined and completely unforgettable women.
Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov or #HistoricalFiction
+ #RightBackWhereWeStartedFrom and #HFVBTBlogTours
Available Formats: Hardback, Audiobook and Ebook
About Joy Lanzendorfer
Joy Lanzendorfer’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, Smithsonian, Poetry Foundation, and many others. She was included in The Best Small Fictions anthology and was a notable in The Best American Essays 2019. She has been awarded grants and residencies from the Discovered Awards for Emerging Literary Artists, Wildacres Residency Program, and the Speculative Literature Foundation.
Borrowed Book By: In late Winter 2020, (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.
I received a complimentary digital and temporary ebook copy of “Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle” direct from the publisher Capstone via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, I was not able to read and review it – as I misunderstood you could not request a print copy. At the time I requested this title, I had just joined NetGalley and hadn’t quite understood the whole process. Thereby, I made a purchase request at my regional library and they were thankfully able to purchase this novel for me. I borrowed this book in time to read and review during #WyrdAondWonder Year 4 – whilst being able to read one of my backlogue NetGalley reads in the process. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.
Why I wanted to read &/or listen to “Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle”:
I love reading #diverselit but sometimes, I struggle to find stories which are inclusive of multicultural characters & families which are in genres I read which are not full of violence or themes which are outside my literary wanderings.
Whenever I seek out Fantasy – I tend to gravitate towards Middle Grade & Young Adult moreso than Adult narratives because a lot of Adult Fantasy is a bit too far afield for me to read. Not always, but if you’ve noticed I have had the tendency of reading more Children’s Lit during #WyrdAndWonder than I do anything else and there is a reason for this!! Violence aside – I am enraptured by the writers who are giving us wicked good Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy stories. Their writing the narratives I want to be reading most and their characters give such a lasting impression of their lives on my bookish heart, they quite literally become my most beloved reads!!
When I read the premise of this story I connected with it immediately – though, by the time I sat down to read the novel, I had completely forgotten about how important it was to take stock of the ‘cat’ and therefore had a delightful surprise when I dove into the story this morning! I was just thankful my library was able to purchase a copy for me in hardback and allowing me to read this during #WyrdAndWonder before it was called back to the library! I’m hopeful other readers who find it on the library’s shelves will be as wholly enthused by what they’ve read as I have become myself.
It didn’t surprise me either that my first two readings this #WyrdAndWonder are about families & the concept of both what constitutes ‘home’ and ‘family’ to the characters. There is a centreing of truth in my own literary wanderings wherein family, community and coming-of age stories tend to the big draw for me as a reader. This was a special choice for me too, as I wasn’t sure which direction Everson might take us to account for the ‘magic ink’ and lo & behold it involved the JINN! Eek. I was positively smitten after I learnt that, too!
As you will tell from my review, this was a story which touched my heart & soul – being set in Turkey and taking place in the largest city’s marketplace was also a delight as I’ve seen documentaries about their markets and felt as if I had ‘been there’ just by how close those documentaries came to giving you the full effect of being ‘there’ yourself. I felt having that in my memories also helped me feel closer to Dalya on her journey, too. If you love stories of transfiguration, magical cats and the cheekiness of the Jinn – you’ll want to get a copy of this for yourself! I quite literally read this in the morning hours in one sitting — it was #unputdownable and wickedly brilliant!
What a sweet way to kick-off #WyrdAndWonder, eh!?
Notations on Cover Art: This is one of those charmingly brilliant novels where you can’t help but notice the cover art! I loved how both the cat and Dalya are not entirely seen on the front of the novel but also, there is this allure of the story itself – of what kind of magic awaits the reader and how interestingly captivating this image is of who is featured in the artwork. I love Fantasy & Speculative art – and this book cover is one of my all-time top favourites!
When twelve-year-old Dalya is dragged to Istanbul to help sell her family's ancestral home, the visit begins unpromisingly. Most of the aged mansion is off-limits because it's falling apart, her father is ignoring her, and her great aunt keeps prattling on about a family curse. Despite warnings against it, Dalya tiptoes upstairs, where she finds an old bottle of magic ink hidden under a floorboard. She asks the bottle's jinn (aka genie) to grant her a simple wish...to send her home. Except the jinn interprets "go home" to mean "send me back in time and turn me into a cat." Then Dalya must set off on a wild adventure through Istanbul's animal underworld to find the jinn with the power to set things right. Along the way she collects a group of companions - furry and human alike - but if she isn't careful, she'll lose the chance to reverse her family's fortunes and may never find her way back home.