Genre: Literary Fiction

#PubDay Book Review | “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna Elden

Posted Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been a book blogger hosting publisher blog tours and/or featuring book reviews for Simon & Schuster (as well as a few of their imprints) since 2017 however I didn’t start to host for them regularly until 2018. What I appreciate about being a book blogger for this publisher is that they have the tendency of knowing the types of Contemporary & Historical stories which interest me to read even before I realise there is a new release forthcoming which I might gravitate towards wanting to read! It never fails to delight me finding one of their emails in my Inbox because they have the tendency of selecting the stories which align wonderfully with my own bookish wanderings. It is a joy to be a book blogger on their publisher blog tours and/or hosting reviews for them outside of the organised blog tours.

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

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The reason reading ”Adequate Yearly Progress” appealled to me:

Ever since I was in school, I oft wondered what the teachers were talking about when they weren’t in the classroom. Growing up during budget cuts in the public & private school systems in the United States was an interesting view of the education system. Programs like Art, Drama, Shop (construction) and anything ‘extra’ after school were generally the first to get cut whilst they also had shortages on textbooks which is why I still remember how difficult it was to ‘lose our lockers’ in seventh and eighth grade because we literally had to go down to using ‘class sets’ without taking anything home except for copied work sheets which you could do in your sleep. In other words, for a lot of the years I was in school I didn’t feel academically challenged but what I gained instead was self-confidence, self-advocacy and self-esteem; in essence, I was building life skills and learning how to navigate the world.

Still though – there was a lot of bureaucratic red tape for the teachers, including the good ones who were student centred and held our interests ahead of their own. Some wanted to do more but were hindered by the budget or the restraints of the rules within public or private education (depending which school I was attending and which grade level). The only time I really had a chance to interact with the faculty and teachers more directly was in eighth grade where I befriended the school principal who tragically died prematurely shortly afterwards and in high school where the veil was fully lifted and I learnt far more than I expected!

For these reasons and the current state of public education in America, I decided this might be a rather timely novel to be reading. I also grew up being a dyslexic learner where most of my teachers didn’t realise I had learning difficulties because I learnt to overcompensate for my dyslexia – however, that’s a topic for another time as it lead to its own quirky complications!

Suffice it to say, from a very young age when it came to academic curiosity and literary wanderings – I did most of my educational pursuits off-campus and outside traditional education. I learnt more from my Mum who was technically my first teacher and through my family who always encouraged me to have as many experiences as I could and to seek out alternative learning opportunities.

Once I learnt how to work round my dyslexia the world of books became a cosy comfort because there wasn’t a subject I couldn’t explore on my own and there was a wide literary world out there to time travel through – in essence, what I have shared on Jorie Loves A Story is a small fraction of insight into my life as an independent learner and a self-motivating reader who continues to self-educate herself through literature and libraries.

Thus, I was dearly curious how this Contemporary novel might explore the current state of the educational system and the teachers who have a lot to deal with in regards to resources available to them in order to educate the children in their classrooms. I also thought it might have some cheeky humour along the way which is always a good thing to find!

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#PubDay Book Review | “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna EldenAdequate Yearly Progress
by Roxanna Elden
Source: Direct from Publisher

Roxanna Elden’s “laugh-out-loud funny satire” (Forbes) is a brilliantly entertaining and moving look at our education system.

Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.

English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season. Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781982135027

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Education & Learning, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teachers & Educators


Published by Atria Books

on 11th February, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

 Published By:  Published By: Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

Converse via: #AdequateYearlyProgress, #ContemporaryFiction + #RealisticFiction
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

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About Roxanna Elden

Roxanna Elden

Roxanna Elden is the author of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel, and See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She combines eleven years of experience as a public school teacher with a decade of speaking to audiences around the country about education issues. She has been featured on NPR as well as in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Learning Difficulties, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Publishers & Presses (Direct Reviews), School Life & Situations, Simon & Schuster, Teacher & Student Relationships, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour featuring an #INSPY author I used to interact with via Southern Belle View Daily! | “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” by Rachel Hauck

Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” direct from the publisher Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why this blog tour reminds me of being engaged
with the Southern Belle View Daily community of INSPY authors:

It wasn’t too long ago I was an active commenter on author’s blogs (ie. 2012) wherein I had my first taste of what the book blogosphere involved and how readers were finding ways to interact directly with authors they had either read or were dearly hoping to read ‘next’. This predates when my vocabulary involved the term “TBR” and long before my own blog was as whispered dream which readily became a reality on the 31st of March (in 2013).

Just ahead of developing Jorie Loves A Story, I discovered Southern Belle View Daily (earlier in 2013) and it was happily bookmarked through my browser’s RSS feeds reader (remember that option?). I loved visiting with the authors who were at the helm of the blog: Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck, Julie Cantrell, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and Beth Webb Hart were the original ladies I interacted with whilst Eva Marie Everson, Kellie Coates Gilbert, Amy Hill Hearth, Denise Hildreth Jones, Jolina Petersheim and Nicole Seitz joined them off/on over the years.

They would host interactive forum discussions on their blog and even the occasional bookaway – I won Beth Webb Hart’s  Moon Over Edisto whilst during my first month of being a book blogger in 2013 I had the opportunity to review Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box which also became my first blog tour! Whilst getting Jorie Loves A Story off the ground and dealing with life as it was being lived whilst juggling my chronic migraines – I found I wasn’t able to maintain the connections I had established prior to being a book blogger on the author blogs I had frequented before launching my own blog. Therefore by the time I had the chance to return to Southern Belle View I learnt it was switching over to Facebook and that in effect knocked me out of joining them as I elected to become active on Twitter instead.

Through the years, I’ve grown attached to the series The Prayer Box began whilst I’ve had my eye on reading through all their stories and finding my favourites. Towards that end, I started by reading Kellie Coates Gilbert’s Texas Star series with A Reason to Stay. I still remember being involved with the now defunct Blogging for Books programme and finding one of Ms Tomlinson’s releases was available to request – however, I waited to long to decide to request it and it went to other readers! I learnt not to contemplate those choices too long afterwards, laughs.

As I never quite ‘let go’ of following their literary careers, I found out about The Fifth Avenue Story Society prior to the announcement of the blog tour via Prism Book Tours. I was going to fetch a copy of it from my local library when the invite came into my Inbox. Talk about a serendipitous day!I was overjoyed I could host one of the authors I knew previously but also, this would mark my first story by Ms Hauck I could finally read and I couldn’t wait! I also always see a hawk when I pronounce her name (big smiles) as it was the only way I could remember how to say it aloud! The fact as a wildlife photographer I’ve been blessed to capture hawks IRL through my lens is an added bit of serendipity.

You could say I feel like as I move closer to entering my seventh year as a book blogger this New Year 2020 – I am coming full circle! To my roots as a reader, to the foundation I set down as a blog commenter and as a writer reclaiming her pen and her inspiration to write her own stories. It is an exciting year and one I already feel has become memorable! How lovely I get to kick-off February’s Romance & Women’s Fiction reads with Ms Hauck’s new book!

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On my connection to Rachel Hauck:

I discovered Southern Belle View Daily in early 2013 during the times I engaged with the lovely ladies who were ‘behind’ SBV I came to appreciate conversing with all the Belles, including Rachel Hauck. I was a regular visitor and commenter – up til a certain point as once my blog Jorie Loves A Story launched live in August, 2013 I was not able to visit as regularly as I had previously. In the years since 2013 I have been more at a distance from directly engaging with Ms Hauck (though a few times via Twitter as I recall?) and have followed her releases from afar always hoping to start reading them. One thing which prevented me from starting to read the Belles works of Fiction is that they were not always readily available via my local libraries.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her through Southern Belle View Daily and/or Twitter; as 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.

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Blog Book Tour featuring an #INSPY author I used to interact with via Southern Belle View Daily! | “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” by Rachel HauckThe Fifth Avenue Story Society
by Rachel Hauck
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

An invitation to join The Fifth Avenue Story Society gives five New York strangers a chance to rewrite their own stories.

Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss is determined to keep her underemployed.

Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.

Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.

Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.

Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.

When all five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to reveal their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.

Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780310350927

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Literary Fiction


Published by Thomas Nelson

on 4th February, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 400

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Published by: Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson)
an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub)

Converse via: #FifthAvenueStorySociety,  #RachelHauck & #TNZFiction
as well as #INSPYFiction and #WomensFiction

About Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower.

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Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Multiple POV, New York City, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Southern Belle View Daily

#INSPYSundays | Book Review tour feat. “Refuge at Pine Lake” (A Pine Haven novel) by Rose Chandler Johnson

Posted Sunday, 8 September, 2019 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

#INSPYSundays banner made my Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.

I received a complimentary copy of “Refuge at Pine Lake” direct from the author Rose Chandler Johnson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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IF this is your first time seeing my #INSPYSundays showcases – let me explain why I am putting these together! I shared my first one in June & had intended for these to run weekly. I am thankful to resume them this August and will be continuing to have an inspiring story running on Sundays through the rest of the 2019. Thank you as always for following my bookish journey.

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You might be aware of my 7o Authors Challenge – wherein I am attempting to get to know more Inspirational Fiction authors and their series? I have been wanting to find a way to bring this reading focus into the life of my blog but also, highlight some of the stories I am receiving for review purposes as well – not all of them can be featured on the weekends, but those which can I’ll be highlighting through this new series of posts as I love the idea of showcasing them on a day meant for renewal of spirit & rest.

The short version of “Inspirational Fiction” is INSPY and I have enjoyed using the tag #INSPY on Twitter to talk about the stories which fall under this umbrella of literature. It is far more encompassing than strictly reading Christian based fiction as INSPY is inclusive of all religions and faith backgrounds of interest – which is why eventually I’ll be expounding outwards from my initial wanderings of my reading challenge and seeking out more authors who write stories of INSPY that are from new and differing perspectives. A lot of what I currently have marked to read are traditional Christian Fiction selections as they were found via a fellow book blogger’s blog.

Although I had intended to introduce this featured focus in January, 2019 – I decided the timing wasn’t right for me to do so until June. I look forward to seeing where my readerly wanderings will take me as this will be just as wicked interesting of a feature to follow as my #HistoricalMondays or #SaturdaysAreBookish!

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#INSPYSundays | Book Review tour feat. “Refuge at Pine Lake” (A Pine Haven novel) by Rose Chandler JohnsonRefuge at Pine Lake
Subtitle: A Pine Haven Novel
by Rose Chandler Johnson
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Robin Lancaster, a twenty-six-year-old former kindergarten teacher, has her summer and her life all figured out. She’s ready to be on her own, writing and illustrating her children’s stories at her family’s beloved lake house. Once there, she intends to rekindle a romance with Caleb Jackson, the area’s top hunting and fishing guide, and bag him for herself.

Complications arise from the start when Robin finds out her mother has rented the lake house to a man they know nothing about.

Matthew McLaughlin, forty-year-old widowed university professor and author from California, shows up at Pine Lake in crisis. A sabbatical might be his only hope to save much more than his career. He needs a place of refuge. Sharing the lake house with a lighthearted young woman and her dog is the last thing on his mind.

Caleb Jackson has his own plans. He’s used to things going his way, but a man staying in Robin’s house presents unforeseen challenges. When paths unavoidably tangle for these three, hearts are on the line.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780998493312

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Chanson Books

on 6th March, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 373

Published By: Chanson Books

Formats Available: Trade paperback and ebook

Converse via: #RefugeAtPineLake and/or #PineHavenNovel
#INSPY w/ #ContemporaryFiction

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Sunday, 8 September, 2019 by jorielov in #INSPYSundays, #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Fathers and Daughters, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Life Shift, Modern Day, Prism Book Tours, Second Chance Love, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, Women's Fiction

#PubDay Book Review | “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King

Posted Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: In December [2018] I was approached about this New Year’s release – with such a stirring plot and depth of historical presence, I must admit, I felt moved by the sheer volume of what would become explored in the context of the novel itself! The more I explored the writer’s presence online (by her tweets and website) the more captivated I had become and a desire to read this novel increased tenfold. Not just because I love exploring cookery and ambrosial delights as a home cook myself but because I have a dear attachment to Foodie Fiction – inasmuch as I love exploratory Historical Fiction which seeks to root out lost truths and hidden passageways in the historic past – illuminating people we might never have met otherwise had a Historical novelist not uncovered the story to be told. Thus, my heart aches dearly for Historical Fiction and it is not oft I can pass over a chance to delve into a new unknown chapter of History!

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

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The reason reading ‘”The Chef’s Secret’ appealled to me:

This novel sounds delish to read! I admit, I do not know the history behind Scappi but I love Foodie fiction and I love reading about the Renaissance inasmuch as I love a wicked good Suspense! I’ve read through the premise and it sounds wonderfully intriguing – especially as the nephew goes against his wishes,…

At the time I accepted this novel for review consideration, I was not yet aware of *Feast of Sorrows* nor of the accompanying cookbook which the author graciously sent me a digital copy of and of which I was able to browse at my leisure as it isn’t long in length and it happily opens like a wide angle format PDF file. Even in this sampler of a cookbook where the author is exploring Renaissance era recipes, she’s been inclusive of the ‘history of food’, the manner in which food was resonating with those who cooked their ingredients and the long, long history of how self-identifiable foods by culture, tradition and country of origin are not as we might have felt they had been – including those countries in the Mediterranean who are anchoured through food to speak on behalf of their culture.

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#PubDay Book Review | “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal KingThe Chef's Secret
by Crystal King
Source: Direct from Publisher, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Jacques Roy

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1501196430

ASIN: B07HKM1C83

Also by this author: The Chef's Secret (Interview)

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Literary Fiction


Published by Atria Books

on 12th February, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 352

Length: 9 hours and 36 minutes (unabridged)

 Published By:  Published By: Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

The novels of Crystal King:

Feast of Sorrow by Crystal KingThe Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Converse via: #TheChefsSecret, #HistNov and #HistFic
+ #Renaissance #Cookery with #BartolomeoScappi

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

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I originally felt I would have only been able to listen to a sampler of the audiobook version of #TheChefsSecret – until I had the unexpected JOY of listening to the audiobook in full ahead of posting my review as it released just after midnight the day of publication! The sampler begins as Chapter One begins,..

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About Crystal King

Photo Credit: Wayne Earl Chinnock (Boston Commercial Portrait Photography)

Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy.

She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Photo Credit: Wayne Earl Chinnock

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Posted Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 by jorielov in 16th Century, Bartolomeo Scappi, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

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

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

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re-visiting “The Spirit Keeper”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-quoted from my review of The Spirit Keeper

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

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

Much has happened since my last writing,..

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

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

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

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732886216

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


Published by Self Published

on 7th January, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 372

the spirit keeper duology:

The Spirit keeper & the gift of the seer

This is a Self-Published novel

Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Ebook

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

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About K.B. Laugheed

The Gift of the Seer by K.B. Laugheed

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

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

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

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

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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