Author Interview + Spotlight: “Murder at the Picture Show” by Miranda Atchley

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Miranda Atchley’s new historical mystery, Murder at the Picture Show! Miranda has graciously answered my interview questions. Read on for more about the book and enter her blog tour giveaway at the end!

About the Book

Lights. Camera. Murder.

On an autumn evening in New York City, amateur sleuth Fiona Clery and her partner Max Gillespie attend the picture house for the premiere of a silent film shot in their city. The night is filled with excitement and glamor…until the star of the film, Sylvie Boscombe, is murdered. Unable to sit back with a killer on the loose, Fiona pursues the case, leading her across the city, from opulent neighborhoods, to film sets, to the underground speakeasies Sylvie frequented. When a man she believes to be innocent is arrested for the murder, Fiona’s search becomes all the more urgent. Can she solve the case before it’s too late?

Meanwhile, Max gets a shocking surprise about his past that could offer answers to questions he has long held. And Fiona makes a discovery regarding her missing sister that could blow the case wide open.

BUY MURDER AT THE PICTURE SHOW

Miranda Atchley is a history enthusiast and complete bookworm whose passion for books and times gone by have compelled her to write several novels, one of which was a finalist for an indie writing award. When not writing at her home in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, Miranda loves getting lost in a good book, spending time with her dogs, watching period dramas, and learning about her favorite period in time, the 1920s. Visit her blog at: mirandaatchley.blogspot.com

CONNECT WITH MIRANDA

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Thank you, Miranda, for stopping by for an interview today! Let’s get started by talking about your current series. What inspired you to write the Fiona Clery Mystery series?

Fiona appeared in the fourth book in my previous series, The Abi Hensley Series. When Abi and her maid/friend Meg (Fiona’s sister) traveled to Europe, making a stop in Ireland to visit the Clery family, I thought Fiona was such an interesting character and knew she had to have her own series. As it was revealed that Fiona and her parents would be immigrating to the U.S., I found the idea of being a twenty-something coming to America in the 1920s, which seems like such a fun time to be a young person, the perfect idea for a new series. I was also reading the Sherlock Holmes mysteries at the time, and I really wanted to try my hand at writing my own mysteries.

What is the inspiration behind your Fiona’s personality?

Fiona has a layered personality. She’s incredibly smart and curious, but she’s also fun loving and has a dry sense of humor. And she’s very headstrong. Parts of her personality were inspired by Tuppence Cowley from one of my favorite books, Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary; a fearless “bright young thing” who charges head-on into the world of sleuthing. She also has a dash of Sherlock Holmes, with his keen observations, and a bit of Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, particularly inspired by the line, “She had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.”

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

When we think of the 1920s, we think of flappers dancing the Charleston and men driving pretty cars and people just generally having a good time. But underneath that, there was a lot of grief. The people of the 1920s had just lived through the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, both of which claimed thousands of lives, and they both affected every person one way or another. It isn’t altogether different from things we are experiencing today. Seeing so much death leads people to wonder why? And it’s okay to wonder why these things happen. Yet there are some things in this life that we can’t understand until we get to heaven. Just because things like war and disease occur doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us; he hates these things as much as we do. Yet he is always there with us.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in the Jazz Age?

With each book I write, I want to be as historically accurate as possible. I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges in writing historical fiction is getting down everyday details. For example, I’ve found myself googling, “What was the price of a doughnut in 1922?” or “Did they serve popcorn in picture houses in the 1920s?” Sadly, they did not. 😦 Small parts of everyday life like that can be a bit challenging to research.

Did anything you learned surprise you while researching for this book?

There are many little things that have surprised me since I began researching this era (such as flappers hollowing out the heels of their shoes to discreetly transport alcohol during Prohibition), yet I think the most fascinating thing I learned while researching for Murder at the Picture Show is how involved women were in the film industry at the time. From writing, to producing, and even inventing some of the equipment that is still used today, they were the ones running the show in those days, and I think that is fantastic. Hollywood needs a little more of that these days!

I think that is fascinating!

Which character was your favorite to write?

Fiona and Max are a lot of fun to write about and I love them both dearly, but there’s something about Rose that is so relatable and makes her a delight to write about. She’s a romantic and a dreamer and I think a lot of us can relate to that. Things don’t always work out for her, but she keeps trying.

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies?

I love to spend time with my dogs, Gracie and Ginger. I also like to paint, even though I’m not that good at it.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

Well, of course the 1920s would be my first choice, but if I were to choose another era, I would have to pick the late 1800s, specifically around the height of the industrial revolution. I love that era and I just think it would be so interesting to be there and see so much history taking place.

What are you currently reading?

A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott, a marvelous novel set in the 1890s about a suffragette scaling Mount Rainer to call attention to woman’s suffrage. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read about suffragettes!

One winner will receive a Kindle edition of Murder at the Picture Show. Must be 18 or older to enter.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

COVER REVEAL: “Bloomsbury Girls” by Natalie Jenner

Welcome to my stop on the cover reveal tour for Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner! I loved her debut historical novel, The Jane Austen Society, which released last year. This next standalone book by Jenner features one of the side characters from it, just a little more into the future.

About the Book

“One bookshop. Fifty-one rules. Three women who break them all.”

The Internationally Bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules.  But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry:  Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances – most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone:  In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time – Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others – these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

Release date: May 17, 2022

A Note from Natalie

“I never intended for Evie Stone to be a major character in my debut novel, let alone inspire my second one, Bloomsbury Girls. But as time went on, I found I could not leave her behind in Chawton with the other society members. And then one day I rewatched a favourite movie, 84 Charing Cross Road, and I remember thinking, there’s a whole other story in here still to be told, of an upstairs-downstairs motley crew of booksellers, and right away the figures came to life.”

The COVER!

BLOOMSBURY GIRLS: A Novel
Isn’t it gorgeous?!

About the Author

Natalie Jenner is the author of two books, the instant international bestseller THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY and BLOOMSBURY GIRLS. A Goodreads Choice Award finalist for best debut novel and historical fiction, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, a career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Preorder Bloomsbury Girls

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Review + Blog Tour: “The Barrister and the Letter of Marque” by Todd M. Johnson

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Todd M. Johnson’s newly released historical legal thriller: The Barrister and the Letter of Marque!

ABOUT THE BOOK

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter—-the sole proof his actions were legal—has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLEBOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Johnson debuts with a tense story of powerful interests teaming up to thwart a legal challenge in Georgian-era England…Johnson steeps his story in legal maneuvering, layers of intrigue, midnight chases, and even a hint of romance. While faith elements are subtle, this enthralling novel will appeal to fans of both legal thrillers and historical inspirationals.”— Publishers Weekly

“… a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This richly historical and lively paced story has all the makings of a modern classic.”— Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of Shadows of the White City

“At once atmospheric and gripping, Johnson’s latest is a luminous and refreshing new offering in inspirational historical fiction.”— Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration, and The Mozart Code

“A fascinating glimpse into a Regency London readers seldom see.”— Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of Edwardian fiction

REVIEW

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is a thrilling Regency tale with Dickensian flair that matches characters in a battle of wits both in and out of a courtroom setting. Combining societal expectations with a compelling and smartly spun mystery, it paces itself with an immersive setting and many threads at the beginning only to rush into a gallop midpoint as the high stakes become clear and the suspense heightens.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Todd M. Johnson. It is clearly well-researched with its London setting, especially, shining as a character itself. The points of view are used cleverly as the hero, William Snopes, gets most of the page time, but his surrounding friends, Lady Jameson, and even more sinister side characters have points of view that complicate the story. This sometimes leaves the reader with a greater sense of suspense as he or she is privy to the mysterious goings on moreso than Barrister Snopes.

I really enjoyed the strong themes of justice that shine through in this novel, and the fortitude of the characters as they contend with unseen opponents to ferret out the truth. Personal convictions and an empathetic hero who stands for the truth add emotional notes to the story. I was particularly interested in his backstory as it was expounded and fully invested in his success. I hope to see more historical legal thrillers in this vein from Johnson — hopefully more with Barrister William Snopes!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd M. Johnson is the author ofthree legal thrillers: The Deposit Slip (2012), Critical Reaction (2013), and Fatal Trust (2017), and The Barrister and the Letter of Marque (2021), his first foray into historical mystery. He has been a practicing attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

TOUR INFO

Join the virtual book tour of THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE, Todd M. Johnson’s highly acclaimed historical mystery, August 2-15, 2021. Over twenty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical mystery, suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Regency-era novel set in London, England.

Aug 02 The Readathon (Review) | From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt) | Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

Aug 03 Life of Literature (Review) | Captivated Reading (Spotlight)

Aug 04 Laura’s Reviews (Review) | The Green Mockingbird (Review)

Aug 05 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight) | Reading is My Superpower (Review)

Aug 06 Among the Reads (Excerpt) | The Blue Stocking (Review)

Aug 07 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review) | Reading with Emily (Review)

Aug 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight) | Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)

Aug 09 Heidi Reads (Excerpt) | Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Aug 10 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Spotlight) | Wishful Endings (Review) | My Bookish Bliss (Review)

Aug 11 By the Book (Interview) | A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

Aug 12 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Review) | A Darn Good Read (Review)

Aug 13 Fire & Ice (Review)

Aug 14 The Lit Bitch (Spotlight) | The Book Diva Reads (Spotlight)

Aug 15 Vesper’s Place (Review)

Review & Blog Tour: “John Eyre” by Mimi Matthews

Thank you for visiting my blog today! I’m sharing a review & blog tour information on Mimi Matthews’ new novel, John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow. It is a supernatural gothic retelling of the classic Jane Eyre and one other Victorian novel (to reveal it would mean SPOILERS, so I shall keep it quiet!). While it differs from Matthews’ typical engaging Victorian romances, it bears her skill and prowess in retelling two gothic classics into a unique story all its own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLEBOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Bertha Mason Rochester shines, dominating her scenes with vitality and strength. The style, too, is spot-on, reprising the spirit of 19th-century Gothic prose without descending into mimicry.”— Publishers Weekly

“An entertaining spin on a classic with thrilling twists and turns…Matthews skillfully transforms a well-known story into a truly original tale.”— Kirkus

“[Matthews] retells Charlotte Bronte’s classic story in a way that will keep fans of the original novel totally gripped from cover to cover… Fresh and dynamic… Fast-paced and spellbinding…a book you will have a hard time putting down.”— Readers Favorite

“One of the most moving, suspenseful, innovative and remarkable retellings of a classic in the history of, well, ever… Every page is sheer rapture as [Matthews] moulds popular source material into a spell-binding creation so wholly her own.”— Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration

“[A] captivating and ingenious retelling of Jane Eyre with a supernatural twist. Smart, suspenseful, and deliciously spooky, JOHN EYRE is a must-read; I loved everything about it!”— Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames Mysteries and the Electra McDonnell series

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

REVIEW

Readers will delight with John Eyre‘s gothic Victorian drama, gender-swapped roles tangled with romance, and prominent thread of light. It vacillates between mystery and riveting thriller while the tentative connection forming between Mr. Eyre and Mrs. Rochester solidifies into a formidable and complimentary partnership. The brilliant telling of this tale is further proof of Matthews’ mind for story: dissecting and letting classics influence the characters and framework yet telling a unique story all its own.

The epistolary elements of Bertha Rochester’s journal interspersed with the “present” story are a smart choice that lends her personal perspective and greater emotion to the story. John Eyre is a compassionate character, too, whose own backstory prepares him to be the ally Bertha needs. Their romance is as tumultuous as Brontë’s couple with a few twists on the classic that make me root for their happiness even more. Bertha is a strong heroine, and this story is more her own than John’s even as the title bears his name.

The supernatural and gothic influences of this retelling are vastly different from Matthews’ previous books — and bravely so. The tone of this novel is more foreboding and chilling at times, but these affects only heighten the drama and stakes for the characters of John and Bertha as they grapple with the threat of evil and the hope of light. In particular, I am impressed with the way Brontë’s Rochester’s more mercurial nature is exposed in this telling through both Mr. Rochester and Bertha — Mr. Rochester’s with more sinister tones and Bertha’s through her passionate determination. This novel will have appeal to new readers who appreciate its source books and, hopefully, draw readers to look into Matthews’ backlist of romances.

I had the privilege of reading this novel in one of its early drafts as a beta reader. I happily reread the final version, and was riveted all over again (and ecstatic about the epilogue!). Many thanks to Mimi for the shoutout in the acknowledgements! It made me smile!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

TOUR INFO & SCHEDULE

Join the virtual book tour of JOHN EYRE: A TALE OF DARKNESS AND SHADOW, Mimi Matthews’ highly acclaimed Bronte-inspired Gothic romance, July 12-25, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical fiction, Gothic romance, and paranormal fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpt, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Yorkshire, England.

July 12: The Caffeinated Bibliophile (review) | Syrie James (review) | Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (review) 

July 13: Bronte Blog (interview) | Laura’s Reviews (review) | All-of-a-Kind Mom (spotlight)

July 14: Gwendalyn’s Books (review) | Austenesque Reviews (review) 

July 15: Bookworm Lisa (review) | Nurse Bookie (review)      

July 16: Savvy Verse and Wit (excerpt) | The Lit Bitch (review)       

July 17: My Bookish Bliss (review) | From the TBR Pile (review)         

July 18: Rosanne E. Lortz (review) | Books, Teacups, & Reviews (review)   

July 19: The Secret Victorianist (review) | Christian Chick’s Thoughts (review) | The Gothic Library (review)        

July 20: Getting Your Read On (review) | The Silver Petticoat Review (review) | Lu Reviews Books (review)        

July 21: Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (spotlight) | The Green Mockingbird (review)           

July 22: Unabridged Chick (review) | A Darn Good Read (review)

July 23: Kathleen Flynn (review) | So Little Time… (review) | The Calico Critic (review)

July 24: The Bronte Babe (review) | Probably at the Library (review) | Impressions in Ink (review)

July 25: From Pemberley to Milton (review) | Vesper’s Place (review) | Cup of Tea with that Book Please (review)    

Review + Blog Tour: “The Ice Swan” by J’Nell Ciesielski

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for J’Nell Ciesielski’s new novel, The Ice Swan! It combines a WWI setting with aspects of the Russian Revolution in a historical romance. Read on for more about the book, my review, and a giveaway courtesy of HFVBT tours and the publisher.

About the Book

The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski

The Ice Swan Cover

Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Thomas Nelson
eBook & Paperback; 400 pages

Genre: Historical Romance

Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarchy, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.

Born the second son of a Scottish duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help but hope the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland and beyond, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.

The Ice Swan is a ray of light in the middle of a Europe that was sinking into darkness. Ciesielski’s talent for storytelling from the heart is a feast for the readers’ eyes.” —Mario Escobar, international bestselling author of Remember Me and Children of the Stars

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com. You can also find J’nell on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Review

The Ice Swan is a complex story with hints of intrigue and risk set during a tumultuous time in history with a beautiful romance at its core. Author J’Nell Ciesielski sets the bar high for excellence in the genre!

Every aspect of this novel is well paced and meticulously imparted, from the culture and heritage of Svetlana, the secrets and intrigue of the Russian underground, the challenge of an Army hospital and techniques at wartime, the brilliantly depicted settings, to the bright themes of trust, grace, and belonging. The secondary characters are sometimes endearing, funny, annoying, or weasel-y as appropriate, making the contrasting worlds of Wynn and Svetlana come to life with a bit of humor and reality.

The romance between Wynn and Svetlana is one for the reader to fall headlong into. Theirs is a melding of cultures with a slow burn marriage of convenience, allll things I love in a historical romance. J’Nell’s skillful wordsmithing depicts the comforting touches and embraces just as satisfyingly for this romance reader’s heart as the moments of spark and attraction. The magnetism between Wynn and Svetlana is unmistakable from their first meeting, and the way they compliment one another in intelligence and encourage each other (even through a bit of pride and stubbornness on both parts!) is my favorite part of their dynamic.

Fans of Rachel McMillan, Kate Breslin, and Amanda Dykes will appreciate Ciesielski’s romantic prose and thought-provoking storytelling. I have a greater understanding of Russian history in the early 20th century and a new respect for the beginnings of cardiology thanks to the detailed research and history included in this story! Not mention a new fondness for the name Wynn :). This is the second novel I’ve read by J’Nell Ciesielski and I’m eager to read more soon.

Thank you the the publisher and HFVBT tours for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 6
Review at Rachelle Loves Books

Wednesday, July 7
Review at Crystal’s Library
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Thursday, July 8
Review at Nursebookie
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at McCombs on Main

Friday, July 9
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Monday, July 12
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Tuesday, July 13
Review at Wishful Endings
Interview at Books & Benches

Wednesday, July 14
Review at Novels Alive

Thursday, July 15
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Friday, July 16
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Review at Read Review Rejoice

Sunday, July 18
Review at Reader_ceygo

Monday, July 19
Review at Bookworlder
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Tuesday, July 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at Niki Loves to Read

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski! We have 5 copies up for grabs!The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Click Here to enter the GIVEAWAY via Gleam!

Review: “Come Back to Me” by Jody Hedlund

Today I’m reviewing Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund, the first book in her time-travel fantasy romance “Waters of Time” series. While I’ve enjoyed many historical novels by Hedlund, and she has penned a Medieval series, I was especially excited for the mashup of a contemporary heroine who finds herself in Medieval times while trying to save her family.

About the Book

The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That’s exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father’s quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He’s left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he’s crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian’s rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund is an adventure of a novel that’s one part action, one part fantasy, two parts romance, and all kinds of awesome! Subtle themes of sacrifice and the lasting impact of love weave through these characters’ interactions as they face unexpected challenges — like the hazards of life in Medieval England.

The concept of historical holy water with Biblical ties is smart and brings a good deal of real-life history to the story, as Hedlund outlines in her author’s note. I liked that real-life aspect, as well as the historical turmoil of the Peasants’ Revolt being important parts of the story. It provides a thought-provoking contrast with Marian’s perspective of life in the 21st century.

I didn’t buy into the instalove between Marian and Will at first. But, I quickly grew to appreciate their relationship as they acknowledge the progression from undeniable attraction, to a deeper heart-connection and friendship, to love as a commitment and active choice. Jody Hedlund always writes *all the sparks* and romantic tension so well, and Marian and Will’s passion is no exception. The thread of their relationship unfolds and models sacrificial love and loyalty as the most impactful story aspect.

Fans of contemporary romance and medieval times or adventurous and daring knightly heroes like Robin Hood will enjoy Come Back to Me! While it ties up the romance and lives of Marian and William satisfactorily, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment, Never Leave Me, as it focuses on Marian’s sister, Ellen — with a love interest I am ALREADY rooting for!

Thank you to publisher Revell and their Revell Reads program for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review + Blog Tour: “Isabelle and Alexander” by Rebecca Anderson

Thanks for stopping by my post and review on the blog tour for Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson!

About the Book

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father’s coal mines with Alexander Osgood’s prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander’s wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn’t bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle’s opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | DESERET BOOKGOODREADS

Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM  | GOODREADS

Review

Isabelle and Alexander is a gentle and poignant Victorian romance with protagonists facing a situation rarely explored in this genre: one of debilitating disability. While it compares in some ways to the classic North & South in setting and contrasts of the hero and heroine’s personality, its plot is distinct. I think it reads more like the latter half of a marriage of convenience trope when the couple is learning to exist together — in this case, each with little knowledge of the other’s quirks, expectations, and heart.

The story is told entirely from the Isabelle’s point of view. This allows it to be her story in many ways, as she grows more likable and empathetic to the reader along the way. Her change is most dynamic and obvious, and the themes of the story are shown to their best advantage through her eyes. As she comes to know the kindness of Alexander underneath his shuttered heart, her own heart learns to be grateful for simple things in life. These little moments she notices, and the growing tenderness between them, combine to show how love, happiness and a deeper joy cannot always depend on circumstances but can BE in spite of them.

There are many more aspects of this story I like. I appreciate the care with which Alexander’s struggle is portrayed. I think it is underrepresented in Victorian fiction. This unique challenge and the setting of Manchester and a cotton mill (again, think of Thornton’s mill in North & South!) provide a great backdrop to the love story. I especially loved the supporting cast of characters and their roles of encouragement, friendship, and foils to Isabelle and Alexander — Glory is my favorite! And, Anderson’s pen lends an array of realistic emotions to the story and couple, including anger, depression, longing, sacrificial love, joy, and the desire to have a fulfilling life purpose.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Blog Tour Info

Join the virtual blog tour of ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER (Proper Romance, Victorian), Rebecca Anderson’s highly acclaimed historical romance novel, May 3–16, 2021. Over forty popular blogs specializing in historical fiction, inspirational fiction, and Victorian romance will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Manchester, England.

May 03           Lu Reviews Books (Review)

May 03           Timeless Novels (Review)

May 03           Our Book Confessions (Review)

May 04           Literary Time Out (Review)

May 04           My Bookish Bliss (Review)         

May 04           The Book Diva’s Reads (Excerpt)         

May 05           Heidi Reads (Review)       

May 05           Laura’s Reviews (Review)           

May 05           Wishful Endings (Review)           

May 05           Gwendalyn’s Reviews (Review)

May 06           Margie’s Must Reads (Review)  

May 06           Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Excerpt)

May 06           Relz Reviewz (Review)     

May 07           Randi Loves 2 Read (Spotlight) 

May 07           The Reading Frenzy (Review)    

May 07           Nurse Bookie (Review)    

May 08           The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)      

May 08           The Bibliophile Files (Review)   

May 09           Reading with Emily (Review)     

May 09           Fire and Ice (Spotlight)     

May 10           My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)  

May 10           The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)  

May 10           Booked Solid (Review)    

May 10           From Pemberley to Milton (Spotlight)  

May 11           Greenish Bookshelf (Review)    

May 11           Captivated Reading (Review)     

May 11           The Green Mockingbird (Review)         

May 12           For Where Your Treasure Is (Excerpt)

May 12           Bookworm Lisa (Review)

May 13           Books, Teacups & Reviews (Spotlight)

May 13           Library of Clean Reads (Review)          

May 13           Robin Loves Reading (Review)

May 13           So Little Time (Excerpt)   

May 14           Eli’s Novel Reviews (Review)     

May 14           The Lit Bitch (Review)      

May 14           The Bluestocking (Review)         

May 15           Reading Is My Superpower (Review)   

May 15           Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)  

May 15           A Darn Good Read (Review)      

May 16           The Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)  

May 16           CozyNookBooks (Review)          

Review: “A Peculiar Combination” by Ashley Weaver

Review: “A Peculiar Combination” by Ashley Weaver

Today I’m featuring an early review for the kickoff to a new historical mystery series by author Ashley Weaver: A Peculiar Combination, the first in her Electra McDonnell series. It releases May 25, but you will want to add it to your TBR now!

About the Book

The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author’s signature wit.

A Peculiar Combination Cover

Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie’s cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick’s more honorable business as a locksmith can’t pay the bills any more.

So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned–until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police.

Ellie doesn’t care for the Major’s imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she’s eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she’s no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A Peculiar Combination is a smart, high-stakes London mystery and adventure at wartime. The fast-paced plot shows a unique side of WWII home front operations with an unlikely duo: a safecracking heroine and a military Major hero working to thwart potential spies. While their pairing just hints at the beginnings of attraction between them, these romantic sparks add another layer to the complicated backstory of Ellie’s character as this book sets up what is sure to be a new favorite WWII fiction series.

I like how competent Ellie is in her intelligence and profession, particularly in a detail-oriented way. Her banter with Major Ramsey is entertaining and smart, contrasting with his by-the-book tendencies and his own fierce loyalty. Through Ellie’s eyes, Ashley Weaver explores themes of human nature through motives, history, and emotion-driven decisions.

There are many aspects to love about this mystery of a story, including its portrayals of family and friendship (LOVED Felix!), the art to safecracking, and the ways of life at risk during this era. I am looking forward to the next book in this series — and especially hoping for the hints of vulnerability the Major displayed to lead to a deeper relationship with Ellie!

Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Hope Between the Pages” by Pepper Basham

Today’s feature is HOPE BETWEEN THE PAGES by Pepper Basham, a new novel in a historical split-time series by multiple authors set at American landmarks. The setting of Biltmore and Asheville lets author Pepper Basham’s love of the Blue Ridge and Biltmore to shine through (any of her social media followers KNOW she’s a frequent visitor in all seasons!).

lilacs and book cover
About the Book

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Stories held power and everyone told one, whether the characters within the story knew it or not.

Hope Between the Pages, chapter one

Hope Between the Pages is a beautiful story of love, longing, identity, and story– both fictional stories and the story of a legacy one life can leave. A split time format means this novel has TWO romances with two intelligent and wonderfully complementary couples. Basham’s portrayal of how fiction informs and influences real life is an integral part of this story of hope.

book quote

The characters and their journeys are at the center of the brilliance of this novel. As Clara searches for the history and truth of her grandmother Sadie’s life, she learns of a heroic man named Oliver and, eventually, finds a sweet hero of her own in the shy-but-absolutely-charming Max. Threaded through it all are themes of bravery and courage and the truths found in story. Treasured letters found by Clara, and shared through the historic POV of Sadie, add to the whimsy of the story, and the deepening romance between Sadie and Oliver — two unlikely friends who recognize kindred spirits and identity reach beyond social or familial definitions.

Now to talk about the heroes of the story <3. Oliver is SO KIND and good! I love how he really sees Sadie’s beauty and recognizes her sweet spirit. Their romance is fairytale-esque at times and bittersweetly realistic at others. MAX is the perfect friend to Clara, understanding her heart quickly and encouraging her in tiny ways. He’s a contemporary hero with an old soul, complete with bow ties, suspenders, gardening AND kitchen skills, and the best banter with Clara!

Hope Between the Pages had me crying and laughing in the span of pages. It was emotionally resonating for me, as I relate to Clara in several ways (especially in her close relationship with her parents!). Lovers of books, family history, or Appalachian and charming English settings will enjoy this latest whimsical and deeply emotional story from author Pepper Basham.

P.S. I hope Clara’s cousin, Robbie, gets his own happily-ever-after someday!

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.

More quotes I love:

“…it’s okay for your dreams to be different than what you thought they were going to be.” He winked. “That’s called growing up.” -Robbie

Don’t you realize, we’re two halves of the same whole. We understand one another at the heart level. No amount of money or prestige can deny such kinship as this.

…she’d come to England to save her bookshop, not engage in awkward dialogue with a clearly reticent Englishman.

No fairy tale in all the world painted love as beautifully as this. No novel touched my heart with such an odd combination of visceral weightiness and sheer joy. Only in the pages of Scripture had I found anything so beautiful, showcasing what it meant to be so loved for exactly who I was.

Audiobook Review: “Dearest Josephine” by Caroline George

I’m reviewing an endearing novel today by Caroline George, Dearest Josephine. It falls within the YA (young adult) genre, though I think it would appeal to all ages and lovers of story — especially those who enjoy Regency fiction.

About the Book

Caroline George sweeps readers up into two different time periods with an unexpected love story that prompts us to reimagine what it means to be present with the people we love.

2020: Chocolate and Earl Grey tea can’t fix Josie De Clare’s horrible year. She mourned the death of her father and suffered a teen-life crisis, which delayed her university plans. But when her father’s will reveals a family-owned property in Northern England, Josie leaves London to find clarity at the secluded manor house. While exploring the estate, she discovers two-hundred-year-old love letters written by an elusive novelist, all addressed to someone named Josephine. And then she discovers a novel in which it seems like she’s the heroine…

1820: Novelist Elias Roch loves a woman he can never be with. Born the bastard son to a nobleman and cast out from society, Elias seeks refuge in his mind with the quirky heroine who draws him into a fantasy world of scandal, betrayal, and unconditional love. Convinced she’s his soulmate, Elias writes letters to her, all of which divulge the tragedy and trials of his personal life.

As fiction blurs into reality, Josie and Elias must decide: How does one live if love can’t wait? Separated by two hundred years, they fight against time to find each other in a story of her, him, and the novel written by the man who loves her.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Dearest Josephine is a completely unique reading experience blending epistolary correspondence in contemporary times and the Regency era, along with a serialized novel interspersed throughout. All three concepts are intricately tied together and unite themes of hope, longing, LOVE, and acceptance.

My favorite part of reading this novel is how it respects and acknowledges the power of story and a reader’s connection to fictional characters. I experienced this connection to the story personally and through the character Josie’s eyes as she discovered the serialized novel and its mysterious ties to her life. Twists, turns, and unpredictable surprises lay ahead for Josie and the reader.

With the slightest hints of mystery and an absolutely endearing cast of characters, everything from modern humor, a nosy knitting club, society and setting of the Regency era, and layers of friendship and connection are depicted vibrantly and with skill. I’m looking forward to whatever Caroline George pens next, and I dearly hope she returns to the YA genre again!

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel and was delighted with the accents of the characters and unique audio cues for instant messages. ❤

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.