Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Own in Multiple Formats

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s topic is Books I Loved So Much I Had to Get a Copy for My Personal Library. I’m editing that to reflect books I have in multiple formats — digital ebook, audiobook, and print! My reasons for having these in so many formats vary, but it’s mostly so I can read the book whenever and however I want. Sometimes audiobooks are the best use of my time.

10 Books I Own in Multiple Formats

the Kindred duology by Lori Benton: Mountain Laurel and Shiloh | I greatly enjoyed these in audio form — especially the accents!

the Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews: The Matrimonial Advertisement, A Modest Independence, A Convenient Fiction, and The Winter Companion | A set I just *needed* in all 3 formats. I’ve loved listening to these after my initial read-through.

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | I listened to this one recently, thanks to all the feedback on another TTT post.

Provenance by Carla Laureano | Carla’s novels *always* have to be on my shelf. Plus the audio was great!

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes | A gorgeous tale, I remember reading and listening to this one a few years ago.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin | My absolute favorite by Sundin, and I’m in love with this cover.

Which of these have you read? Do you collect multiple copies of favorite stories?

Audiobook Review: “An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White

Thanks for dropping by to read my review of An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White, a book that wraps up her “Shadows Over England” trilogy. I have wanted to read this one for a while, and I’m so glad I finally got the audiobook copy and listened to it (mostly during drives!).

About the Book

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it. 

Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Review

The main thing to know about this book: Barclay Pearce is my new book boyfriend. 🙂

An Hour Unspent is an excellent work of historical romance for the inspirational market. It has everything I love about a great story and characters in the genre. With its early WWI timeline, plenty of intrigue and interesting things happen to Barclay Pearce on the homefront as he works as a procurator for the admiralty — a nice label for a former thief now turned honest. The heroine of the story, Evelina Manning, has an unlikely encounter with Barclay that turns into a friendship with lots of sparks.

I very much enjoyed seeing the larger cast of characters around these two, especially Barclay’s immediate family, interact and be meaningful to the story. I appreciate the deeper themes White has included, like those of loyalty, family, and sacrifice, that weave naturally through the story. Seeing Barclay find a measure of romantic love and being cared for (instead of being the caregiver) is good for the heart, as is seeing Evelina come into her own with her familial relationships and asserting her strength and capability with Barclay — who faithfully supports her.

The narrative as told by Liz Pearce in audiobook form is particularly enjoyable, especially as the accents of the characters transition through classes from a posh society tones to a fun cockney one. I recommend the other stories in this series, and the follow up connected Codebreakers series, for a full story world experience and many beloved characters.

Thank you to the publisher for the ebook copy. I purchased an audio copy. This is my honest review.

My thoughts on Shadows Over England Book 1, A Name Unknown | Book 2, A Song Unheard

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books to Read Soon from my TBR

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! I’m sharing 10 books sitting on my shelves that I want to read soon — and hoping YOU can help me decide which to read next! If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know your favorites. Share in the comments, or vote in my Twitter polls (Poll 1, Poll 2, Poll 3) for your picks.

10 Books to Read Soon from my TBR

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | It’s the only novel of Laura’s I haven’t read!

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham | The only one of Pepper’s I need to catch up on!

Your is the Night by Amanda Dykes | It’s by Amanda… nothing else needs to be said.

Heart in the Highlands by Heidi Kimball | Isn’t this a gorgeous cover!?

Facing the Enemy by Paige Edwards | A newer release on my TBR, it sounds so intriguing!

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green | I’ve been excited about this debut novel since *before* it came out.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | Highly recommended by reader friends 🙂

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant | Bakery + romance = something I know I’ll love!

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade | One of her backlist titles I need to read!

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton | Dare I admit I haven’t read this yet?

Which of these have you read? Do we share any TBR titles in common? What’s a book that’s been on your shelf for too long?t

Audiobook Review & Blog Tour: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Natalie Jenner’s recent historical novel, Bloomsbury Girls! I’m reviewing the audiobook today. Read on for more about the story and an audio excerpt.

About the Book

Natalie Jenner, 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 in Bloomsbury Girls.

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.

Audiobook details: Narrated by esteemed stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, enjoy the full unabridged edition of Bloomsbury Girls. “Stevenson delivers the satisfying triumph at the end with perfect polish.” —AudioFile Magazine

AUDIOBOOK EXCERPT

PRINT & DIGITAL BOOK: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

AUDIOBOOK: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

Review

Bloomsbury Girls is a bookish story of 3 women searching for, and working for, their dreams. Avid fans of literature and stories about the changing post-WWII culture will find something to love in this story that nods to the bravery of the female sex and the binding strength of friendship. The story is wonderfully presented in audiobook form with narration by Juliet Stevenson, who applies the perfect theatrical interpretation of the characters with voice and accents.

Natalie Jenner’s omniscient narrative style shines in this story! With all-knowing nods and tidbits, phrases foreshadow events in the story and color character interactions with wit. Each of the characters plays a key role in the story, from the three main women to the tiniest side character. They are united by the most unlikely heroine, Evie Stone, whose determination and fortitude underpin the plot in fabulous ways.

The establishment of the Bloomsbury shop rules, as penned by the inimitable manager Herbert Dutton, is a clever part of the novel. Each chapter is preceded by one of the rules, which relates in some way to the action of the story. The rules are defied by most of the characters, and upheld by some, which allows for quirky and funny situations.

While this book is considered to be historical women’s fiction, it does have a few different threads of romance, too. All contrast neatly, with one a comical friends-to-lovers situation; another a longstanding friendship with the possibility of more; and still another first love with seemingly opposite, romance-isn’t-for-me (until now) with a darlingly clueless couple. These interactions and the strong friendship forged between Evie, Grace, and Vivien serve to highlight the overarching theme of being known and accepted.

Content note: for my inspy reader friends, please note this is a general market title. It has a couple closed door romance scenes that are candidly referenced in conversation, and a depiction of homosexuality with some minor characters.

Thank you to the publisher and Austenprose tours for the audiobook review copy. This is my honest review.

Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, 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, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

A MESSAGE FROM AUTHOR NATALIE JENNER

Dear readers,

I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it.

Warmest regards, Natalie

Book Review & Blog Tour: “Shadows in the Mind’s Eye” by Janyre Tromp

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Janyre Tromp’s debut historical novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. I am especially excited because it is set in my state, Arkansas! Read on for more about the book, my review, and be sure to enter the tour giveaway linked at the end of the post.

About the Book

“Tromp weaves a complex historical tale incorporating love, suspense, hurt, and healing—all the elements that keep the pages turning.”

~ Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Perennials

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

To read an excerpt of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, click here

Review

Shadows in the Mind’s Eye is a riveting historical mystery with plenty of twists and psychological suspense. Set just after WWII, it follows Sam’s homecoming and early days adjusting to civilian life on his Arkansas mountain farm, where events and his imagination collide causing Sam and his family to question reality and his sanity.

Annie is a strong, relatable character, whose heartbreaking past colors her perception and reactions to the new reality of Sam’s return, bringing her own set of doubts concerning who to trust and believe. Sam, very much the hero of the story, exhibits a relatable vulnerability and the strains a trauma such as war can cause. A great cast of additional characters, from friends to villains to beloved family members, round out the story. Dovie May, in particular, sheds light and wisdom on a few different situations, bringing a strong theme of HOPE in the shadows and chaos to the forefront.

I think it is clever that both Annie and Sam’s points of view alternate to ground the reader in their perspectives. As events unfold, Annie and Sam question the stability of their dynamic and the confidence they have in adjusting to a new normal postwar. Their points of view also serve to show the reader the sacrifice and strength of character required on both sides of war — active service and the homefront.

It is always fascinating to learn real-life history through novels, and Tromp accomplishes this with an atmospheric flair as real historical figures and the subterfuge of illegal activities provide a backdrop to the story. As an Arkansan myself, I have visited the Hot Springs area and the Ouachita Mountains where Sam and Annie make their home, and I can confidently say Janyre Tromp has perfectly captured the setting of this novel!

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

Janyre Tromp (pronounced Jan-ear) is a historical suspense novelist who loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas

A firm believer in the power of an entertaining story, Tromp is also a book editor and published children’s book author. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, two kids, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. 

You can find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), Twitter (@JanyreTromp), and her website, www.JanyreTromp.com where you can download a free copy of her novella, Wide Open

The prize pack includes:

  • A copy of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye,
  •  A custom made silver peach tree necklace inspired by the book,
  • A “Light speaks through the broken places” t-shirt also inspired by the book.

Enter the giveaway here!

Review: “In Search of a Prince” by Toni Shiloh

I’m happy to be sharing a review today of Toni Shiloh’s In Search of a Prince, her first novel published with Bethany House. This one features a marriage of convenience trope mashed up with a royalty theme — a winning combination :).

About the Book

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing.

Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

In Search of a Prince is a delightful fairy-tale esque story that doesn’t shy away from life’s difficulties & the strength that comes from faith in God. Fans of The Princess Diaries movies (1 & 2!) will like the similar situation Brielle finds herself in, as a surprise heir to a throne with the added pressure of finding a suitable husband while under pressure from all sides.

Shiloh has created a detailed setting that is both idyllic and tropical with believable political and social structure with the fictional Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa. As Brielle navigates this new-to-her environment, she learns more about herself and how to rely on God’s strength and guidance to make decisions. I think I loved the themes of faith and trust in God’s ultimate plan the most because they seem so natural to the characters and inherent in their lives.

This story balances stately glamour, hints of humor, and God-ordained life roles. Brielle is a character to root for — especially as she experiences a romance in the most unexpected of times in her life. I enjoyed the side characters of the story, especially the levity and fun Iris brings to the page. I am looking forward to Shiloh’s follow up novel featuring Iris as the heroine!

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

Author Interview + Giveaway: “Harmony on the Horizon” by Kathleen Denly

Welcome to my interview of author Kathleen Denly! Read on for more about her upcoming historical romance novel, Harmony on the Horizon, plus a chance to enter the giveaway for reading swag at the end! Kathleen Denly has been on my radar thanks to social media. Her upcoming novel releases January 4, 2022.

About the Book

Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of. 

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com. 

Kathleen lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Newsletter | FB Author Page | FB Reader Group | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | BookBub | Amazon

Pull up a chair somewhere cozy and read on for my interview with Kathleen!

What inspired you to write Harmony on the Horizon?

I went on a field trip with my kids a few years ago at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. While we toured the restored schoolhouse, the docent shared the story of the Mary Chase Walker scandal which occurred in 1865.Mary was the first teacher to teach in San Diego’s first schoolhouse, but her position was short-lived due to the “mistake” she made of inviting the “wrong person” to dine with her in the town’s nicest hotel. As a result of this choice, many parents refused to send their students to school until she was fired and an emergency board meeting was held to determine what to do. While records of the result of that meeting have since been lost to history, we do know that she was no longer teaching one month later and shortly thereafter married one of the board members. Needless to say, my writer’s imagination was captivated. 

What is the inspiration behind your hero/heroine’s personality?

I should preface this by stating that my characters are entirely fictional and neither based on nor meant to portray the actual people involved. Instead, they are inspired by the historical figures. Given the situation Mary faced as a northerner coming to a town dominated by Southern sympathizers on the heels of the Civil War, and given the scandal which ensued, it wasn’t a stretch to make my heroine, Margaret Foster, bold and confident in the face of social injustice. However, I wonder if the Mary knew the trouble she would cause with her fateful decision. This question led me to give Margaret a flaw which I had myself in my younger years–being too blunt and quick to speak.When it comes to the hero, Everett Thompson, I took my cues from the actions of his historical counterpart, Ephraim Morse. Ephraim was deeply involved in all aspects of San Diego’s growth and future. Over the years, he held just about every political and service position there was in the town and was involved in several plans to improve its situation, such as bringing the railroad to town. Ephraim also managed diverse business interests in San Diego, San Francisco, and even Mexico, yet he often struggled financially according to the correspondence, ledgers, and newspaper articles I read in San Diego’s Historical Archives. Taking all of this into consideration, I found my hero to be a civic minded, visionary with financial troubles. Throw in a blackmailer and I had myself the makings of a great read. 

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

Good intentions don’t always lead to good choices, so it’s important to pause and seek God’s wisdom before taking action. 

What was most challenging about writing a story set in 1865 California?

Getting the timing of events right. With two point of view characters in San Diego, and another two in San Francisco, and their actions having direct impact on one another, it was important that I stayed clear on who was where and how long it would take people and correspondence to travel between those locations.

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

I was surprised to learn that there was a one-man band performing in San Francisco at the time. If you’ve seen Mary Poppins and remember that funny musical outfit Bert performed in outside the park, you’ll know the type of performance I mean. It was a bit tricky to work him in, but it was too delightful a thing to leave out. 

Which character was your favorite to write?

*gasp* That’s like asking which of my children I love the most! But I will say that Katie holds a special place in my heart because she has several things in common with Anne Shirley of Green Gables, one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. 

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies?

Several, but far too little time to spend on them. LOL One of my favorites is junk journaling. I get to create beauty from things that would normally be discarded as damaged. In fact, with junk journaling–especially in the vintage style I prefer–the imperfections are the beauty.

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

Last year? No wait, definitely not then. LOL Okay, how about ten years ago? The thing is, I really enjoy and appreciate today’s technological and medical advances, so while visiting the past sounds fabulous, living there, not so much. Now if I could live in the future…hmm. 😉

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of  Rachel Fordham’s A Lady in Attendance, reading Audiobooks for Authors by Jamie Davis, and reading Memories of the Early Settlements by Ella McCain.

Thank you, Kathleen, for taking the time to answer my questions!

One winner* will receive: 

  • 1 Faux Leather Bookmark  – Wild Purple Clusters – Purple Tassel
  • 1 Lavender Sachet
  • 1 Sing in the Sunlight Bookmark
  • 1 Harmony on the Horizon Sticker

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post and sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club here: http://bit.ly/KRCMemberSignUp  

Deadline to enter is 11:59pm, December 16th. Winner will be announced in the comments for this post and contacted via email.

*Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws

Recommended Reading: Historical Fiction with Gothic and Mystery Elements

Since autumn is my favorite time to read historical fiction that falls in the gothic, mystery, or otherwise atmospheric storytelling category, I thought I would share some recommendations of this kind!

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

This split time mystery and suspense novel takes readers to a manor on the shores of Lake Superior in contemporary times and the post-Civil War era with a haunted quality and a search for missing treasure.

Lost in Darkness by Michellle Griep | Goodreads

This Regency story combines elements of a Frankenstein-like tale with that of a romance as siblings contend with life-changing choices. I’m currently reading this one — expect a review soon!

A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber | Goodreads

The third novel in Huber’s Lady Darby Mystery series, this one finds the heroine and her inquiry agent counterpart contending with folklore and grave robbers in 1830 Scotland.

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews | Review

A retelling of the classic Jane Eyre, this one *slight spoiler* also combines elements of Dracula with a spooky and SMART gender flipped twist like only Matthews could pen.

The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood | Goodreads

This is a Victorian mystery full of suspense and a formidable heroine who comes into her own with agency and an unexpected romance. It considers the scenario of the classic The Secret Garden with grown-up leads and draws out themes of loyalty and sacrifice with some influence by Brontë’s Jane Eyre. (Review coming here on the blog next week!)

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

Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

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!

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.

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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.

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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)