Format: Paperback ARC

#SaturdaysAreBookish | “We Shall See The Sky Sparkling” by Susana Aikin

Posted Saturday, 16 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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Acquired Book By: I am 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! I received a complimentary ARC copy of “We Shall See The Sky Sparkling” direct from the publisher Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why this novel appealled to me:

A good portion of the story is hinged on ancestral sleuthing and of keeping the living histories of our families alive for each new generation who has the chance to hear them told. Being one half of the Ancestry Sleuth team in my own family, I can attest to how the preservation and the exploration of one’s family line can become quite a wicked adventure! Especially if you only have subtle clues towards researching past your maternal and paternal great-grandparents or know the names of at least a few of your great-greats going back from there – genealogy is a pursuit of joy for both my Mum and I.

I keep missing the #HistFicChat’s on Thursdays as my hours during the chat are unfortunately taken elsewhere now to where I can’t chat with fellow enthused readers and the writers of Historical Fiction as I had been free to do the previous year. It was only this Friday where I realised this past Thursday the featured guest was Ms Aikin and as I read a part of the feeds for the chat, I soon unearthed that part of this story was inspired by her own ancestral lineage! In fact, she had an actress in her family (see this tweet) whilst she also was heavily read in pre-revolutionary Russian Lit which also inspired the story itself (see also this tweet).

I’m hopeful I can start to return to the chat – as Rachel Brimble is returning to speak about a sequel to her Pennington novel – of which I enjoyed discussing when it first published and Soraya Lane is going to be featured the following week for her latest release The Spitfire Girls which I enjoyed talking to her a bit about on Twitter previously during the last year. I purchased one of Soraya Lane’s past novels on audiobook via Audible and I placed a request for The Mistress of Pennington’s which was accepted by my local library. The paperback is on hand to be read and the audiobook is one I have slated to be listened to this Spring whilst I endeavour to read, listen and focus on Historical Fiction selections during my #HistoricalMondays showcases.

I decided to feature this during my #SaturdaysAreBookish feature as to me it spoke to me as being a Historical Women’s Fiction narrative – whereby, the main threads of the author’s muse were interconnected to her grandaunt and the legacy of the life she had lived. It is a particular lens into how one woman dared to live a different life – go to different places in the world and to curate her own path from her era’s conventions. To me that is at the heart of why Women’s Fiction is relevant today as it doesn’t matter if the stories are Contemporary or Historical in nature if they are focused on telling a woman’s journey – towards her own destiny on terms she determined herself or how she overcame adversity or tragedy and still found a way to move forward in the aftermath. These kinds of stories always interest me and are part of the inspiration behind both the feature and the the redirection of my chat @SatBookChat.

Thereby, you can see – I predominately focus on reading the historic past and attempt to find new voices in Historical Fiction every year, such as Ms Aikin!

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Notation on Cover Art: I could honestly envision Lily is on the cover – letter-writing was dearly important to her as it was a method of keeping in touch with her brother and sister. Her letters are a featured pause in the narrative arc and I, personally, loved how they were included in the chapters. Therefore, whomever designed this cover truly tapped into the heart of Lily and gave her a cover where you could almost see her coming in from a hectic day where she simply wanted to ink out her thoughts and draft a new letter to post! Even the outfit here reminds me of Lily from Ms Aikin’s pen!

#SaturdaysAreBookish | “We Shall See The Sky Sparkling” by Susana AikinWe Shall See The Sky Sparkling
by Susana Aikin
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor

Set in London and Russia at the turn of the century, Susana Aikin’s debut introduces a vibrant young woman determined to defy convention and shape an extraordinary future.

Like other well-bred young women in Edwardian England, Lily Throop is expected to think of little beyond marriage and motherhood. Passionate about the stage, Lily has very different ambitions. To her father’s dismay, she secures an apprenticeship at London’s famous Imperial Theatre. Soon, her talent and beauty bring coveted roles and devoted admirers. Yet to most of society, the line between actress and harlot is whisper-thin. With her reputation threatened by her mentor’s vicious betrayal, Lily flees to St. Petersburg with an acting troupe–leaving her first love behind.

Life in Russia is as exhilarating as it is difficult. The streets rumble with talk of revolution, and Lily is drawn into an affair with Sergei, a Count with fervent revolutionary ideals. Following Sergei when he is banished to Vladivostok, Lily struggles to find her role in an increasingly dangerous world. And as Russian tensions with Japan erupt into war, only fortitude and single-mindedness can steer her to freedom and safety at last.

With its sweeping backdrop and evocative details, We Shall See the Sky Sparkling explores a fascinating period in history through the eyes of a strong-willed, singular heroine, in a moving story of love and resilience.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496717658

ASIN: B07MQ3FCHR

Genres: Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Kensington Books

on 29th January, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 416

Length: 14 hours and 53 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)

Converse via: #Epistolary #HistFic or #HistNov

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

About Susana Aikin

Susana Aikin

Born in Spain of an English father and a Spanish mother, Susana Aikin is a writer and a filmmaker who has lived and worked in New York City since 1982. She was educated in both England and Spain; studied law at the University of Madrid, and later Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

In 1986 she started her own independent film production company, Starfish Productions, producing and directing documentary films that won her multiple awards, including an American Film Institute grant, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and an Emmy Award in 1997. She started writing fiction full time in 2010. She has two sons and now lives between Brooklyn and the mountains north of Madrid.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 16 February, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Content Note, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Domestic Violence, England, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, London, Mental Health, Postal Mail | Letters & Correspondence, Psychological Abuse, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Scribd, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery

#BlackHistoryMonth Non-Fiction Book Review | “Standing Up Against Hate” (How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII) by Mary Cronk Farrel

Posted Friday, 15 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: In November [2018] I received a request about the newest Ms Farrell release – for those of you who’ve been visiting with me for awhile, you might have recalled I previously read her “Fannie Never Flinched” release in [2016] which was equally important for what it highlighted for young readers. I love reading empowering works of Non-Fiction which are highlighting hidden stories from History – this one felt as riveting as how I felt when I discovered the story within the film “Hidden Figures”. In many ways, I wish whilst I was in school they focused more on compelling stories like all of these and gave us a better living representation of History from multiple perspectives, cultural heritages and endeavour to make History lit more alive by the stories of the people who lived them. This is one reason I read a lot of Historical Fiction and why I look for Narrative Non-Fiction.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Standing Up Against Hate from the publisher Abrams Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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what i enjoyed about reading fannie never flinched:

We arrive in 1897 (so close to when my great-grandparents were alive themselves!) where the sad reality of girls working in sewing factories is brought to light. Those machines could be deadly or at the very least injurious to young girls whose fingers might not realise the strength of the mechanism they were working on. I flashed back to all the stories – in fiction and in film, where factories were exposed for their bad working habits and traditions. It was not hard to imagine this sequence of Fannie’s life – but for readers just becoming exposed to those harder truths of the historical past, the text and the photograph of all the ladies lined up in tight rows working past deprivation of sleep and hunger proves the point along.

Hers was a hard upbringing but an honest one, too. She was put to work as soon as she could earn her keep; such was the tradition of the era. It was nothing to be gone all day (hours past what a child should be expected to do) and without proper treatment or provisions for the labour given. By the time news was arriving about the insurrection in the industry to rise above the issues and draw attention to the rights women needed most, Fannie rose in a new confidence to seek out how to join the fight.

The historical photographs become the living testimony to strengthen the context – showing real women and real events along the passageway of Fannie’s life. Fannie’s life was one that began and continued in poverty; she simply never was given a chance to get a leg up on anything but was expected to do what was called upon her to get done. This is the era where women had little say, no respect and even had a risk taken against them to speak out against what was unfair. The moxie it must have taken for her to start to put together organisation towards bringing in change!

She became a natural bourne activist – travelling and speaking to as many people as she could who would listen to what she had to say. It did not surprise me she took heed of the plight of miners and their families – as their plight was similar to her own and those amongst her peers. They were given less rather than more, asked to work hard and were provided so little in return. Their families lived in squalor and could barely get by, hence why I think Fannie took a breath of strength to realise that her cause had multiple cross-applications! Working conditions were inhumane in more than one industry!

All whilst she tallied and worked tirelessly towards change, time was against her; as her family moved forward without her presence most of the time. Even in regards to the change she was seeking, it felt distant and unattainable due to the backlash she was getting from those who opposed her efforts. Her death was unnecessary and brutal – spoken with earnest disclosure in the end of the book. This biography is not for the sensitive reader – so if a child isn’t yet emotionally ready to read or listen to the story in full, I’d find a way to gloss over the harder chapters until they reach the point where they can handle all the details. Sometimes children can surprise us and handle more information than we think they can process but other times, too much information can lead to nightmares. Although all the facts are presented quite humbly, I might draw concern that they are a bit too pointed for more sensitive readers who might not want to know those exact details.

What shocked me the most is how she died and how her legacy was tucked underneath a rug so to speak. She never saw justice – not in life nor in death, except that the fight she participated in did yield eventually to better rights in labour laws but the price was so high, you feel sorry for Fannie in the end. How she believed so rightly in standing together and standing strong yet she had a faction of people who were blinded by hate and prejudice who took her out without so much as a passing regret or ounce of remorse. This is the saddest part of uncovering historical artifacts of humanity’s past – sometimes you find that such horrid things can happen in the midst of someone trying to right a wrong.

I commend the author for her tenacity and her dedication to tell Fannie’s story! She truly found the spirit of Fannie in her research and her pursuit of how to voice her living history! She should truly be honoured by what she was able to leave behind and to help safeguard the memory of Fannie forevermore!

-quoted from my review of Fannie Never Flinched

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Standing Up Against Hate
Subtitle: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII
by Mary Cronk Farrell
Source: Direct from Publisher

STANDING UP AGAINST HATE is the story of black women in the World War II Women’s Army Corps. They did not have civil rights nor the full protection of the law in America. Still, thousands signed up to serve their country and help fight the fascist regimes threatening democracy around the world.

As black WACs took up posts around the country they realized they would fight the enemy at home, long before they’d get a crack at the enemy abroad. At Fort Devens, Massachusetts, black WACs protested their unfair assignments to menial jobs that were never given to white WACs. Refusing to clean kitchens and scrub floors, they risked court martial and prison. Black women assigned to posts in the south feared for their lives traveling on buses and trains. Even their army uniforms did not protect them from assault and battery due to their skin color.

This book offers a much-need perspective on the lives of women of color in WWII America, some of the bravest and most adventurous women of their time. They interrupted careers, left home and loved ones, succeeded in jobs women had never done and stood up against racism and prejudice with dignity. African American WACs served with excellence, breaking barriers to make way for black women today who serve at the highest levels of the U.S. military.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781419731600

Also by this author: Fannie Never Flinched

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Women's Studies


Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers

on 8th January, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 208

Published By: Abrams Books for Young Readers (@abramskids)
an imprint of Abrams Books

Available Formats: Hardcover Edition

Converse via: #KidsLit, #BlackHistoryMonth + #NonFiction, #WomensRights

Read about what inspired this release on the author’s blog!

About Mary Cronk Farrell

Mary Cronk Farrell

Mary Cronk Farrell is an award-winning author of five books for young people and former television journalist with a passion for stories about women facing great adversity with courage. She researches little known stories from history and relates them with engaging and powerful language in her books, multi-media presentations and workshops. Farrell has appeared on TV and radio across the nation. She speaks to women’s groups, civic groups, and at museums, schools and libraries.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 15 February, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, African-American Literature, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, The World Wars, Women's Rights

A St. Valentine’s Book Review | “After the Rain” (sequel to “The Last Summer”) by Brandy Bruce Returning to a series I discovered last Summer when I focused on reading more #INSPY and discovered a lovely new author in Ms Bruce!

Posted Thursday, 14 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been hosting blog tours with Cedar Fort Publishing and Media for several years now, wherein their new blog tour publicist (Ms Sydney Anderson) also runs her own publicity touring company: Singing Librarian Book Tours (or SLB Tours for short!). I happily joined her team of book bloggers as a hostess in late Spring, 2018 wherein my first tours with her as a hostess begin Summer, 2018. I appreciate reading INSPY literature and was happy to find these are most of the stories she is showcasing through SLB Tours! Most of her authors are published through Cedar Fort, though she does work with authors who are either Self-Published or Indie published through different publishers as well.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “After the Rain” direct from the author Brandy Bruce in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I am enjoying reading the stories by Brandy Bruce
– especially within this series:

Quote from The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce provided by Singing Librarian Book Tours

These are the very first words we read within the pages of The Last Summer, which set the tone for the novel and for what your expecting to find inside the story. You immediately feel comfortable around Addison, Sam, Luke, Lily, Jason, Debra and Sara. I credit this directly to how Ms Bruce fused her heart into the story-line, as the opening bridge has such a strong visceral anchouring to it, it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve become part of this close-knit circle of friends yourself!

They have the kind of familial relationship you might have hoped to have sought out yourself, though in reality forging friendships like these is not as simple as it would seem. Anyone whose attempted to make a fresh start in a new community knows how hard it is to ‘break-in’ if there is a niche already established between friends’ who have known each other for years. In many ways, I was both thankful to see Sara embraced and slightly questioning how plausible it really would be for that to happen as by my own experiences, it is beyond rare. For the sake of the story, I decided to suspend reality and embrace the moment, as what Sara had stumbled into is something everyone hopes to find for themselves and for that reason alone, I was hooked into reading her story!

The realistic manner of feeling enveloped by the emotional anguish is fittingly honest – these kinds of relationships are murky on the outset, as there are no clear definitions on either side – especially if someone along the way chooses to realise their feelings have changed from idle friendship to romance – how is it best handled to explain that to the other person? The quagmire of course is sorting this out whilst realising the person of your affection has started to move on without you – choosing someone who isn’t you and where does that leave you in the end?

In the background of the story, as this hinges quite heavily on the lives of seven friends, is an interesting mother-daughter relationship. One which surprised me at first, as being that Sara is an only child, I thought I could relate to her a bit more than I did. For starters, I was a bit surprised by how she viewed her relationship with her parents but moreso, how she viewed her connection to her mother. In the end, the only thing I shared in common with Sara is the fact we’re onlys as nothing else related to my life except for that one fact. For Sara, she had issues realising how much alike she was to her mother (which reminded me of the relationship with my Aunt and my grandmother; two peas in a pod and yet they were at odds with each other all the time!) to the brink they both harboured certain secrets in their lives. For Sara, the hardest part for her to reconcile is the fact her mother didn’t like to share the bits of herself which would leave her vulnerable – she’d rather create this exterior barrier against the world which showed her greatest strengths rather than focused on her weaknesses. Sara would have benefited from those lessons – of how to rise out of the ashes of where life hurts us the most but for Sara’s mother, those were the moments she couldn’t easily find a way to re-share without re-opening the wounds which were now healed.

There is a wonderful ease of narrative within the Contemporary styling of Brandy Bruce – you can tell she’s spent a considerable amount of time discovering her characters – not just how they reflect on their lives but how they interact as a family unit. They come alive on paper as true as if they were standing next to you – each with their own quirks and faults, ready to be seen as they are and accepted as we find them. One of the things I love about her signature style is how she tucks us so comfortably into the lives of her characters – she lets us feel as if we’ve spent a few hours getting to know them either through a journal of their lives up to this point or had a conversation with someone who knows the seven as well as Ms Bruce. The conversational style is also keen, as it grants you easy access to better understand where each character is emotionally and on which crossroads of change each character is on the brink of either embracing or choosing to walk down.

Ms Bruce openly shows what it is like to have your emotions pulled straight out of you at a time in your life where you felt you had more worked out than how it appeared on the surface. She also pulls together the faith lives of her characters by organically showing how their faith is directly fused to how they live with a prayerful awareness during their living hours – either through reflective pause, active prayer or a mindfulness of the lessons they grew up knowing as believers which still to this moment in their lives plays a special part in keeping them grounded.

I truly appreciate how Ms Bruce has curated a style for writing realistic Contemporary INSPY which is emotionally centred on uncovering the secrets we try to keep from ourselves, the humbled realities of living through prayer and the emotional upheaval of owning your own truth whilst walking with the realisation not every heart can fully embrace a love which is not reciprocated. There is a lot of real life stitched into this novel – from the highs and lows of feeling loved to the wandering path of friendship and the heartstone connections of family.

-quoted from my review of The Last Summer

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A St. Valentine’s Book Review | “After the Rain” (sequel to “The Last Summer”) by Brandy Bruce Returning to a series I discovered last Summer when I focused on reading more #INSPY and discovered a lovely new author in Ms Bruce!After the Rain
by Brandy Bruce
Source: Direct from Author via SLB Tours

Debra Hart is moving on. Maybe. Hopefully. One day.

As a radio show host, Debra spends her mornings as Miss Lonely Heart on air, empathizing with all the broken hearts in the Denver metro area. She spends her evenings watching old musicals and trying not to think about the guy who broke up with her and subsequently fell in love with one of her best friends. Alone in a new city, Debra questions where she belongs and who she is now.

When she stumbles into the indie music scene, Debra meets singer Ben Price. Rock star appeal, with a day job as a worship pastor, Ben is everything Debra wants to avoid. But he’s determined to be her friend, and it so happens she could really use one. Because try as she might, nothing seems to erase the anger and betrayal she feels.

It’s time for a new dream. But how does she start over when she doesn’t even know what she wants anymore?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781946016737

Also by this author: The Last Summer, Cover Reveal: After the Rain

Also in this series: The Last Summer


Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

on 4th February, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 232

Published By: Bling Romance (@BlingRomance)
an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (@LPCTweets)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

The Last Summer series:

The Last Summer by Brandy BruceAfter the Rain by Brandy Bruce

The Last Summer | (book one) | (see also Review)

After the Rain | (book two) | (cover reveal w/ notes)

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Converse via: #INSPY #WomensFiction & #AfterTheRain + #BlingRomance

About Brandy Bruce

Brandy Bruce

Brandy Bruce is a mom, a wife, a book editor, an author, and someone who really loves dessert. She’s the author of the award-winning novel The Last Summer, Looks Like Love, and The Romano Family Collection. Brandy, her husband, and their children make their home in Colorado.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 14 February, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Contemporary Romance, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Mental Health, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Singing Librarian Book Tours, Singletons & Commitment, Sweet Romance, Women's Fiction