Book Review: I AM AYAH – THE WAY HOME by Donna Hill

I AM AYAH: THE WAY HOME by Donna Hill book cover featuring a close-up graphic illustration of the head a young Black female wearing hoop earrings and a purple head wrap in a profile viewI Am Ayah: The Way Home by Donna Hill
ISBN: 9781649371461 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781649371683 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250893338 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0BH9BBTZM (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B099QHBM7G (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 368
Publication date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: Sideways Books
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Multi-Cultural

Set amid Sag Harbor’s vibrant African American history, bestselling author Donna Hill weaves a stunningly rich story about finding the way home…no matter how long the journey takes.

Alessandra Fleming has spent most of her life running from her past. Her budding photography career, her life in Manhattan, all serve to distract from the secrets and guilt she’s never been able to face. Then the call. Her estranged father is in the hospital…and Alessandra must return home to Sag Harbor, crumbling the first wall between her past and her present.

For some, coming home is a relief. For Alessandra, it’s a reminder of the family she’s lost, of the time she’ll never regain. But the answers—the secrets—of her family are hidden in the house, waiting for her. And the only one who may be able to help her uncover them is her father’s neighbor, Zach, who brings with him an attraction that’s intense and instantaneous, yet oddly familiar.

Now Alessandra is being pulled back not only into her own complex family history, but into the richly documented lives of four extraordinary women. Generations touched by tragedy and triumph, despair and hope. And it’s in these aching echoes of the past that Alessandra’s own story—her mistakes and her capacity to love—will take shape, guiding her to the life she’s meant to live…and the extraordinary person she will become.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | | Barnes and Noble | B&N Audiobook | B&N eBook | Downpour Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Book Review graphic banner with the words "Book" and "Review" separated by a pile of booksThere are many sayings about not being able to go home again, for whatever reason, but Alessandra Fleming must return to her hometown after being notified that he has been hospitalized due to a fall. For Alessandra, there’s never a good time to go “home,” especially since she’s preparing for her first art show and must take a leave of absence from her job at the art gallery. But Alessandra does return to her home in Sag Harbor and tries to uncover the secrets of her family’s past, along with her past, in an effort to understand her father and rebuild their relationship. Little does Alessandra know, but her family has deep and dark ties to Sag Harbor, dating back to the 19th century and the slave trade. Throughout Alessandra’s visit home, she experiences flashes of someone else in some other time. Is she going crazy? Will the secrets she uncovers help her understand who she is, where she’s come from, and what’s happening to her? Will Alessandra be able to build a relationship with the new man in her life, Zach Renard?

I Am Ayah: The Way Home is presented with a dual timeline, the contemporary story dealing with Alessandra, and the historical narrative of Ayah, a woman kidnapped from Africa and an escapee from enslavement. One of the big questions seems to be what do these two women have in common even though they’re separated by centuries? The author gradually reveals Ayah’s saga and that of her descendants. It was heartening to see Alessandra make an attempt to reconcile with her father, as well as see the friendship and burgeoning romance develop between her and Zach. The author presents realistic characters that are all too flawed, but she intersperses this with bits of humor to lighten up the story. Zach’s grandmother, Grace Oweku aka Mrs. O, is an amazing elder, dispensing lots of wisdom. I enjoyed all of the characters, the dual timelines, and the action. I Am Ayah: The Way Home is much more than a romance. I found it to be an intriguing and entrancing read about family history and heritage, not just Ayah’s, but Alessandra’s and Zach’s as well. Of course, the romance added just the right amount of spice to the story. If you enjoy stories with a blend of historical and contemporary timelines, stories filled with family angst and drama, or stories with romantic elements, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of I Am Ayah: The Way Home. I’ve ordered a print copy of this book for my 88-y.o. book diva mother to read. Something tells me she’s going to enjoy this one just as much as I did.

Happy Reading, y’all! ♦

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Guest Post: Kelly Oliver – COVERT IN CAIRO

Greetings, my bookish peeps. I often find it amazing that we can travel the world and even back in time simply by opening a book. As readers, we can borrow a book from our local library system or purchase a book from our local indie bookseller and travel the globe. Readers reap the benefit of untold numbers of hours of research done by the writer. I, for one, am incredibly grateful that writers are so diligent in their research and incorporate the knowledge they’ve gained via this research into their writings. One such writer is Kelly Oliver. Ms. Oliver is the author of the recently released, Covert in Cairo, and she joins us today to discuss the research she made into early twentieth-century Cairo. Thank you, Ms. Oliver, for joining us today. I can’t wait to learn more about your research and writing.

Banner with Guest Post in a script font under a line and with a stack of books over the word "guest"

Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane’s latest adventure, Covert in Cairo, takes them to… you guessed it. Cairo! This is the only place Fiona has been that I haven’t. I’m so jealous. But I sent to her Cairo at the end of the pandemic, and I had to settle for a trip to Cairo in my imagination.

As a result, I did a ton of research for the book. And I had so much fun learning about the history of Cairo and the place of Egypt in the First World War. I especially enjoyed reading about the grand hotels of Cairo.

In Covert in Cairo, Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane stay in Shepheard’s Hotel. I first heard of Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo in the novels of Elizabeth Peters. Her Amelia Peabody Mysteries are set in Egypt, and they were a huge influence on Fiona Figg. I absolutely love Amelia Peabody, especially as read in the audiobook by the incredible voice artist Barbara Rosenblatt.

I’m thrilled that in a month, at Malice Domestic, I get to dress up at Amelia Peabody as part of the celebration of Elizabeth Peter’s mysteries. I have my pith helmet and my red parasol with matching outfit. I’m just waiting for the lace-up boots to arrive. It’s going to be so much fun.

Amelia always spoke so fondly of her times at Shepheard’s.

Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo was built in 1841 by Englishman Samuel Shepheard. By the end of the 19th Century, it was known throughout the world as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, and the first to have private bathrooms in each of its guestrooms. Its corridors were large enough to turn a four-horse carriage. And it was famous for its open-air terrace.

It was said, if you sat there long enough, you’d see the entire world pass by.

With lush gardens, a private zoo, grand granite pillars, magnificent stained-glass windows, and was adorned with colorful tapestries and Persian carpets, it was one of the finest hotels in the world. Weekly balls with evening gowns and dress uniforms were a must for ex-pats.

The hotel had many famous guests, including Theodore Roosevelt, T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Gertrude Bell, Winston Churchill, and the Prince of Wales, among many others. Lawrence of Arabia and Gertrude Bell have supporting roles in Covert in Cairo.

I read fantastic stories of the Prince of Wales hitting golf balls in the garden, to Winston Churchill forgetting his hat and claiming it a decade later with the same claim ticket.

I also enjoyed researching the food of Egypt. Wherever she travels—at the encouragement of her more worldly friend Clifford—Fiona tries the local cuisine. In this department, I’m a lot more adventurous than Fiona.

Still, Fiona likes to eat. I mean, who doesn’t, right? And good food is a staple of cozy mysteries. I love to include recipes in my newsletter for the food Fiona tries on her various missions.

In Cairo, she was especially taken with the pudding course or dessert. And her sidekick, Kitty Lane is famous for her sweet tooth. Kitty’s favorites are Konafa, a warm dessert made of vermicelli-like strands of dough and either custard or warm milk and nuts, and Om Ali or fragrant Egyptian Bread Pudding, a simple pudding made from special bread, milk, and butter, possibly topped with rose petals and pistachios.

Not as adventurous as Kitty, Fiona’s perennial favorite snack is a few slices of toast served with a whole pot of marmalade and a strong cup of tea.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry! Time for a snack. ♦

Covert in Cairo

by Kelly Oliver

April 24 – May 19, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Covert in Cairo by Kelly Oliver

1917 Cairo.

Ancient mummies aren’t the only bodies buried in the tombs of Cairo.

The notorious Fredrick Fredricks has lured Fiona to Egypt with a cryptic threat on the Suez Canal.

But when a cheeky French archeologist is murdered, and an undercover British agent goes missing, the threat moves closer to home.

Is the notorious Fredrick Fredricks behind the murders? Or is the plot even more sinister?

Competing excavators, jealous husbands, secret lovers, and belligerent spies are the leading suspects.

As they dig deeper, soon Fiona and Kitty are up to their donkeys in dead bodies.

If they can’t unwind the clues and catch the killer, they might end up sharing a sarcophagus with Nefertiti.

With humor as dry as the Arabian desert, and pacing as fast as a spitting camel, Fiona and Kitty are back in another sparkling adventure, this time in WW1 Egypt.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781804831700 (Paperback)
ASIN: B0BMF2YYQM (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0BXYT5XKB (Audible audiobook)
Series: A Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mystery, 2 (These are Stand-Alone Mysteries)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


“Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Maisie Dobbs.”

“Tantalizing and riveting with a good dose of humor while keeping the heartbreaking reality of war in the mix.”
The Los Angeles Post

“A clever mix of humor and espionage that will keep you turning the pages and laughing all the way!”
Dianne Freeman, author the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

“A perfect blend of wit, fun, and intrigue.”
Debra Goldstein, Author of the Sarah Blair Cozy Mysteries

“The perfect wartime spy: Fiona Figg. Smart, sneaky, and full of surprises… A fun whodunit that will keep you turning the pages!”
Cathi Stoler, author of The Murder On The Rocks Mysteries

“Fun, easy-to-read, witty mystery that had me happily turning the pages.”
Melissa’s Bookshelf

“Humor, action, and intrigue. I found myself thoroughly entertained.”
Urban Book Reviews

Covert in Cairo Trailer:

Author Bio:

Kelly Oliver

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning and bestselling author of three mystery series: the seven-book suspense series, The Jessica James Mysteries; the three-book middle-grade kids’ series, Pet Detective Mysteries; and the four-book historical cozy series, The Fiona Figg Mysteries, inspired by those trips to the Green Hills Library.

Currently, Kelly is the Vice President of Sisters in Crime.

When she’s not writing novels, Kelly is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

To learn more about Kelly and her books, go to:
BookBub – @KellyOliverBook
Instagram – @kellyoliverbook
Twitter – @kellyoliverbook
Facebook – @kellyoliverauthor

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Kelly Oliver. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: I.M. Foster – MURDER ON OAK STREET

MURDER ON OAK STREET by I.M. Foster book cover featuring a greenish-gray Victorian home with trees in the background and a dark, cloudy sky above

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and for those of you celebrating religious holidays, I pray you had a great holiday. I’m a somewhat persnickety reader when it comes to fiction. When I’m reading historical fiction, I expect that the historical tidbits offered by the author will be true (unless the author is using an alternative historical setting). If a story is set in the Victorian Era, then I fully expect the British monarch to be Queen Victoria, not Queen Dougless. As I’ve stated in the past, I can suspend belief with the best of them but there are certain facts that I find hard to overlook in my fiction reading. Today’s guest, I.M. Foster, author of the historical read Murder on Oak Street, will be sharing with us how she straddles the fine line between history and mystery. I hope you’ll enjoy her thoughts on this subject, follow the blog tour to learn more about this book and its author, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway. Thank you, Ms. Foster, for joining us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Walking a Fine Line Between History and Mystery
by I.M. Foster

I’ve always been a historian, so most of what I write has some historical aspect to it, whether mystery, romance or even paranormal. What I discovered early on was that writing any sub-category of the historical genre is like writing two genres at the same time, even if the historical aspect is in the background.

I knew as I started writing Murder on Oak Street, that I would have to do a lot of research if I wanted to set my novel on turn-of-the-century Long Island. But then, both the librarian and the historian in me love research so that was in no way a deterrent. I chose the south shore, rather than the more infamous Gold Coast of the north shore because I was looking for someplace not so well known. And yet, I wanted a location that served as a resort area, where the victim and suspect pool could be easily expanded beyond the local residents. I found that in the village of Patchogue. Now, that phase one was complete, it was time to move on to phase two of my research, really getting to know what Patchogue was like in 1904.

I was relatively well acquainted with the village in 2020, but what was it like over a hundred years before? With a loose idea of the plot in hand, I began my research, using local newspapers, records, and photographs. I called on local town historians and local historical librarians, picking their brains for insight into the period. The Patchogue-Medford Library, as it is now known, has a fantastic local history department, so I was able to find everything from a 1904 directory to pictures of what Patchogue’s streets and buildings looked like at the time. The library was even kind enough to allow me to feature some of the pictures on my website, which is a tremendous visual aid for my readers. And being able to add the names of actual locations that existed at the time, helped enhance the historical flavor of the mystery.

Having gained a clear picture of the village, I broadened my research and dug into the history of the time period as a whole, so that I could incorporate that into the characters and events. Things like fingerprints were extremely new and not being used on a regular basis, but electricity and telephones were becoming more common, as was the automobile. The hotel where Daniel stays in Patchogue even had steam heating in its rooms, quite a luxury at the time.

Once I had a feel for the time period and village in 1904, I began to write, weaving in little bits of history here and there, while still keeping the focus on the mystery aspect of the book, I also wanted to integrate a bit of romance, a character to interact with the hero, Daniel O’Halleran, on both an intellectual and an emotional level. Thus I created Kathleen Brissedon, the local librarian, which in turn gave me the opportunity to include a bit more history, about the library itself this time. What I ended up with, I hope, is a period mystery that will transport you to 1904 Long Island and introduce you to characters that might have very well existed at the time. Hop on the Long Island railroad with Daniel and see if you can solve this first South Shore Mystery… ♦

Murder on Oak Street

by I. M. Foster

April 10 – May 5, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Murder on Oak Street by I. M. Foster

New York, 1904. After two years as a coroner’s physician for the city of New York, Daniel O’Halleran is more frustrated than ever. What’s the point when the authorities consistently brush aside his findings for the sake of expediency? So when his fiancée leaves him standing at the altar on their wedding day, he takes it as a sign that it’s time to move on and eagerly accepts an offer to assist the local coroner in the small Long Island village of Patchogue.

Though the coroner advises him life on Long Island is far more subdued than that of the city, Daniel hasn’t been there a month when the pretty librarian, Kathleen Brissedon, asks him to look into a two-year-old murder case that took place in the city. Oddly enough, the case she’s referring to was the first one he ever worked on, and the verdict never sat right with him.

Eager for the chance to investigate it anew, Daniel agrees to look into it in his spare time, but when a fresh murder occurs in his own backyard, he can’t shake his gut feeling that the two cases are somehow connected. Can he discover the link before another life is taken, or will murder shake the peaceful South Shore village once again?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: October 2022
Number of Pages: 503
ISBN: 9781733337571 (Paperback)
ASIN: B0BFMT4WL2 (Kindle edition)
Series: A South Shore Mystery, Book 1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads

Author Bio:

I. M. Foster

I. M. Foster is the pen name author Inez Foster uses to write her South Shore Mystery series, set on Edwardian Long Island. Inez also writes historical romances under the pseudonym Andrea Matthews, and has so far published two series in that genre: the Thunder on the Moor series, a time-travel romance set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Borders, and the Cross of Ciaran series, which follows the adventures of a fifth century Celt who finds himself in love with a twentieth-century archaeologist.

Inez is a historian and librarian, who love to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogically speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. Inez is a member of the Long Island Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society.

Find Out More & Get Social With I. M. Foster: – for her mysteries – for her romances
BookBub – @imfostermysteries
Instagram – @imfosterauthor
Twitter – @IMFosterMystery
Facebook – @IMFosterMysteries

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Guest Post: Justin Newland – THE CORONATION

THE CORONATION by Justin Newland cover

The Coronation

by Justin Newland

March 6 – 24, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Good day, book people. I’ve recently been on a historical fiction reading kick, namely re-reading historical romance. One of the many things I enjoy learning is why the author chose this particular time period and/or what events prompted that specific story. I’m happy to welcome Justin Newland, author of the historical fiction novel, The Coronation, to the blog this morning. Mr. Newland will be sharing with us some of the historical events that influenced his novel. Thank you, Mr. Newland, for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.

Guest Post graphic featuring a stack of books above the words GUEST POST in a scripted font

The Coronation is my third novel. It’s a historical fiction adventure story with supernatural undertones.

What about the title? Well, a coronation is a powerful religious ceremony which culminates with the placing of a crown on the head of a sovereign. But in my novel, there is no such ceremony. No one is crowned, or are they? Or should they have been?

The root of the word coronation is corona. A corona is defined as the rarefied gaseous envelope that surrounds the sun. It’s an incredible sight, visible during a total solar eclipse.

Photo of solar coronaThe imagery of a corona is suggestive of a halo, a bright circle of fire that both graces and illuminates. A halo is a ring or disc of light that often appears in religious art surrounding or above a person’s head. It’s a mark of achievement in a genius or a saviour or a hero that indicates the person is capable of performing extraordinary acts of leadership or compassion.

Now The Coronation takes place in the 1760s during the period called the Great Enlightenment. It’s set against the backdrop of the Seven Years’ War, a conflict between the new burgeoning Protestant nation of Prussia – which as embryonic Germany – against the old established Catholic empires of Russia and Austria.

Black and white drawing/painting of James Watt

The 1760s was a turning point in human affairs. Because it was in that decade that a certain Scotsman by the name of James Watt made a discovery that significantly improved the efficiency of the steam engine. Until that time, there were no large cities, no mass migration, no mass consumption, no factories, and no industrialisation. Industry was located in the cottage and the barn, the mill and the brewery. People mostly lived in rural communities and so were close to the land and its natural cycles. Their lives were governed by the passage of the seasons, and people celebrated that simple communion with song and dance, prayer and thanksgiving, ceremony and pageant, just as their ancestors had done for centuries before.

James Watt’s discovery changed all that, because it marked the birth of the single most important event of modern times – the Industrial Revolution. It heralded an unprecedented and exponential increase in population. In the 1750s, the world population was estimated at 800 million people. Today, in 2023, it’s estimated at 8,000 million – a ten-fold increase.

THE CORONATION by Justin Newland coverNow if you read The Coronation, you’ll encounter a German word called zeitgeist or spirit of the times. It’s defined as an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a given epoch in world history. Now some men and women are in tune with the zeitgeist, others are not. Perhaps those that are we call geniuses, saviours, or world leaders, people like Moses and the Buddha, Julius Caesar and Napoleon Buonaparte, Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Curie, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Either way, they are agents of significant change.

How does the zeitgeist work? What’s its mechanism? Well, it’s probably some sort of blueprint, in the way that there’s an architectural blueprint for the construction of a building, an outline plan to be followed with an end result in mind. If so, it suggests that the forces that come with the zeitgeist are designed to be used for a specific purpose, with a specific result.

The question that hovers like a Sword of Damocles is this: can that force be misused or misinterpreted? In our case, was James Watt’s discovery in tune with the spirit of the times or did it end up as a departure from some intended path for humanity? Was the invisible force of that epoch meant to get used to industrialise the whole world, or was it a blueprint for some other purpose?

To phrase the question another way, was James Watt’s discovery a brilliant spark of enlightenment – or coronation – for humanity or not?

To find out, you’ll have to read my novel. ♦


The Coronation by Justin Newland

It is 1761. Prussia is at war with Russia and Austria. As the Russian army occupies East Prussia, King Frederick the Great and his men fight hard to win back their homeland.

In Ludwigshain, a Junker estate in East Prussia, Countess Marion von Adler celebrates an exceptional harvest. But this is soon requisitioned by Russian troops. When Marion tries to stop them, a Russian Captain strikes her. His Lieutenant, Ian Fermor, defends Marion’s honour, but is stabbed for his insubordination. Abandoned by the Russians, Fermor becomes a divisive figure on the estate.

Close to death, Fermor dreams of the Adler, a numinous eagle entity, whose territory extends across the lands of Northern Europe and which is mysteriously connected to the Enlightenment. What happens next will change the course of human history…

Book Details:

Genre: Secret History Thriller
Published by: Matador
Publication Date: November 2019
Number of Pages: 216
ISBN: 9781838591885
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple Books | Goodreads

Praise for The Coronation:

“The novel explores the themes of belonging, outsiders, religion and war… all filtered through the lens of the other-worldly.”

A. Deane, Page Farer Book Blog

“This wonderful historical fictional tale will hold your attention as the author weaves a storyline that has different creative plots, along with a spiritual message.”

Gwendalyn’s Books

“Some authors deposit their characters in the midst of history, showing how their lives parallel historic events. Then there are authors like Justin Newland who bend history to their will and use fantastic elements to show us what could have been.”

Jathan and Heather

“This was a wonderfully told story that I thoroughly enjoyed.”

Baby Dolls and Razor Blades

The Coronation Trailer:

Author Bio:

Justin Newland

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

Catch Up With Our Author:
BookBub – @justinnewland
Instagram – @drjustinnewland
Facebook –

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Justin Newland. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Marlie Parker Wasserman – PATH OF PERIL

Good day, book people. I never realized how dedicated some of us are to fiction or nonfiction reading. I personally enjoy reading both fiction and nonfiction. However, I’ve noticed that I’ve become quite partial to fictional stories about real people. Skilled authors craft stories featuring historical figures and events in a fictionalized story. Please help me welcome Marlie Parker Wasserman, author of one such fictionalized story about a historical figure, Path of Peril. Ms. Wasserman is joining us today and discussing using Teddy Roosevelt as a character in her book. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and let’s learn a bit more about Ms. Wasserman’s Teddy Roosevelt and Path of Peril. Thank you, Ms. Wasserman, for stopping by and sharing with us today.

Teddy Roosevelt, Yes, and Women Too
by Marlie Parker Wasserman

When I learned that the very first trip abroad by a sitting president was Teddy Roosevelt’s trip to the Panama Canal in 1906, I knew I had my topic. A fascinating president, a country most readers knew little about, and the prospect of imagined murder and mayhem—what more could I ask for? After a few months of research, I realized I had a major problem to solve before I could start to write. All the historic characters I spun my plot around were men.

The list of men went on and on. I would write about President Roosevelt, rushing from one site along the Canal to another, ignoring dangers. An unknown historic character, TR’s mild-mannered assistant secretary, would keep track of the official schedule and observe rampant inequalities. Three courageous secret service agents would protect the President from assassins.

In contrast, my previous novel told the story of a woman, the first woman executed in the electric chair, and most of my readers were women. Frankly, for marketing purposes, I needed women. But I also knew that women were hidden in the history of the Canal. Fortunately, in the last decade, historians have begun to unearth their tales. Digging deeper, I found what I needed.

My finished book starts off with men but quickly moves to the stories of women. The best known is Edith Roosevelt, TR’s second wife. Newspaper accounts report that she accompanied him on the trip to Panama, wearing the long white gown and white bonnet favored by wealthy women visiting the tropics. In the picture below, we see her standing on the back of a train, wearing a veil.

Sepia-toned photograph of old train, with several people in light-colored, early 20th-century clothing standing on the rear platform of the train.

I decided to imagine Edith’s thoughts during the four-day trip, as she sensed increasing dangers for her husband. She would be keenly aware that only five years before, the previous president, McKinley, had been assassinated. Edith had a counterpart on the trip. Maria Amador was Panama’s First Lady. The two sat together at dinners and crossed paths at receptions. What did Maria think about lovely, proper Edith? Did Maria know about assassins lurking in her country?

These first ladies were two of thousands of women who traveled to Panama. Many younger women came from Barbados and Jamaica to fill jobs as maids, cooks, fruit peddlers, and laundresses. Nurses and teachers came from the States. In the picture below, we see a group of newly trained teachers.

Black and white photograph of several young woman, wearing light-colored, early 20th-century clothing, sitting on a lawn with an old-fashioned school house in the background.

What we might call middle-class women accompanied their husbands—the engineers and officials responsible for digging the Canal. In addition, a small number of women were sex workers, either in well-appointed or squalid establishments. I enjoyed creating women in each of these categories, making sure that they drove some of the action.

The tale of the first presidential trip abroad does indeed center around men, but women stood all around that center, sustaining it and critiquing it. ♦

Path of Peril

by Marlie Parker Wasserman

February 27 – March 24, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Path of Peril by Marlie Parker Wasserman

Would the assassins plotting to kill Theodore Roosevelt on his visit to the Panama Canal succeed?

Until this trip, no president while in office had ever traveled abroad. White House secretary Maurice Latta, thrilled to accompany the President, could not anticipate the adventures and dangers ahead. Latta befriends watchful secret service agents, ambitious journalists, and anxious First Lady Edith Roosevelt on their hot and humid trip, where he observes a country teeming with inequalities and abounding in opportunities. Along the way he learns about his own strengths—what he never imagined he could do, and what he discovers he can’t do.

Theodore Roosevelt did visit Panama in 1906, accompanied by White House staffer Maurice Latta. Interweaving the stories of real-life characters with fictional ones, Path of Peril imagines what the newspapers feared to report and what historians never discovered about Roosevelt’s risky trip.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 17, 2023
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781685122409 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781685122416 (eBook)
ASIN: B0BSXWCQ1F (Kindle edition)
Series: This is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N eBook | | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Praise for Path of Peril:

“Nothing better than settling down with a good, crisp, detail-rich assassination thriller. Someone is after Theodore Roosevelt, and author Marlie Wasserman tightens the screws, ratchets the tension, and twists the plot again and again. Read it.”

William Martin, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Lincoln Letter and December ’41


“A feast of characters, scenery, and history, Wasserman sets the table for a tremendous read. Path of Peril is a privileged walk with TR, his wife, his staff, and dozens of characters struggling to create one of the “greatest engineering feats of the century.”

Chris Keefer, author of No Comfort for the Undertaker, a Carrie Lisbon Mystery


Path of Peril is enjoyable and engaging and places the reader at the center of a fast, explosive, and intriguing plot—making this new book one that should not be missed.”

Mel Ayton, author of Plotting to Kill the President


“Wasserman’s Path of Peril gives readers an exciting leap back in time… Buy this book—you’ll love it!”

Michael Conniff, historian of Panama

Author Bio:

Marlie Parker Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman continues to write historical crime fiction. Her first book, The Murderess Must Die, was published in 2021. After spending many years in New Jersey, she now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Historical Novel Society.

Catch Up With Marlie Parker Wasserman:
Instagram – @marliepwasserman
Twitter – @MarlieWasserman

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Book Spotlight: VERONIQUE’S JOURNEY by Patti Flinn

VERONIQUE'S JOURNEY by Patti Flinn cover featuring a close-up headshot of a young Black woman wearing an orangish-yellow headwrap in front of an dark orange background with a small picture of a horse and carriage on a dirt road on the bottom of the coverVéronique’s Journey by Patti Flinn
ISBN: 9798986060019 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9798986060002 (eBook)
ASIN: B0B8FRDLRP (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 72
Release Date: September 1, 2022
Publisher: Gilded Orange Books
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Novella

In 18th-century France, the choices for a young black woman of modest means are slim.

Véronique Clair loves her parents and their small home in the countryside of Burgundy but dreams of using her talent for sewing and embroidery to make her own way, without having to rely on a man.

When Véronique’s well-meaning parents find her a suitor of elevated station their happiness turns into her despair. Véronique must make the difficult choice between agreeing to an arranged marriage–with its promise of elevated status in society–or embark upon an unpredictable journey across France and into a world she’s never known.

…for a young woman of honor, only the heart can guide the way.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N eBook | | Kobo eBook

Meet the Author

Patti Flinn author headshot; close-up photograph of a smiling Black woman with brown shoulder-length hair.Patti Flinn is an author and novelist from central Ohio who loves food, books, cool jazz, and … food.

Under the pen name, Ava Bleu—proponent of extraordinary love—Patti released The Diva of Peddler’s Creek (winner of Romance Writer’s ink Best Comedy) and Glorious Sunset (finalist, Phyllis Wheatley Award for Fiction). She later penned a different kind of love story with The Ivyhurst Series, delving into relationships among couples and neighbors in a town slowly being gentrified.

In September 2022 she released Véronique’s Journey, the story of a young woman of African descent in 18th-century France. The novella is a parallel introduction to an upcoming full-length series based on a French historical figure, expected to roll out in 2023.

Connect with the author: Goodreads | Twitter | Website



Book Showcase: IN COMMON by Norma Watkins

IN COMMON by Norma Watkins book cover featuring a darkly shadowed profile photograph of white woman with her neck elongated; the author's name, NORMA WATKINS, is in all capital white letters at the top of the cover, the title IN COMMON is in capital red letters at the bottom center of the cover.In Common: A Novel of Love and Sacrifice by Norma Watkins
ISBN: 9781684339235 (Paperback)
ASIN: B09V1NNLSZ (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 593
Release Date: April 14, 2022
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: Fiction | Family Life

In Common, a first novel from award-winning memoirist Norma Watkins (The Last Resort, That Woman from Mississippi), is a story of the sacrifices women make for the love of an inaccessible man.

Lillian Creekmore grows up at her family’s popular rural spa. She successfully runs an entire hotel, yet longs for a husband. Then she meets Will Hughes.

Velma Vernon accepts life on a small, struggling farm until a boy she barely tolerates proposes marriage. To accept means duplicating her parents’ hard life. Alone, she leaves for the city and triumphs, not as a wife, but by being the best at her job. Velma is content until the most beautiful man she has ever seen walks into her office.

This moving and darkly humorous novel follows the intertwined lives of women willing to surrender everything to a man more in love with success than any female.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N eBook |

Book Excerpt:

On Christmas morning in 1933, Lillian Creekmore woke filled with anticipation. Twenty-four years old, dark-eyed and quick moving, she wore her hair bobbed and possessed a petite, small-bosomed body, perfect for the flapper fashions she could not afford.

Dressing hurriedly in the cold room, she brushed her teeth and hair, and ran downstairs. The family hotel had closed for the winter, but the oldest wing, the Warm Part (though the wheezing furnace never made it so), rang with the voices of everyone Lillian loved.

“Christmas Gift,” she called to her sister Maude. If you were the first to say it, you got the good luck. “Christmas Gift” to her sister Ernestine and sister-in-law Faye. “Christmas Gift” to Knox, Ernestine’s sweet husband. You could not be depressed, even during a Depression with the people you cared for close around. “Christmas Gift,” Lillian yelled to her brothers James and Leland.

“Christmas Gift, Angie,” they yelled back. Angie was her nickname, shortened from Aunt Jemima, the pancake mix. As a child, she loved pancakes so much, James and Leland gave her the name off the box.

Lillian had a reason to be excited: her brothers had hinted at a surprise. From the secretive looks she’d seen passing between them, she’d become convinced they’d found her a car. She couldn’t imagine how, but James and Leland were shrewd, maybe shrewd enough to pull off a miracle in the middle of these dark years.

Lillian was the baby, the youngest of five Creekmores, and people had been telling her how darling she was since she could remember. The boys at Ole Miss (where she would have stayed longer if a plummeting economy hadn’t dried up the family finances) certainly thought so. It was harder to stay darling when you were poor and stuck in the middle of nowhere. She needed a way out, and maybe today she would get it.

She opened the swinging door to the kitchen. “Christmas Gift,” to Lena, bent over the pink-hot wood stove. To Lena’s son Johnny and his wife Flora May. To Ellis and Preston, the waiters. When the hotel closed for the season, the servants were sent home, but everyone returned for Christmas Day.

In the dining room around the big table, the family sat down to the traditional broiled quail and grits breakfast. Since quitting college four years before, Lillian had helped her brothers and sisters operate Creekmore Hotel and Spa. Most of their guests were older people taking the mineral water cure (a cure that promised to ward off everything from asthma to warts). Nobody with the slightest romantic possibility. Lillian knew how to charm the ladies and harmlessly flirt with their husbands, but as the years went by, she felt her chances slipping. She wasn’t young anymore. She could still pass for young, but on February 11, she would turn twenty-five, and she didn’t fool herself: twenty-five was practically middle-aged when you weren’t married.

Ellis handed around a basket of hot biscuits. Lillian split one and buttered it. Maude passed her the dish of homemade plum jelly.

Their father died when Lillian was three. He had the brains for business, everyone said so, and the hotel thrived. With him gone, their mother took over. Just after Lillian turned sixteen, a doctor in New Orleans botched a simple appendectomy and her mother died on the operating table. The five siblings had been left to keep the place going. Creekmore was a seasonal hotel and needed to make enough money from May through Labor Day to carry them through the other eight months. They’d done it, and with enough left over to send Lillian to college, until the Crash.

Knox lifted his coffee cup in a toast. “Here’s to us. We may not be celebrating next year if Hitler stays in power.”

A murmur from the men, talk of the last war and worries about the next.
Ernestine tapped her water glass. “Adolf Hitler is a failed house painter. A country with Germany’s deep culture will soon come to its senses. Let us not spoil Christmas.” She paused, looking around the table. “The Lord will provide.”

Lillian smiled into her cup: the implication being, if the Lord didn’t, Ernestine would.

People told Lillian she had been blessed with a sunny disposition, but behind a cheerful exterior, she fretted. If she didn’t find a husband soon, she would be stuck here, eleven miles from the nearest town of Canton, and thirty-five miles from the capital city of Jackson. She would grow too old to marry, working to keep this crumbling enterprise going. She wanted her chance and she wasn’t asking for much: a decent man to love, a house of her own, and, please God, not to worry about money every single minute.

Ernestine was going on about the Lord again, how grateful they should be for His help in making it through another year.

Nibbling around a tiny quail leg, Lillian returned to her thoughts. She needed a way out, especially during the long, gray winters with the hotel closed. That meant some kind of independent transportation. She didn’t care how old it was or how beat up, as long as it got her to Jackson for weekends with her former sorority sisters and single men. The friends fortunate enough to graduate had gotten engaged during their senior year, married soon after, and were already having babies.

Summers at the hotel were bearable. Lillian didn’t mind hard work, and keeping the place running took all five of them. From May to September, with the sixty-six rooms filled, she ran from the moment her feet touched the floor in the morning until she dropped into bed at night, too tired to brush her teeth. Summers kept her so busy, she didn’t have time to worry about the future, and there was always the possibility a handsome son might arrive to fetch his mother.

At the hotel, the price of a room included three hearty meals. During the height of summer, the dining room filled twice at lunch and dinner. Extra money came from shipping five-gallon jugs of Creekmore’s famous (and evil-tasting) water all over the country. Additional cash was earned discreetly from a two-story building behind the Annex, where Leland oversaw cockfights in a pit downstairs, while James ran roulette, poker, and blackjack tables above.

Set ups were sold at the Fishes’ Club, the “nightclub” at the far end of the Annex. Prohibition had ended in the rest of the country, but Mississippi chose to remain dry. People brought their own liquor and, if they didn’t, a bootleg bottle could be arranged.

In a pasture behind the kitchen, Alan tended a large vegetable garden. Up the hill in the barn, they kept cows for milk, chickens for eggs, and pigs for sausage, bacon, and smoked hams. With all this, the five of them managed to pay the help who did the planting, cooking and serving, while keeping the place in fairly good repair.

Lillian looked around at the plates piled with tiny bird bones. Today felt fun, but come January, with the rooms empty except for family and one or two servants, she might as well be a monk. Her oldest sister Maude told her not to worry. Look at her at thirty-one, perfectly content without a husband. Lillian did not feel reassured. Maude was a saint, everyone said so, and saints were happy with whatever scraps fell off God’s plate. Lillian wanted life to be a feast and if she ever figured a way out of here, she intended to find a place at the table.

Breakfast over, the family gathered around the fireplace in the big parlor to open gifts. Lillian tried to act nonchalant. She praised the satin slip from Ernestine and the red beret crocheted by Maude. She smiled as Leland and James tried on scarves she’d knitted them in Ole Miss’s colors, cardinal and navy. Faye’s son, followed by Ernestine’s, ran in and out of the room, conducting aerial battles with the small tin airplanes Lillian had given them.

Lillian held off opening the lumpy package from her brothers until there were no more presents. Affecting a modest disinterest, she untied the red string and ripped off the white paper.

Out tumbled an envelope and the radiator cap from some kind of car. She’d seen a cap like this one, with a red-line thermometer that told you if the engine over-heated. This was from her car.

“I can’t believe it.” She leapt to her feet, dumping the wrappings on the floor, threw her arms first around Leland, then James. “You are the best brothers in the entire world. Where’s the rest of it?” She slammed out the front door, looking up and down the graveled parking area. James and Faye’s beat-up Chevrolet Coupe stood alone.

“Okay, you two,” Lillian said. “Where’d you hide it? Is it in the carport?” She ran past them, headed through the dining room.

James called her name, puffing along behind. At thirty-two, he was getting fat. She did not stop to listen.

“Wait,” Leland said.

She dashed through the kitchen and out the side door, racing along the frigid open porch and down the stairs by the family’s summer quarters. Her brothers tried to catch up, but Lillian was thin and faster. The low open carport held the hotel’s one and only vehicle, the battered 1925 Packard used for hauling guests and supplies. Lillian stood confused. “Where is it?”

“This was Leland’s idea.” James bent, hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.

“Where’s the rest of my car?”

“We knew how bad you wanted one, so we—” James trailed off. “You didn’t open the envelope.” Leland handed it to her.

Lillian tore it open and found a twenty-dollar bill inside. Stabbed by disappointment, she flung the money and the radiator cap into the dirt.

“The radiator cap was sort of a guarantee.” Leland said, “and the money is our first installment. That’s all we could afford this year.”

Seeing her brothers’ forlorn faces, Lillian laughed through her tears. “I hate you both.”

“Please don’t be mad,” Leland said. “We thought you’d get a kick out of it.”

The red birthmark on her forehead must be showing. It blazed forth when she got angry. “Only you two would treat me this bad.”

James tried to hug her. “We’ll get you a car, you know we will, as soon as we find the money.” He picked up the radiator cap and the twenty-dollar bill.

“When things get better,” Leland said.

Lillian shook her head. “I’m not ready to forgive you.”

James handed her the money. “Put this away and we’ll add to it.” They looked like hound dogs, wet-eyed, begging for reassurance.

She could not stay mad. Forgiveness was one of her best qualities. Walking back toward the hotel, she linked arms with them. “Let me see if I have this straight. I’m getting this car one piece at a time.” She poked Leland in the ribs. “A chunk each Christmas. By the time I have the whole thing, I’ll be so old you’ll have to wheel me to the driver’s seat.”

James pulled her closer. “You’re our baby sister and we’ll always take care of you.”

She knew they would, which almost made up for being an orphan with no hope of escape.

After a late afternoon dinner of turkey and dressing, ambrosia and coconut cake, Lillian went upstairs to her room. Christmas had been splendid, but she’d had enough. She kicked off her shoes and crawled under the quilt in her clothes. This might not be the life she dreamed of, but it was not a bad life. How many girls had older brothers like James and Leland, and a sister as good as Maude? She might have no money or prospects, but she was rich with love.

A soft knock on the door. “It’s me—Faye.”

Lillian sat up. She loved James’s wife. Faye was like a blood sister, only better because she wasn’t.

Faye crawled under the covers next to Lillian and took a hammered metal flask out of her purse.

“This is why I adore you,” Lillian said. “You’re the only woman I know with a flask.”

“Men shouldn’t have all the fun.”

Faye was six years older, tall to Lillian’s short, and languorous compared with Lillian’s energy. James married her when she was sixteen, so Faye had never finished high school, much less college. She gave birth to one baby, declared the experience horrible, and told James not to plan on more. They named him James Junior, but everyone called the child Jimbo, after Jumbo the elephant. He weighed nine pounds at birth, and at twelve was twice as large as Ernestine’s Knox III.

Lillian loved Faye for being pretty and lazy, and not caring what Ernestine or anyone else thought. James adored her. He called her “baby” and treated her like a precious, breakable object.

“Have a swig.” Faye held out the flask.

The whiskey went down hot and Lillian shivered. She didn’t really enjoy the taste of straight bourbon, but she loved the way it made her feel. “I’m going to be stuck at this hotel for the rest of my life.”

“The boys would have given you a car if they could.”

Lillian took another swallow. “I know.”

“And you’re not stuck. You’re too cute to get stuck anywhere. If this were Ernestine we were talking about—” She poked Lillian and they laughed.

Ernestine was the most proper member of the Creekmore family. She knew the right way to do everything, and didn’t mind correcting your manners or your grammar. It felt good to laugh at her.

“Ernestine’s already got a husband,” Lillian said, “even if he is short and nearly bald.”

“You are going to meet someone so wonderful.” Faye stretched her long legs under the covers. “I can feel it in my bones. All you’ve got to do is keep your eyes open and recognize good fortune when he shows up.”

“What about love?”

“You know what I say.”

“It’s as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one.” “Easier.” Faye tapped a cigarette out of her pack of Pall Malls and offered Lillian one. Her lighter clicked and they sat back on the pillows, inhaling with satisfaction.

“But you love James and he’s not rich.” Lillian made a smoke ring and watched it rise toward the ceiling.

“Not yet, but he has prospects. I could see that in him, even at sixteen. You know he’s been buying and selling cotton?”

Lillian got out of bed to fetch an ashtray. “I know he’s spending more time in Canton than here at the hotel. Makes Ernestine furious.” “He’s good at brokering cotton. It takes a knack and James has it. If this pans out, he’ll be more help to you than working here. There’s good money in cotton.” Faye ground out her half-smoked cigarette.

“That dinner knocked me out. I’m going to my room for a nap.”

The door closed behind her. Lillian took a final puff, made sure both cigarettes were out, and set the ashtray on the floor. Faye thought she had a chance, which felt comforting. Comforting under a comforter. She closed her eyes. Nice to hear wood crackling in the corner fire place. This was her favorite room. Out there somewhere, a wonderful man waited. Behind her closed lids, Lillian tried to picture what he might be doing as they traveled toward each other in time.

Excerpt from In Common by Norma Watkins.
Copyright © 2022 by Norma Watkins.
Published with permission.
All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author Norma Watkins photograph: smiling older white woman with short silvery-platinum colored hair, wearing black eyeglasses and a dark top with both hands cupping her face.Raised in the South during the civil rights struggles, Norma Watkins is the author of In Common and two memoirs: The Last Resort, Taking the Mississippi Cure (2011), which won a gold medal for best nonfiction published in the South by an independent press; and That Woman from Mississippi (2017). She lives in northern California with her woodworker husband and three cats.


Connect with the author: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Blog | Website

Blog Tour Participants

February 13: The Muffin – Author Interview
February 15: Michelle Cornish – Food Feature
February 18: A Story Book World – Guest Author Post
February 20: Lisa Buske – Guest Author Post
February 22: Author Anthony Avina’s Blog – Review
February 24: Fiona Ingram’s Author Blog – Guest Post
February 25: The Book Diva’s Reads – Excerpt
February 27: Mindy McGinnis’s Blog – Guest Post
February 28: Seaside Book Nook – Spotlight and Excerpt
March 1: The Mommies Reviews – Review
March 2: The Frugalista Mom – Guest Post
March 4: World of My Imagination – Guest Post
March 5: A Wonderful World of Words – Special Feature
March 6: Life According to Jamie – Review
March 8: Author Anthony Avina’s Blog – Guest Post
March 9: The Knotty Needle – Review
March 10: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews Blog – Author Interview
March 11: Reading In the Wildwood – Review
March 12: Jill Sheets’s Blog – Author Interview

This book showcase and excerpt brought to you by WOW! Women On Writing 


Book Spotlight: THE HOUSE OF EVE by Sadeqa Johnson

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson
ISBN-13: 9781982197360 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781982197384 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781797153353 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0B4ZMDH21 (Audible Audiobook)
ASIN: B0B3Y7NPMZ (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 384
Release Date: February 7, 2023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction


“A triumph of historical fiction.” —The Washington Post

From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring and redemptive novel set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.

1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.

Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | B&N Audiobook | | Downpour Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Praise for The House of Eve:

Praise for THE HOUSE OF EVE by Sadeqa Johnson: "I loved this book." Patti Callahan Henry, author of THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA

“Sadeqa Johnson is expert at excavating the parts of the past that we would rather not confront. She dusts off these harrowing histories, shines them up, and gives them their proper glory. She mines this terrain with soaring grace, shining intellect, and a love that resonates on every page. Thanks to Johnson’s enviable ability to craft narratives that not only educate and elucidate, but also enamor, the stories of Ruby and Eleanor, and the Ancestors and Elders they represent, will remain with me always. The House of Eve is a powerful witnessing, an indispensable testimony, and a remarkable addition to Johnson’s already stunning bibliography.” —ROBERT JONES, JR., author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets

“I don’t know where to begin with the brilliantly written House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson. There were so many twists and turns, so many heart palpitating moments—I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. House of Eve is one of those novels that will stay with you long after you read the last page.” —VICTORIA CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, New York Times bestselling author of The Personal Librarian

The House of Eve is a triumph of historical fiction.… Johnson’s novel is an affecting and arresting exploration of young Black womanhood and motherhood in the mid-20th century…. Johnson’s talents are in full bloom in this layered story with two distinctive and compelling young Black women at the center…. The House of Eve is engrossing, emotionally wrenching and socially astute storytelling.” —Washington Post

“This is a moving work of women’s fiction with timely perspective on racism, colorism, and pre-Roe women’s rights in the United States of the 1950s. Fans of Tayari Jones, Brit Bennett, and Jeni McFarland will want to check it out.” —Library Journal

“Johnson’s suspenseful and thought-provoking latest follows two young Black women as they separately navigate mid-20th century America…. This well-crafted work is bound to provoke discussion among readers about the conflicts women face regarding pregnancy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Johnson showcases the difficult boundaries of race, class, and education as she explores the obstacles and consequences that confront those who seek to cross them.” —Booklist

Meet The Author

Author Sadeqa Johnson photograph featuring a smiling Black American female with shoulder-length reddish-brown hair wearing a white top with flutter-sleeves
Author Sadeqa Johnson

Sadeqa Johnson is the international best-selling author of five novels including Yellow Wife. Her accolades include being the 2022 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy finalist, a BCALA Literary Honoree, and the Library of Virginia’s Literary People’s Choice Award winner. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children.

Connect with the author via: website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter



Hello, book people. I am fascinated by genealogy, especially other people’s genealogical discoveries. One of my favorite television shows is Finding Your Roots on PBS with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (and no, it’s not because he’s a fellow West Virginian…although that’s a plus). It’s intriguing to me to learn about family histories, whether known or unknown. I’m pleased to welcome the author of historical fiction, R.J. Koreto. Mr. Koreto’s most recent release is The Greenleaf Murders. As with some authors, Mr. Koreto focuses not only on historical fiction but his books are usually set in New York. Today he explains just his genealogy influences his books. Thank you, Mr. Koreto, for joining us today. I can’t wait to learn more about the basis for your writing and will now turn the blog over to you.

Why My Books Are Set in Old New York
by R.J. Koreto


In 1896, my great-great-grandmother Julia Lowey, a trained midwife from Hungary, delivered her grandson—Robert Feldman—in her Bronx apartment.

A century before, in 1799, Alexander Hamilton and his friend Archibald Gracie met in Gracie Mansion to found a paper that would support their Federalist ideals—the N.Y. Post. In 1942, the mansion became the official residence of the mayor of New York. It needed upgrades, and one of the electrical workers brought in was Robert Feldman. Meanwhile, his wife Ellen took care of her three children and in the afternoon, she read Hamilton’s paper, the New York Post.

The N.Y. Post by then was owned by Dorothy Schiff, a daughter of one of the richest families in the country. Her grandfather, Jacob Schiff, was a German-Jewish immigrant who made a fortune on Wall Street. He was the first banker to see that Japan was a rising world power and floated it major loans, which enabled Japan to beat the dying Russian Empire. Schiff despised Russia for its anti-Semitism and was glad to see it defeated. For those loans, the Japanese emperor personally presented Schiff with the Order of the Rising Sun, the first Westerner so honored.

Schiff gave huge sums to charity, including Zionist causes. One ardent Zionist was George Gutfarb, sister of Ellen Feldman, and brother-in-law of Robert Feldman. At age 16—when World War I was underway—he hitchhiked from New York City to Canada. Lying about his age and nationality, he enlisted in a Canadian regiment destined for the Middle East, believing that the key to a Jewish homeland was freeing the area from the Ottoman Empire. He saw action, but to the day he died in an upstate nursing home, he never spoke a word about the war to anyone.

Meanwhile, Robert and Ellen Feldman had two sons and a daughter. The daughter was named Vivienne, from the French “lively,” because her Hebrew name was Chaiya, “life.” She obtained a BS and MA from City College and was appointed a teacher by the Board of Education. The board had been established by Mayor Strong, who had run the city when her father had been born.

She accepted a job at Andrew Jackson High School. (Its famous students over the years include the girl group Shangri-Las and rappers 50 Cent and LL Cool J.) In 1959 she married Paul Koreto, whose father, Abraham Koreto, had fled the pogroms in Russia that Jacob Schiff had fought against.

Abraham worked in the garment district. He joined a union and owned a copy of the Communist Manifesto in Yiddish. He married and they had one child, Paul Koreto—a common anglicization of Pinchas. Paul entered the burgeoning advertising industry in the “Mad Men” era. Paul and Vivienne’s firstborn, Richard Joshua Koreto, was born in 1962, and then in 1965 came a daughter, Abigail, named for Abraham Koreto, who died shortly before she was born. The family soon moved to the Upper East Side, just a few blocks away from Gracie Mansion, birthplace of the New York Post. When John Lindsey ran for a second term as Mayor of New York, Vivienne found herself at the same polling station at the same time as Lindsey himself. She pushed Richard forward. “Shake the mayor’s hand,” she said. Lindsey, at 6’4″, didn’t see Richard, but his wife did: “John—this young man wants to meet you.” He leaned down and gravely shook his hand. “Pleased to meet you,” he said.

Ellen Feldman lived into her 90s. She and Robert are buried together, in New York City, in a Hungarian-Jewish cemetery. Their plots are near that most famous Hungarian Jew, Erik Weisz, better known by his stage name: Harry Houdini.

Richard Koreto, Paul and Vivienne’s son, married, had two daughters, and wrote three novels that look back at a city his ancestors knew so well. ♦

The Greenleaf Murders

by R.J. Koreto

January 23 – February 17, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto

Young architect Wren Fontaine lands her dream job: restoring Greenleaf House, New York’s finest Gilded-Age mansion, to its glory days. But old homes have old secrets: Stephen Greenleaf—heir to what’s left of his family’s legacy—refuses to reveal what his plans are once the renovation is completed. And still living in a corner of the home is Stephen’s 90-year-old Aunt Agnes who’s lost in the past, brooding over a long-forgotten scandal while watching Wren with mistrust.

Wren’s job becomes more complex when a shady developer who was trying to acquire Greenleaf House is found murdered. And after breaking into a sealed attic, Wren finds a skeleton stuffed in a trunk. She soon realizes the two deaths, a century apart, are strangely related. Meanwhile, a distraction of a different kind appears in the form of her client’s niece, the beautiful and seductive Hadley Vanderwerf. As Wren gingerly approaches a romance, she finds that Hadley has her own secrets.

Then a third murder occurs, and the introverted architect is forced to think about people, and about how ill-fated love affairs and obsessions continue to haunt the Greenleafs. In the end, Wren risks her own life to uncover a pair of murderers, separated by a century but connected by motive. She reveals an odd twist in the family tree that forever changes the lives of the Greenleafs, the people who served them, the mansion they all called home—and even Wren herself.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: November 2022
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781685122089 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781685122096 (eBook)
ISBN: 9798212330848 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0BKMWRJ86 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0BV97BWDR (Audible Audiobook)
Series: Historic Homes Mysteries, #1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes and Noble | | Downpour Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads | Level Best Books

Praise for The Greenleaf Murders:

“A delightful who-done-it in which the house is as engaging as the wonderful heroine. Readers will want to get lost in these rooms and these pages.”

Cate Holahan, USA Today bestselling author of Her Three Lives


“If you love houses and puzzles – which I do – you will be captivated by THE GREENLEAF MURDERS, the first in Richard Koreto’s new series. Equally sure-footed in the gilded age of the mansion’s heyday and the contemporary world of its decline, Koreto has woven a pretzel of a plot, introduced a charming new heroine, and whetted appetites for more grave deeds and grandeur.”

Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series


The Greenleaf Murders mixes a modern suspense mystery with the love of old-world mansions and iconic High Society. Buried secrets threaten a family clinging to their former glory as two murders surface, a century apart. Koreto weaves a story that creates the perfect tension between the beauty of the golden era and the fear of a killer in plain sight.”

L.A. Chandlar, national best-selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series


“One would think that a murder mystery featuring old homes, architecture, and rich blue bloods would be a dull read, but that’s not the case with R.J. Koreto’s finely-written The Greenleaf Murders. Filled with twists and turns and sharply-drawn characters, this well-done novel is very much recommended.”

Brendan DuBois, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto is the author of the Historic Home mystery series, set in modern New York City; the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series, set in Edwardian England; and the Alice Roosevelt mystery series, set in turn-of-the-century New York. His short stories have been published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, as well as various anthologies.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Like his heroine, Lady Frances Ffolkes, he’s a graduate of Vassar College.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto:
BookBub – @rkoreto1
Instagram – @rjkoreto
Twitter – @RJKoreto
Facebook – @RJKoreto

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Book Spotlight: DEAD HEAT TO DESTINY by J.B. Rivard

DEAD HEAT TO DESTINY by J.B. RIvard book cover: outline of a young female on the left, looking to the left and back to the front beside a male wearing a hat facing right with his back aligned to the female, superimposed over a warship with a biplane flying over their headsDead Heat to Destiny by J.B. Rivard
ISBN: 9780996836364 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9780996836371 (eBook)
ASIN: B0BL5P29YP (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 392
Release Date: February 7, 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction | Adventure

Four lives. Three destinies. Two continents. One devastating war.

It’s the early 1900s in Europe, and young Adrienne Boch is pursuing her dream: a successful career in the booming world of high fashion. When she meets Will Marra, a debonair American with a passion for aviation—and Adrienne—romance is the last thing on her mind. Aside from her career, she’s focused on writing to her cousin, Gregor Steiner, who’s training to be an officer in the Imperial German Navy. Out at sea, Gregor waits eagerly for his letters from Adrienne, recalling their childhood romps at the Belgium shore.

Then World War I breaks out. Adrienne’s life is turned upside down as the invading German army threatens Paris, Gregor advances to captain a U-boat, Will becomes a pilot in the U.S. Army, and Adrienne’s family flees an overrun Belgium. In Central America, a spy is recruited to defeat the United States.

Adrienne’s feelings for Will have grown, but she fears it’s too late. She’s terrified for him and for Gregor, now on opposing sides of the war, and for her family, refugees from the only home they’ve ever known. As the global conflict simmers and tension rises, Will, Gregor, Adrienne, and the spy’s lives converge in an epic, unexpected clash. With life—and love—on the line, they must each fight for what they believe in…or pay the ultimate price.

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Meet The Author

Author J.B. Rivard photo: older white man, wearing a khaki baseball cap, eyeglasses, khaki jacket, and blue button-down shirt
Author J.B. Rivard

J.B. RIVARD believes words can create pictures. His readers agree; one said, “I was right in the biplane cockpit with Nick,” referring to pilot Nick Mamer, the 1929 record-setting aviator in Rivard’s nonfiction book Low on Gas – High on Sky. A writer of historically accurate fiction and nonfiction, J.B. knows readers want the past to blaze up and enthrall them. His commitment to compelling and convincing writing derives from four years in the military as well as his technical career on the staff of a U.S. National Laboratory. A graduate of the University of Florida, he attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and is an award-winning artist and author. His latest novel is Dead Heat to Destiny, in which the lives and loves of three people are imperiled during the cataclysm of World War One.

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