Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Blog Book Tour | “The Half Wives” by Stacia Pelletier

Posted Friday, 5 May, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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

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 copy of “The Half Wives” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was interested in reading this story:

I am consistently looking for original voices in fiction. Of finding story-tellers who tell dramatic stories of characters moving through a period of their life where the journey towards their destination is as realistically convicting as the hours spent understanding their character’s sociological portrait. This felt like a psychologically charged dramatic historical about grief, loss and the difficulties which arise from trying to find a measure of solace out of the unthinkable. However, more to the point, it was when the premise presented a curious antidote on the characters’ behalf: how the cross-section of lives to intersect in one singular location (at a graveyard, no less) where the worsted and hidden secrets of their lives would not only become revealled but in so doing, their fragile state of mind might be awakened to more than the grief stilling their soul from carrying forward with the living.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

Blog Book Tour | “The Half Wives” by Stacia PelletierThe Half Wives
by Stacia Pelletier
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Over the course of one momentous day, two women who have built their lives around the same man find themselves moving toward an inevitable reckoning.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child—a daughter, eight-year-old Blue—with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed.

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9780547491165

Genres: Historical Fiction

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 4th April, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 336

Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (@HMHCo)
Available Formats: Hardback & E-Book

Converse via: #TheHalfWives + #HistFic or #HistoricalFiction

About Stacia Pelletier

Stacia Pelletier

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence, which was short-listed for the Townsend Prize in Fiction, and the forthcoming The Half Wives. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University in Atlanta. A two-time fellow of the Hambidge Center, located in the mountains of North Georgia, she currently lives in Decatur, Georgia, and works at Emory University’s School of Medicine.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Posted Friday, 5 May, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour | “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary Sharratt

Posted Wednesday, 24 August, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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 copy of “The Dark Lady’s Mask” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

Why I wanted to read this novel about William Shakespeare:

Ahead of sharing my love of Shakespeare, I am celebrating the return of being able to read a novel of Mary Sharratt for review on Jorie Loves A Story! Whilst I was a 1st Year Book Blogger (observed my 3rd blog birthday earlier this month on the 6th of August), I had the pleasure of joy reading Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen} as my debut review for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in November, 2013! The novel introduced me to an enriched version of reading biographies – an introduction that would carry me forward into the wonderful world of what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’; a mainstay of my reading queues! As routed through this category of interest!

From that foundation, I started to seek out traditional biographies and memoirs, under the new vein of interest called ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ where the stories are threaded through an emotional contextual core of narrative. For you see, if I hadn’t first read Illuminations all the lovelies I’ve been discovering since might not have alighted in my hands to read. Mary Sharratt truly opened my mind and eyes to how a story could be told whilst peering back into the historical past through a living history of a person who once lived. Her style of the craft is quite acutely realistic for the time periods she’s exploring; she has a conviction of setting with a lifeblood of drawing characters out of the wells of history to give us a resounding portrait of ‘who once lived’ can live once again in our own imaginations.

You see, I fell in love with reading Shakespeare when I was fourteen; prior to that year, (as a freshman in high school) I knew of the Bard far more than I had read his works. I was smitten by the idea of what a Shakespearean play would contain but I had not started reading his works until it became required reading. Ironic, no? Of those readings (Romeo & Juliet & Julius Caesar), it was my readings of Caesar that staid with me the most! I liked the tenacity of the piece and the guttingly humanistic emotional tides ebbing in and out of the realisation of how the conspirators befell a leader. There was such a lot of dramatic eclipse in that back-story, I daresay, right then and there, I should have realised how much I would come to appreciate reading Historical Fiction! If only hindsight were available,..

I was gifted a portable collection of Shakespeare’s works for my four and twenty birthday, a fact that isn’t lost on me now that I’m in the latter years of my twentytens; of which selections of plausible readings are listed on my own Classics Club List where they lie in wait for me to soak inside their stories. It isn’t that I have balked at reading more Shakespeare, it’s the mere fact I simply haven’t felt in ‘the mood’ to re-enter his works. There are moments where I distinctively feel literature is based on our moods; this clearly is one of them! Another example would be my distance from the ghost stories of Heather Graham; for me, those require a certain atmosphere to enjoy (i.e. thunderstorms).

As so much has become disputed and/or proved in regards to Shakespeare’s legacy and identity, I felt it was proper time to delve into a portion of the history surrounding him I haven’t yet learnt of first-hand. This is where reading Biographical HistFic is especially fun for me! I get to tuck inside the research and the visionary plausibilities of where known fact and supposition reside to paint an image of ‘what could have been’ and very much could honestly be the living testament of a person who lived so very long ago!

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Blog Book Tour | “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary SharrattThe Dark Lady's Mask
by Mary Sharratt
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare.

London, 1593. Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy, but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything.

Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country — and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women.

The Dark Lady’s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780544300767

Also by this author: Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen}

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 19th April, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 416

Published ByHoughton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo)

Converse via: #TheDarkLadysMask, #Shakespeare + #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback & Ebook

Read about Aemilia Bassano Lanier via Poetry Foundation

Read Ms Sharratt’s blog post about The Dark Lady’s Mask via Feminism & Religion

About Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes: strong women who break all the rules.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Posted Wednesday, 24 August, 2016 by jorielov in 16th Century, Aemilia Bassano Lanier, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Classical Literature, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, William Shakespeare

+Blog Book Tour+ Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer

Posted Thursday, 24 April, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer

Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer

Published By: Little A / New Harvest, 8 April, 2014
(in conjunction with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt & Amazon Publishing)
Official Author Websites: Twitter | Facebook | Site
Available Formats: Paperback & E-Book
Page Count: 208

Converse on Twitter: #IncendiaryGirls

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Incendiary Girls” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Little A / New Harvest, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Intrigued to Read:

I love researching reincarnation and I have a passion for metaphysical theories and phenom! I like the fact the writer is giving the reader a chance to transcend our own perceptional reality to drink through a portal of a reality veiled from our view! Sounds enriching and thought-provoking! These books are such a rare gift to come across! They exist in a literary realm all on their own! I would think they are almost inside “Magicial Realism”? Which is a genre I am focusing on throughout the year as I read through my Classics Club list!

{+ About the Book +}

Inspired by her studies and interest in science and medicine, Kodi Scheer’s début story collection, INCENDIARY GIRLS explores the ineffable power of healing, where the human body becomes strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transformation. Across the eleven stories, Scheer’s characters grapple with life’s medical maladies, often with a twist of the surreal, and emotions of the everyday – love and loss, confusion, and insecurity.

In the opening story, Fundamental Laws of Nature, a mother (recently diagnosed with breast cancer) is convinced her daughter’s horse is her own mother re-incarnated. With each gallop and jump, her mother’s admonitions are expressed, and she is left to confront her own legacy and mortality. The story is full of heartache and beauty, those tender moments of family that are so affecting one can’t help but see the departed in those around them.

With each step, Scheer interrogates our expectations of reality and pushes logic to its breaking point. In Transplant a heart-transplant recipient converts to Islam, and wonders if it is the new organ that has re-written her personality. In No Monsters Here, the wife of an active-duty soldier faces her own fears when she finds her husband’s ear in the hamper. There is dark humour and vivid imagination at play, but also empathy and sadness.

It’s here too, where international political events – the Iraq war, the Armenian Genocide – are absorbed into Scheer’s surreal landscape. In the title story a mischievous angel chronicles the remarkable like of a girl just beyond death’s reach. From her complicated birth, to fleeting the Armenian Genocide, to surviving the Spanish Flu on a boat bound for America, the angel watches over the girl as she defies the life that was intended for her. In the haunting fabulist tale, When a Camel Breaks Your Heart, a young woman’s would-be fiancé, Mahir, transforms – quite literarily – into a camel. Mahir, once the object of her affection and muse for her art, now embodies the vast differences between their backgrounds as a white American woman and first generation American Muslim, and she is left to figure out how to feed, care, and love someone so different from her.

In INCENDIARY GIRLS, Kodi Scheer weaves together the mundane and the magical to contemplate  the fragility of relationships and our own humanity. With a dose of wry humour and a twist of the absurd, Scheer gets to the heart of the human struggle in these incisive and effecting stories.

Kodi Scheer

{+ About the Author +}

Kodi Scheer teaches writing at the University of Michigan. For her work as writer-in-residence at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, she was awarded the Dzanc Prize for Excellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service. Her stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Iowa Review, and other publications.


Sunday: 27 April @ 7pm KGB Bar Sunday Literary Series 85 E 4th Street New York, NY

Wednesday: 21 May@ 7pm Book Celler Reading & Signing 4736-38 N Lincoln, Ave Chicago, IL

A Brief Note about the Cover:

I was expecting the story involving the reincarnated Mum as a horse to be a white stallion and was most gobsmacked to learn that it was indeed a black Thoroughbred instead? The off-set colours on the cover-art work well together as it eludes to a stark contrast of themes against the backdrop of humanity on the verge of being relayed through Scheer’s arc of story-telling in short installments of narrative. Yet, despite the colour treatment, I am a bit puzzled by the attempt to draw the reader to alight on the crisp alertness of the horse, if the horse itself is not a representation of a character or element of a story contained within the book itself!? Such a beautiful creature to behold when you first pick up the featherweight collection of stories. All equestrians such as I will be left in fond repose!

My Review of Incendiary Girls:

I honestly had difficulty gaining a lead-in to the stories contained in the book because each time I attempted to settle into the rhythm and pace of one of the stories, I felt myself confronted with either a disturbing image or a diversion of where I had thought the short story was going to take me. The one that sort of left a bad aftertaste in my mind was the very brief Miss Universe, which I suppose at its core was trying to empathsis the difference in layers of the human psyche and how far we are willing to take our path towards glory and fame. However, it’s the way in which the author choose to illuminate and illustrate this particular revelation that simply did not float my boat.

The story with the most promise but failed to keep me steady in its grip was the very first one Fundamental Laws of Nature as I could very well see the paradigm shift inside the mother’s heart betwixt by the complexities of what happens towards the end of your life or rather, at the end of a loved one’s life who has transcended this existence and gone into the next chapter wherever that may lie. Yet, I felt disconnected after reading the first page and a half, as though I had misplaced a step in the pacing of its telling. I skipped to the last page and found the mother had recaptured a bit of harmony whilst living through a difficult period of her own life without the grace and nuturement of her mother now passed.

There are elements of what I appreciate in story form shaping into the collection but for me, I found the stories sharpened a bit too keenly and too raw for me to go into the emotional state a reader needs to walk a line to fully capture the message the writer is etching into their words and context of story. The suspension of reality and the essence of where reality merges with the fantastical were two transitions I could accept and wished I could have settled into the heart of what Scheer left behind.

Virtual Road Map of “Incendiary Girls” Blog Tour:

Incendiary Girls
by Kodi Scheer
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Literary Fiction

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 8th April, 2014

Pages: 208

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostCheck out my upcoming bookish events to see what I will be hosting next!

{SOURCES: Incendiary Girls Book Cover, Author Photograph, and TLC Tour Host badge provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Book Synopsis / About the Book selection, Author Biography, and Tour Dates provided by Little A / New Harvest press release which was enclosed with the book and therefore used with permission.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Thursday, 24 April, 2014 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Short Stories or Essays, TLC Book Tours

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