Publisher: Atria Books

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

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

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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

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “Death In A Desert Land” (Book Three: The Agatha Christie series) by Andrew Wilson

Posted Monday, 8 July, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I’ve launched 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 began 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 celebrated 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(s) By: I have been hosting blog tours and reviews for Simon & Schuster off and on for nearly a year now. I’ve had the joy of discovering their stories through Contemporary and Historical narratives whilst happily finding a lot of their authors are writing the kinds of stories which keep me engaged and rooted in their narratives.

This time round – it was a Historical Suspense novel and series which whet a thirst of interest to be reading as it is rooted in my love of Agatha Christie – this series puts Dame Christie in the driving seat of the sleuth rather than one of her characters and I have a propensity for seeking out these kinds of mysteries. Previously, I gave the Jane Austen mysteries my attention and there have been a few others over the years where living persons are the ‘sleuths’ who tuck us into their worlds. I find it a bit fascinating how living history is now a foundation for Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers – as it extends my love of Biographical Historical Fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of “Death in a Desert Land” 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.

Ahead of reading “Death in a Desert Land” I also borrowed copies of the first two novels in this series: “A Talent for Murder” and “A Different Kind of Evil” from my local library which I happily shared ruminations about on this post for my personal edification and for continuing to share my bookish life with my readers. I was not obligated to do so in other words and felt it was beneficial to sharing my joy of the series.

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Why I didn’t cosy into A Talent for Murder:

I do appreciate following the vision of a series from the beginning of how an author pens the stories – however, in this particular case, I didn’t find an easy entrance into A Talent for Murder – in effect, I found it hard to adjust to the writing style and find a compelling reason to read it. It was written in a rather brisk fashion and although the premise was a curious one – how Agatha Christie would go from writing to sleuthing was a strong component of why I wanted to read the story as a precursor to reading the second volume of the series and then, the recently released third Death in a Desert Land – I mused, perhaps this series might follow suit of a previously read Historical Romance series.

I am finding recently there are certain series which benefit from skipping over the first few volumes in exchange for the latest release. This did not used to be the case for me – I would generally find myself smitten by the first novel of a series in-progress and have a lot of good folly to follow through with the installments leading into the newest one being released – until, I’ve found that sometimes series grow more appealling with age than they do with their first entries into the rhythm of their stories.

Two series prior to this one worked this way for me recently – as soon as I picked up Death in a Desert Land, I found a different voice within it. A different method of delivery in the narrative and because of that – I found myself about to cosy into this story far easier than my first attempts within A Talent for Murder. Thereby, despite my personal preferences to read series in sequential order, there are apparently a few series out there which benefit me to skip round and find the installments which suit me best to be reading. You might have noted I borrowed the second novel in this series but opted instead to read the third.

This suited me as what initially had drawn my interest into reading the Agatha Christie series is by having a life-long pursuit of the author’s collective works. My favourite stories are those of Miss Marple even if in recent years I’ve had a glimpse of Poirot and have taken a firm liking to his quirky ways of sleuthing – there is still a stronghold of appreciation on my behalf for Marple. I dearly had hoped to find entrance into this series as I was most keen to discover how Christie would be presented as an independent sleuth and how that would counter to the image and impression I had of her previously.

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#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “Death In A Desert Land” (Book Three: The Agatha Christie series) by Andrew WilsonDeath in Desert Land
by Andrew Wilson
Source: Direct from Publisher

Fresh from solving the gruesome murder of a British agent in the Canary Islands, mystery writer Agatha Christie receives a letter from a family who believes their late daughter met with foul play. Before Gertrude Bell overdosed on sleeping medication, she was a prominent archaeologist, recovering ancient treasures in the Middle East. Found near her body was a letter claiming that Bell was being followed and to complicate things further, Bell was competing with another archeologist, Mrs. Woolley, for the rights to artifacts of immense value.

Christie travels to far-off Persia, where she meets the enigmatic Mrs. Woolley as she is working on a big and potentially valuable discovery. Temperamental but brilliant, Mrs. Woolley quickly charms Christie but when she does not hide her disdain for the recently deceased Miss Bell, Christie doesn’t know whether to trust her—or if Bell’s killer is just clever enough to hide in plain sight.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781501197451

Genres: Amateur Detective, Biographical Fiction, Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction


Published by Atria Books, Washington Square Press

on 9th July, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

Published by: Washington Square Press | Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprints of} Simon & Schuster ()

The Agatha Christie series:

A Talent for Murder by Andrew WilsonA Different Kind of Murder by Andrew WilsonDeath in a Desert Land by Andrew Wilson

A Talent for Murder – book one

A Different Kind of Evil – book two

Death in a Desert Land – book three

Converse via: #AgathaChristieMysteries, #AgathaChristie + #HistMys

as well as #HistoricalMystery + #HistFic #Mysteries

About Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson Photo Credit Johnny Ring_Location Courtesy of Royal Institute of British Architecture

Andrew Wilson is an award-winning journalist and author. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Sunday Times, and the Smithsonian Magazine. He is the author of four acclaimed biographies, a book about the survivors of the Titanic, and the novels, The Lying Tongue, A Talent for Murder, A Different Kind of Evil, Death in a Desert Land.

Photo Credit: Johnny Ring

Location Courtesy of Royal Institute of British Architecture

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 8 July, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Amateur Detective, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Crime Fiction, Historical Mystery, Lady Detective Fiction, Silver Hair Sleuths, Simon & Schuster

#SaturdaysAreBookish | “The Royal Secret” by Lucinda Riley

Posted Saturday, 25 May, 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 became introduced to the writing style of Lucinda Riley through reading her dearly epic Seven Sisters saga – I have also participated on a few of the last blog tours celebrating this series whilst having had the pleasure of borrowing the books through my local library in order to read the series start to finish. Through these readings during the past few years, I’ve felt her writings and stories have etched themselves into my heart for their breadth of depth and the wondrous ways in which her characters never quite leave your heart after you conclude their individual stories!

Therefore, when I was approached about a new book being released that is outside this series I have a fond attachment too but is within the scope of the recent IRL Royal Romance between Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex – I knew I had to read this novel!

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Royal Secret” direct from the publisher Atria 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 I love returning back inside a Lucinda Riley novel:

What was beautiful about the story is the resolve of Tiggy’s grandmother and the rest of the women in the family; I leaned closer to Maria than Lucia; though in truth, Lucia had a complicated life. She was passionate to a fault, addicted to her talent and sought for nothing outside the pursuit of her chosen craft: dancing. She also was at a deficit in life to strive for her own goals due to her father’s manipulations – overall, you felt for her in those moments where you wonder how things could have gone if she hadn’t hitched her dreams to her father’s selfish motivations.

Tiggy’s story has a lot of unexpected surprises within it – the best of all is when Ally came back into the time-line as I was most happy with what is revealled about her and where she is presently in her life. Other sisters came in and out of the sequencing of events but it was truly more centred on Tiggy and Ally at one point which was quite lovely, I thought! Tiggy didn’t have an easy path anymore than Lucia – similar to how the past and the present affected her sisters, Tiggy was learning that her past was also influencing her present in ways she might never had understood if she hadn’t believed in her instincts to live and work the way she believed was her heart’s passion.

It speaks to how we all need to listen to our intuition and to be mindful of the things we are understanding – living life on faith and for hugging close to our family. Whether our family is found, adopted or biological – all families are important in our lives as it is the one place in this crazy world where we can find unconditional love and acceptance. This is truly a series which champions family, love and the fierce strength of the women who the seven sisters are related too. Each new installment re-strengthens the legacy of their lives and draws us closer to the truth emerging out of the unknown passages of time uniting them all.

I truly love when writers insert linguistical expressions of phrase into their stories – I’ve read quite a few stories about Scotland and the Highlands in particular (as it is my favourite setting!) – however Ms Riley truly tapped into their dialect in a beautiful way of convincing you on your arrival to the Kinnaird estate! The words are writ just as they would be heard and it added more dimension I felt to Tiggy’s story as this is how she would be hearing the words herself when she was interacting with everyone.

The linguistics continued in the sections highlighting life in Spain – including the cultural heritage of gypsies and the flamingo dance. You truly felt taken on a flight through history – seeing how Tiggy’s ancestors once lived in caves and how their cultural heritage was something they were not just proud of but something they maintained generationally. Getting to peer into the past was a blessing as it showed the background of Tiggy’s origins whilst it contrasted with who she is today. It also spoke to those moments of insight she felt as she had grown up and what her intuition truly could reveal about her truer nature.

Riley continues to inspire me for the depth of conception within her series – she spends a heap of time developing the characters, their back-stories, their present lives and the ways in which the past arches back into the present to where you will lovingly feel dearly attached her narrative style for giving you a breadth of joy as you settle into her series.

I love how this series transitions through a Contemporary narrative into a Historical one – it is a time shift series where you spend half of your time in the past and the rest of the time in the present. Each section of the novels inter-relate to the other sections to where you have this beautifully strung continuity between the ancestral lines of the sisters and their own lives in the present day. It makes for a lovely reading experience because your shifting back and forth, digging into the past but also walking through the present towards the future. I love this style of story and the best bits really is how taut and exacting she’s crafted the continuity between the installments.

-quoted from my review of The Moon Sister

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#SaturdaysAreBookish | “The Royal Secret” by Lucinda RileyThe Royal Secret
by Ms Lucinda Riley
Source: Direct from Publisher

When Sir James Harrison, one the greatest actors of his generation, passes away at the age of ninety-five, he leaves behind not just a heartbroken family but also a secret so shocking, it could rock the English establishment to its core.

Joanna Haslam, an up-and-coming reporter, is assigned to cover the legendary actor’s funeral, attended by glitzy celebrities of every background. But Joanna stumbles on something dark beneath the glamour: the mention of a letter James Harrison has left behind—the contents of which many have been desperate to keep concealed for over seventy years. As she peels back the veil of lies that has shrouded the secret, she realizes that she’s close to uncovering something deadly serious—and the royal family may be implicated. Before long, someone is on her tracks, attempting to prevent her from discovering the truth. And they’ll stop at nothing to reach the letter before she does…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781982115067

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Genre-bender, Women's Fiction


Published by Atria Books

on 21st May, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 528

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

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook, Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheRoyalSecret and #SaturdaysAreBookish

About Ms Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley Photo Credit Boris Breuer

Lucinda Riley is the New York Times bestselling author of The Orchid House, The Girl on the Cliff, The Lavender Garden, The Midnight Rose, and the Seven Sisters series. Her books have sold more than fifteen million copies in thirty-five languages globally. She was born in Ireland and divides her time between England and West Cork with her husband and four children.

Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 25 May, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Family Drama, Family Life, Inheritance & Identity, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Life Shift, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Simon & Schuster, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction