Review: "Above the Fold" by Rachel Scott McDaniel

Above the Fold happens to be the first book I finished reading in 2020 & it’s set in the “roaring” 1920s! 🙂

About the Book

After losing the love of her life to a big city journalism job, Elissa Tillman pours herself into the suffragette movement and her secretarial work helping keep her father’s Pittsburgh newspaper afloat.

Cole Parker returns to the steel city with the phantom failures of his past nipping his heels. All he asks of the future is a second chance with the woman he once spurned.

The murder of a millionaire offers the perfect chance for Elissa to prove to her father and the world that she’s a serious journalist. But there’s a catch—she has to compete for the story. Against none other than Cole Parker, the very man who shattered her heart.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Above the Fold is a fun and romantic debut from author Rachel Scott McDaniel! It has everything one would want in a 1920s tale: snappy dialogue, a thrilling mystery to investigate, a competition between rival formerly-romantically-entangled reporters, swoony romance, and deeply expressed themes of forgiveness, unconditional love, and a heavenly Father who never forsakes.

Reading a historical novel like this with simultaneous fun and light banter backed by some serious themes is a rare treat! Elissa and Cole come to life on the page as they spar (a la His Girl Friday) while some serious sparks fly! I appreciated the ways the reality of women’s changing independence and roles in the workforce in this era were depicted and kindly handled by most of the male figures in the story (we have to have a few villains, you know). Cole, especially, understands Elissa in the sweetest way and just wants her to realize it.

I was impressed with many aspects of this story, but one in particular I loved was the way it depicted 1920s Pittsburgh with its busy streets, industry, battles with Prohibition and speakeasies, and the exciting and daring life of those in the news business. Vivid depiction of setting is something that seems to come naturally to Rachel’s pen.

Thank you to Just Read Tours for the review copy of this novel. This is my honest review.

Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

best of 2019 graphic

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog (reading challenge?)

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

I read a lot more historical novels this year than I typically do! Narrowing down this list was a challenge — these are the best of the best!

Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | Review

Fortitude. Faith. Fireflies.

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof | Review

Restored trust. Extending grace. Family.

Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin | Review

Adventure. Honor. Intrigue.

Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan | Review

Friendship. Loyalty. Reggie’s “journal of independence”.

With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander | Review

True-life romance. Freedom. Integrity.

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano | Review

Identity. Classic literature. Worth.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patty Callahan | Review

Journey to faith. Intelligent friendship. Grief.

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden | Review

Dreams. Smart romance. Truth.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green | Review

Belonging. Courage. Forgiveness.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd | Review

Subtle mystery. Romance. Value.

Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

Today I’m featuring some general market historical fiction I read and LOVED, including a classic! Funny thing: I just realized all but the classic on this list are mostly or partly set in the UK! Must be my inner Anglophile showing up. Annnd, I see that I can call this the list author Rachel McMillan recommended to me 😉

Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood | Review

Grace. Unconditional love. Romance.

The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber | Review

Cleverly complex. Atmospheric. Courage.

A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews | Review

Adventure. Resilience. Friendship.

The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews | Review

The dogs! Security. Marriage of convenience ❤ .

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

The cabin. Barney Snaith. Sneezing.

Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly | Review

Family secrets. Wisdom. Forgiveness.

Review + Blog Tour: “In Sight of the Mountain” by Jamie McGillen

In Sight of the Mountain
by Jamie McGillen

Publication Date: September 4, 2019
The Evergreen Bookshelf
eBook & Paperback; 356 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

~ Inspired by the trailblazing women of the 19th Century who dared to summit Mount Rainier ~

In the devastating aftermath of the 1889 Great Seattle Fire, nineteen-year-old Anna Gallagher faces considerable pressure to marry well and soon.

She has two serious suitors: a well-meaning but condescending doctor, and an evasive fisherman who challenges her mind. But Anna has no intention of giving up her freedom to keep house; she has a dream to reach the summit of Mount Rainier.

Despite her family’s disapproval and her own self-doubt, she secretly trains, raises money for supplies, and buys a train ticket to the base of the mountain. If she succeeds in reaching its icy peak, she could pioneer the way for women mountaineers; but it’s a tall task and there’s much at risk—including the heart of a man who just might love her as an equal.

On the journey, Anna will face glaciers, avalanches, and frozen temperatures, all without knowing if she even has a family or a future to return to.

In Sight of the Mountain is a charming coming-of-age story, but it also casts the reader’s gaze upon issues of colonialism, class, and women’s far-too-narrow options.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

In Sight of the Mountain is a bright debut novel from Jamie McGillen. Showcasing a unique point in history in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century, it follows Anna’s journey as she learns important lessons of strength and dreams.

The relationships in this novel are my favorite part. From family and siblings to friendships and romance, Anna’s life is full of relationships that both teach and encourage her. The romance, in particular, is sweet in its encouragement and the way the hero sees and loves Anna just as she is (quite independent for her time!).

The beautiful descriptions of nature and attention shown to cultures and history are more facets of this story I enjoyed. A little mystery and adventure occurs, too, that adds to the depth of the story, enlightening the immigrant history of the region.

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

Praise

“Focusing on themes of the liberation of women, the American class system and effects of colonialism, this intelligent and heart-warming novel introduces us to Anna Gallagher at the tender age of nineteen… In an epic and gripping work of historical fiction with modern sensibilities, author Jamie McGillen gives you everything you could possibly hope for in this inspiring and dramatic tale… Overall, In Sight of the Mountain is the perfect historical read for fans of pioneering heroes and tales of triumph over discrimination.” –K.C. Finn, Reader’s Favorite (5 Star Review)

“As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I found it entertaining to try to picture Seattle as a frontier town and see Mount Rainier without its modern trappings. The story begins with the 1889 Seattle fire (a true event) and I was immediately hooked… In all, In Sight of the Mountain is a really great read–compelling, educational, containing complex characters and a well-crafted plot. Recommended for all readers YA and up who enjoy historical fiction. I’d give it more than 5 stars if I could.” –Donna Gielow McFarland, Reader’s Favorite (5 Star Review)

About the Author

Jamie McGillen lives in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and no matter how many times she moves away, it draws her home. Everything about large evergreen trees delights her, except how poky they are, and the sap. Her poems and essays have been published in numerous literary journals, and she teaches English Composition at Highline College. When she’s not teaching or cutting strawberries for her starving children, she enjoys writing rhyming poetry, but it’s simply not as popular as it used to be. You can find out more about her at www.jamiemcgillen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 18
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Tuesday, November 19
Review at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, November 21
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, November 22
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, November 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, November 26
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, November 27
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, November 29
Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Monday, December 2
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 5
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Friday, December 6
Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback back copy of In Sight of the Mountain! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Giveaway: In Sight of the Mountain

Review: “The Light Before Day” by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Happy Saturday! I’m featuring a review for a novel I read earlier this year” The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher. While it is the third in a series, it read like a standalone — I didn’t feel like I was “missing” key information about any of the characters.

About the Book

After three years on a whaling voyage, Henry Macy returns to Nantucket to news that his grandmother has passed, bequeathing her vast fortune to him and his sister, Hitty. And it was truly vast. But Lillian Coffin was no fool. The inheritance comes with a steep cost, including when they should marry and whom–a Quaker in good standing, of course. But if they relinquish the inheritance, it all goes to Tristram Macy, their father’s thieving business partner

As Hitty and Henry seek a way to satisfy the will’s conditions, they’ll be faced with obstacles on every side–and it may be that Lillian Coffin will have the last word after all.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher surprises and delights with this story of hope and renewal, love and redemption, arriving just when most needed. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A new to me era/setting combo! I don’t think I’ve ever read about Nantucket, or a novel featuring the early settlers and Quakers of that region. That part was fascinating and a unique look at the history of that time, especially some of the social concerns and segregation divides prior to the Civil War. It has a unique storytelling perspective with a brother and sister’s point of view. I can’t recall a historical I’ve read with such a POV (contemporaries yes). I liked how their individual personalities were portrayed and how you see the influence of the same upbringing yet separate uniqueness coming out of it. I was entertained and intrigued by the possibilities within the story for each sibling’s love interest(s). I had predicted one thing near the beginning, but it turned out to be opposite in the end! I liked that surprise.

Things I didn’t like as much: abrupt ending. I thought a few things could’ve been wrapped up more neatly and one or two relationships could have been shown with a little more detail and resolve. I would have felt better about the HEA. And, I was slightly annoyed with the use of Thee as a pronoun. I know, I know, the people of the day spoke like that. But I am not used to hearing it and it seemed used overmuch.

I appreciated the perspective from ancestral journal entries (based on an actual historical figure) that alluded to themes in the current events and shed light on early settlement of Nantucket in the 16-1700s.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Mini Review: “With This Pledge” by Tamera Alexander

I’m sharing a review today of a novel that will certainly be on my end-of-the-year favorites list! With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander is a fascinating look at the near-end of the Civil War. It is rooted in a true-life setting and characters, bringing a real-life romance to life with exquisite detail all in the midst of heartache and challenge.

About the Book

On the night of November 30, 1864, a brutal battle in Franklin, Tennessee, all but decimates the Confederacy and nearly kills Captain Roland Ward Jones. A decorated Mississippi sharpshooter, Jones has a vision on the battlefield and, despite the severity of his wounds, believes his life will be spared. But a life without his leg, he can’t abide. He compels Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston—governess to the McGavock family at the Carnton mansion—to intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate. True to her word, Lizzie speaks on his behalf and saves not only the captain’s leg but also his life.

When a fourteen-year-old soldier dies in Lizzie’s arms that night, the boy’s final words, whispered with urgency, demand that Lizzie deliver them to their intended recipient. But all she has is the boy’s first name. And, as she soon discovers, there’s no record of him ever having enlisted. How can she set out alone across a land so divided by war and hatred to honor her pledge? Even more, does she dare accept Captain Jones’s offer to accompany her? As he coalesces at Carnton, romance has blossomed between him and Lizzie—a woman already betrothed to a man she does not love.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

With This Pledge is exemplary historical fiction from the characterization, romance, and to the care of social and political issues of the time. One example is with the presence of abolitionist leanings in the south: this story considers both the north and south’s positions and issues beyond the central one of slavery, clearly showing how it all pointed back to the freedom of human beings. I appreciate the honest insights into the battle of Franklin, with necessary brutal realities that served a purpose, all bringing out the emotions of the characters and connecting with the reader. And the ROMANCE. I loved it. It was natural, emotional, and refreshingly not a will-they-won’t-they scenario (because of the truth of the story behind the book), but oh the journey was full of surprises, twists, and moments where I wondered just how it would wrap up. But wrap up well, it did! And with just the right balance of resolution and open-ended possibility. The epilogue, in particular, was touching and perfect.

I’m looking forward to more in this series by Tamera!

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

Review + Blog Tour & Giveaway! “A Convenient Fiction” by Mimi Matthews

I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for a much-anticipated novel: Mimi Matthews’ A Convenient Fiction! I have loved each and every book by Mimi. This new novel is even more wonderful than I had hoped and brings so many things together for the characters! After checking out my review, be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

Perfectly Proper Press Series: Parish Orphans of Devon, Book 3

Genre: Historical Romance    

The mysterious Alex Archer returns to England in Book 3 of Mimi Matthews’ USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.

She Needed A Husband… It’s been three years since Laura Hayes’s father died, leaving her and her invalid brother to subsist on the income from the family’s failing perfume business. But time is swiftly running out. What she needs is a husband, and fast. A noble gentleman who can rescue them all from penury. When a mysterious stranger arrives in the village, he seems a perfect candidate. But Alex Archer is no hero. In fact, he just might be the opposite.

He Wanted a Fortune… Alex has no tolerance for sentiment. He’s returned to England for one reason only: to find a wealthy wife. A country-bred heiress in Surrey seems the perfect target. But somewhere between the village railway station and the manor house his mercenary plan begins to unravel. And it’s all the fault of Laura Hayes–a lady as unsuitable as she is enchanting.

From the beaches of Margate to the lavender fields of Provence, a grudging friendship slowly blossoms into something more. But when scandal threatens, can a man who has spent his entire life playing the villain, finally become a hero? Or will the lure of easy riches once again outweigh the demands of his heart?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

Every book Mimi Matthews writes has a Midas-like touch of Victorian perfection. Exquisite historical detail, endearing and layered characters, the perfect touches of humor, and swoon-worthy romances — sometimes began in surprising ways — all combine in her novels for an immersive and simply DELIGHTFUL reading experience.

A Convenient Fiction is at once a whimsical and sensible romance, pairing two complementary personalities whose strengths benefit one another. Mimi’s attention to historical accuracy is a presence in this novel, even shining light on lesser-known details of history, such as perfume making, sea “bathing” practices, and the laws governing inheritance.

The romance is the heart of this story, but the personal growth of Laura and Alex happens right alongside their deepening relationship. I love how Laura sees through Alex’s carefully constructed facade from the very beginning, perceiving and calling out the hero underneath. And for Laura, she learns to balance strength, independence, and her “duty” to her family, realizing that it’s beneficial to rely on someone else for a change.

My favorite aspect of the romance between Alex and Laura is that their relationship doesn’t go through a typical “halt” in the latter half of the story. There is no “will they/won’t they” type of plot dealing with some kind of disagreement or sacrificial reason. Instead, theirs is a story of steadfast choice, of honor and commitment. The crux of it is all about reconciliation with the past, mainly with Alex and with his friends.

I highly recommend reader be familiar with the previous two novels in this series to appreciate Alex’s character arc in a deeper manner, and to know the dynamic with other characters mentioned from previous books. Mimi’s atmospheric style reveals past events from Alex’s point of view, adding context and layering for readers familiar with his backstory. Fans of this series will be delighted with a glimpse of beloved characters, and the hint of more fun to come with book 4 (Neville’s story YAY). 

Thank you to HFVBT and NetGalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Praise for the Parish Orphans of Devon series

“For this impressive Victorian romance, Matthews crafts a tale that sparkles with chemistry and impresses with strong character development… an excellent series launch that will appeal to fans of Loretta Chase and Stephanie Laurens.” -Publishers Weekly (The Matrimonial Advertisement) “Matthews has a knack for creating slow-building chemistry and an intriguing plot with a social history twist.” -Library Journal (The Matrimonial Advertisement) “As always, Matthews’ attention to historical accuracy is impeccable.” -Kirkus Reviews (A Modest Independence) “Mimi Matthews is an exceptional story-teller.” -Passages to the Past (The Matrimonial Advertisement) “Matthews is a bright, shining star in historical romance…” -Austenprose (A Modest Independence)

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats. For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed paperback copy of A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!