Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen Shoop

Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

In [2019] I 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 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 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! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

My path first crossed with Kathleen Shoop in [2015] whilst I was participating in a summer reading challenge by BookSparks. I was also a reviewer and blog tour hostess with the  publicity firm whilst I was joining the SRC reading challenge they were quite infamous of hosting for the very first time. My experiences that summer were less than gratifying as I lost traction with the challenge itself and only posted a few reviews out of the ones I was meant to be posting. Ms Shoop and I crossed paths that year due to her latest Letter series release “The Road Home” which was part of the SRC challenge for [2015]. During that summer I also received a #bookmail parcel from the author which include a variety of her stories for me to start reading. They were not for review consideration but if I was inspired to blog about them after I read them that was up to my own discretion and choice. I had a feeling I might be leaning in that direction as just by browsing through the stories and where they could be taking me, I felt they would be the #nextreads I would most enjoy experiencing.

Life and health afflictions (especially my chronic migraines) conflicted with my start/stop attempts to read the books themselves until I felt re-inspired to re-attempt to read one of the novels – “After the Fog” [Spring 2019] which I had no idea was being anchoured to a sequel “The Strongman and the Mermaid” which was also going to be featured on a blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours [Spring 2019]. Thereby, it felt like the timing was aligning properly for me to start to read her canon of stories and with my newfound inspiration I couldn’t wait to begin my journey into her collective works.

A bit over a year lateron, I am still struggling to get focused onto the stories on my backlogue due to various reasons where my IRL adversities in health and the health crises of my parents (we’ve been in the ER 6x times since November 2019; the last of which was this past Saturday!) to where I’ve effectively experience a lot of start/stops in my progress to read the stories on my shelves. When I saw this blog tour adverted I thought, there’s a novella prequel to the Letter series? Hmm. I took that as a sign of entrance into a series I have wanted to be reading for so many years now.

I received a complimentary copy of “The River Jewel” direct from the author Kathleen Shoop in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My reactions to reading Kathleen Shoop:

You can hardly draw a breath as you enter into Rose’s life as a nurse in a small industrial towne which barely has enough medical practitioners that it needs to be medically sound in a place where emergencies were commonplace. In this instance, Shoop begins on a sombering note – of a mother and child who both exited the world the same night as the child’s arrival. It was difficult on Rose – a nurse who grieved for her patients as readily as the doctor she served, but what was one nurse to do with a patient whose birth went sideways as soon as it began? The house she was birthing inside was less than ideal – the light was missing but the effects of the hard birth were not lost on Rose. In many ways, this Rose reminded me of the Rose from Charton Minster (the historical series I loved reading by Margaret James) as both are nurses who go above and beyond their calls of duty.

We also get a firm overview of the towne – of how Donora is co-dependent on her industries and how those industries are co-dependent on each other. Situated below Pittsburgh, its location is on the opposite end of the state than I am familiar though I have passed through the Amish area north of Pittsburgh; it is one city I never had the proper chance to visit. The fact this story is rooted in the steel industry was not a surprise – though like most industrial stories, I found this one refreshing as I haven’t learnt as much about the Industrial Revolution as I ought to have before I graduated. Interestingly enough, no one was ever interested in talking about History after the Civil War or outside of the war eras of the early 20th Century. You have to rally together the missing pieces of history on your own and through reading Historical Fiction these past six years I’ve filled in the gaps far easier than all the years I was in school (which is telling in of its own).

Shoop writes with historical realism – the descriptive details you’d nearly expect out of a Historical narrative but also with a grittiness you might not be fully prepared for reading. Rather than gloss over certain aspects of the novel’s period history, Shoop delves into the gritty depictions of what this kind of life can lead to observing as you live through the era in which it is written about – from the visuals of what Rose must endure as a nurse to the ways in which the lives within the novel are spoken about or referenced. This is a historical novel that tucks you close to the edges – where you can peer at these people’s lives with a rawness as if they were going about their hours without realising someone was taking notes about how they were living, what they were doing or how they occupied their hours. It is an examination on a sociological layer of insight but it is also a gut-punch reality of how people lived through a particular jarring era in history where personal health and the environmental toxicity in their air was assaulting their lungs – “After the Fog” – is a cautionary story about how a disaster in the past can be a foreshadow to the future.

-quoted from my review of After the Fog

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A grandfather in his nineties takes a moment to sit with his granddaughter and his great-grandson to tell them about the fabled Strongman and Mermaid – at least this is our reckoning, as the story of who they had been has nearly become lost in time itself had he not held strong to the book which started to unravel his hidden memories of the past. For her sake, you could tell the strain was affecting her – she simply wanted to do right by her grandfather, where his mind was not allowing himself to remain independent and how the effects of his condition were not just growing worse but they were allowing her to think about the issues which would soon arise if she didn’t force the issue of his relocation. Anyone whose had elder relations knows the position she was in and knows it well; for circumventing problems before they arise in families is one of the hardest obstacles you can transition through outside of resolving the grief which stems from the loss of the relatives who’ve gone on into the next life.

It was here – in a kitchen, you find his voice is still viable enough to piece together the words which compose the story – of how someone’s parents were the better part of a story long since told and that is how we find ourselves time shifting back into 1910 – leaving 2019 with a fresh perspective about Donora about to flicker through our mind as we re-shift back into this sooty dusty mill towne which has a grip of a grasp on everyone whose once lived there.

Mary is a girl ahead of her years – in charge of rallying her siblings to rights before she heads off to work – they were bound for school but she needed to put in a day’s wage and help her family earn the keep which would enable them to stay afloat. You could see her industrious nature in how she attended to the fuel her family needed – not one to shy away from hard work or the arduous litany of chores most girls’ her age might not be as willing to do – you gathered Mary was a forward-thinking kind of girl which was a refreshing change out of her generation. She didn’t see herself limited by means nor in ownership of her future based on her present circumstances; she chose to look towards something positive rather than give into the fact her life could be a repetitious pattern of the hours she currently spent. You felt for Mary – for her courage but also her willingness to see the lighter side to life – where joy and happiness reside.

You immediately get lost inside The Strongman and the Mermaid – not just because the story is part legend and lore; of the personalities and personas people believe in despite the appearances of their composites in reality but because of how Shoop crafted the story. We find our vehicle in the presence of Patryk – a grandfather who simply wants to re-live the olden days if only to give the next generation pause to think about how their ancestors carved out the future they are currently enjoying to live. Part of his joy also stemmed from a deeply felt sense of honour and admiration for Mary and Lukasz – for their story was what had given him the most hope for his own situation. If he could hold onto the stories – keeping the memories close in mind as much as in heart, I believed Patryk felt he wasn’t going to completely remove himself from his own past. He was still a part of the stories being passed down and those living histories meant everything to him.

The more you disappear into the lives of Mary and Lukasz, the more you realise how hard they both were struggling against their own conventions. Their towne had a society of obligation about it – where old school philosophies hadn’t quite become exchanged for the new world mentality where a man and a woman could afford their own choices in their lives. Mary was expected to do the bidding of her parents – irregardless of what she personally wanted for herself, she was needed to work in order to provide whatever they needed based off her pay. This proved to be an exhausting commitment but also a sad one, too as she truly enjoyed her time spent with Mrs Dunn. Dunn was the kind of woman who appreciated Mary’s assistance but knew she couldn’t provide everything she needed – in many ways Dunn was the surrogate mother Mary needed in her life – guiding her with inspiration, encouraging her to think outside the required box her parents wished for her to feel security inside and giving her a chance to breathe a dream of her own choosing.

I truly liked how the story was paced – how you feel emotionally connected to both lead characters and how the towne itself feels a bit more alive somehow – it has its own pace of delivering its presence, not just due to the way work is scheduled but how the people live there. It is a fitting testament to this towne’s history but also as a nod towards the people who forged a life out of an area that was a hard-won place to carve out a living. All of this created the best atmosphere in which to soak inside the historical backdrop Shoop gave us and fittingly, it felt like a better place to begin the series rather than as a sophomore installment.

-quoted from my review of The Strongman and the Mermaid

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#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen ShoopThe River Jewel
by Kathleen Shoop
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

For everyone who hopes to find the perfect match…

1875 Des Moines, Iowa

The novella, The River Jewel, takes readers of the bestselling Letter Series novels back in time, before there was a last letter, before the Arthurs lost everything, before they knew a girl named Pearl.

Meet Tilly Rabel, a proud oyster-woman, and Landon Lockwood, the troubled son of one of the wealthiest men in America. The two could not be less suited for love. But when an old legend draws Landon to a hidden river cove, Tilly and he find each other, are lured by growing attraction, and repelled by competing desires to control Tilly’s waters. The hidden pool is replete with valuable mussel beds and the source of everything that makes Tilly who she is. Landon sees the illustrious treasure as the path to proving to his parents he is worth their love and worthy of the Lockwood name. Can Tilly trust Landon with her heart, with her beloved mussel beds? Can Landon trust that he has truly changed and doesn’t need his parents approval to live the life he wants?

Heartbreak, triumph, and a very special baby weave a tale sure to please readers who’ve read the entire Letter Series and those who are just starting the journey.

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


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1708629236

Also by this author: The Strongman and the Mermaid

Published by Self Published

on 3rd December, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 172

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The Letter series:

The River Jewel by Kathleen ShoopThe Last Letter by Kathleen ShoopThe Road Home by Kathleen ShoopThe Kitchen Mistress by Kathleen Shoop

The River Jewel & The River Promise (series novellas) (prequel duology)

The Last Letter (book one)

The Road Home (book two)

The Kitchen Mistress (book three)

The Thief’s Heart (book four)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and ebook

About Kathleen Shoop

Kathleen Shoop

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 18th Century, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Iowa, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Multiple POV, Self-Published Author, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

A special #HistoricalMondays Guest Post | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne Freeman

Posted Monday, 17 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , 2 Comments

Guest Contributor and/or Reviewer of JLAS banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was hoping to share my ruminations about the third Countess of Harleigh novel with you today, however, the truth of it is I have been reading at a far slower pace recently due to having 3x migraines in 3 weeks and nearly succumbing to a fourth this past weekend. It takes quite a bit out of me to transition out of these more severe migraines (what I refer to as supernovas) and despite my earnest intentions to read on the schedules of my blog tours, sometimes I fall a bit short, which is why I’m going to be featuring a lovely Guest Post by Ms Freeman today and share my review with you about this delightful third novel during my latest #CrimeFicFridays review on the 21st which is the final day of the tour.

I should also mention, I originally was going to interview Ms Freeman about this latest release and tie it back together with the previous two installments as I had previously interviewed her during the first blog tour I hosted of hers wherein I discovered this most charmingly intriguing character and found a wicked new Cosy Historical Mystery series in which to love devouring! I loved this series so dearly much that I also had her as a guest author on my chat @SatBookChat!

However, after having a clustering of severe migraines I simply ran out of time to gather my thoughts and put forth a conversation which would honour the series. I was thankful Ms Freeman didn’t mind switching to a guest post and this topic was one of her choosing. When I read the essay I was quite charmed and think you will be too because it discusses the curious manners of ‘house parties’ and what was keenly interesting is how *structured!* and *regulated!* they were despite the illusion that it was a causal get together amongst friends!

I look forward to sharing more with you at the close of the week but for now, if this is your first introduction to the series, I hope it will whet a thirst of interest to begin reading the stories!

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On why I love reading this series:

A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

Rather immediately, I found myself drawn into the life of Frances – not just because her husband was a cad and a louse of a husband but because of how Ms Freeman endeared us to champion her cause as a woman exiting her mourning period and getting on with her life! It was quite horrid for women in the 19th Century – still attached to that tradition of wearing dearly depressing hues of black and grey (in different increments which were rather strictly enforced!) for at least a year after becoming widowed. It was only then, where she could ‘re-emerge’ into her colours and start to make her presence more widely known in society. How those women managed it, I’ll never know not – as in the case of Frances, it most have truly become a chore knowing her her husband departed his life! Oyy, vie such a rat!

Her in-laws were quite typical – only out for themselves, more concerned with the affairs relating to their estate and less enthused to even entertain a thought of concern over Frances. For her benefit, she was made of stronger stock than they would have believed and she took her daughter (Rose) and herself off to the city to carve out their future elsewhere from the throes of the Harleigh family and the responsibilities therein. Freeman gave you such a hearty and joyful introduction to her character – part of her antics reminded me of why I have such cheeky joy in reading the Anna Blanc series and part of the exchanges also reminded me of my recent over the Discreet Detective Agency – there is something to be said for well-timed satire and humour in the Cosy Historical Mysteries your reading! The appeal of course is being able to burst into giggles alongside the allure of moving deeper into the context of the building mystery!

Of course, not all is ill for Frances – she has enough resources within her means to purchase a least outright for a house which still has eighty years to be lived inside! Imagine? She might have sparse furnishings and staff but something told me her and Rose would thrive here rather than having stayed on with the relatives at the estate. One of my favourite moments is when she bribes one of the maids not to spoilt her news by giving her the chance to make haste and away with her once she moves out. It was a ploy to cover-up the fact she had a bit of a rebellious nature inside her to where she did not like to leave things to fate if there was a loophole round the unknown! Smartly written, Freeman keeps you entertained from one chapter to the next to where it is just a delight to overhear what Frances will say next and what her next actions might be which become the new concerns of the family she’s left behind!

As fate continued to give Frances more headaches than smiles, you had to give it to her – she chose to set her attitude on the positive and despite the arduous circumstances alighting towards her at an alarming speed of haste from her brother-in-law, Frances wouldn’t let her resolve falter. There was much more at stake than inconvenient delays in the normality of her life – no, she simply turnt her chin up with a strength she might not have entirely felt but one which would see her through with the kindness of her friends. This was another instance where you could see how lovely it was for her to have Fiona in her life – the kind of huckleberry friend everyone needs and is blessed to have found.

Part of the joy of reading this series are the layers of etiquette permeating into the fabric of the story-line – fitting for this debut of the series itself as it lends a certain view of the absurdity of tradition these lords and ladies were put through when their era was in its heyday! All the confining points of societal regulations and the fact, you couldn’t just remove yourself from the obligations as that would be lent to scandal and gossip; Freeman takes you through the motions of how frivolous the ton can be and how determined you must become to outwit them all the same! Frances shows this by her unwavering belief that if you lead with strength and a resolve to overcome whatever befalls you, society will either a) move on to the next lead story or b) forget you completely; which I felt was her preference. Frances wasn’t the kind who welcomed notoriety – quite the opposite, I believed she wanted to live a more ordinary life without all the pops and poms of the elevated class.

I was endeared to the plot long before I caught-on to the mysterious events happening in the background – for me, this series is wickedly driven by its characters – specifically everyone related into the  personal orbit and sphere of Frances! You can’t help but feel caught inside her life – seeing how even the most ordinary of lives can suddenly become a feast of trouble yet with a sturdy circle of friends and family; any obstacle can surely become defeated! I must admit, by the time I unearthed the actual crime and the person behind it – I was quite somber! I hadn’t expected the villain in the story to be whom they were as I was expecting it be someone else completely! The way in which Freeman related those finer details of the whys and hows lead me to believe the rest of this series is going to be as charmingly cosy to read as its debut!

-quoted from my review of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

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A special #HistoricalMondays Guest Post | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder
Subtitle: A Countess of Harleigh Mystery
by Dianne Freeman
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In Dianne Freeman’s charming Victorian-era mystery series, Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, finds her sister’s wedding threatened by a vow of vengeance.

London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll…

Genres: Historical Fiction, Cosy Historical Mystery, Amateur Detective


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496716934

Also by this author: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder, A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder, A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder (Author Interview)

Also in this series: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder, A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder


Published by Kensington Books

on 28th July, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

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The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries:

A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip & Murder (book one) | see also review

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette & Murder (book two) | see also review

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Murder (book three)

Published by: Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)

Converse via: #CosyMystery OR #Cosy #HistoricalMystery
and #CountessOfHarleighMystery

Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

For those on Scribd: Happily the first two audiobooks of this series are available!

About Dianne Freeman

Dianne Freeman

Dianne Freeman is a life-long book lover who left the world of corporate finance to pursue her passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, she realized her true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. She also realized she didn’t like winter very much so now she and her husband pursue the endless summer by splitting their time between Michigan and Arizona. She’s been nominated for an Agatha and the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and won the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery.

Read More

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Posted Monday, 17 August, 2020 by jorielov in 19th Century, Amateur Detective, Author Guest Post (their topic), Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Lady Detective Fiction, London, Scribd, the Victorian era

Book Spotlight | “Metropolis” by Ellie Midwood

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

Book Spotlight 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! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary of “Metropolis” direct from the author Ellie Midwood in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “Metropolis”:

I recognised the film title this novel is based on immediately after receiving the blog tour invite and I must admit, that is what inspired my interest in reading the novel! I have a propensity for seeking out Biographical Historical Fiction inasmuch as I love stories set round important time periods of History or are based on actual living persons or events; including the production of this infamous Classic film! Now, when it comes to Classic Hollywood – I have been an appreciator of early 20th Century film-making for most of my life!

As you might have gathered when I read the first Renee Patrick Cosy Historical Mystery wherein Edith Head plays a strong role in sleuthing out the details of this crafty & clever series! I had such a wonderful pleasure of being caught up inside Old Hollywood and the culture of motion pictures as only Renee Patrick can tell the story as their a husband & wife team of writers who have such a wicked passion for Classic Films!

Thus, I thought ‘Metropolis’ might be a fitting #nextread as I thought it might be an interesting chapter on not just film history but about a part of the past I don’t oft get to read as this dances round the impact of war and how people were striving to restart their lives after such great losses.

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Book Spotlight | “Metropolis” by Ellie MidwoodMetropolis
by Ellie Midwood
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Weimar Berlin, 1924

Unemployed actors, profiteers, cabaret girls, and impoverished aristocracy – out of this wild set of characters populating Weimar Berlin, Margarete Gräfin von Steinhoff belongs to the latter category. Having lost everything due to hyper-inflation, she considers jumping into the freezing waters of the Spree rather than facing the humiliating existence shared by millions of her fellow Germans. However, a chance meeting makes her change her mind at the last moment and offers her a chance to rely on the help of the metropolis itself, where anything can be sold and bought for money and where connections are everything. The bustling nightlife of cosmopolitan Berlin, with its casinos and dance halls, brings good income for the ones who don’t burden themselves too heavily with morals.

After a New Year’s Eve party, Margot finally meets her ever-absent and mysterious neighbor, Paul Schneider, who makes a living by producing a certain type of film for his rich clientele. Under his guidance, Margot discovers a new passion of hers – photography and soon, her talents are noticed by the prominent newspaper, Berliner Tageblatt itself. But being an official photographer of the most celebrated events of the La Scala and most famous Berlin theaters no longer satisfies Margot’s ambitions. As soon as the chance presents itself for her to get involved with the cinematography on the set of “Metropolis” – the film with the highest budget ever produced by the UFA – Margot jumps at it, without thinking twice. At the same time, Paul becomes involved with a rival project, “The Holy Mountain,” which stars an as yet unknown actress and an emerging director in, Leni Riefenstahl. As the two women meet, professional rivalry soon turns into a true friendship, fueled by their passion for cinematography. However, due to the economic woes facing Germany, both projects soon run out of money and now, both film crews must go to extreme lengths to save their respective productions.

Set against the backdrop of a decadent, vibrant, and fascinatingly liberal Weimar Berlin, “Metropolis” is a novel of survival, self-discovery, and self-sacrifice, in the name of art, love, and friendship.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781660165759

Published by Self Published

on 13th January, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 238

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Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #Metropolis and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Ellie Midwood

Ellie Midwood

Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, “The Girl from Berlin.” Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.

In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her online.

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Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Blog Book Tour | “Salt the Snow” by Carrie Callaghan

Posted Sunday, 2 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary of “Salt the Snow” direct from the author Carrie Callaghan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “Salt the Snow”:

Rather uniquely, I cannot readily remember the EXACT moment & reason I wanted to read this novel; except to say, it felt like the kind of Historical narrative I was seeking for the New Year. The first to kick-off my new pursuit of Feminist Historical Fiction and the first entry towards securing more Biographical Historical Fiction into my everyday pursuit of the historic past; in essence, I was DRAWN towards “Salt the Snow” – reading it felt like the natural endgame for me after being smitten by the premise!

There is a curious quotation by Milly Bennett ahead of Chapter One which I felt implored a few notations about: as it struck to ask you, if you had your druthers would you OR would you not have been tempted to arrive inside your life a century prior to your actual birth!? The plausibilities of a response are all-encompassing depending on your own perspective of the theory it produces – however for me, it would be a better question to ask “if you could travel within the scope of known history & the time it which we have lived in those years – would you travel outside your own lifetime?”

And, that leads me into my pursuit of Historical Fiction as a genre interest & as a pursuit of literature devouted to the past & to the explorations of those who not only lived *but!* could have lived if they are completely fictional & byproduct of the author’s imagination. For those stories give us a cursory window into life as it could have been & the trajectory of where life is still progressing towards becoming. All of life is an experiment in learning – of growth through experience and the compassionate ways in which we interconnect with not just our own humanity but the collective conscience which threads our humanity. If we read the past, we are better insulated for the future but all of history cannot always prepare of us for the present.

This particular novel simply stood out to me to be read and I found that it was the first novel of 2020 I could lay my thoughts inside after a jarring beginning to a New Year whose first few weeks were rather crushing to the spirits of a girl who tries to focus on the positives & now feel weighed down by the negatives. My soul still is remorse & in grief for the Australian bush wildlife & the people who were in jeopardy of losing their own lives – either by the fires or the humbled attempts to save the wildlife who called those areas their home.

My gratitude to Ms Callaghan for giving me a hearty story to chew on & find myself entreating into her novel with a renewal of joy for finding her story.

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Blog Book Tour | “Salt the Snow” by Carrie CallaghanSalt the Snow
by Carrie Callaghan
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart. Salt the Snow is a vivid and impeccably researched tale of a woman ahead of her time, searching for her true calling in life and love.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781948705646

Published by Amberjack Publishing, Chicago Review Press

on 4th February, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 304

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Published by: Amberjack Publishing (@amberjackpub)
an imprint of Chicago Review Press (@ChiReviewPress)

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #SaltTheSnow and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Carrie Callaghan

Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Posted Sunday, 2 February, 2020 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Russia, Russian Literature, the Thirties

Blog Book Tour | the sequel to “The Secret Heir’ takes us further into the back-story of King David in the pages of “The Runaway Heir” (Book Two: of the Saga of David and Secret Heir series) by Janice Broyles

Posted Tuesday, 14 January, 2020 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary of “The Runsaway Heir” direct from the author Janice Broyles in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What I enjoyed from the first installment of this trilogy:

I found the first meeting between David and Michal to be a humbling one – David hadn’t been granted instruction on what his role to the King (ie. King Saul) was meant to look like nor was he given any encouraging words of advice except to play his music. It is here where Broyles shared a passage from Psalms (and I admit, I love Psalms!) which related to the musical interlude. To his credit, David has a lot of strength and courage in his young heart – he is used to being shrugged off and mistreated by his family, to find his bravery at court amongst the King felt like he was truly embracing the gift he had received from on High; as he wasn’t rationally reasoning his visit here – he was choosing to go with the flow and to embrace whatever came his way.

Curiously there appeared to be a disconnect between David and his father – of how the son was trying to grow into a measure of worth befitting a man who was anointed with an important position in the future whereas the father used that secreted honour as a rite of fuell to dismantle his son’s spirit if he could break him with his fist. Why his father was so aggrieved against David from the beginning is unknown (at least at this junction) and what was hard to accept in the context of his story is how without his fellow shepherds he would have been cast out completely alone.

One of the areas of the novel I enjoyed the most were the nuanced moments between the events – where Broyles gives us a glimpse into the ordinary hours each of her characters might have lived and thereby extending the situations we might have read about through the Scriptures (of the Bible). These little tucked in moments give more breadth to whom we’re reading about – seeing Michal trying to round out her knowledge of the lyre (the instrument David plays), the vexations of her sister Merab not willing to ‘let go’ of the idea of love and the cunningly discouraging way their mother tried to continue to scheme and plan behind the sisters’ back; all showed how their lives were not as you’d have hoped and their trials were wide and deep.

You can understand how Michal and David fell in love with each other – they were both facing circumstances outside their control with parents who cared little about their individual needs and more about what they could leverage out of them. This sparked a connection between them where they each forged a bond with someone who was walking the same life and felt equally as miserable for the experience. It was here where Broyles knits the story closer to your heart because you can feel the emotional tidalwaves within each of them – they are torn between duty, honour and loyalty against what in their world is considered the weaker option of voicing their own mind. They were taught to obey and never to question their orders and yet, here they were given the chance to break through those structured barriers most of their age were living behind and had the opportunity to see each other on equal ground. Fittingly because Michal drew a connection with David, you saw for the first time she was starting to understand her sister Merab and the choices she was making in her own life.

Sadly for David – there were people conspiring against him and with the King’s own suspicious mind already in play, he barely had a chance to carve out his own life to live before everything fell at his feet in regards to the trust and loyalty he had previously secured. David in this installment of the trilogy is learning the harder lessons about supposition and rumour; how someone can turn against a person as quickly as they can be ordered to be killed. David’s truer strength is his faith in God and how he felt he was being led into the battles of his life. He drew strength out of prayer and song; giving himself to the hope of what his faith would yield in moments of intensive adversity where mercy was warranted. And, yet – there are those other moments where your heart nearly breaks for how futile his actions were to prove his worth and he was against a King who had already gone insane.

Throughout this first novel, we get to sneak into David, Merab and Michal’s lives – we get to get a more intimate portrait of what was going on at the time of the events History has been recorded to peer closer to the choices they were each facing given out by people who had control over them. It wasn’t a life of free choice and personal freedoms but it was a life they each fought to live – on their own terms but within a system which was organised against their will. Where the drama bridges the gap between what you previously knew about these people and what can become better inferred through this novel is where Broyles excelled at giving us a living portrait of life during the century where fate, love and enduring hope collided with destined prophecy.

-quoted from my review of The Secret Heir

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Blog Book Tour | the sequel to “The Secret Heir’ takes us further into the back-story of King David in the pages of “The Runaway Heir” (Book Two: of the Saga of David and Secret Heir series) by Janice BroylesThe Runaway Heir
Subtitle: Sequel to The Secret Heir
by Janice Broyles
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In Ancient Palestine, Michal, a young Israeli princess, marries the man she loves, but it comes with a high price. She must spy on him and report back to her father, the notorious King Saul. Michal hopes her father will forget his animosity toward the giant-killing David, and that she and David can finally live a life of peace together.

Unfortunately, her father comes to collect on Michal’s promise, and she is forced to choose between betraying her father or her husband. Her decision launches her life on a path she never expected. Michal and David are ripped apart for eight years. One is forced into a loveless second marriage, the other is forced to run for his life. If they can survive the vengeful King Saul, they may have a chance at restoring their love. But a lot can change in eight years, and Michal and David are not the same as they once were.

Genres: Biblical Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1734100808

Also by this author: Guest Post | Janice Broyles, The Secret Heir

Also in this series: The Secret Heir


Published by Late November Literary

on 1st October, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 333

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The Saga of David and Secret Heir series series:

The Secret Heir by Janice BroylesThe Runaway Heir by Janice Broyles

The Secret Heir (book one) | see also Review

The Runaway Heir (book two)

→ The Anointed Heir (book three) *forthcoming release!

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Published by: Late November Literary

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov; #KingDavid
+ #Biblical #HistoricalFictionand  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Janice Broyles

Janice Broyles

Janice Broyles is an award-winning author. She resides in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where she teaches at a local college. She spends the majority of her free time researching history and retelling fantastical stories. Luckily her husband and two sons understand her passion for history and making stories come alive.

When not researching or writing, Janice Broyles enjoys spending time with her family and hanging out with her close circle of friends. The Runaway Heir is the second book to her David saga. The Secret Heir, released in 2018, is the first novel of the series.The Anointed Heir, the third book in the series, is set to be released by the end of 2020. Janice enjoys spending time with her husband of 23 years and their two sons and one dog.

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Posted Tuesday, 14 January, 2020 by jorielov in 1020s BC, 11th Century BC, 2nd Millennium BC, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Israel, Biblical Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, King Saul, Military Fiction