Into the Unbounded Night by Mitchell James Kaplan review + giveaway

Into the Unbounded Night
by Mitchell James Kaplan

Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Regal House Publishing
Paperback & eBook; 231 Pages

Genre: Literary/Historical

When her village in Albion is sacked by the Roman general Vespasian, young Aislin is left without home and family. Determined to exact revenge, she travels to Rome, a sprawling city of wealth, decadence, and power. A “barbarian” in a “civilized” world, Aislin struggles to comprehend Roman ways. From a precarious hand-to-mouth existence on the streets, she becomes the mistress of a wealthy senator, but their child Faolan is born with a disability that renders him unworthy of life in the eyes of his father and other Romans.

Imprisoned for her efforts to topple the Roman regime, Aislin learns of an alternate philosophy from her cellmate, the Judean known today as the Apostle St. Paul. As the capital burns in the Great Fire of 64 AD, he bequeaths to her a mission that will take her to Jerusalem. There, Yohanan, son of Zakkai, has been striving to preserve the tradition of Hillel against the Zealots who advocate for a war of independence. Responding to the Judeans’ revolt, the Romans–again under the leadership of Vespasian–besiege Jerusalem, destroying the Second Temple and with it, the brand of Judean monotheism it represents. Yohanan takes on the mission of preserving what can be preserved, and of re-inventing what must be reinvented.

Throughout Into the Unbounded Night, Aislin’s, Faolan’s, Vespasian’s, and Yohanan’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways that shed light on colonization and its discontents, the relative values of dominant and tyrannized cultures, and the holiness of life itself–even the weakest of lives.

Regal House Publishing | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Review

Beginning and ending with the importance of a people’s story, Into the Unbounded Night is richly researched and beautifully written, holding the reader enthralled throughout.

“In life there are guidelines, like well-worn paths, but nothing is certain and nothing is forever. A storm may come and wash out part of the trail, or grass may overrun it, and you’ll have to find your way. That is when you must not lose courage.” Ch.1

From life with her aunt Muirgheal, a renowned Celtic warrior, through the burning of Rome and the siege of Jerusalem, I was enraptured with the story of Aislin and the various men – including the Apostle Paul – whose lives touch hers, sometimes in brutal ways.

With touches of magical realism, but all too grounded in the reality they face in the first century, this is a journey through three distinct lands along with their politics, philosophy, and different faiths. A highly recommended read, with a note that, though much of the brutality happens off page, this is not for the faint hearted.

This review refers to a digital copy I voluntarily received and read. It contains only my own honest opinions. A positive review was not required.

Praise for Into the Unbounded Night

“In Into the Unbounded Night, Mitchell Kaplan offers a rich rendering of war and humanity in first century Rome – of tradition and loss, and the transformative power of healing and collective memory to find one’s way home.” – Nichole Bernier, Boston Globe Bestselling author of The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D

“Mitchell James Kaplan is the gloriously talented writer of this dramatic, intense story of conflicting emperors, slaves, priests and exiles in a first century world whose roots and traditions are increasingly torn apart by the brutal rule of Rome. Men and women search for belief and reason, out of which will emerge a new Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple as well as the early beginnings of Christianity. A writer of enormous scope, compassion and poetry, Kaplan has written several of the most compelling characters you will meet in the pages of a book. Into the Unbounded Night sweeps over you like a succession of huge waves. It is truly a major novel.” – Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award recipient, author of Claude And Camille: A Novel Of Monet

“Kaplan’s prose is so rich and agile I felt I was breathing the air of these ancient places, and his evocation of character is no less palpable. Fully embodied and driven by ambition, grief, the clear-eyed desire for truth, and fierce maternal love, these characters plunge, march, and stumble toward their fascinating and entangled destinies.” – Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling novelist of I’ll Be Your Blue Sky and award-winning poet

“I’m a big fan of historical fiction when it’s as good as Mitchell Kaplan’s Into the Unbounded Night. Vividly imagined, Into the Unbounded Night pulls the reader along with beautiful prose, strong characters and a wonderfully realized story.” – Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize

“A beautiful, informative book. It was gripping throughout, the research never overwhelms the story, but is always part of it. [The] writing is lyrical and evocative of time and place. All the characters are real and interesting. Loved it!” – Martin Fletcher, National Jewish Book Award winner, author of Promised Land

“From the mystical lore of Albion to the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem, Kaplanís meticulous research and evocative writing meld seamlessly to create a vivid, textured, and richly imagined story.” – Beth Hoffman, New York Times and International bestselling author of Saving Ceecee Honeycutt and Looking for Me

“Set in Rome and Judea after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mitchell James Kaplanís finely crafted and intense second novel delves into the minds and hearts of truly captivating characters. An excellent read.” – Eva Stachniak, winner of the Canadian First Novel Award, author of The Chosen Maiden

“Sensually provocative, verbally sharp and critically witted, Mitchell James Kaplanís Into the Unbounded Night brings to life the tumultuous birth of Judeo-Christian monotheism in this intimately woven narrative brimming with righteous and riotous characters striving for survival and transcendence across the ravished landscapes of Judea, the Roman Empire, and Britannia.” – Jessica Maria Tuccelli, an Okra Pick winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance for her debut novel, Glow

“Kaplan weaves an intricate literary tapestry to create a poetic exploration of early Judeo-Christian and Roman history. He builds a diverse yet connected cast of characters whose encounters inspire timeless self-examination and advance the course of history. An engrossing work not easily forgotten.” – Therese Walsh, critically acclaimed author of The Last Will Of Moira Leahy and The Moon Sisters, founder of the literary blog, Writer Unboxed

About the Author

Mitchell James Kaplan graduated with honors from Yale University, where he won the Paine Memorial Prize for Best Long-Form Senior Essay submitted to the English Department. His first mentor was the author William Styron.

After college, Kaplan lived in Paris, France, where he worked as a translator, then in Southern California, where he worked as a screenwriter and in film production.

He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his family and two cats.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 31
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 2
Review at Books and Zebras

Friday, September 4
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Saturday, September 5
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, September 7
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Tuesday, September 8
Interview at Novels Alive
Feature at I’m Into Books

Wednesday, September 9
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Thursday, September 10
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, September 11
Feature at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, September 14
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, September 16
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, September 17
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, September 18
Guest Post at Book Bustle

Monday, September 21
Interview at Books & Benches

Tuesday, September 22
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, September 23
Guest Post at The Intrepid Reader

Thursday, September 24
Review at Bookworlder

Friday, September 25
Review at A Book Geek

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 2 copies of Into the Unbounded Night! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Unbounded Night
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Trouble Blows West: A Ginnie West Adventure by Monique Bucheger (review)

Reviewer Tour banner for Trouble Blows West by Monique Bucheger - Just Read Tours, ending October 17

The second of Monique Bucheger’s Ginnie West Adventures is a full of friendship, family, horses, and the ups and downs of 12 year old life in a small town. Its been a week since the events of book one, The Secret Sisters Club, and everything is going great until a bully targets Ginnie’s twin brother Toren. Impetuous and fiercely loyal Ginnie makes matters worse, affecting her relationship with Toren. As they and their group of friends plot revenge against the bully, Pierce, there are life lessons and unforeseen consequences in store.

Continue reading “Trouble Blows West: A Ginnie West Adventure by Monique Bucheger (review)”

Book Blast: A Venomous Love by Chris Karlsen

A Venomous Love
by Chris Karlsen

Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Paperback & eBook; 340 pages

Series: Bloodstone, Book 3
Genre: Historical/Suspense/Victorian

 

 

A veteran, Detective Rudyard Bloodstone has fought a brutal battle and witnessed war horrors that haunt his nightmares. Now one of those horrors has followed him home from Africa.

A vicious predator, the Cape cobra, can kill a man in thirty minutes. A suspect using the snake as a weapon in robberies is terrorizing London.

When the crimes escalate into murder, a victim’s daughter, Honoria Underhill, becomes the focus of the killer. After several attempts on her life, Scotland Yard threatens to take over the high profile case. With few leads to follow, Bloodstone and his partner must now fight department politics and catch the killer before Underhill becomes another murder victim.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author

Chris was born and raised in Chicago. Her father was a history professor and her mother was, and is, a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto her. She wanted to see the places she read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. She is also a retired police detective who spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. Her desire to write came in her early teens. After she retired, she decided to pursue that dream. She writes two different series. Her paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is, Dangerous Waters. She currently live in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, September 8
Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 10
Books, Cooks, Looks

Friday, September 11
Pursuing Stacie

Saturday, September 12
Novels Alive

Monday, September 14
Bookworlder

Tuesday, September 15
A Darn Good Read
Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, September 18
Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, September 21
Tangents and Tissues

Tuesday, September 22
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, September 23
A Book and a Latte

Thursday, September 24
I’m Into Books

Monday, September 28
Coffee and Ink
Donna’s Book Blog

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two eBooks of A Venomous Love + a $20 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

A Venomous Love
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The Secret Sisters Club: A Ginnie West Adventure by Monique Bucheger (review)

Reviewer Tour banner for The Secret Sisters Club by Monique Bucheger

First up in a series of middle grade adventures, The Secret Sisters Club finds twelve year old best friends Ginnie and Tillie longing to be sisters. Forming a club of two, they scheme to throw Ginnie’s widower father and Tillie’s divorced mom together every chance they get. But roadblocks and unexpected emotions quickly get in their way, with drama partly unfolding from each girl secretly reading their mothers journals.

With an exciting beginning and the roller coaster of pre-teen feelings, this story is at turns exciting and touching, filled with schemes and with family, fun, a touch of faith, and a good dose of drama. A well-written adventure for middle grade readers, especially those a little horse mad, it can be read as a stand-alone but they are sure to want to continue the series. Recommended with a note that it will pair well with brownies (if, like me, having food mentioned in a book causes a craving) and a warning that some new expressions might be used after reading. My favorite being “calm your pickles.”

This review is based on a digital copy I voluntarily received from the author. A positive review was not required and it contains only my own, honest opinions. Look for my review of book 2 soon.

About the Book

The Secret Sisters Club by Monique Bucheger

Series: Ginnie West Adventures #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction

Release Date: 2012

Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie and Tillie, want to be sisters. Tillie’s divorced mom plus Ginnie’s widowed dad could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie form a secret club. They come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’. Before long, Tillie seems happier about gaining a dad than a sister. Ginnie suspects that Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’ Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her real mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about. When Dad discovers she has the journals, he takes them away. Ginnie needs to figure out what the big mystery is before her relationship with her father and her best friend are ruined forever.

 Goodreads | Amazon | Google Books

Spotlight: Gilded Dreams by Donna Russo Morin with excerpt + giveaway link

Gilded Dreams
by Donna Russo Morin

Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Magnum Opus
Paperback & eBook; 495 pages

Series: Newport’s Gilded Age, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction

From the bestselling author of GILDED SUMMERS comes a powerful novel of the last eight years of the American Women’s fight for suffrage.

The battle for the vote is on fire in America. The powerful and rich women of Newport, Rhode Island, are not only some of the most involved suffragettes, their wealth – especially that of the indomitable Alva Vanderbilt Belmont – nearly single-handedly funded the major suffrage parties. Yet they have been left out of history, tossed aside as mere socialites. In GILDED DREAMS, they reclaim their rightful place in history.

Pearl and Ginevra (GILDED SUMMERS) are two of its most ardent warriors. College graduates, professional women, wives, and mothers, these progressive women have fought their way through some of life’s harshest challenges, yet they survived, yet they thrive. Now they set their sights on the vote, the epitome of all they have struggled for, the embodiment of their dreams.

From the sinking of the Titanic, through World War 1, Pearl and Ginevra are once more put to the test as they fight against politics, outdated beliefs, and the most cutting opponent of all… other women. Yet they will not rest until their voices are heard, until they – and all the women of America – are allowed to cast their vote. But to gain it, they must overcome yet more obstacles, some that put their very lives in danger.

An emotional and empowering journey, GILDED DREAMS is a historical, action-packed love letter to the women who fought so hard for all women who stand on the shoulders of their triumph.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Donna Russo Morin is an award-winning historical fiction author. Donna has dabbled as a model and actor, working on Showtime’s Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Branching out with her storytelling skills, Donna is now a screenwriter. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Donna lives on the south shore of Rhode Island close to the ocean she loves so very much. She is the proud mother of two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerptmarch

We had been instructed, and more than once, that we should wear no smiles as we marched, for what we did was not frivolous or jovial. What we did, we did to change our world. 

The bell atop Trinity Church began to clang. As it gonged for the twelfth time, I looked at Pearl, she at me, and once more we took steps unknown together.

My legs shook, knees feeling weak. If one is lucky, there are moments in life that you know, not when looking back but when looking from within them, that what you do is a great thing, a powerful thing. I was so very lucky that day. 

We did not walk long until we saw the lines of people formed on both sides of the avenue. There, on Bellevue Avenue, where the elite of Newport society had built their cottages, we were bathed in words of encouragement. Servants cheered their fellows as they passed. The wealthy who were still in residence long after the season had passed encouraged us in the most polite manner, the soft thuds of applause by gloved hands.

From Bellevue, we would turn east on Bath Street then north again onto Spring Street, which would take us all the way to the Great Common and the band of musicians we had arranged to carry us into the square. 

Would our reception be the same all along that route?

“We begin with glory and we shall end with it.” Pearl pondered as I did. But where I worried, she stomped forward in battle. 

Ours would be a nearly three-mile walk, far shorter than the one in New York, and still it would take us close to two hours to complete, at the least. More importantly, we would pass Newporters of every rank, station, and purse. The route took us from the enormous cottages, through a commercial district, then through neighborhoods of ‘regular’ people. We would pass before eyes that saw life through many different lenses. 

Quiet reverence brought us to the end of Bellevue, just a few feet from the Casino, the center of Newport’s socialites’ social life. We made the turn onto Bath Street, a street crowded with businesses and selling stalls owned and operated by men. 

Words showered us once more, words that cut to the quick, thrown like sharp stones at the men in our ranks. 

“Where are your skirts?” a fat-bellied man with a rough-looking beard covering his round face bellowed.

Pearl turned. I knew she looked at Peter. It would be hard for him, to hear these words, to suffer the slings and arrows of men aimed at men; he was far too righteous. Holding his tongue would be a struggle. But then, were he not such a man, he would not have been a match for Pearl. 

“Nothing to say, henpeck?” Another man joined the slinging of epithets. 

“He has much to say,” I heard Pearl whisper though her lips did not move, “but not to the likes of you.”

Our turn onto Spring Street found both our steps faltering…the thick crowd lined both sides of the street; we could not see the fences and their decoration of fall chrysanthemums behind the so many of them. 

I looked over my shoulder and saw a river of snow; we had not lost any of our marchers in their blazing white clothes. But the harder test was upon us.

At first, we heard quiet applause.

“Thank you!”

Pearl and I both turned. A woman in threadbare clothes stood with a child in her arm and three others at her feet. We saw no man with her. From the look of her and her children, so thin and pallid, there might be no man in her life, or worse, a bad one. Pearl and I both walked taller, for her and all those like her. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 10
Review at Books, Cooks, and Looks

Wednesday, August 12
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, August 14
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Saturday, August 15
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, August 17
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Book Bustle

Friday, August 21
Guest Post at The Intrepid Reader

Monday, August 24
Review at Books and Zebras

Tuesday, August 25
Feature at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 26
Review at The Love of Books

Friday, August 28
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 31
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 2
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Friday, September 4
Review at A Darn Good Read

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of the book + a painting of a scene from the book painted by the author! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway is open to US residents only and on September 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Gilded Dreams
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Spotlight: The River Jewel by Kathleen Shoop with an excerpt, review, and giveaway link!

The River Jewel: A Letter Series Novella
by Kathleen Shoop

Publication Date: December 3, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 172 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

For everyone who hopes to find the perfect match…

1875 Des Moines, Iowa

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

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

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

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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

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~My Thoughts~

This novella has the best kind of insta-love – that of reader and text. From the first lines, this is a story that draws the reader in, while warning that there will be a bit of bitter along with the sweet. And what a lovely story it is, with a sweet romance between a man and a woman of opposite circumstances.

When Landon Lockwood travels from New York to Iowa with big plans and a more entitled attitude than he is aware he carries, he unwittingly makes a poor impression on those he meets – including Tilly Rabel, local mussel-woman and owner of the cove he is searching for.

Like many a good fairytale, there are obstacles and comeuppances, villains and unexpected helpers, heartache and true love. But best of all, it’s a story of two people finding each other, and I love that red haired Tilly who swims like a mermaid rescues Landon first.

With lovely details about mussels and buttons, for those who are new to Kathleen Shoop’s The Letter series or have read the novels that follow the events in The River Jewel, this is a sweet and enchanting prequel that sweeps the reader away to a place where time stands still in 1870’s Iowa.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Landon

Come closer. Closer. Let the honeysuckle draw you down the hidden, woodsy path where the songbirds announce your arrival and the sound of summer crickets echoes inside your chest. One more step. Ah, that’s good, no more. Don’t slip into the river, not where the current hurries sneaky but silent, strong as a magnet ripping metal out of your hand. Away, away you’d go. So careful stepping. Stay on the cove side of the land and listen in…

Once upon a time in that quiet cove, obscured from boating traffic by a high, thin slice of land, a love story was born. This one, different from all the others because this fairy tale’s braided with the oddest sense of happy and sad, a murky condition like where river mussels start and end their lives. Did you know there were such things—muddy, happy, sad senses of being, places to live, and endings that’re really beginnings? The river mussels know. You must have felt it before, that state of bluesy joy. 

Well maybe you’ve only experienced bliss, and for you, this story might not feel right. But for the rest who wend their way through good and bad, lost and found and lost again, this story will feel familiar… but new. Because this story got lost in all the rest of the perfectly, pristine happy ending tales. But now here it is… lean in tight and listen to the whispered story of the secret jewel-filled river cove. 

It happened one summer, around 1875 on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa. Deep in a hidden river cove, Landon, the wealthy, youngest son of the Lockwoods—yes, those Lockwoods—set off to earn his parents’ love by way of proving he could be the type of son who deserved it. 

The task was simple. To get them to love him, he needed to make a lot of money—more capital than any one person needed, more cash than anyone could imagine. Anyone but his parents—their minds never stopped envisioning the next enormous amount—hundreds of thousands, millions, even billions. Oh, yes. No amount was too big to dream. That was the only way with the Lockwoods, even the mother. Especially the mother. And that was the only way Landon understood love. 

So there he was, edging along a crooked finger of land. It curved with the Des Moines River to its left and a serene, lily-scented cove of crystal water to its right. He steadied his feet on the mossy rock, pulled his map from his pocket and studied the drawing. He squinted into the sun, toward the calm cove waters then back at the rushing river. Seven great oak trees marched around the perimeter of the inlet, leafy hand, in leafy hand. 

He poked at the map. The man who sold it to him had made a notation that Landon would smell the cove before he saw it. Landon had mistakenly thought that meant the water would bear a horrible smell, like factory waters back east. A stench was the only thing he could imagine having such an impact. Not even his beach cottage property in Newport smelled as glorious as this cove did. It was these specific botanic fragrances curling off the trees and flowers, mixing with the scent of fresh water, bearing a sense of purity, that made him sure he’d found it. He’d never be able to describe the smell for anyone. But, this was it. He tapped the map again. It was exactly as he’d been told.

Chapter 2

Tilly

As Landon Lockwood compared his map against what, until that moment, he’d been convinced was a drunkard’s fantasy, Tilly Rabel, daughter of a mussel-woman and fisherman, left her cottage. She hummed and flounced along, tossing seed to her bluebirds, stopping to scratch the bunny mama under the chin before tucking her shucking knife into her canvas harvesting bag. She stripped down to her shimmy and bloomers and inhaled the steamy hydrangea-scented August air as she tied the rope of the bag around her waist.

The Rabel’s cove sat inside an embrace of crescent-shaped land. An underground rivulet fed it from one side and the Des Moines River filled it from the other. A hidden button of land and water, it created the perfect spot for fishing and harvesting mussels. This was Tilly’s legacy, her everything.

Distracted by the thought of her best friend marrying and leaving for California, Tilly waded into the cove, the water icing her ankles and raising bumps on her skin. She double-checked the knotted rope that held the bag tight to her waist and splashed in further before diving into the deep center waters. She squeezed her legs together, whipping them like she’d sprouted a mermaid tail, rotating onto her back then belly then back, then diving under, descending where the sunbeams could only hope to reach. 

Get a move on. Time to work.

She dolphin-kicked up for breath, a smattering of sunrays mottling the surface water through the leafy canopy. She paddled toward the muddy beds, closer to the shoreline, toward the mussels, to where the pink and blue heelsplitters live. 

She was taking a final stroke before diving under when a foreign sound grabbed her, stilling her like the thick afternoon air. A scraping sound came. She closed her eyes and cocked her ear. Where had the noise come from? 

There it was again.

From the river side of the cove.

She whipped to her left.

A man.

Her mouth fell open and she dropped under the surface to her chin, the steady drip of water from her nose mimicking her heartbeat. Her skin tingled. Not because a strange man invaded her territory, but because he was in fact the third strange man to happen upon her cove in a month. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, August 26
Review at Passages to the Past
Feature at I’m All About Books

Friday, August 28
Review & Excerpt at Bookworlder

Monday, August 31
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Wednesday, September 2
Review at Book Bustle

Monday, September 7
Review at Jorie Loves A Story

Friday, September 11
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Saturday, September 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, September 14
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a prize pack including a copy of the book, a bracelet, a journal, and a $50 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The River Jewel
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This review refers to a finished copy I voluntarily received and read. A positive review was not required and this review contains only my own honest opinions.

Bookblast: The Quality of Mercy by Malia Zaidi with giveaway link

The Quality of Mercy
by Malia Zaidi

Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Book Baby
Paperback & eBook; 416 pages

Series: The Lady Evelyn Mysteries, Book 5
Genre: Historical Mystery

After years spent away, Lady Evelyn is at long last back in her home city of London and she has returned with a rather controversial plan. The Carlisle Detective Agency is born, and it does not take long for the bodies…ahem, cases, to start piling up. With her friend and assistant Hugh, Evelyn embarks on the quest to solve the crimes. Yet the London she encounters is not the London of her coddled youth, and she is forced to learn that there is more to discover than the identity of a murderer. It isn’t only her city which reveals it is not what she always believed it to be, but the people she encounters as well. Secrets are revealed that have her thinking twice about everything she thought she knew about the society in which she grew up.

Evelyn’s love for her hard-won independence confronts her with yet another mystery, whether she is ready or willing to give up any of it for marriage. And then there is the arrival of rather a familiar face in London, one Daniel is none to pleased to see. Evelyn must find not one but two murderers, as well as make a decision that could determine her future. From the mansions of Mayfair to the dark alleys of Whitechapel, can Evelyn catch the killers before another life is taken?

Available on Amazon

About the Author


Malia Zaidi is the author of The Lady Evelyn Mysteries. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Oxford. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides vicariously (if temporarily) in countries around the world.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Blast Schedule

Thursday, August 20
Reading is My Remedy
Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, August 21
Donna’s Book Blog

Saturday, August 22
Robin Loves Reading

Sunday, August 23
Jorie Loves A Story

Monday, August 24
Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, August 25
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 26
Bookworlder

Thursday, August 27
100 Pages a Day

Friday, August 28
Books, Cooks, Looks

Saturday, August 29
A Darn Good Read

Sunday, August 30
Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a set of The Lady Evelyn Mysteries series! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Quality of Mercy
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Spotlight: The Girl From Vichy by Andie Newton with review + giveaway link

The Girl from Vichy
by Andie Newton

Publication Date: August 13, 2020
Aria Fiction

Genre: Historical Fiction

1942, occupied France.

As the war in Europe rages on, Adèle Ambeh dreams of a France that is free from the clutches of the new regime. The date of her marriage to a ruthless man is drawing closer, and she only has one choice — she must run.

With the help of her mother, Adèle flees to Lyon, seeking refuge at the Sisters of Notre Dame de la Compassion. From the outside this is a simple nunnery, but the sisters are secretly aiding the French Resistance, hiding and supplying the fighters with weapons.

While it is not quite the escape Adèle imagined, she is drawn to the nuns and quickly finds herself part of the resistance. But her new role means she must return to Vichy, and those she left behind, no matter the cost.

Each day is filled with a different danger and as she begins to fall for another man, Adèle’s entire world could come crashing down around her.

Adèle must fight for her family, her own destiny, as well as her country.

Amazon US |†Amazon UK | Apple | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | Kobo

About the Author

Andie is an American writer living in Washington State with her husband and two boys. She is the author of The Girl I Left Behind (Aria 2019) and The Girl from Vichy (Aria 2020). She has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Washington State University and a Master in Teaching. She would love to say she spends her free time gardening and cooking, but she’s killed everything she’s ever planted and set off more fire alarms than she cares to admit. Andie does, however, love spending time with her family, trail running, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Andie would love to be a guest at your next book club! You can find discussion questions for her novels on her website www.andienewton.com. You can also find Andie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads.

~My Thoughts~

As the story of The Girl from Vichy unwinds, it begins as the story of a slightly spoiled young woman whose family is divided between the different factions within unoccupied France in World War II. Fleeing an arranged marriage with a member of the Vichy police, Adèle journeys to a convent where she becomes involved with the resistance – only to be sent back to face her spurned fiancé. As her life becomes increasingly dangerous, Adèle voices her story with growing maturity, depth, and an unflinching narration.

There are works of historical fiction that get me in the heart, but this is one that got me in the gut. Andie Newton has crafted a story that is emotional, thrilling, surprising, and ultimately gut wrenching. There was a moment that caught me unaware, though it had been skillfully built up to, and having to pause for a breath before reading on, and that same reaction is how this book left me in the end.

Highly recommended.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, August 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, August 14
Review at Passages to the Past

Saturday, August 15
Feature at Lost in a Book Reviewer

Sunday, August 16
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, August 18
Review at The Lit Bitch
Excerpt at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, August 19
Feature at I’m All About Books

Thursday, August 20
Review at Girl Who Reads
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, August 22
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, August 24
Review at Bookworlder

Tuesday, August 25
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, August 28
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of The Girl from Vichy! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Girl from Vichy
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This review refers to a NetGalley e-galley I voluntarily read. A positive review was not required and these are simply my own honest opinions.

Spotlight: The Memory House by Jeanette James with excerpt + giveaway link

The Memory House: A Love Story in Two Acts
by Jenetta James

Publication Date: August 10, 2020
Quills and Quartos Publishing
Paperback & eBook; 276 pages

Genre: Historical Romance

A house in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods is home to secrets, mysteries, and two love stories spanning two centuries.

In 1859, independent-minded Kitty Cathcart dreams of escaping Veronica Gardens but her father’s determination to marry her off to a rich man of his choosing forces her to seek happiness and find her own voice by other means. And then the handsome but poor Alex Faraday walks through the front doors.

In 2019, Oxford-educated Josie Minton never dreamt of living in a house as grand as Veronica Gardens, but the nanny’s quarters are a perfect fit for a young woman in need of a job. Wealthy financier James Cavendish and his twin girls quickly find her indispensable to their happiness, but Josie is still searching for her future.

Then the great house reveals the first of its secrets, and the tragedy and romance of one era are brought into sharp relief with another.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego.

She is the author of “Suddenly Mrs Darcy”, “The Elizabeth Papers” and “Lover’s Knot” as well as a contributor to The Quill Ink series of anthologies, “The Darcy Monologues”, “Dangerous to know”, “Rational Creatures” and “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl”.

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Excerpt

from Chapter 3 of The Memory House

Kitty swept into her father’s library and peered around. It was an enormous room, standing upon almost half of the ground floor of the house, yet it always felt crowded with objects. Unlike the fashionable libraries of many gentlemen, it was not arranged to showcase the owner’s education and scholastic achievements. There were books aplenty, but they were not there to impress others―nor would Sir Roland have invited outsiders to peruse them. The room was packed to bursting with files and records; bookcases stood floor to ceiling down each side. At one end of the room, an oval table, polished to a squeak, gleamed; all of its chairs tucked in, unoccupied. Kitty had seen it in action on other occasions: tall, frock-coated gentlemen sitting around smoking and talking of business. Now it was quite empty, as was Sir Roland’s desk, which stood in the centre of the room like a throne, his pen poised like a knife on its surface. At the opposite end of the room, stood the conservatory, separated from the library only by a wall of glass and an excess of foliage. For these reasons, the space within was dimmer than it should have been and tinged with a heavy green, which Kitty fancied stuck to those who entered. It had always made her laugh to think of the green-skinned men strutting about within. Presently, Mr Faraday, who had been seated at the viewless desk, which faced the east wall, reserved for secretaries and other underlings, stood and greeted her. A look of confusion crossed his face and was rapidly replaced with sternness. 

“Good morning, miss.”

“How industrious you are. I was wondering whether you have everything you need?”

“Yes, thank you.”

His response was clipped, sharp even.

“Is there anything I can obtain for you?”

“No, Miss Cathcart, I don’t believe there is.” It was most disconcerting to see Mr Faraday exhale and stare down at his papers. 

“In that case, I shall not bother you.” 

And with that, she plumped down on the small chaise before the fire and opened her book, as though it were the most normal thing in the world for a young woman of society to keep company with a clerk in one of the least attractive rooms in the house. Mr Faraday sat at his desk with his back to her, his long legs only just accommodated beneath the table. They were like two bookends on a shelf, without any books in between. 

“You shall not bother me, Miss Cathcart. But your presence here may bother your father. He may consider it to be…inappropriate.”

“He shall not consider it to be anything, because he shall not know.” She placed her book beside her on the chaise and leaned towards his back. “My father is away from the house for the day.” She smiled a satisfied smile at the back of his head. “In any case, if he is unhappy about where I spend my time, it is I who shall know of it, not you.”

He stiffened and took up his pen. Kitty considered him over the top of her book and regretted that he was not more forthcoming. A coldness appeared to exist between them, but she was adamant that it need not remain. 

“You are discomforted, sir.”

“No, I assure you. I am perfectly contented.”

There followed an extended period of chilly silence in which the shuffling of paper, the turning of pages, and the occasional movement of Kitty’s skirts were the only sounds. Eventually, she gave up hope of him speaking. 

“How did you enjoy meeting with my cousin again?”

He paused his pen over the paper but did not turn around. 

“I enjoyed it very much. It has been some years.”

“Yes, it must have been. George came down from Cambridge three years ago. Were you and he exact contemporaries?”

“We were.”

“And do you miss your studies, Mr Faraday? I should love to have attended a university. My word. To have years in which there is nothing but reading and studying and thinking. What fortune!”

With that, he turned to face her, pen in hand. 

“It was good fortune, miss, while it lasted. I cannot say that it prepared me for life though.”

“Why not?”

He took in a breath, and his eyes quite flashed. Suddenly, the same heat and tension she felt when she saw him in the dining room the previous day returned, and an uncharacteristic nervousness crept over her. 

“I cannot answer that question, Miss Cathcart, without taking up all of your day, and mine. And since I can see that you have many pages left to read”―he nodded to the book beside her―“and I have many hours of work to complete for your father, shall we”—he paused over the words—“postpone this discussion to another time?”

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 10
Review at Books and Backroads

Tuesday, August 11
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, August 14
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Saturday, August 15
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, August 17
Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, August 20
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Monday, August 24
Review at A Darn Good Read

Wednesday, August 26
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Friday, August 28
Excerpt at Probably at the Library
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Sunday, August 30
Review at Nursebookie

Monday, August 31
Review at Tangents and Tissues

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of The Memory House! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Memory House
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The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan (review)

Cover image: The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Five weeks. A favor for a friend.

There is a rare convergence of characters, storyline, history, research, and talent that results in a pitch-perfect work of fiction. This is one. The London Restoration is a love story, the story of a new marriage put on hold by four years of war and a reunion disrupted by secrets and a five week delay. It is also a veritable love letter to London and it’s churches, Thomas Wren’s churches in particular.

Continue reading “The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan (review)”