2020 Book 367: A BORROWED LIFE by Kerry Anne King

A Borrowed Life by Kerry Anne King 
ISBN: 9781542019484 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781713518174 (audiobook MP3 on CD)
ISBN: 9781713518167 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08DZZQW7J    (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0841XZVL5   (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 22, 2020 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing


From the Amazon Charts, bestselling author of Whisper Me This comes an emotional and sharply witty novel about how life’s unexpected detours can ultimately bring you home.

For twenty-six years Liz has perfectly played the part of Mrs. Thomas Lightsey, exemplary pastor’s wife and mother. But maintaining appearances for the congregation and catering to her demanding husband takes a toll, and she’s lost herself in meeting the expectations of others. When Thomas suddenly dies, Liz feels shock, grief, and, to her surprise, the siren song of freedom. Dare she dream of a life to call her own?

Despite the resistance of her daughter, Abigail, to even the smallest changes, Liz lands a role at the community theater. Inspired by new friends and the character she plays, she explores life’s possibilities, including an unexpected—and steamy—relationship with her leading man.

Just when Liz thinks she might be winning, life hits her with an unthinkable shock. She’s pregnant at forty-nine. Torn between conflicting loyalties to her daughter, her lover, her unborn baby, and herself, can Liz find a way to rebuild her dream life one more time? 





Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  !ndigo Books  |  !ndigo Audiobook



Elizabeth Lightsey was a good and dutiful wife to her husband as well as a respectful wife to a clergyman. She was also a respectable mother to her daughter Abigail and followed all of the stringent rules set forth by her husband, Rev. Thomas Lightsey. She never disagreed with him. She never offered an opinion. She was never flamboyant. In fact, she was leading a church organized knitting circle in their home when her husband dropped dead of a massive heart attack. And now at age 49, Elizabeth (she prefers Liz, thank you very much) is at a literal and figurative crossroads in her life. Does she continue on the path set forth by her strict and overly rigid husband or does she find her own way in life?

You already know that Liz is going to shake free and try to discover who she really is because it’s never too late to try something new. Sadly, not too many people want Liz to change, including Liz’s daughter or any of the gossiping busybodies from Liz’s church. Fortunately, Liz has a BFF in her next-door neighbor and Val is definitely shaking things up. Liz has new clothes, is wearing her hair differently, and is even wearing makeup. She’s joined a theater group and has stopped going to church. And now, adding insult to perceived injury in her daughter Abigail’s eyes after an almost DUI (you’ll definitely want to read the book to learn more about that one), Liz is pregnant. Will she have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption (as Abigail suggests), or raise the baby as a single parent since she’s quite adamant about not getting married again?

Liz has crammed a lot of life into the few months after her husband’s death. The reader gets a glimpse into her marital life via journal entries, discoveries made whilst Liz is clearing the house, and more. A Borrowed Life isn’t a simple story about a mid-life crisis or a self-discovery. It’s about allowing oneself to become subsumed by a stronger personality in a relationship. It’s about family, both blood family and found family. And it’s a story about self-determination at any age (you’ll have to read the story to understand that a bit more). I found A Borrowed Life to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read. I could relate to all of the characters, the action, and empathized and sympathized with Liz and Abigail. If you enjoy reading stories filled with realistic characters dealing with everyday issues in a funny and unique way, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of A Borrowed Life to read. After I finished reading this book, I immediately began discussing it with my 85-y.o. mother and had to order a print copy for her to read. (Yes, I liked it that much.) Ms. King is a new-to-me author, but I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. I hope you’ll enjoy reading A Borrowed Life as much as I did.

Happy Reading y’all! 


Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the author/publisher via NetGalley. 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.”




Meet the author

Kerry Anne King (who also writes as Kerry Schafer) is a Washington Post and Amazon charts bestselling author who writes compelling and transformational stories about family and personal growth. She loves to add in mystery, humor, and an undercurrent of romance and celebrates when she succeeds in making readers both laugh and cry.

Kerry Anne has been chosen as the 2020 Writer of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Association. Her last novel, Everything You Are, was a finalist in the Nancy Pearl Awards hosted by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. She is enthusiastic about encouraging and supporting other writers and is the host of Tell Me Your Secrets, a videocast/podcast featuring lively, informal interviews with authors and other people involved in bringing books into the world.

When not absorbed in creative pursuits, you’ll find Kerry Anne hanging out with her real-life Viking on their little piece of heaven in rural northeastern Washington.


Connect with the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.



Giveaway

The Book Diva’s Reads, in conjunction with TLC Book Tours, is pleased to offer one reader of this blog the opportunity to win a (1) print copy of A Borrowed Life by Kerry Anne King. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway begins on 10/02/2020 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on 10/09/2020. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 10/10/2020. This giveaway is limited to US residents only (apologies to my international followers). All non-US resident entries will be disqualified. Void where prohibited by law. The book will be sent to the winner by TLC Book Tours after the blog tour ends.


a Rafflecopter giveaway




TLC Book Tours Tour Stops



Tuesday, September 22nd: The OC Book Girl and @theocbookgirl

Wednesday, September 23rd: @readsrandiread

Thursday, September 24th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Friday, September 25th: @the_unwined

Monday, September 28th: @the.caffeinated.reader

Wednesday, September 30th: @readswithrosie

Wednesday, September 30th: @iowaamberreads


Friday, October 2nd: The Book Diva’s Reads


Tuesday, October 6th: PhDiva Blog and @thephdivabooks

Wednesday, October 7th: @thereadingroom444

Thursday, October 8th: Amy’s Book-et List and @amysbooketlist

Monday, October 12th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Wednesday, October 14th: Eliot’s Eats

Thursday, October 15th: The Bookend Diner and @thebookend.diner



This review, tour, and giveaway brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2020 Book 143: SIMON THE FIDDLER by Paulette Jiles

Simon The Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062966742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062966766 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062966773 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07VCVLNB9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07V9HHT9H   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 14, 2020


The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

This story is set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty but following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the fiddler can’t help but notice Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.






Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Audiobooks  |  AudiobooksNow  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Audiobook on CD  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  |  ThriftBooks




Simon Boudlin knows how to play the fiddle and he knows horses. He was raised by his maternal great-uncle, David Anderson, in Paducah, Kentucky, and was set to inherit a well-known horse business until the onset of the Civil War. Sadly, another one of his uncles decided to burn the horse business down rather than sell to the Union Army. With no business to fall back on and not wanting to be conscripted into the army, Simon heads South and West thinking to move far enough away from the fighting. He made it through early 1865 without being caught by either side but is then conscripted into the Confederate Army to play for a military band. Thankfully, his “military duty” isn’t long and he is fortunate enough to meet up with several other musicians. He even meets the woman of his dreams, Doris Dillon. Simon’s brief military duty sets him off on a journey that will take him and his musician friends traveling across Texas. He will search for a place to build his perfect home. And despite all obstacles placed not only in his path but also in Doris’s path, he will do everything possible to court her via mail initially and then in person. As the country struggles to right itself and rebuilt after a war that turned neighbor-against-neighbor and sometimes brother-against-brother, Simon must find a way to restructure and rebuild his life into that matching his dreams.

For those of you that have been following me for some time now, you may remember that I read and reviewed News of the World back in 2017. I was so enamored with that book that I talked every local book group I was involved with into reading that book. So when I heard that Paulette Jiles was coming out with a new book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it before I even knew what it was about and I’m incredibly pleased I did. Although there are similarities between Simon the Fiddler and News of the World, namely both take place after the Civil War and are set in Texas, the primary characters and action are completely different. I can say that Captain Jefferson Kidd from News of the World does make a minor reappearance in Simon the Fiddler and it is as he is beginning his journey as a newsreader. I found Simon the Fiddler to be a riveting read about Simon’s coming-of-age ordeals, from his Kentucky memories to his fist fights and attempts to keep his band of music makers going. Ms. Jiles provided considerable drama with the Yellow fever epidemics, to the sexual harassment of Doris, and more. There’s enough in this historical saga to keep any reader fully engrossed and turning pages. I enjoyed the multiple storylines, the action, the settings, and the characters even the bad guys (and yes, there are bad guys!). For those of you that read News of the World, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I also encourage you to grab yourself a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that have neither read News of the World nor are into historical fiction, I beg of you to rethink your position and start with Simon the Fiddler and then go grab a copy of News of the World to read. You can thank me later. For now, I’ll be ordering a copy of Simon the Fiddler to be shipped to my mother since we’re still in quarantine and I can’t take her my copy (bonus, I get to keep my copy). Seriously, go grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. This one is going on my #mustreadfiction list for 2020! 

Happy Reading, y’all! 
Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy via TLC Book Tours. 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.”


Meet the Author

Photo by Jill Gann
Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.  She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.



Find out more about Paulette at her website.




Follow the Blog Tour


Tuesday, April 14th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 15th: Lit and Life
Thursday, April 16th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, April 17th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, April 18th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, April 23rd: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 24th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, April 24th: View from the Birdhouse
Tuesday, April 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, April 29th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, April 30th: Instagram: @shelovesthepages
Friday, May 1st: Staircase Wit
Monday, May 4th: Book by Book
Tuesday, May 5th: Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, May 7th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, May 8th: Kahakai Kitchen




This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2020 Book 106: THE SHAPE OF FAMILY by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
ISBN: 9780062933225 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062933249 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062933256 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781094027500 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B07XF4RLX9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07N7F1V5V   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow|HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 17, 2020


From the international bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son comes a poignant, unforgettable novel about a family’s growing apart and coming back together in the wake of tragedy.

The Olanders embody the American dream in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia, meet in a London pub in 1988 and make a life together in suburban California. Their strong marriage is built on shared beliefs and love for their two children: headstrong teenager Karina and young son Prem, the light of their home.

But love and prosperity cannot protect them from sudden, unspeakable tragedy, and the family’s foundation cracks as each member struggles to seek a way forward. Jaya finds solace in spirituality. Keith wagers on his high-powered career. Karina focuses relentlessly on her future and independence. And Prem watches helplessly as his once close-knit family drifts apart.

When Karina heads off to college for a fresh start, her search for identity and belonging leads her down a dark path, forcing her and her family to reckon with the past, the secrets they’ve held and the weight of their choices.

The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of four individuals as they grapple with what it means to be a family and how to move from a painful past into a hopeful future. It is a profoundly moving exploration of the ways we all seek belonging — in our families, our communities and ultimately, within ourselves.






Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Audiobooks  |  AudiobooksNow  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Nook Book  |  B&N Audiobook on CD  |  BookDepository  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook




When we initially meet the Olander family, Keith is a hardworking and up-and-coming investment banker, Jaya is the mother from a privileged background, their tween daughter Karina is finding it difficult to straddle not quite being Indian and and not quite being American enough for either side in looks or temperament, and young Prem is the golden son who doesn’t have quite the same difficulties as Karina in terms of fitting in, simply adores his big sister, and wants everyone to be happy. In just a few years, Jaya is back to be working full-time, Karina is in middle-school and bears the responsibility of taking care of her brother for two hours after school every day. Then the unimaginable happens and the Olander family slowly shatters. In just a few more years, Keith and Jaya have divorced, and Karina has been self-harming just to carry on through her pain. Karina hopes that college will be a new beginning for her and initially it is and she finds friends and companionship with her roommate. She even finds a boyfriend. When that relationship falls apart, Karina turns to a part-time job, befriends a charmer from her job,  ends up her dropping out of school and living  with the “charmer” and others on a commune, helping to grow “medical marijuana.” Meanwhile, her mother has turned Prem’s childhood bedroom into a home temple and is following a guru around California and even visiting India for a month at a time to revitalize herself spiritually. Keith has left his big investment bank and is at a smaller firm but even he seems to floundering with his young girlfriends, ever-increasing drinking, and questionable trades. It seems as if Prem was the literal and figurative glue that held that Olander family together and without his presence, they are all falling apart in their grief and search for happiness. Can these three people find their way back to a life filled with purpose, togetherness, and happiness before it’s too late?

I wish I could say that I read The Shape of Family in one sitting, but I had to take a few breaks over the course of the day because this story packs quite an emotional punch. Keith, Jaya, Karina, and Prem had my emotions all over the place and I used up my last box of tissues (and the closest drugstore is empty due to COVID-19; we won’t even discuss the situation at the grocery store). This story is told in alternating perspectives and the reader even hears from Prem after his death and that’s what had me bawling like a baby and having to stop (my eldest brother died 25 years ago and I’d really like to think he’s still here with me like Prem but that’s a whole other story). Although I was deeply moved by Jaya and Keith’s stories  I can’t imagine the pain and loss a parent deals with the loss of a child  I often wanted to shake them because I felt they were ignoring Karina and only there superficially. Karina’s story is the one that touched me the most. This child felt guilty over the loss of her brother, suffered a sexual assault as an underclassman on campus, had to deal with a charmer that seemed to be a little “too good to be true” in the end, and comeback from a breakdown. There’s a lot happening in this story and this isn’t a story for those of you with emotional triggers (the sexual assault isn’t graphically described just hinted at but that may be enough for some people) and there are people dealing with a host of issues from physical abuse to recovery from drug abuse. Ms. Gowda has taken a story about one family, inserted a tragedy, and made it into a timely tale of getting lost in grief over the loss of a family member, anger and guilt at not being able to do anything to change the facts of that loss, despair over being left behind, loneliness from being left behind, not quite fitting in, quests for success, and more. To say that this book moves beyond family drama is a major understatement. The Shape of Family is a powerful and emotionally moving story and one that I’m incredibly glad I read. I won’t tell you if this family ultimately finds peace, you’ll just have to discover that for yourself. Although this may not be suitable for everyone given the emotional triggers, it is going on my recommended read list for this year. I hope you’ll add this to your TBR list and that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Gowda, I encourage you to grab a copy of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son along with The Shape of Family to read. You can thank me later. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Gowda in the future and will probably be re-reading The Shape of Family when I have a surplus supply of tissues handy.

Happy Reading, y’all!



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy from the publisher via TLC Book Tours. 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.”




Meet The Author

Photo by Stacy Bostrom

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her previous novels, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son became international bestsellers, selling over one million copies worldwide. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.




Find out more about Shilpi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.





BLOG TOUR

Instagram Features


Tuesday, March 17th: Instagram: @wordswithrach

Wednesday, March 18th: Instagram: @momandmadread

Thursday, March 19th: Instagram: @owlslittlelibrary

Friday, March 20th: Instagram: @readingmama_reviews

Saturday, March 21st: Instagram: @babygotbooks13

Sunday, March 22nd: Instagram: @k2reader

Monday, March 23rd: Instagram: @jennsbookvibes


Review Stops

Tuesday, March 17th: Lit and Life

Wednesday, March 18th: Book by Book

Thursday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog

Friday, March 20th: Instagram: @thebookclubmom

Monday, March 23rd: BookNAround

Tuesday, March 24th: Really Into This

Wednesday, March 25th: Orange County Readers

Thursday, March 26th: Girl Who Reads

Friday, March 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, March 30th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Tuesday, March 31st: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, April 1st: Into the Hall of Books

Thursday, April 2nd: Welcome to Nurse Bookie

Friday, April 3rd: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Monday, April 6th: What Is That Book About

Tuesday, April 7th: Instagram: @crystals_library

Wednesday, April 8th: Openly Bookish

Thursday, April 9th: Girls Just Reading

Friday, April 10th: Tabi Thoughts



This review and blog tour brought to you via TLC Book Tours

Guest Post: Anna Belfrage – A FLAME THROUGH ETERNITY



Good day, my fellow book people. There are many cultures and religions that teach and believe in reincarnation. I’ve often heard, growing up in the Black community, that someone was an “old soul” and had obviously been here before. Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Anna Belfrage who explores the idea of reincarnation in her series, The Wanderer, with the latest release A Flame Through Eternity. Ms. Belfrage will be discussing the notion of reincarnation and second-chance romance. Thank you, Ms. Belfrage, for stopping by and visiting with us today, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these subjects. Without further adieu, I give you Anna Belfrage. 





Reincarnated lovers – putting a spin on “second chance” romance



There is something rather intriguing about the idea of reincarnation. Imagine being given an opportunity to try again, rectify past mistakes. Assuming, of course, that the reincarnated person remembered what their mistakes were the first time round.

This was the premise for my series The Wanderer, the last installment being A Flame Through Eternity. Unfortunately for my male MC, he remembers every single fruitless life he’d led, desperate to find the woman he loved, betrayed and lost in that very distant first life. I wonder what that would do to a person—to have memories of so many existences one doesn’t quite know which are valid for which life. I imagine it takes a person of great spiritual strength to not go crazy under that pressure.

Now my Jason progresses upwards with each life, learning the hard way to become a better person. His antagonist—a soul as old as he is, just as burdened with the memories of multiple lives—has rather gone the opposite way. Where Jason wants to make amends, Sam wants revenge for the wrongs he perceives Jason has done him. What Sam wants, Sam usually gets.

Personally, I believe that if there are people who leap from life to life, they are mostly unaware of their previous existences—precisely for the reason that otherwise they’d probably have spent their lives in an institution somewhere, their mental equilibrium shattered by unwanted and confusing memories. Accordingly, my female MC has no memories of Jason or Sam or of the little place on the southern coast of the Black Sea where she lived out her very first (and far too short) life. But Helle has dreams, recurring vivid images that have her sitting up in bed as she tries to understand why her heart is breaking with grief, a yawning sensation of loss engulfing her as she whispers “Jason”. Not that Helle has any idea who this Jason might be…

When I was younger, I was fascinated by the stories of people who one day woke up and insisted they were someone else. Boys who began speaking ancient Persian, women who wept as they named the children they’d seen die in plagues and famines. I suspect there is little truth in most of these stories, but I can’t help wondering if some of them aren’t genuine. I especially remember one of these stories (as I recall, I read it in Reader’s Digest, and yes, I know this does not qualify as a verified source, but I loved those booklets, inhaled my way through them). A young man living in a modern Brooklyn woke up one day and insisted he had to travel to the Middle East. In fluent Arabic, he explained he had to go and find his wife, assuring her he was still alive, still here. His present-day parents were desperate. In a twist of ironic fate, they were Jewish and knew for a fact that no one had ever spoken Arabic to their son. And yet, here he was, word-perfect in a language no one had ever taught him. Creepy stuff, hey?

The story obviously left an indirect impact on me. My Jason refers to one life as a minority Greek living in Smyrna (present-day Izmir) just as the Ottoman Empire crumbles and is replaced by a nationalistic Turkish state ruled by Atatürk. In that life, Jason sees his Greek family destroyed by the uncontrolled Turkish soldiers. In his first life, however, Jason detested the Greek colonists who made their way along the Black Sea coast. I suppose my take on reincarnation is that, if it is possible, it has as its purpose to broaden our human experience and allow us to experience life from various points of view. Just like Hinduism and Buddhism teaches, with each life a person would acquire more wisdom and better karma until achieving a state of spiritual purity that allows for eternal peace as part of the brilliant whole. 

In A Flame Through Eternity, all Jason wants is to finally get his chance at a Happily Ever After with his Helle, the woman he has pursued in life afterlife. Since they met up in the here and now in A Torch in His Heart, their life has been something of a rollercoaster, elation, and joy at finally being together balanced by the blackest of fear that this time too, their ancient re-born antagonist Sam Woolf will find a way to destroy them, squashing that dream of a long and happy life. Jason’s and Helle’s story is a steamy, contemporary romance with paranormal ingredients and a lot of action. But at its core lies a genuine interest in what makes us human, how we evolve as spiritual beings and whether or not we do, in fact, get more than one shot at this marvelous business called life. I hope some readers will discover those deeper depths and be as titillated by the notion of reincarnation as I am!






A Flame Through Eternity, Book Three in The Wanderer Series, by Anna Belfrage
ISBN: 9781838593759 (paperback)
ASIN: B081J54L18 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Troubador Publishing


It started 3,000 years ago. It ends now. Who survives the final confrontation?


According to Helle Madsen, being the protagonist of a time-spanning epic love story has some things going for it, primarily Jason Morris. Because seriously, meeting up with your fated lover after 3 000 years apart is not bad—at all. Unfortunately, where Jason goes, there goes Sam Woolf, yet another very, very ancient acquaintance—with the fundamental difference that Sam is not into Happily Ever After. He’s into destruction, more specifically of Jason and Helle.

Helle may believe in second-chance love, but she sure doesn’t believe in reincarnation. Okay, she didn’t believe in stuff like that until she met Jason Morris a year or so ago. By now, she has accepted that sometimes impossible things are quite, quite possible—like an ancient princess being reborn as an ambitious financial analyst.

Finding Jason was like finding the part of her that had always been missing—a perfect match. But handling Sam Woolf, the reborn version of their ancient nemesis is something of a trial. No sooner do you have him well and surely beat, but up he bounces again. Sheesh, will it take an oak stake to permanently rid their lives of him?

Sam Woolf is a powerful adversary. Too powerful, even. Jason and Helle will need help from unexpected quarters to finally bring this tangled, ancient love-and-hate triangle to some sort of conclusion. Question is, will they survive the experience?





Purchase Links: #Commission Earned  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes & Noble  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  !ndigo  



Meet the Author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveler. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history, and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavors. Plus she always finds the time to try out new recipes, chase down obscure rose bushes and initiate a home renovation scheme or two.

Her last release, A Torch in His Heart, was a step out of her comfort zone. Her most recent release is A Flame Through Eternity. Having previously published historical fiction & historical romance, with this first book about Jason and Helle Anna offers a dark and titillating contemporary romance, complete with a time-slip angle and hot & steamy scenes.



Connect with the author via her WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter.





TOUR PARTICIPANTS


Instagram Tour


Monday, February 10th: @thereadingchemist

Monday, February 10th: @mixed_matched_socks

Wednesday, February 12: @livingmybestbooklife

Friday, February 14th: @books_with_bethany

Saturday, February 15th: @sincerelykarenjo

Sunday, February 16th: @sarahandherbookshelves

Tuesday, February 18th: @nurse_bookie

Wednesday, February 19th: @simplykelina

Friday, February 21st: @_ebl_inc_


Review Tour

Monday, February 17th: Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, February 18th: Nurse Bookie

Tuesday, February 18th: The Book Diva’s Reads – Author Guest Post

Wednesday, February 19th: Stranded in Chaos

Friday, February 21st: Living My Best Book Life

Monday, February 24th: Cheryl’s Book Nook and @beastreader

Wednesday, February 26th: Openly Bookish

Thursday, February 27th: Sincerely Karen Jo

Thursday, February 27th: Audio Killed the Bookmark – Author Guest Post

Friday, February 28th: @falling4romance

Monday, March 2nd: @barr_bookworms

Wednesday, March 4th: From the TBR Pile – Author Guest Post

Friday, March 6th: Treestand Book Reviews

Friday, March 6th: Broken Teepee

Monday, March 9th: What is That Book About – Author Guest Post

Tuesday, March 10th: Jathan & Heather – Author Guest Post

Wednesday, March 11th: @balancingbooksandcoffee

Friday, March 13th: The Lit Bitch – Author Guest Post

Monday, March 16th: The Sassy Bookster – Author Guest Post

Wednesday, March 18th: Read Love Blog – Author Guest Post

Monday, March 23rd: Book Fidelity – Author Guest Post



This guest post and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

Book Showcase: THE COST OF HONOR by Diana Munoz Stewart

The Cost of Honor, Black Ops Confidential #3, by Diana Muñoz Stewart
ISBN: 9781492674221 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492662457 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781977372475 (audiobook)
ASIN: B081FX1H5F (Audible audibook)
ASIN: B07T91DZFD (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: November 26, 2019


He gave up everything to escape his family

The only male to be adopted into the notorious Parish family, Tony Parish always did right by his vigilante sisters. But when an attempt to protect one of them went horribly wrong, he had to fake his own death to escape his fanatical family. Tony set sail and ended up in Dominica—face to face with the woman of his dreams…

Now he must give up Honor to save her

After the death of her mother, Honor Silva moved to Dominica, where her family could help her heal and move on. But her activist mother left her more than money, she left her proof that could take down one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Tony gave up everything he thought he knew when he fled his family. But when a threat too dangerous for Tony and Honor to fight on their own closes in, he has no choice but to go to them for help. Problem is, they’ll demand something in return—something that could cost Tony not just Honor, but also the love that changed him forever.






Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audiobooks  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook



Read an Excerpt

#1


Rain assaulted the thin, deserted strip of beach along Roseau, Dominica. Though rarely cold on the island, the lack of sun combined with the wild weather created a deep, nagging chill.

Tightening the straps on her jacket, drawing the slick red hood into an outline around her rain-drenched face, Honor pushed through the last brutal gusts of the retreating tropical storm.

Seaweed littered the sand. Stacked lounge chairs clacked, and striped cabanas snapped in the tempest.

It seemed the sky and heaven cried with her, tears of sadness and fury. Honor ducked her head and made her determined way around a large puddle on the sand. The indents from her sneakers created smaller puddles as she walked.

Had it really been two years today? Two years since she’d lost Mom and had run here looking for a new start, a life without the ache of missing her.

Hadn’t worked. Mom’s death had been so sudden that the punch of that wound, straight through her heart, still gaped wide open. There wasn’t a day when she didn’t feel bereft.

But today especially, the anniversary of her death. The media, reminded of her famous mother’s passing, had reached out through phone, email, and texts for quotes.

Unable to deal with them, she’d come to the beach looking for a distraction.

She’d found one.

A kiteboarder, rash and daring with a bright-yellow sail, glided across the rough ocean water. His dark hair flew back as his agile body, covered in a wetsuit, maneuvered with and against wind and waves. 

A gust and the kiteboarder flew up and up. Her heart rose with him. Too high. He had too far to fall.

He slammed back down to the surf, angled his athletic body and skimmed the waves. He’d done it. She resisted the urge to clap. Mom would’ve loved watching him, another confident, courageous soul.

Unlike Honor.

Mom had stomped through puddles.

Honor hung back, worried about consequences.

Mom had gone boldly after love, spoken her desires aloud, and given her heart away again and again.

Honor secreted away her heart and her true desires. Mom had been like the kiteboarder. Sure and strong. 

A thrill gripped her as the man launched skyward. A moment later, he hit the waves, leaned his body almost flat against the roaring ocean as the sail jerked his arms straight.

He rode the waves steadily for a beat, and then the wind turned, snapped his kite, and yanked him backward.

Honor froze. The wind tossed him up, then beat him down against a black outcrop of rock. His strong body, suddenly flimsy and fragile, slipped from the rocks and under the waves.

Faster than thought, she broke from stillness and raced toward the ocean. She flung off her shoes, ripped her rain slicker over her head. Knee-deep in water, she stopped. Where was he? The sail bobbled against the waves, but where was he? Where?

There.

His body, facedown. A wave rose up and crashed over him. He disappeared. She took two leaping steps and dove. Using muscles conditioned by years of swimming, she plunged under the beating waves and fought her way to him.

Salt water stung her nose, esophagus. Again and again, she felt the push, the ocean’s insistent, “Turn around.”

She kept going. Surfacing, she bobbed in the water, got her bearings. This was where she’d seen him go under.

Diving with her eyes open, she scanned. Green and gray, a surreal muted picture. Something dark, darker than the rest of the ocean. Him? Lungs burning, desperate for air, she swam closer and deeper.

No more death today. Please. Her ears muffled with pressure, she reached out and grasped the collar of his wetsuit, capturing a fistful of his hair in the process.

She pulled, arms straining. He came even with her, and she grasped under his armpits and kicked up. Her head angled as high as she could get it. Air. She needed to breathe.

The weight of him slowed her.

Let him go or die?

She couldn’t let go.

Wouldn’t.

The edges of her vision began to dim. Too far. Not going to make it. She kicked harder. The glassy ceiling drew nearer. Please. So close.

She broke the surface. The kiteboarder was silent against her, his head bobbing in the surf. Legs as insubstantial as seaweed, she rolled onto her back and kicked toward the shore.

When her butt hit the beach, she gave an exhausted cry. Sweeping her feet under her, she crouch-pulled the kiteboarder onto the sand. Waves rolled into them, pushing. He was heavy.

“Let me help,” someone said.

Gratefully, she looked up to find an older, bald man. Together, they dragged the kiteboarder out of the waves and dropped him onto the rain-soaked sand. She started CPR.

The bystander, hovering beside her, said he’d called emergency services and apologized for the inadequacy of his lungs. Asthma.

No air to respond, she pushed on the kiteboarder’s chest. Drops of water slid across his handsome, too-pale face, but not one muscle twitched.

Please, please, please, she silently begged. Her knees ground in the wet sand as she pinched his nose, put her mouth over his, and forced air through her aching throat into his lifeless body. Crying now, begging God for intervention, she pushed again on his chest.

He convulsed once, hard enough to look like he’d been hit with electric paddles, coughed, and spat out water.

She helped him onto his side. He spat out more water. After another moment, he rolled onto his back, eyes closed, breathing heavily.

Breathing.

The bystander ran up the beach, waving to the EMT.

She’d done it. She’d saved a man’s life. His eyes stayed closed, and she brushed the sand from his neatly trimmed goatee, cheekbones, and lips. Her fingers lingered against those full lips. The most perfect shape, perfect feel.

He was beyond handsome with a muscular build that filled out his wetsuit like a superhero. Her mother would’ve declared him “good enough to eat.”

Lord. What was wrong with her?

His eyes popped open, blinked. Caught. She went still as a stone.

Excerpt from The Cost of Honor by Diana Muñoz Stewart.  Copyright © 2019 by Diana Muñoz Stewart. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


Meet the author

Armed with a razor-sharp wit and a rolled-up MFA in Creative Writing, Diana Muñoz Stewart cartwheel-kicked her way into publishing with her fiery Black Ops Confidential series. Washington Independent Review of Books called the series’ award-winning debut, “original, impressive” a “rollicking good ride” and “high-octane.”

Muñoz Stewart’s work has been a BookPage Top 15 Romance of 2018, a Night Owl Top Pick, A BookPage Top Pick, and an Amazon Book of the Month. A 2014 Pages From The Heart Winner, 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist, 2016 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a 2016 Gateway to the Best Winner, Diana Muñoz Stewart is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

Diana lives in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can hold husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two. A believer in the power of words to heal, connect, and distract from chores, Diana blogs regularly on topics near and dear to her heart, including spotlight pieces on strong women from around the world. When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds–attempting yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who’s had her heart since they were teens.



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, Instagram,  and Goodreads



Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of The Cost of Honor by Diana Muñoz Stewart courtesy of TLC Book Tours. This giveaway is limited to US residents only and runs from 12:01 AM ET on 11/27/2019 through 11:59 PM ET on 12/03/2019. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 12/04/2019. All non-US entrants will be automatically disqualified. Void where prohibed by law. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below.


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Blog Tour Participants

Monday, November 11th: Hallie Reads

Tuesday, November 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, November 13th: @thisbibliolife

Thursday, November 14th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, November 15th: @girlandherbooks

Monday, November 18th: The Book Disciple – excerpt

Monday, November 18th: @thebookdisciple

Tuesday, November 19th: Booked on a Feeling

Tuesday, November 19th: Mystery Suspense Reviews – excerpt

Wednesday, November 20th: @barr_bookworms

Thursday, November 21st: Why Girls are Weird

Friday, November 22nd: @_ebl_inc_

Monday, November 25th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, November 26th: Bewitched Bookworms – review & excerpt

Wednesday, November 27th: The Book Diva’s Reads – excerpt

Monday, December 2nd: Living My Best Book Life – excerpt

Monday, December 2nd: @livingmybestbooklife

Tuesday, December 3rd: Becky on Books

Wednesday, December 4th: Stranded in Chaos

Friday, December 6th: Book Nerd



This showcase, excerpt, blog tour, and giveaway brought to you by TLC Book Tours

Book Spotlight: LOST CHILD by Torey Hayden


About Lost Child


• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 24, 2019)

The first new book from the beloved therapist and writer Torey Hayden in almost fifteen years—an inspiring, uplifting tale of a troubled child and the remarkable woman who made a difference.

In a forgotten corner of Wales, a young girl languishes in a home for troubled children. Abandoned by her parents because of her violent streak, Jessie—at the age of ten—is at risk of becoming just another lost soul in the foster system.

Precocious and bold, Jessie is convinced she is possessed by the devil and utterly unprepared for the arrival of therapist Torey Hayden. Armed with patience, compassion, and unconditional love, Hayden begins working with Jessie once a week. But when Jessie makes a stunning accusation against one of Hayden’s colleagues – a man Hayden implicitly trusts – Hayden’s work doubles: now she must not only get to the root of Jessie’s troubles but also find out if what the girl alleges is true.

A moving, compelling, and inspiring account, Lost Child is a powerful testament once again of Torey Hayden’s extraordinary ability to reach children who many have given up on—and a reminder of how patience and love can ultimately prevail.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Torey Hayden

Born in Montana, USA, Torey Hayden has spent most of her adult life working with children in distress. Now living in Great Britain, she divides her time between writing and volunteer work with several British charities. Torey is the author of numerous internationally best-selling books about her experiences as a special education teacher and therapist. She has also written two novels and two children’s books.


Find her at www.torey-hayden.com and connect with her on Facebook.




This book spotlight brought to you by TLC Book Tours


Book Spotlight: THE PRICE OF GRACE by Diana Muñoz Stewart

The Price of Grace, Black Ops Confidential #2/Band of Sisters #2, by Diana Muñoz Stewart
ISBN: 9781492694090 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781728206714 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781977372468 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07QTCV5NH (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: September 24, 2019


Who can you trust

When family, truth, and love are all on the line?


Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family’s secrets.

Special Agent Leif “Dusty” McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family’s covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He’ll use everything he’s got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family’s mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they’ll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact.






Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBooks  |  Kobo Audiobook



Praise for the Black Ops Confidential Series

“Witty, dangerous, fun, and smoking hot.”
—Cindy Dees, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author regarding I Am Justice


“A high-octane…satisfying roller-coaster ride. Stewart’s talent shines.”
Publishers Weekly regarding The Price of Grace


“Spellbinding, sizzling. Unsurpassed romantic suspense.”
—Patricia Gussin, New York Times bestselling author regarding I Am Justice




Meet the author

Armed with a razor-sharp wit and a rolled-up MFA in Creative Writing, Diana Muñoz Stewart cartwheel-kicked her way into publishing with her fiery Black Ops Confidential series. Washington Independent Review of Books called the series’ award-winning debut, “original, impressive” a “rollicking good ride” and “high-octane.”

Muñoz Stewart’s work has been a BookPage Top 15 Romance of 2018, a Night Owl Top Pick, A BookPage Top Pick, and an Amazon Book of the Month. A 2014 Pages From The Heart Winner, 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist, 2016 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a 2016 Gateway to the Best Winner, Diana Muñoz Stewart is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

Diana lives in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can hold husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two. A believer in the power of words to heal, connect, and distract from chores, Diana blogs regularly on topics near and dear to her heart, including spotlight pieces on strong women from around the world. When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds–attempting yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who’s had her heart since they were teens.


Connect with the author via GoodreadsFacebookInstagram Twitter,  and her website



Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of The Price of Grace by Diana Muñoz Stewart via TLC Book Tours. This giveaway is limited to US residents only and runs from 12:01 AM ET on 10/01/2019 through 11:59 PM ET on 10/07/2019. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 10/08/2019. All non-US entrants will be automatically disqualified. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Please note that the book will be sent to the winner by TLC Book Tours at the end of the blog tour.


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This spotlight, blog tour, and giveaway brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2019 Book 236: THE HOUND OF JUSTICE by Claire O’Dell

The Hound of Justice, The Janet Watson Chronicles #2, by Claire O’Dell
ISBN: 9780062699336 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062699381 (ebook)
ASIN: B07FCJCRYB (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager



Dr. Janet Watson and former covert agent Sara Holmes, introduced in the acclaimed A Study in Honor, continue their dangerous investigation into the new American Civil War with the help of fresh allies, advanced technology, and brilliant deduction in this superb re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s been two months since Dr. Janet Watson accepted an offer from Georgetown University Hospital. The training for her new high-tech arm is taking longer than expected, however, leaving her in limbo. Meanwhile, her brilliant friend and compatriot, Sara Holmes, has been placed on leave—punishment for going rogue during their previous adventure. Neither is taking their situation very well.

Then an extremist faction called the Brotherhood of Redemption launches an assassination attempt on the president. The attempt fails but causes mass destruction—fifty dead and hundreds more injured, and Holmes takes on the task of investigating the Brotherhood.

Holmes is making progress when she abruptly disappears. Watson receives a mysterious message from Holmes’s cousin Micha and learns that her friend has quit the service and is operating in the shadows, investigating clues that link the Brotherhood to Adler Industries.

She needs a surgeon, Micha tells Watson. She needs you.

Reunited once more, Dr. Watson, Holmes, and Micha embark on a mission through the deep South to clear Holmes’s name, thwart the Brotherhood’s next move, and most important, bring their nemesis to justice for the atrocities she’s committed in the New Civil War.





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBook

Dr. Janet Watson returned to Washington D.C. from the new American Civil War filled with anger, PTSD, and without a home or job. She eventually did find a home with Sarah Holmes, a government agent, and a job with the VA. The job situation didn’t last very long and ended with Janet and Sarah uncovering some unsavory connections between Adler Industries and the VA. On a happy note, Janet wound up with a new job at Georgetown University Hospital as a surgeon and a new prosthesis. But all is not right in Dr. Janet Watson’s world. People are dying in the hospital of unknown causes, her roommate vanishes mysteriously, her grandmother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her deadline to become a practicing surgeon gets pushed back, and she gets roped into doing a presentation at a medical conference where her ex will also be presenting. After Sara disappears, Janet receives a notification from Hudson Realty to vacate the premises, and then receives a mysterious notice from Sara’s cousin Micha that Janet should take a leave of absence from her job to help Sara out on a job behind enemy lines. It’s bad enough that Sara’s disappearance is interfering with Janet’s job, but now it’s expected that Janet should use her familyher ailing grandmother in the deep Southas an excuse to travel into the New Confederacy. The last adventure Sara became embroiled in involved Nadine Adler, Adler Industries, and ended with Janet being shot. This time, Janet is expected to use her surgical skills (untested skills at that on an unknown subject), behind enemy lines, and she just might be going up against Nadine Adler again along with the Brotherhood of Redemption. Will Janet be able to successfully complete this mission or are Sara and Micha expecting too much from their friend Dr. Watson this time?

I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Janet Watson Chronicles, A Study in Honor. Sara Holmes is quite unlike the modern Sherlock Holmes characters we’ve seen in movies and television. She’s very intelligent, just like the original fictional Sherlock and somewhat of a recluse, but this Holmes works with the FBI and has an extended family support system by means of her cousins and grandmother. Janet Watson is very similar to Dr. John Watson in that she is a war veteran, a physician, and has an estranged sibling, but the similarities end there. This Dr. Watson and Holmes are strong, Black, females and Dr. Watson is a lesbian. These ladies are residing in a time that is not quite post-apocalyptic but definitely a dystopian world where the United States has experienced a new Civil War and confederate states have successfully seceded from the US and are attempting to stage a coup/assassination of the newly elected president. This Watson and Holmes duo feature a Hudson and Adler, but they are unlike the Hudson and Adler seen in previous iterations of Watson and Holmes’ stories. The Hound of Justice made for a nice follow-up to A Study in Honor and was a fast-paced and engaging read. I loved the interaction between Janet Watson and her occupational therapist, her psych therapist, her love interest (a bookstore owner), her colleagues, her family, and, of course, with Holmes and the Holmes family. The Hound of Justice offers mystery, political intrigue, slight romance (although not the overriding theme), self-realization, family angst and drama (on both the part of Watson and even Holmes to a certain extent), along with the overriding theme of friendship and what we’re willing to do for the sake of our friends and what is right. Just in case you can’t tell, I really enjoyed The Hound of Justice and sincerely hope there will be another installment in the Janet Watson Chronicles because I can’t accept that this is where it ends. I strongly encourage you to grab copies of A Study in Honor and The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell to read. This is one series you won’t want to miss out on. Happy Reading y’all! 📖

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy from the publisher, Harper Voyager via TLC Book Tours. 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.”

 

Photo by Rob Bernobich

About Claire O’Dell

Claire O’Dell grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the years of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal. She attended high school just a few miles from the house where Mary Surratt once lived and where John Wilkes Booth planned for Lincoln to die. All this might explain why she spent so much time in the history and political science departments at college. Claire currently lives in Manchester, Connecticut, with her family and two idiosyncratic cats.


Find out more about Claire at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.





This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours


Guest Post: Beth Castrodale – IN THIS GROUND



Good day, my fellow readers. I hope you’re all ready to sit back and enjoy some good reads for 2019. I consider myself very fortunate because I get introduced to new-to-me books and authors all the time with the blog tour companies I’m blessed to work with throughout the year. I may not always get the opportunity to review the books, but I always add the books to my ever-growing TBR list and look forward to discovering something new. Today, I’m honored to introduce you all to one such book and author, In This Ground by Beth Castrodale. Ms. Castrodale has taken a few minutes out of her busy schedule to stop by and discuss the intriguing setting for her book, In This Ground, a cemetery. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Beth Castrodale.





One of the most common questions I get about my novel In This Ground is, “Why did you set the novel in a cemetery?” 

The short answer is that I’ve been fascinated with cemeteries since I was a kid, when a friend and I would wander a local graveyard, read the names on the tombstones out loud, and make up stories about the lives we imagined these people to have led. The notion that cemeteries contain a multitude of stories lingered at the back of my mind for a long time, and a few years ago, it sparked the idea for In This Ground, which brings together the tales of people who are buried in a particular cemetery or who have some other business there. 

As the novel took shape, I came to understand that its setting (the fictional Bolster Hill Cemetery) would need to be more than a static background for the story. Instead, it would have to do what the settings in some of my favorite novels do: help drive the plot and, ideally, become a sort of character in its own right. 

It took me several drafts to figure out how to make the most compelling connections between the cemetery setting and the narrative arc of the novel. Looking back, I can identify a few major ways in which the setting fuels conflict and action:

The cemetery constantly reminds the protagonist of unresolved guilt from his past. For years, Ben Dirjery, a former rock guitarist who is now the gravedigger-in-chief at the cemetery, has believed that he bears at least some responsibility for the death of his former band’s lead singer, Vince Resklar, who is buried, literally, under Ben’s feet. 

The fact that devotees of the band have made Vince’s grave a kind of shrine further aggravates Ben’s guilt and constantly reminds him of everything he left behind when he dropped out of the band–just as it was about to make it big. (Ben quit the band after learning that his girlfriend was pregnant, trading the rock-and-roll lifestyle in for fatherhood and the stability of a job at the cemetery.)

Vince’s grave becomes a night-time assembly spot for aspiring musicians, including Ben’s daughter, whom Ben has kept in the dark about his history with the band, and with Vince. Eventually, after uncovering clues about Ben’s past, she forces him to confront his guilt over Vince’s death.

The cemetery becomes the center of a community conflict. The conflict concerns a court order to move the gravesite of a legendary local figure–a nineteenth-century vagabond known as the Unknown Vagrant–from just outside the cemetery gates to within them. The move is deemed necessary because the grave is dangerously close to an ever-busier roadway, which has caused certain visitors to the gravesite to be injured or killed.

The move is controversial because the local historical society wants to use the exhumation as an occasion to analyze the DNA of the Unknown Vagrant and, in this way, learn more about him. However, many people see this as a violation of the rights and dignity of the Unknown Vagrant, who was notoriously private. This objection has protesters rallying at the cemetery’s gates.

Ben is in an uncomfortable position because while he’s slated to be part of the exhumation crew, he too has reservations about violating the privacy of the Unknown Vagrant. The whole situation tests his beliefs about what it means to be doing his best by both the living and the dead: what he sees as his most important mission at the cemetery.

The cemetery attracts a variety of characters whose agendas help advance the story. As I’ve mentioned, Vince Resklar’s grave attracts night-time visitors (mainly, musicians, including Ben’s daughter) who stir up uncomfortable feelings in Ben and ultimately force him to confront his past. Also, the protests at the site of the Unknown Vagrants’ grave eventually prompt Ben to consider ways in which the exhumation of this historical figure might be avoided.

The cemetery also becomes a target of yarn bombers, whose “temporary form of public art” fuels reflection and debate on the best means to honor the dead aesthetically. Additionally, the grounds attract mushroom foragers. Over many years of mushroom hunting at the cemetery, one of these foragers, Dolores Fielding, becomes a kind of mentor to Ben. And like him, Dolores advocates for ways to make the grounds more environmentally sustainable.

Eventually, Ben learns that Dolores is dying and that she would like to have a green burial at the cemetery, a practice that Ben has pushed for but that the cemetery’s board has resisted approving. (A green burial aims to commit a body to the earth in the least environmentally intrusive way possible. Bodies aren’t embalmed or enclosed in heavy caskets or concrete vaults, though they might be contained in a shroud or biodegradable casket.) Out of a desire to honor Dolores’s wishes, Ben tries unconventional methods for making green burials a reality at the cemetery.

While writing In This Ground, I understood that certain perceptions and assumptions about cemeteries would be working against me: for one thing, the idea that they are mournful landscapes concerned only with honoring the dead. Although cemeteries do fulfill that purpose, they are also settings for a good deal of drama, as I learned in the process of researching the novel. I hope that I made the fictional cemetery at the heart of In This Ground not only a worthy stage for the dramas that unfold there but also a central element of the novel, one that is compelling in its own right.




About Beth Castrodale


Beth Castrodale has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. Her novels include Marion Hatley, a finalist for a Nilsen Prize for a First Novel from Southeast Missouri State University Press (published by Garland Press in 2017), and In This Ground (Garland Press, 2018). Beth’s stories have appeared in such journals as Printer’s Devil Review, The Writing Disorder, and the Mulberry Fork Review. Get a free copy of her novel Gold River when you sign up for her e-newsletter, at http://www.bethcastrodale.com/gold-river/.




Connect with Beth




In This Ground by Beth Castrodale
ISBN: 9781940782041 (paperback)
ASIN: B07FXSXRGH (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Garland Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Just as his indie-rock band was poised to make it big, Ben Dirjery traded it all in for fatherhood and the stability of a job at Bolster Hill Cemetery. Now closing in on fifty, the former guitarist finds himself divorced and at loose ends, and still haunted by the tragic death of his former band’s lead singer, who is buried, literally, under Ben’s feet. Then Ben’s daughter begins questioning a past he has tried to bury. If he can face her questions, he might finally put to rest his guilt over his bandmate’s death, and bring music back into his life.



“Startlingly incongruous parts–graveyards, guitars, and mushrooms–come together in satisfying and unexpected ways. Sharp writing and an unconventional plot make for a darkly enjoyable read.”–Kirkus Reviews



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Follow the Tour
Monday, January 7th: Seaside Book Nook

Wednesday, January 9th: Bibliotica

Thursday, January 10th: Books and Bindings

Monday, January 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, January 15th: The Book Diva’s Reads – author guest post

Wednesday, January 16th: Booklover Book Reviews

Thursday, January 17th: @crystals_library

Monday, January 21st: Eliot’s Eats

Tuesday, January 22nd: Really Into This and @mountain_reader_

Wednesday, January 23rd: Lit and Life

Thursday, January 24th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Monday, January 28th: Book By Book



Tuesday, January 29th: Erica Robyn Reads

This excerpt and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2018 Book 471: ONCE A MIDWIFE by Patricia Harman

Once A Midwife Hope River #3 by Patricia Harman
ISBN: 9780062869333 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062825575 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062825582 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062867711 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0756DR699 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 6, 2018 
Publisher: William Morrow 


Welcome back to Hope River in New York Times bestselling author Patricia Harman’s newest novel as midwife Patience Hester, along with her family and friends, face the challenges of the home front during World War II.

The women of Hope River trust midwife Patience Hester, whose skill in delivering babies is known for miles around. But though the Great Depression is behind them, troubles are not, for Europe is at war…and it can only be a matter of time before the U.S. enters the fray.

And while some are eager to join the fight, Patience’s husband, Daniel, is not. Daniel is a patriot—but he saw too much bloodshed during the First World War, and has vowed never to take up arms again.

His stance leaves Patience and their four children vulnerable—to the neighbors who might judge them, and to the government, who imprison Daniel for his beliefs.

Patience must support their family and fight for her husband’s release despite her own misgivings. And with need greater than ever, she must also keep her practice running during this tumultuous time…relying on generous friends, like Bitsy, who has returned to Hope River, stalwart neighbors, and her own indomitable strength to see them all through.



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Author Patricia Harman returns to Hope River, West Virginia and the Hester family in the early 1940s with her latest addition to the Hope River Series Once A Midwife. Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are overtaking most of Europe, the United States is initially practicing isolationism from the European conflict until the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the country is still reeling from the Great Depression. Patience Hester is still a practicing midwife and her husband, Daniel, is still working as a veterinarian. Their family consists of their two biological children, Danny and Mira, along with their adopted twin daughters Sunny and Sue. Bitsy Proudfoot, Patience’s friend, trainee and former roommate, returns to Hope River to with her ward, Willie. Bitsy and Willie, along with the Hesters are making the best of their situations and hoping and praying that war will not come to West Virginia. Their hopes are dashed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and men from their community and surrounding communities are eager to do their part, signing up to fight, except for Daniel Hester. Daniel refuses to sign up for the draft and isn’t eager to return to war after the Great War or World War I. He witnessed first hand the atrocities man commits against man and animal alike and he doesn’t want to have a part in perpetuating those acts of inhumanity and insanity. Needless to say, this causes problems for Daniel in the community as well as with Patience and his own son. Patience has a hard time understanding Daniel’s pacifism but is determined to stand by his side. Their son, Danny, initially feels that his father is being cowardly until Daniel tries to explain to the children the reason for his actions. The looming question on everyone’s mind is will Daniel be sent to prison for his actions and if so, for how long and where will he go? For Patience, the question becomes can she continue to stand by her husband if she doesn’t agree with his decision when she’s the one that will bear the brunt of the work and fallout afterward? Does she have the strength to do what needs to be done to keep her family going forward? As the men of Hope River and beyond go off to war, the women are left to tend the farms and families while worrying about loved ones far, far away. Can they stay strong in the midst of these trying times?

Once a Midwife is the third book in the Hope River series by Patricia Harman and this book packed quite an emotional punch. Mr. Harman touches on a number of topics and themes throughout the story, such as pacifism in times of war, family solidarity, local prisoner of war camps, and even interracial relationships and marriage. This wasn’t an easy read partially due to the subject matter presented (and due to a bout with vertigo that caused a brief hospitalization, chronic daily migraine headaches, and a sinus infection — hey, if you’re going to get sick, do it right!), but it was one that I found to be touching, emotional, and even enjoyable. I’m always eager to read books featuring West Virginia, even if it is with a fictional town and fictional characters. I’ve read and re-read the Hope River series by Ms. Harman and was looking forward to reading Once a Midwife and it did not disappoint me. I enjoyed the historical tidbits, the characters, and even the mountain settings (West Virginia is a gorgeous state…come by for a visit sometime). Ms. Harman has an adept way of pulling the reader into the day-to-day lives of her characters and investing the reader into the characters and story’s final outcome. If you’ve read any of the books in the Hope River series then I highly recommend you grab a copy of Once a Midwife to read. If you haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, start with The Midwife of Hope River and The Reluctant Midwife before reading Once A Midwife. This historical fiction series is one that I consider a #mustreadseries and I hope you’ll agree.

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from TLC Book Tours for review purposes. 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.”



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About Patricia Harman




Photo by Callie Lindsey Photography

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and three novels: the bestselling The Midwife of Hope River, The Reluctant Midwife, and The Runaway Midwife. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.


Find out more about Patricia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours