Tag: Kensington Books

Book Spotlight | “The Undertaker’s Assistant” by Amanda Skenandore

Posted Wednesday, 31 July, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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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.

I received a complimentary of “The Undertaker’s Assistant” direct from the publisher Kensignton 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 this story appealled to me:

When this novel first arrived in my postbox, I must admit, I was so dearly curious about it, I couldn’t help myself – I immediately dug into the first chapter and didn’t want to put it down! The timing was a bit off for me to conclude my readings of the story on its arrival but one thing was certain, I loved the style and humour of Ms Skenandore!

Being that I enjoy Historical Mysteries, Suspense and Thrillers – I thought I might enjoy a story set through the eyes of an embalmer who worked during an age and time where women were not seen as equal to men. Effie was attempting to prove her independence – not just as a female embalmer but as a freedwoman during the Restoration – the period of time after our Civil War in the 1800s. The premise of that kind of work being a passion for a woman seemed like an interesting prospect for a Historical novel to explore and I wanted to see what Skenandore would do with the plot and the character’s growth within Effie’s shoes.

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Book Spotlight | “The Undertaker’s Assistant” by Amanda SkenandoreThe Undertaker's Assistant
by Amanda Skenandore
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Set during Reconstruction-era New Orleans, and with an extraordinary and unforgettable heroine at its heart, The Undertaker’s Assistant is a powerful story of human resilience–and of the unlikely bonds that hold fast even in our darkest moments.

“The dead can’t hurt you. Only the living can.”Effie Jones, a former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child, knows the truth of her words. Taken in by an army surgeon and his wife during the War, she learned to read and write, to tolerate the sight of blood and broken bodies–and to forget what is too painful to bear. Now a young freedwoman, she has returned south to New Orleans and earns her living as an embalmer, her steady hand and skillful incisions compensating for her white employer’s shortcomings.

Tall and serious, Effie keeps her distance from the other girls in her boarding house, holding tight to the satisfaction she finds in her work. But despite her reticence, two encounters–with a charismatic state legislator named Samson Greene, and a beautiful young Creole, Adeline–introduce her to new worlds of protests and activism, of soirees and social ambition. Effie decides to seek out the past she has blocked from her memory and try to trace her kin. As her hopes are tested by betrayal, and New Orleans grapples with violence and growing racial turmoil, Effie faces loss and heartache, but also a chance to finally find her place.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496713681

Also by this author: The Undertaker's Assistant

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Kensington Books

on 30th July, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 326

Published by: Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #TheUndertakersAssistant and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Amanda Skenandore

Amanda Skenandore

Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Between Earth and Sky was her first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 31 July, 2019 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Author Interview | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne Freeman

Posted Saturday, 13 July, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I had a delightful time reading the Lady Guide’s series of Cosy Mysteries recently to where I was overjoyed I would be able to bring an interview with the author to my readers. What I hadn’t foreseen of course was feeling under the weather for a week & having that week end on a tornado scare on a major highway – as journalled on my Twitter feeds almost immediately after I returnt home. To say I had delayed shock and was quite ill overnight would be putting it mildly – I will never forget that experience with my parents and I was never more grateful to be *home* with my cats as those are the moments where your tested in life if you can handle the crises and emergencies you never see coming. At the same time, it wasn’t just owr own well being I was thankful for – it was the entire *gridlocked traffic botttlenecked* on that highway…

Thereby, I apologise to my readers and to the lovely Ms Bruno & Ms Freeman for the delays in being able to bring this conversation to Jorie Loves A Story. I simply haven’t been myself lately and with this experience last night, I’ve spent the last twelve to eighteen hours trying to re-settle my nerves whilst living through prayer. It was definitely one of those defining moments where you lean hard on your faith.

Now – the joyful news is how lovely Ms Freeman was in giving me such a hearty conversation about her writing process & how she’s crafted these Cosy Historical Mysteries! I hope if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the stories, this conversation might nudge your interest towards seeking them out – they are such a treat for the Cosy reader who is seeking something a bit more unique & different in their Historical Cosies.

Be sure to brew yourself a cuppa & settle in for some fun!

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What I personally *loved!* about reading this series:

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!

-a quote from my review of The Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder

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Author Interview | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder (Author Interview)
Subtitle: A Countess of Harleigh Mystery
by Dianne Freeman
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

How far will some go to safeguard a secret? In the latest novel in Dianne Freeman’s witty and delightful historical mystery series, the adventurous Countess Harleigh finds out…

Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth each year, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.

Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?

Aided by her gallant friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, Frances begins assisting the police in this highly sensitive case, learning more about her peers than she ever wished to know. Too many suspects may be worse than none at all—but even more worrying is that the number of victims is increasing too. And unless Frances takes care, she’ll soon find herself among them…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496716903

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

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


Genres: Historical Fiction, Cosy Historical Mystery, Amateur Detective


Setting: London, England


Published by Kensington Books

on 25th June, 2019

Published by: Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)

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

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

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Posted Saturday, 13 July, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, London

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne Freeman

Posted Saturday, 6 July, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 2 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 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.

As this blog tour features a new Cosy Historical Mystery author I hadn’t yet read, I requested the first novel in the series to read in tandem with the latest release. I was blessed by the publisher to receive both novels in order to understand the continuity and sequencing of the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries series. Thereby I received a complimentary ARC copy of “A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder” and a complimentary copy of “A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder” direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for honest reviews. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why this series appealled to me:

There are two things I truly enjoy: Historical stories & Cosy Mysteries – when you find a serial which combines these two loves of my mine – you find yourself in the happy niche of *Cosy Historical Mysteries!* A discovery I made as a book blogger – wherein, authors are anchouring their Cosies into the historic past – moving us through different centuries of interest and giving us a wicked brilliant Historical Mystery to boot!

The main reason I wanted to read this series is because I liked the charm of it – a woman who was being encouraged to fit within high society & yet find herself not willing nor ready to take-on the duties that come with widowhood. She is quite the remarkable character – independent by nature & elevated to a certain seat of formality by the death of her husband, Frances has to re-invent herself & still be in a position of honour to raise her young daughter, Rose.

What I love most about Cosy Historical Mysteries though is the truer sense of how we can move through time but still find a happy place to reside whilst the amateur sleuths tackle their most curious cases and how each of us as readers find new authors to follow & lovely new series to capture our attention. These truly are my favourites to find and I am thankful that they haven’t yet gone out of style with the novelists who are endeavouring to write them!

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I decided to play honour to the cover art – purple for the colour itself and a cheeky nod to how addictive Cosy Historical Mysteries are to me as a reader – you just can’t eat one of these French cookies without feeling the desire to grab more – and that is how Cosies are for me in this branch of the genre – once I settle myself into one installment, I can’t remove myself until I fetch after more and feel truly rooted in the author’s vision for her series!

Unsplash Photography (Creative Commons Zero) Photo Credit: Anastasiia Ostapovych
Unsplash Photography (Creative Commons Zero)
Photo Credit: Anastasiia Ostapovych

A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder
by Dianne Freeman
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496716880

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

Genres: Historical Fiction, Cosy Historical Mystery, Amateur Detective


Setting: London, England


Published by Kensington Books

on 28th May, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 288

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my review of a lady’s guide to etiquette & murder:

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!

If it weren’t such a serious moment for Frances, you could giggle a bit more about it – as she recounted her discovery of her late husband and the goings-on shortly thereafter, you could tell she had a strong reason for not wishing to be next of doors to Mr Hazelton! And, yet, as life would have it – the things one wants and the things which happen to live a blight on a path towards newfound happiness are not entirely equal. Though I must admit, what was charming about this part of the story is how willingly she was helped by Hazelton and how he hadn’t broached the subject of that night since it occurred! Made you wonder – was her need of his services that night just a cheeky clever way of placing them on each other’s paths to where they could interact more down the road rather than of the concerns she had if he would hold it over her for a reason not yet known?

When Fi enters into the scene, you start to see Frances in her own element – as would be the case when your round your best friend who knows you better than you know yourself! Fiona surprisingly is the sister to Mr Hazelton – which I felt was a good bit of drama ontop of the fact the investigation into the death of her husband was becoming re-examined! Felt fitting in one regard but also entirely terrifying on the other hand as what could they find a full twelvemonths later? It left a curious note in your mind as you watched Frances continuing to build her life in the city. Curiously her mother seems to have found herself in wont of her daughter’s assistance in attempting to have a second daughter of the family wed to the London aristocracy. I, was in full agreement with Frances – wasn’t one marriage good enough? I was just thankful she had Rose – of all the grief she’d been put through, having a daughter of her own seemed to be the only bright light in her life especially as she was constantly attempting to be a better mother to her child than her Mum was to her growing up.

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.

As Lily becomes more convinced of her mother’s reasoning for sending her off to London (to fetch a husband!) the more protective Frances feels to guide her off that goal. For Frances learnt the hard way about what hard choices mean to a young woman whose caught up in the innocence of wanting to wed a man but without the proportional insight into what can go wrong if you act too impulsively and do not research a man’s character the level of knowing exactly what might be in your future if you were to wed. You felt for Frances in that scene – of wanting to be the sister who could spare another the same kind of misery she had faced herself but with the knowledge that despite her earnest hopes of doing that, it was truly left to Lily to take her counsel to heart and adhere to it.

What an incredible find in Mr Hazelton! Not only can this bloke handle himself under pressure but he continues to amaze me how much he will go to lengths to help Frances! Of course, in the back of mind, I was quite aware of the fact he could be smitten with her – as whom else would do all the tasks asked of him and on such short notice? It isn’t even the most typical of duties to be asked and yet, here his Hazelton – willing, able and happily lending his hand to Frances whenever she needs him, no qualms or questions asked! If anything, he is also her guiding sound board of advice – as sometimes she struggles to balance her own thoughts with the logic needed to re-assess things that are happening just outside her own control. He never fails to make me smile in other words because he’s such an easy-going bloke!

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!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder
Subtitle: A Countess of Harleigh Mystery
by Dianne Freeman
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

How far will some go to safeguard a secret? In the latest novel in Dianne Freeman’s witty and delightful historical mystery series, the adventurous Countess Harleigh finds out…

Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth each year, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.

Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?

Aided by her gallant friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, Frances begins assisting the police in this highly sensitive case, learning more about her peers than she ever wished to know. Too many suspects may be worse than none at all—but even more worrying is that the number of victims is increasing too. And unless Frances takes care, she’ll soon find herself among them…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496716903

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

Also in this series: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder (Author Interview)


Genres: Historical Fiction, Cosy Historical Mystery, Amateur Detective


Setting: London, England


Published by Kensington Books

on 25th June, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 277

Published by: Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)

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

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

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.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Saturday, 6 July, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 19th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Lady Detective Fiction, London