Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Book Review | “Reading the Sweet Oak” by Jan Stites

Posted Thursday, 29 October, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am becoming a regular tour hostess and reviewer for BookSparks, as I began to host for them in the Spring ahead of #SRC2015. I am posting my Summer Challenge reviews during November due to the aftereffects of severe lightning storms during July and August. As I make amends for the challenge reads I was unable to post until Autumn; I am also catching up with my YA challenge reads and the blog tours I missed as well. This blog tour marks one of the books I felt curious to read independent of the previous selections. I look forward to continuing to work with BookSparks once I am fully current with the stories I am reading for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “Reading the Sweet Oak” direct from the publicist at BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title stood out to me to read:

I fancy family centered stories inasmuch as relationship-based Romances as I grew up in a close-knit family where it was key to maintain the connection to both the past and the present. I grew up with living histories of my relatives who were not alive at my birth, of whom, I felt a close bond too all the same due to how their stories were translated through memories.

I think we need more stories of home and hearth showing how courage and strength of family can overtake adversity as much as it can become the glue that binds you through the uncertainty of life itself. Without a circle of people to sound off when times are tightly taut with stress or to celebrate when life enfolds you with blissitudes that launch smiles as round as the moon; it’s a hard walk to find where you fit inside the world.

I have held a deep appreciation for multi-generational sagas for a long time as well; not only for those historicals which arch over centuries but for inter-connected story-lines where characters are of different age and station in their lives. To find a story about a grand-daughter and her grandmother facing the world together felt like a good fit for a next read! Especially since family can denote different things to different people – in this case, a young girl came to live with her grandparent when her parent(s) had passed; finding both comfort and freedom. I like finding stories which curate a non-traditional family life because there are as many families out there as their are fish in the sea.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Review | “Reading the Sweet Oak” by Jan StitesReading the Sweet Oak
by Jan Stites
Source: Publicist via BookSparks

Along the banks of the Sweet Oak River, deep in the heart of the Ozarks, a romance novel book club takes five women on stunning journeys of self-discovery.

After losing first her husband, then her daughter, seventy-eight-year-old grandmother Ruby wants to teach her risk-averse granddaughter, Tulsa, that some leaps are worth taking, no matter how high the potential fall. Tulsa loves her grandmother dearly, but she has a business to run and no time for romance—not even the paperback version. But when Ruby ropes her into a book club, Tulsa can’t bring herself to disappoint the woman who raised her.

Together with Ruby’s best friend, Pearl, as well as family friends BJ and Jen, the women embark on an exploration of modern-day love guided by written tales of romance. What they discover is a beautiful story that examines the bonds of friendship and the highs and lows of love in all its forms.

Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9781503945159

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Women's Fiction


Published by Lake Union Publishing

on 29th September 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 375

Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Jan Stites

Jan Stites

Jan Stites is the author of the novels Edgewise and Reading the Sweet Oak . She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree from Purdue University, both in history and English.

She has held a multitude of jobs, including screenwriter, screenwriting instructor at San Francisco State University and the University of California–Berkeley, waitress, secretary, middle school teacher, scuba diving travel writer, journalist, transcriber for doctors and documentary filmmakers, teacher in Kenya and the Yucatán, and translator for American doctors in Mexico.

She is from Missouri, where she has vacationed extensively in the Ozarks. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband.

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Posted Thursday, 29 October, 2015 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BookSparks, Brothers and Sisters, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Siblings, Small Towne USA, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

Book Review | “A Woman of Note” by Carol M. Cram

Posted Thursday, 15 October, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am becoming a regular tour hostess and reviewer for BookSparks, as I began to host for them in the Spring ahead of #SRC2015. I am posting my Summer Challenge reviews during October and November due to the aftereffects of severe lightning storms during July and August. As I make amends for the challenge reads I was unable to post until Autumn; I am also catching up with my YA challenge reads and the blog tours I missed as well. This blog tour marks one of the books I felt curious to read independent of the previous selections. I look forward to continuing to work with BookSparks once I am fully current with the stories I am reading for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Woman of Note” direct from the publicist at BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title stood out to me to read:

I personally grew up listening to classical music – either by vinyl records my family had collected or live in person at symphonies and musical concerts. I was instantly drawn to the verbosity of the classical composers and the emotionally keen insight their chords of choice drew out of their compositions. There is an eloquence and a hidden language to classical music – it’s so very evoking of thought and feeling it’s hard to listen to a piece and not become moved by the experience.

I’ve had my eye on Indie Writers for awhile now, and being a book blogger I try to seek out hosting an independently published author whenever a chance presents itself. I must admit, I was a bit surprised Lake Union Publishing is attached to a particular online giant, but it’s the stories the authors are telling which has given me the chance to celebrate their novels. For this reason, I am thankful I found Catherine Ryan Hyde’s The Language of Hoofbeats about a blended family of at-risk foster children who find a safe haven after placement and adoption. (review) And, quite surprised to find the heart-warming historical tale of The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty where I was caught up inside a beautiful horse drama. (review) Sometimes the best stories are the ones which unexpected alight in your hands to read!

And, yet this isn’t my first musical fiction story I’ve ruminated about as I have started to find a secret niche of stories emerging of late where music is centered into the heart of the novel. Imagine my joy in being able to travel through the different centuries and imaginations of the writers who are bringing music into a literary showcase?

You can happily view my other thoughts on behalf of the following stories, where I reveal a few more tidbits about my own appreciation and passion for the musical arts:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Note on the Cover Art: I felt the portrait of Isabette on the cover was quite a clever one to be showcased because it showed her passion for her artistry. It has a very touching simplicity to it and reflects well the century in which the story is taking place. I liked the little details of the rose on her dress to the crimson colour of her outfit to the bracelets she’s wearing. It gives a small impression of the character’s personality whilst clearing stating how keenly important music was to her as it was her soul’s passion.

Book Review | “A Woman of Note” by Carol M. CramA Woman of Note
by Carol M. Cram
Source: Publicist via BookSparks

Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and Josef Hauser, an ambitious young composer. But even they cannot fully comprehend the depths of Isabette’s talent.

Her ambitions come with a price when Isabette embarks on a journey that delicately walks the line between duty and passion. Amid heartbreak and sacrifice, music remains her one constant. With cameos from classical music figures such as Chopin, Schubert, and Berlioz, A Woman of Note is an intricately crafted and fascinating tale about one woman’s struggle to find her soul’s song in a dissonant world.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781503946835

Also by this author: Author Q&A with Carol M. Cram

Genres: Historical Fiction, Musical Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Lake Union Publishing

on 8th September 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 358

Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, and Ebook

About Carol M. Cram

Carol M. Cram

Before her debut as a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction, Carol M. Cram wrote dozens of bestselling college textbooks for courses in computer applications and communications. She served on the faculty at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada, for more than two decades and facilitated workshops for corporate and government clients in her role as vice president of Clear Communication Consultants. Carol holds a master’s degree in drama from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in business administration from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She lives on Bowen Island near Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, painter Gregg Simpson.

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Posted Thursday, 15 October, 2015 by jorielov in 19th Century, Austria, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BookSparks, Coming-Of Age, Composer, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Mental Health, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Psychiatric Facilities, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “The Shepherdess of Siena” by Linda Lafferty

Posted Thursday, 14 May, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I originally found BookSparks PR last Spring, when I came upon the Summer Reading Challenge a bit too late in the game. I hadn’t forgotten about it, and was going to re-contact them this Spring to see if I could join the challenge this year instead. Coincidentally, before I sorted this out, I was contacted by one of their publicists about Linda Lafferty’s Renaissance historical novel.  I received a complimentary copy of “The Shepherdess of Siena” direct from the publicist at BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

I will be blogging about my contributions and participation in the Summer Reading Challenge 2015 because something quite remarkable happened to allow me to read the first six novels of the ten I selected to blog about. Mum’s the word until I post a very special edition of ’10 Bookish / Not Bookish Thoughts’!

On reading about the Renaissance and stories about strong women:

I fell in love with Renaissance Italy as a child, swept away by the artisans and artists during the re-genesis of creative voice and freedom of expression across their societal divides. The Renaissance is fraught with drama depending on where you alight during it’s different periods of time, but one thing remains: the will of the people to not only overcome what is happening but to dig deeper into a well of strength to overtake what is wrong and shift forward into the future on a sturdier path towards change. It was an incredible time in history, and it is the stories of the people that I am always drawn towards most when I pick up a historical work of fiction.

To tuck inside a commoners or royals life, seeing what they might have seen or felt what they might have bled out of their hearts whilst surviving or yielding to the fray of the hour. Historical fiction I find is enriching because it presents a different worldview than our contemporary timescape; it knits together ideas and motivations to conquer issues which have had lasting results even in our own generations. I like seeing how the people rose to the occasions they were presented with living through but moreso to that end, I like reading about their ordinary lives. Even a royal family at the end of the day are merely who they are behind closed doors — the circumstances of their royal origins do not limit their curiosity but rather increase it, as who are they when the world is not looking?

On the opposite end of it, I love unearthing little unknown pockets of the historical past, elements of how time, life, family, and evolution of thought can expand itself into a boiling stew of passion and declaration for liberty to live on one’s own terms. Strong women in fiction is awe-inspiring, but my favourite preference is finding the women who lived so very long ago held within them a chalice of strength written into the fiber of all women before and after them.

Blog Book Tour | “The Shepherdess of Siena” by Linda LaffertyThe Shepherdess of Siena: a novel of Renaissance Tuscany
by Linda Lafferty
Source: Direct from Publicist

The Shepherdess of Siena takes us to the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside in a lush drama of untamed horses and wild hearts played out in historic Siena.

Linda Lafferty, bestselling author of The Bloodletter’s Daughter, releases her fourth novel The Shepherdess of Siena. This riveting new novel is based on the real life tale of Virgina Tacci who at age fourteen rode the Palio Horse tournament in 1581 bareback. Linda’s love of all things equestrian and her extensive travel to Italy paints a vivid picture of Tuscany with passion and truth.

Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has big dreams of competing in Siena’s Palio horse race. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, her peasant class and her gender supremely limit Virginia’s possibilities. Inspired by the daring equestrian feats of Isabella de’ Medici, who rides with the strength and courage of any man, Virgina’s dreams don’t seem so difficult to reach.

The Shepherdess of Siena brings alive the rich history of one of Tuscany’s most famed cities and this lush, captivating saga draws an illuminating portrait of one girl with an unbreakable spirit.

 

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Lake Union Publishing

on 31st March, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 616

Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, and Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #ShepherdessOfSiena

About Linda Lafferty

Linda Lafferty taught in public education for nearly three decades, in schools from the American School of Madrid to the Boulder Valley schools to the Aspen school district. She completed her PhD in bilingual special education and went on to work in that field, as well as teaching English as a second language and bilingual American history.

Horses are Linda’s first love, and she rode on the University of Lancaster’s riding team for a year in England. As a teenager, her uncle introduced her to the sport of polo, and she played in her first polo tournament when she was seventeen.

Linda also loves Siena, Italy, and the people of the region and has returned to the city half a dozen times in the past three years to research her novel. Linda is the author of three previous novels: The Bloodletter’s Daughter, The Drowning Guard, and House of Bathory. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

Lafferty's Author Page on Book Browse

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Thursday, 14 May, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 15th Century, Audiobook, Audiobook Excerpt, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BookSparks, Catherine de Medici, Catholicism, Coming-Of Age, Father-Daughter Relationships, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Horse Drama & Fiction, Indie Author, Isabella de' Medici, Italy, Library Love, Literary Fiction, Literature of Italy, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Nun, Orphans & Guardians, Religious Orders, Renaissance Tuscany, Sisterhood friendships, Soundcloud, the Renaissance (14th-17th Centuries), Tuscany, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Rights

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