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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog MURDER AT BUCKSKIN JOE. A NOVEL by J.v.L. Bell (@jvlbell) A cozy historical murder that is worth its weight in solid gold #RVRT #historicalfiction #cozymystery

Hi all:

I bring you a novel I truly enjoyed, which combines two fascinating genres, and it works very well, at least in my opinion. See what you think!

Muder at Buckskin Joe. A Novel by J.v.L. Bell

Murder at Buckskin Joe. A Novel by J.v.L. Bell

Territory of Colorado, 1865

Millie knows the raucous mining town of Buckskin Joe is no place for children, but when Dom’s Uncle George shows up needing help, the whole family reluctantly heads to South Park. George has been accused of murdering his mining partner, Wandering Will, and although Millie questions his innocence, she finds there are many suspects who wanted Will dead.

There’s fancy-girl Queeny, Will’s ex-wife, and dancehall-girl Kate, who wanted to be Will’s next wife—until he dumped her. Mountain man Kootenay despised Will enough to have dispatched him and the Odd Fellows have seized George and Will’s mine, claiming the gold inside for themselves.

Millie’s investigation heats up when Dom volunteers to visit the local saloon for some hands-on investigating of Queeny and Kate. Interruptions from hostile Utes, the children’s devilment, and the local schoolmistress chasing after Dom make this Millie’s most difficult investigation—especially when the killer decides she is getting too close.

Murder at Buckskin Joe weaves a cozy murder mystery with fascinating South Park mining history and lovable, unforgettable historic characters.

https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Buckskin-Joe-J-v-L-Bell-ebook/dp/B09G39199C/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09G39199C

https://www.amazon.es/Murder-at-Buckskin-Joe-English-ebook/dp/B09G39199C/

Author J.v.L. Bell

 About the author:

Author J.v.L. Bell is a Colorado native who grew up climbing 14,000 ft. mountains, exploring old ghost towns, and hiking in the deserts of Utah. Whenever possible, she and her family can be found hiking, rafting, or cross-country skiing.


https://www.amazon.com/J-v-L-Bell/e/B01KKX8WZQ/

www.JvLBell.com

 My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

Cozy mysteries can be a bit hit-and-miss for me, but this one, with the added attraction of the historical gold-mining background setting and the fabulous cast of characters, worked wonderfully for me, and I loved it. Even though this is the third book in a series, it can be read and enjoyed in its own right, as it does provide readers with all the relevant details needed to follow the story, although I confess I wouldn’t mind reading the two previous ones.

The description of the book is quite apt, although it can’t reflect the full catalogue of adventures and characters included in the novel. We have the fabulous background of the gold mining town (already running out of gold at the time of the story), with plentiful but well-integrated historical detail; we have the day-to-day drudgery of living in an outpost of “civilization” (a term I use fairly loosely here); we have the animals (I love Buttercup, the fainting goat, and don’t ask me to explain, but I am also fond of the burros [donkeys in Spanish], and even the bear… No, I’m not explaining that either); we have a sheriff who is a gifted baker (the characters aren’t the only ones drooling over his confectionery); we have secret and newly found relatives all around; we have ill-fated love stories, and others that seemed impossible but work out; we have Dom and Millie’s children, Rachel (oh, she is infuriating but such a fabulously realistic character and I love her to bits), and Hosa (who wouldn’t worry about a Navajo boy who lost his family but only wants to go back and fight against the white men?)… And, of course, we have Dom and Minnie. Minnie is the main character, and although the story is told in the third person, we see everything from her point of view, and it is impossible not to like her. I particularly enjoyed the fact that she is not a modern heroin transplanted to the past. Although she has her own ideas, she also hesitates, tries her hardest to conform to the norms (down to using etiquette books and all), and feels conflicted about her desire to investigate and what she feels is her duty towards her husband and children, and she is not perfect. She is daring and determined, rushed at times, but she can also be frightened and even phobic about certain situations. She doubts her own skills as a mother and questions herself, and that made her a true character rather than a caricature for me. Dom, her husband, is again not perfect. He supports her, is patient with her, and understands her, but he is not beyond making mistakes, trusting people he shouldn’t, and even turning on her when he gets anxious or scared. Yes, they do fight, and yes, they do love each other. It feels like a real marriage, with two people trying their hardest to make everything work in their highly unconventional family.

I have already mentioned some of the things I really liked about this novel. I enjoyed the way the characters are created because even those who don’t play big parts are not simple cut-outs. They all have their personalities, their distinctive features, and they all keep us guessing. I also like the historical note the author includes at the beginning of the novel. I have read historical novels where I spent most of the time wondering how much of what I was reading was based on fact and how much was creative license. Here, the author covers that at the very beginning, before we start reading, and although in her acknowledgments she talks about her sources and her process of creation in more detail, we are in no doubt as to what we are reading.

I also enjoyed that, despite the many things going on throughout the novel, the actual investigation is never too far away from the centre of the action, and although, evidently, this is not a police procedural novel where everything is highly scientific and all the details are accounted for, if we take into account the era and where the action takes place, the murder mystery works well, and I loved the slightly bittersweet ending as well.

The writing is dynamic, flows well, and it combines inner reflection and observation on the part of Millie with plenty of action scenes, which keep us turning the pages. There are many amusing moments, some scary ones as well, and the dialogues bring the characters to life and make them jump out off the page truly realised. We also learn about gold mining and about the era, its social mores and the way daily life was organised. The knowledge and research the author has done and her talent in combining a cozy murder mystery with a historical novel portraying the life in the second half of the XIX century in the Territory of Colorado shines through. It’s a winner.

I don’t really dislike anything about the book; I can only say that I hope there will be further adventures, and we’ll get to know what happened to some of the other characters we’ve met here. I am happy there are previous novels I can catch up on as well.

In summary, this is a fantastic novel. It is funny, it is informative, it is full to the brim with unforgettable characters, it has plenty of adventures, it contains historical information about gold mining that never impedes the flow of the story, and it includes adventures and action scenes to satisfy those who prefer stories that keep moving along at a good pace. And a fairly solid, if cozy, mystery. There are threats, scary moments, and even violence, although not extreme, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good yarn. It’s solid gold.

Thanks to the author for this novel, thanks to Rosie and all the members of her team for their support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and always keep smiling and keep safe!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog HEARTLESS HETTE (HEARTH AND BARD TALES) by M. L. Farb (@FarbMl) A wonderful fairy tale about the power of laughter, magic, and stories #RBRT #fairytale

Hi all!

I bring you another one of the books from Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I loved it! Here it comes.

Heartless Hette by M. L. Farb

Heartless Hette by M. L. Farb

Come to Germania, where a clockwork heart rules and a fool advises–and a laugh can bring both to their knees.

When Princess Hette refuses a sorcerer’s proposal, he retaliates by stealing her heart—literally.

Desperate to resist his influence, Hette makes herself emotionless, stifling all feelings until she can find her heart and win it back. Only Konrad, the despised Court Fool, knows where to find the sorcerer, and he has his own curse to battle.

Riddles and magic plague their path, including a memory stealing witch, an unbeatable knight, and a magic book that would as soon drown them as lead them to their destination. Yet, if Hette can’t find the sorcerer in time, her heart will be the least of her losses.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B099YWX9VT/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B099YWX9VT/
https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B099YWX9VT/

Author M. L. Farb

About the author:
Ever since I climbed up to the rafters of our barn at age four, I’ve lived high adventure: scuba diving, hiking, climbing, and even riding a retired racehorse at full gallop—bareback. I love the thrill and joy.
Stories give me a similar thrill and joy. I love living through the eyes and heart of a hero who faces his internal demons and the heroine who fights her way free instead of waiting to be saved.
I create adventures, fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and poetry. I live a joyful adventure with my husband and six children. I am a Christian and I love my Savior.
https://mlfarbauthor.com/
https://www.amazon.com/M-L-Farb/e/B07TKYDNHD/

My review:
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.
I am not going to say this is not going to be a long review. I hope it isn’t, but I’m not very good at keeping reviews succinct, especially when I am enthusiastic. And I can tell you now, I loved this novel/fairy tale retelling. But I am decided not to make it heavy. I love fairy tales, and if you want to read about them from an academic or more analytical perspective, there are many books you could check. Among my favourites, I recommend Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy tales and, although it is a work on comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, because the quest motif features not only in mythology but also in fairy tales, and it is central to this story. But my review is just going to tell you why I had such a great time reading this novel.
The author explains where the idea for this story came from at the end of the book, and it was a combination of the dream of one of her sons and her own inspiration of combining it with a classic fairy tale, ‘The Princess Who Never Laughed’ (not one I’m very familiar with, although I think I might have read it once, a long time ago). There are multiple references to other fairy tales, mythological and magical beings, and objects throughout the story, and also true facts, inventions, and knowledge, and the author’s research shines through, although always at the service of the story and its many adventures. I do recommend reading all the back matter of the book because the author explains the meaning of the names of the characters; she shares some of her research (who knew CPR was so old?); and also includes some reflections about the story, which she calls “food for thought”, that would make great starting points for endless discussions at book clubs.
Retellings of all kinds of stories are all the rage, and retellings of fairy tales are quite popular as well. By choosing one of the, perhaps, not so mainstream fairy tales, Farb gives herself plenty of room for manoeuvre, and she makes great use of it. I love the characters. Hette is a favourite of mine, perhaps because we have much in common. No, I’m not a princess, and no, I don’t have a long queue of men knocking at my door, but her love of knowledge, her no-nonsense attitude, her determination to lead her own life, despite conventions, and her decision not to marry (precisely because she wants to be in charge of her future and her kingdom) spoke to me. She is not perfect, though. She is also rigid, lacks a sense of humour, is determined to not let her emotions rule her, and can appear cold and uncaring, but she is honest to a fault, and she discovers many things about herself and others by the end of the story. I also loved the other characters who accompany her in her quest: Konrad, the Fool (fools are always interesting, and he is one of the best); Demuth, a maid who is much more than that; Peter, a talking toad who is also more than a toad (of course). They all teach Hette the importance of friendship, help her learn to look beyond appearances, jobs, and titles, and to appreciate different types of knowledge and points of view.
There are many other wonderful beings and characters scattered throughout the books: sorcerers, witches, magical owls that love riddles, knights gone mad, Nereids, a wolf-man (not a werewolf as such, at least not your standard one), a Kobold (a German house spirit, a pretty naughty one in this case), and many more, but one of the things I most enjoyed in the story is how most of the characters are not cardboard cut-outs and simply good or bad, without nuances. Even the bad characters have depth and are not just “bad” but have their reasons and sometimes have survived pretty extreme experiences that go some way to help us understand the kinds of beings they are now. We also come across all kinds of magical objects and places (rivers of fire, mountains of ice, stone horses, books and sextants with their own ideas, mechanical hearts…), and of course, secrets, curses, and plenty of stories as well. In fact, the main story is framed by another one, like John, a new steward working at a rural estate is forced to attend a performance by a bard, a female bard, even though he thinks it’s a waste of time and nobody should be allowed to attend before all the “important work” is finished. By the end of the story, it seems John has plenty of food for thought of his own.
Apart from the wonderful characters, as you’ll probably have guessed from my comments about the other characters and magical objects, the quest Hette and her friends embark on sees them through many adventures, and anybody with a bit of imagination and a willingness to join these motley crew is likely to enjoy the wild ride, full of scary moments, puzzling events, riddles galore, difficult decisions, sacrifices, heartache, revelations, laughs, and plenty of moments that will make one think and wonder. In my opinion, this story is suitable for most ages (apart from perhaps very little children, although parents will be the best judges of that), and although there are scary moments, and the characters are put to the test, both physically and mentally (the challenges do take a toll on their health and their spirit as well) and suffer injuries and even violence, this is not out of keeping with the genre, or extreme and gore, and I think most older children would enjoy it.
The writing is beautifully descriptive, rich, and fluid; the pace of events is fast (and at some point we get an added ticking clock, so things accelerate even more), and the imagery is vivid and should capture most readers’ sense of wonder and imagination. You can check a sample if you want to make sure you’d enjoy the writing, but here go a few snippets:
“A promise is but the stomach’s wind after dinner, all stink and no substance.”
“Yes, many things are foolish to those who only see things in categories. But life doesn’t sort out so neatly.”
“Seeing paradoxes and allowing that something may be two things at once is one key to wisdom.”
“Who but fools can tell the truth to the great one? Priests are too timid and ministers too selfish.”
I’m sure you already guessed that, but in case you needed me to tell you, the story ends happily, and there is the promise of a short story with more adventures for the main characters coming up soon.
In summary, this is a delightful fairy tale for all ages, that works wonderfully even if you don’t know anything about the original story, full of heart, inspiring, funny, and packed with wonderful characters, all kinds of scary and challenging adventures, and a perfect ending. Recommended to all of those who are young at heart and love a story full of imagination, romance, and, especially, magic.

Thanks to Rosie and all the members of the group for their hard work and ongoing support, thanks to the author for this joyful experience, thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, sharing, and, please, remember to keep safe, and always keep smiling. 

 

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#Bookreview DEAD OF WINTER: Journey 7, Revenant Pass and Journey 8, The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Powers, new and old, connections, and a quest.

Hi all: Today I bring you the review of two more of the Journeys that comprise Dead of Winter. Hold on to your seats, because things are getting wild!

I am a fan of multi-talented Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, follow her blog (where she creates wonderful serials, with the participation of her readers), and have read several of her novels and novellas. She writes in a variety of genres (and she likes to experiment and combine those, rather than stick to the rules), but there are always elements of fancy, wonder, and magic weaved into her stories. Although I don’t usually read fantasy, I have no hesitation reading or recommending this series, even to people who aren’t that keen on the genre. I love the way she combines some unlikely and beautifully described settings with wonderful characters, playful dialogues (her love of research is legendary, and she always finds historically accurate words and long-forgotten expressions that delight readers), and highly imaginative storylines. No matter how many of her books you read, you’re bound to be surprised by her stories.

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. Http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

Dead of Winter Journey 7. Revenant Pass by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene 

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass begins with the ancient watcher’s memory of the Library of the Society of Deae Matres — and its fall. We also get a look into the thought process of treacherous Arawn. Then the story picks up where we left Emlyn and company, trapped in the Realm of the Dead.
This Journey is shorter than some, but adventure abounds. Some characters go missing. You’ll have to read to learn more.
Come, be a part of the Journeys.

Kindle:  relinks.me/B098MS8P48

Paperback:  relinks.me/B098GV1G5V

 

My review:

I was provided an early ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I am a fan of the author, I have read all the journeys in Dead of Winter so far and think the serial format suits the story well, because it builds up the characters, and the connections between them are revealed slowly, without overwhelming the readers. People who don’t have a lot of time to read don’t need to worry about getting too caught up in the story and not being able to stop. The author has chosen the length of the episodes and the perfect point to split up the novel, and we come to the end of each journey both satisfied with what happens and left wanting more.

This episode, although short, is very important, as we get to understand who Haldis —whom we knew as the Watcher in the early journeys— is (although we might have had our suspicions), and how her story links to that of the Deae Matres. It hints at what is to come, and it drags us even deeper into the story. Some of the connections and the links that we might have suspected are coming to the fore, and some of the questions we might have had are slowly getting answered.

We see things from the perspective of several characters (even the baddy), and we also get deeper into Emlyn’s thoughts, her doubts, her sensations, and that makes us empathise even more with her. She is quickly getting out of her shell and learning about other cultures and lifestyles, although she still doubts herself at times and wonders what her right place is and what the future holds in stock for her.

This journey includes some wonderful descriptions, as usual, and action scenes and scary moments aplenty. We are getting closer than ever to learning what happened in the past and discovering how that history is linked to the protagonists and the present. The warnings and the threats feel more urgent as well, and events seem to be speeding up. Characters disappear, mysteries abound, and there are many questions left answered.

I loved this journey, and I felt as if things were falling into place. I am in awe at the way everything is interconnected, and I can’t wait to learn what happens next. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long.

Just a reminder that this is a complete story split up into journeys, and readers need to read them in order to be able to follow the plot and fully appreciate its complexity. The author includes a list of characters and locations at the end, so even if it’s been some time since you read the previous journey, you can easily refresh your memory and pick up the story where you left off.

Recommended to anybody who loves great characters, beautiful writing (whatever their thoughts on fantasy), and imaginative stories, especially to those who appreciate shorter reads but like the idea of a serial.

Dead of Winter Journey 8. The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 8, The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Throughout the previous volumes the fantasy aspect of this epic has gradually built. In Journey 8, that fantastical element comes to the fore.
Emlyn and her companions search for the fabled Lost Library. The entire world is at risk, so they hope answers will be there. However, a new complication arises and the fate of one Deae Matres hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile Arawn, who tore the Veil between the worlds of the living and dead, tries to make an evil alliance with a long dead king who was known for his ruthlessness.
Remove the limits from your imagination and join Emlyn and company on this extraordinary adventure.
 

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09C6MPTYT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09C34XR7P

My review:

Journey 8 is a gripping one, as there are plenty of adventures, and we gain some fascinating insights into some of the characters’ backgrounds (already hinted at in Journey 7) and learn more about the history of the Deae Matres and the lost library of the title.

As the author tells us in her preface, this journey is slightly different in structure, as Haldis, the Watcher, has now become part of the action, and she is intriguing, to say the least. She becomes a guide to the rest of the characters, but she is unreliable, partly because she is old, and her memory is far from perfect, and partly, perhaps, because there are things she is keeping to herself.

Arawn, the baddiest of the bad, makes an appearance that puts an even darker spin on things, and although the Deae Matres are together again, things are not as they were before. Haldis promises there is a solution, but not everybody is convinced by her suggestion.

Three of the protagonists of the story embark on a quest, becoming seekers (I’m trying to avoid any spoilers), and what they find reminded me of some of the most imaginative and wonderful stories the author has come up with in her blog and in previous novels. She definitely delivers in her promise of fantastic elements. Her descriptions are eye-poppingly incredible and beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what else the trio will find.

Just a quick reminder that you need to read all the journeys in order, and it is easy to catch up on previous adventures as the author includes a list of characters and settings at the end that is updated with each installment, as relevant.

A magical read that is becoming more intense and intriguing as it goes. Unmissable.

Thanks to the author for keeping the story coming (it has become something to look forward to, and reliable as well), thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading, and about all, take care and stay safe. 

 

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#Bookreview DEAD OF WINTER: JOURNEY 2, PENLLYN by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) A must-read serial #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you the second journey in the new serial by one of my favourite authors and bloggers, Teagan Geneviene.

Dead of Winter Journey 2. Penllyn by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Journey 2, Penllyn picks up where the first installment, Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak stopped. The supernatural warning, “Winter is coming!” continues to haunt Emlyn. Her father has heard her utter those words, and he is displeased to say the least. In fact, her family situation in general is becoming more perilous.

As if visitations from ghosts weren’t enough, another entity has started coming to her. She isn’t sure whether he is a spirit or something else, but he gives her the same prophetic warning.

Now Emlyn’s father has begun to behave strangely.

Join Emlyn on this strange journey to the neighboring village of Penllyn. Try not to look over your shoulder…

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B08VMNSF97/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08VMNSF97/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08VMNSF97/

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

My review:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is one of the authors whose novels, novellas, blog posts, and serials —as is the case here— I’d put on my TBR list as soon as I hear about them. Sometimes I’ll even reserve a slot before they are published, because I know I’ll be in for a treat. Even when she publishes a work in a genre I don’t usually read, as is the case here, I don’t hesitate, because I know her characters and their adventures will capture my imagination, and she always takes good care of her readers, making sure that nobody can get lost or miss an important element of the story because of the way it is told.

After reading and reviewing Journey 1. Forlorn Peak in her serial Dead of Winter (you can check my review here), I had been eagerly waiting to read more of Emlyn’s story. Here, the young protagonist (only twelve years old) experiences further strange happenings (even for a girl who can see spirits), and goes through hopeful and exciting moments (visiting Penllyn, a much bigger village sounds promising, and at first she imagines her father might finally acknowledge all she had learned and want her help with the business), but also scary and disappointing ones (when she observes her father’s strange behaviour, she starts to wonder if he might be planning something quite different).

The trip to Penllyn introduces some interesting characters (I love the cook at the inn and her young helper), highlighting, at the same time, that not everybody is fond of the Brethern or particularly taken with their religion and rules, especially when it comes to their attitude towards women.

We also follow Zasha, Osabide’s niece and one of the Deae Matres’s members, and her protector/travelling companion, Tajín, and learn a bit more about them and the Deae Matres in the process, although this insight contrasts with Emlyn’s own —none too positive— brief second-hand experience of this intriguing group of women.

I enjoyed the narrative style, the way the plot is developing and adding more narratives and points of view to the story, layering the connections between the characters, the events, and the supernatural elements. There are compelling descriptions of people and places and numerous signs of wonders to come. The characters are growing in importance and complexity as well, as we get to know more about Emlyn’s world, a place fraught with danger and magic in equal measure.

The author has also included a cast of characters and locations, which she will keep adding on as the story progresses, which greatly assists readers in clarifying any possible doubts about who is who and how the different people and places are connected.

The only thing I don’t like is the fact that we’ll have to wait for a bit to get Journey three, but the advantage of getting the story in instalments is that it’s easy to fit it into our reading schedule, between two longer books, or even as a break from other activities. It is incredibly easy to get lost in this world, and I recommend this serial to anybody who enjoys a story beautifully told, with a dark and menacing undertone, and characters you’ll feel compelled to follow. Even if you’re not a big fan of fantasy, I recommend that you give it a try. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Thanks to the author for her story, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and above all, keep safe.

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DEAD OF WINTER: JOURNEY 1, FORLORN PEAK by Teagan Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) A great start to a beautiful and compelling fantasy serial

Hi all:

I bring you the review for a new story, or rather, the first “journey” of a new story by an author and blogger I’ve been following and reading for a while now, and whose work I’ve reviewed here on quite a few occasions. When she announced she’d be publishing Dead of Winter, I offered to share the news. I remembered she had mentioned the story to me (although I didn’t know the title or the ins and outs of it) years back and had told me she’d had to put it aside when she realised there was a central element to her story that also appeared in another series that had suddenly become very well-known and popular. She hadn’t been aware of it at the time of writing, and the stories were totally different, but she felt people might still question it. But, as a writer, and I’m sure many of you have experienced the same with personal projects, sometimes we can’t let go of certain things, because they keep haunting us, and Teagan has finally decided to publish it in instalments called “journeys” in this case.

I share my review of the first Journey, but I thought I’d borrow from her own presentation of the book, as she knows much more about it than I do. So first I share some of her own introduction and then follows my review.

Here, in Teagan’s own words:

Dead of Winter. Journey 1, Forlorn Peak by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak!

Dead of Winter will be a serial/series available through Amazon. (Maybe other sites as well, for the anti-Amazon among us.  If those sites cooperate, that is.  I have little patience for their shenanigans).

I call the installments Journeys, because the characters travel across the complex world I built, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. These journeys will publish approximately monthly.  Length will range from 30 to 60 pages, or so.

This is the new video trailer for Journey 1
Here’s the Blurb

Dead of Winter takes place in a fantasy world that resembles some countries in the past of our own world.  In this monthly series we travel through many lands, each with a distinct culture.  The series begins in the Flowing Lands at Forlorn Peak (Journey 1).

The Brethren are fanatics who gradually took over the Flowing Lands.  They say all beliefs but theirs are heresy.  Women are little more than property.  Emlyn is only twelve, but to the Brethren she is an abomination.  Why?  She can see ghosts and other entities.  That’s a secret she can admit only to her teacher, Osabide.

The stronger Emlyn’s ability gets, the harder it is for her to hide it.  Now she has also gotten a supernatural warning that she knows is not about the weather, “Winter is coming!

As the veil separating the world of the living from the realm of the dead deteriorates, the danger accelerates.  Journey with Emlyn as she explores her world and its many cultures in Dead of Winter.

Universal Purchase Links

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08RBBVRGX

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08R7RH4F5

Some of you have seen this video with me narrating the prologue, and thank you so much for listening.  It took half a bottle of throat spray, but I did it.  The recording lasts fewer than three minutes and there are lovely images to entertain you. If you haven’t already, then I hope you will stop to listen.

Just in case you don’t know Teagan, here is a bit more information about her:

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a major east coast city, but she calls the desert southwest home. She longs to return to those magical lands.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers.

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

And check her own blog here:

https://teagansbooks.com/

Here is a list of the blogs that are sharing the news as well, so you might want to visit them (not only because of that, but because they are more than worth a visit or many).
Pat Alderman at e-Quips

Wallace Peach at Myths of the Mirror

Robbie Cheadle at Roberta Writes

Dan Antion at No Facilities

John W. Howell at Fiction Favorites

Gwen Plano at Blog Reflections… From the Desk of Gwen Plano

Mark Bierman at Adventures on Writing

And now, my review:

I have followed the author’s blog and the writing she shares there for a few years, and have also read and reviewed her novels, and I love her imagination and the beauty of her writing, so I am grateful for the ARC copy of this first instalment (journey) of her new serial, which I freely and eagerly chose to review.

I am not a big reader of fantasy, especially “high fantasy”, because I don’t have the patience for the laborious world building involved, the huge amounts of description, and because I need a quick connection with a character, and characters I can relate to (I don’t have to like them, and they don’t have to be anything like me, but there has to be something that pulls me towards them and makes me want to follow their adventures). But I’ve read some fantasy set in worlds that felt fairly familiar or recognisable to me, and where the main characters grabbed my attention straight away. And this was the case here.

Emlyn is a young girl who doesn’t fit in the very narrow and limited definition of womanhood the Brethern have imposed over the Flowing Lands, where she lives. Although in this first journey there isn’t a lot of detail about that world order or the setting, it is clear that the Brethern are some kind of religious fanatics with extreme views (especially where women are concerned), and women are not allowed to learn anything other than how to look after the house, their husbands and their children, are supposed to wear only subdued colours and to hide their hair. Healers or other women suspected of having access to knowledge or who’ve behaved in a manner unbecoming, according to them, get banished or worse.

The society seems to be a pre-industrial one, but not all places are ruled the same, and we get glimpses at what might be a different way of life, although it’s very early days in the story.

I liked Emlyn, who is special in many ways as the blurb hints at, and whose coming-of-age journey seems to play a big part in the story (or so I hope), and I also liked Osabide, her teacher, who hides depths Emlyn is only now beginning to discover. She lives an alternative lifestyle and guides Emlyn through a difficult life, where her family is less than understanding, and there seem to be dangers even under her own roof.

The author’s writing is beautiful, and although I’m not a fan of description per se, she manages to conjure up the natural world surrounding Emlyn, as well as her own experiences, that have more than a touch of the magical and the mystical about them. Even though the story is written in the third person, we see things from the point of view of the protagonist, and we experience her wonder, her fear, and also her excitement at being in the company of women who have a different and less limiting view of the world.

There are characters I dislike already, like Emlyn’s sister and her brother-in-law (he’s a creep!), but I’m sure there will be plenty more, as the second journey promises to offer us a closer view at how things work in Emlyn’s world.

I enjoyed the writing, the characters, the setting of the story, and I’m already hooked onto the imaginary world Emlyn inhabits. There’s nothing I disliked about it, other than I’ll have to wait until the next journey is published to read more. This early in the serial I don’t want to mention other stories that it might put people in mind of (I’m looking at you, The Handmaid’s Tale), but I think most readers are likely to be reminded of past events and historical periods and also about more recent developments in certain societies when they read this journey. A great start to the serial, recommended to all who love fantasy, strong female characters, anybody looking for a short read, and also those who enjoy beautiful writing and want to be transported to an imaginary world where anything might be possible. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Teagan for taking me along on this journey, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep safe, keep smiling (from behind the mask), and come back soon!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog NO SECRET TOO SMALL. A Novel of Old New Mexico by Loretta Miles Tollefson. New Mexico historical fiction that confronts some painful truths #historicalfiction

Hi all:

I bring you a new book by an author I read last year for the first time. Recommended to readers of historical fiction.

No Secret too Small by Loretta Miles Tollefson

No Secret Too Small. A Novel of Old New Mexico by Loretta Miles Tollefson

A novel dedicated to all the world’s children caught in the cross fire of adult squabbles.

New Mexico, 1837. As New Mexico teeters on the verge of revolution, eight-year-old Alma’s family experiences an upheaval of its own. Ten years ago, her father, Gerald, chose not to tell her mother, Suzanna, that some of his ancestors were born in Africa. Now Alma’s mother has learned the truth.

Stunned and furious, Suzanna leaves the family’s mountain valley and takes Alma and her younger brother, Andrew, with her. Gerald allows the children to go because he believes they’ll be safer with their mother than with him in the mountains. However, as Suzanna, Alma, and Andrew reach Santa Fe, revolt breaks out and the children are exposed to sights no child should ever have to experience.

This trauma and the prejudice the children experience because of their heritage makes Alma long for home. But even if her mother can forgive past secrets, the way is now blocked by wintery weather and entrenched rebels. Will Alma’s family ever be reunited?

A heart-breaking yet ultimately triumphant story about secrets, prejudice, love, and the impact of adult conflict on our children.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K9DBCNC

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08K9DBCNC

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B08K9DBCNC

Author Loretta Miles Tollefson
    Author Loretta Miles Tollefson

About the author:

Loretta Miles Tollefson has been publishing fiction and poetry since 1975. (She’s not old–she started young!) Growing up in foothills of the Olympic Mountains in the log cabin her grandfather built and her father was born in led naturally to an interest in history and historical fiction. When she retired to the mountains of northern New Mexico, writing historical fiction set there was a logical result. The Moreno Valley Sketches books are the first in many planned books set there.

Before turning to historical fiction full time, Loretta wrote Crown of Laurel, a novel set in Seattle in the recession of the early 1980’s. Loretta holds a B.S. in Bible Education from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. This background informs her poetry collections Mary at the Cross: Voices from the New Testament and And Then Moses Was There: Voices from the Old Testament.

In the mid-1980’s, Loretta and her husband suffered the loss of their first child in the fifth month of pregnancy. Her poetry collection But Still My Child came out of that period and is designed to help others deal with the pain of miscarriage.

Loretta holds M.A.’s in Communication and in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. Most days, you’ll find her researching New Mexico history in the 1800’s and writing furiously. She publishes short historical fiction every week at LorettaMilesTollefson.Wordpress.com

https://www.amazon.com/Loretta-Miles-Tollefson/e/B00I47VVZ4?

https://lorettamilestollefson.com/

My review:

I discovered Loretta MilesTollefson’s writing through Rosie’s Book Review Team when I first read and reviewed one of the novels in the Old New Mexico series, Not My Father’s House  (you can read my review here). That was the second book that tells the story of Gerald Locke and his family. The series also includes short stories and microfiction set in the same territory during the XIX century, and also a novel based on real events, The Pain and the Sorrow. I loved the setting of the previous novel and the characters and thank the author for offering me an early ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review and enjoyed.

While the previous novel was set in the Moreno Valley, and we lived the life of mountain settlers, with its harshness, its dangers, its challenges, and also its moments of wonder and joy; this novel sees Suzanna and her two children (Alma and Andrew) move from town to town (from the Valley to San Fernando de Taos, to Chimayó and then to Santa Fe.  In the process, they get involved, although marginally, in the political upheaval of the era, coming into contact with both, rebels and supporters of the Mexican government, and witnessing some tragic events. And although their lives in the Valley weren’t easy, they soon discover that sometimes, hard work and stubbornness are not enough to ensure a decent living.

At the heart of the novel is a secret, something Gerald kept from Suzanna, although, to be fair, she insisted she didn’t need to know. The situation reminded me of one of Antonio Machado’s poems: ‘Dijiste media verdad. Dirán que mientes dos veces si dices la otra mitad.’ ‘You told half a truth. They’ll say you lie twice if you tell the other half.’ The secret (if you read the description carefully, you’ll find out what it is) involves the assumption that we are not all the same, and some are better than others just based on our ancestors and their origins/skin colour. Such prejudice is more deeply rooted than Suzanna realised (or wanted to acknowledge), and it challenges her own opinion of herself and others. Her beliefs and her attitude are put to the test while she is away, and she learns truths about herself that she does not like but ultimately make her stronger.

As was the case in the previous novel, we can find a mix of fictional and true historical characters, and the author provides a summary of historical events at the end, which help provide a more detailed background to the story, a glossary of terms (both Spanish and also English of the period), and also brief biographical notes on the real historical figures that appear in the text. Some of my old favourites from the previous novel appear as well: Ramon, although he stays behind for much of the action, Old One-Eyed Pete, the trapper, Old Bill, Gregorio García, and some new ones that I love as well, especially señora Ortega (who can appear grumpy, harsh, and keen to tell unpalatable truths, but also a fair and honest woman happy to give other women a chance), and Antonia García, the mother of Gregorio, who grabs a second chance when it comes her way.

The story is told in the third person in present tense, not a common choice, but one that works particularly well as we see things form the point of view of Alma, an eight years old girl forced to grow up far too quickly for her age. She tries hard to be strong, to do her part, and to support her mother and brother, even if she doesn’t agree with what her mother has done. I love Alma and she is easier to empathise with than her mother, whose behaviour is sometimes petulant, unreasonable and selfish. She puts her children and herself in danger, and although her husband is in the wrong as well, her stubbornness drives her too far. Having read the previous novel, and knowing how hard Suzanna had to fight to survive in the valley, and the horrific experiences she went through, make her disappointment and her inflexible attitude easier to understand, although not so much some of the deep (and perhaps even not fully conscious) reasons behind it.  The fact that others in her life don’t dare oppose her or prefer to let her do and keep the peace could have had dire consequences, for her and the children, although, of course, nobody realised how quickly the political situation would deteriorate, or how hard making a living would be for a mother of two on her own. (Or they underestimated Suzanna’s stubbornness).

The author manages to provide a strong sense of the setting, the historical period, and the customs and traditions of the era without overdoing the descriptions or disrupting the action. The story flows and ebbs, as does life, and we have quiet moments, of routine, work, and everyday life, but the three main protagonists (Suzanna, Alma, and Andrew) also travel, are exposed to dangers, and are shocked and traumatised by the violence around them. We learn about weaving, about life in the New Mexico of the late 1830s, and about the prejudices of the period. Unfortunately, some things don’t change, but at least the main characters in the novel learn from their mistakes. One can but wish the same would happen in real life in the here and now.

The ending is satisfying, and I am sure all readers will enjoy it. I don’t know if we’ll hear more about the Locke family and their adventures, but, somehow, I know they’ll be all right.

I think readers who get to this story without having read the rest of the series will be able to connect with the characters and follow their adventures without too much difficulty, although it will be easier to understand the motivations and appreciate more fully the relationships and the background to the story for those who have read the other two novels related to the Lockes’ (and I hope to catch up on Not Just Any Man at some point in the future). Although we don’t witness any violent acts directly, there are scenes illustrating the consequences of the violence bound to be upsetting for some readers of the book, and prejudice and racism are an important theme, so prospective readers need to take that into consideration when deciding if this might be the book for them. As I usually say, it is worth checking a sample of the book to see if the voice and the narrative style is a good fit for those thinking about purchasing it.

I recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction keen to learn about a little-known period of the history of the United States, to those interested in the life of pioneer women, and also any readers looking for a story that is as relevant and inspiring. And the bonus is that there are other books in the series for those who enjoy this one.

Thanks to the author for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep safe (and smiling)!

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by Aimee Alexander (@aimeealexbooks) A feel-good, heart-warming, and moving read #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you another book I’ve reviewed for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and loved it.

Season of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

Season of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

When leaving is just the beginning… The long-awaited novel of family, love and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a very real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the children adapt to life in a small rural community? Can she live up to the doctor her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is Grace’s story. It’s also the story of a community that chooses the title “Young Doctor Sullivan” for her before she even arrives. It’s the story of Des, who served the villagers all his life and now feels a failure for developing Parkinson’s disease. And it’s the story of struggling teens, an intimidating receptionist, a handsome American novelist escaping his past, and a dog called Benji who needs a fresh start of his own.

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwife, Virgin River, Doc Martin, The Durrells and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086M7K4WX/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086M7K4WX/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B086M7K4WX/

Author Aimee Alexander

About the author:

Aimee Alexander is the pen name of the award-winning, #1 Amazon best-selling, Irish author Denise Deegan. She writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing.

Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur.

Join Aimee’s Newsletter to Receive:
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To sign up, copy and paste this link into your browser’s address bar: http://eepurl.com/-II1X

Visit Aimee’s website on: http://www.aimeealexanderbooks.com

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is another great find by Rosie and although I wasn’t familiar with the author (who also publishes under her real name, Denise Deegan), I’m convinced this won’t be the last time I read one of her books.

The description of the book does a good job of highlighting the main aspects of the plot: we have Grace, a woman escaping a difficult and dangerous marriage, with her teenage children, Jack and Holly, hopeful that returning back to the village where she grew up will offer them all a second chance. There awaits her father, Des, who is going through a major change in his life (he’s a recently retired family doctor suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s disease) and doesn’t know the ins and outs of Grace’s decision. Moving from Dublin to a small and sleepy village comes as a shock to Grace’s children, and she finds it difficult to confront the gossip and the expectations of having to step into her father’s shoes. But, this novel about second chances builds up slowly and we see that although not everything is ideal and there are misunderstandings and difficulties to be ironed out, Killrowan, the place and its community, is a place worth sticking with.

The novel touches on a variety of themes: abusive marriages and family relationships (and how difficult it is to walk out); starting over in a different place, picking up friendships and relationships, and rebuilding one’s life; the struggles of dealing with a chronic and debilitating illness; how much one’s self-identity can be enmeshed with our profession and our job; the differences between a big city and a small village; being a family doctor in a rural/village location; how teenagers feel when they have to move and be uprooted from school, friends…; the role animals play in helping us fit in a place and feel rooted; small community life, with hits highs and lows; and even a hint of possible romance(s). There are funny moments, plenty of heart-warming episodes, some scary and nasty shocks as well, some sad and touching stories, and even medical emergencies and action scenes thrown in. In her acknowledgements, the author highlights the process of her creation and her research and having read the novel, I can confirm that it has paid off. She manages to weave all the topics into a novel that brings the characters and the village to life, and I was delighted to read that she is thinking about a sequel. I’d love to go back to Killrowan and revisit the places and the characters that have also become my friends.

Alexander creates multi-dimensional characters easy to relate with. Grace doubts herself and is forever questioning her actions and doubting other people’s motive. Her self-confidence has suffered after years of being undermined and abused by her husband, and she feels guilty for uprooting her family, while at the same time experiencing the thrill of freedom. The novel is written in deep third person and allows us to see the action from different points of view. Grace’s point of view dominates the book, although we also see what her father, Des —another fantastic character who treads carefully and whose life suddenly regains a meaning when his daughter and grandchildren come to live with him— thinks and does, how both of Grace’s children, Jack and Holly, feel, faced with a completely different environment (Jack was the popular sporty type, while Holly had a hard time fitting in and had no friends other than her dog). We meet some fantastic characters in the community, like the scary (at least at first) receptionist at the doctor’s surgery; the butcher’s wife (a gossip with a big heart); Grace’s old pals, Alan (with some secrets of his own) and Ivonne; Benji, a wonderful dog that adopts the family; a handsome American writer; the wife of a local magnate (who reminds Grace of herself); Des’s old love; the local policeman; Grace’s partner at the doctor’s surgery and some of her patients, although not everybody is nice, don’t worry. We also get brief snippets of the events from some of the other character’s perspectives, not only the Sullivans, and that gives us access to privileged information at times. Although the different characters’ points of view aren’t separated by chapters, they are clearly differentiated, and I experienced no confusion while reading, quite the opposite. I enjoyed the opportunity to share in the bigger picture.

The writing style is fluid and flows well, without rushing us through the events, allowing us time to reflect upon events, enjoy the wonderful settings (the sea, the beach, the island, the pub…) and become acquainted with the location, the emotions, and the characters. The author knows well the area, and although Killrowan doesn’t exist (or, at least I couldn’t find it), it feels real (and some of the comments and attitudes Grace and her family experience reminded me of similar events I had witnessed in a small village I used to visit when I was younger) and it leaps from the pages. I confess to enjoying the style of the writing and feeling emotionally engaged with the story (I’d recommend having tissues handy). I’ve selected a couple of quotes to share, but as usual, readers might want to check a sample of the book to see if it suits their taste before purchasing it.

Here Grace is thinking about the family dog and how his death gave her the strength to finally leave her husband.

Benji was more than a dog. He was family. And her defender. Tiny little ball of fur rushing to the rescue. Or trying. Tiny little ball of fur that brought so much comfort to all three of them, Holly especially. Benji knew when they needed love and he gave it in spades.

Here Des is thinking about retirement.

What fool started the tradition of watches as retirement presents? Any thinking person would know that the last thing a man would want is to count all the time he now has on his hands.

Holly had just told her brother that their mother wanted to start over, and Grace realises her daughter is right.

Minutes ago, it had been to escape Simon, shake him off. But escaping Simon is still all about Simon. Grace sees that now. What she must do is start over. Because that is about Grace.

The ending is more than satisfying as well. Yes, not everything is settled and sorted in the end, but this is a book about new beginnings, and we leave the Sullivans and Killrowan to carry on merrily, getting to know each other and discovering what new changes and challenges life will bring. As I mentioned above, the author hints at a possible sequel, and I hope it comes to be.

This is a novel full of heart, friendship, a strong sense of community, and also heartache and personal growth. It is inspiring and comforting in these times when we have been obliged to live pretty enclosed lives. I agree with the TV series mentioned in the description (Call the Midwife one of my favourites), and I’m sure fans of any of those will enjoy this novel, which fits perfectly in the feel-good category, although that does not mean it hides from the most unsavoury aspects of life. There are menacing and dark moments, none too explicit, and I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys stories with a heart, fond of Ireland and stories with an Irish background, and those who want a gentle read full of wonderful characters and a memorable community we’d all be happy to join.

Thanks to Rosie and all her team for their support, thanks to the author for her wonderful novel, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, and keep reading, smiling, and always stay safe!

 

 

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview #TheGlassHouse by Eve Chase (@EvePollyChase) (@PenguinUKBooks) A totally immersing and wonderful reading experience

Hi all:

I bring you a book that I’ve enjoyed by an acclaimed author I hadn’t had a chance to read yet but has now become a favourite.

The Glass House by Eve Chase

The Glass House by Eve Chase

PRE-ORDER THE STUNNING NEW MYSTERY ABOUT OLD FAMILY SECRETS FROM THE AUTHOR OF BLACK RABBIT HALL AND THE VANISHING OF AUDREY WILDE

‘A captivating mystery: beautifully written, with a rich sense of place, a cast of memorable characters, and lots of deep, dark secrets’ Kate Morton, bestselling author of The Clockmaker’s Daughter

Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners.

Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds.

And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.

Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

From the author of Black Rabbit Hall, The Glass House is an emotional, thrilling book about family secrets and belonging – and how we find ourselves when we are most lost.

‘I adored this beautifully-written, riveting mystery’ Rosie Walsh, bestselling author of The Man Who Didn’t Call

‘Absolutely her best yet’ Lisa Jewell, bestselling author of The Family Upstairs

‘So beautifully and insightfully written, with characters I grew to love. A compelling, moving story that kept me turning the pages right to the very last’ Katherine Webb, author of The Legacy

Praise for Eve Chase

‘Enthralling’ Kate Morton

‘Simply stunning’ Dinah Jefferies

‘The most beautiful book you will read this year’ Lisa Jewell

https://www.amazon.com/Glass-House-Eve-Chase-ebook/dp/B07VRY3DBN/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glass-House-Eve-Chase-ebook/dp/B07VRY3DBN/

https://www.amazon.es/Glass-House-Eve-Chase-ebook/dp/B07VRY3DBN/

Author Eve Chase

About the author:

I’m an author who writes rich suspenseful novels about families – dysfunctional, passionate – and the sort of explosive secrets that can rip them apart. I write stories that I’d love to read. Mysteries. Page-turners. Worlds you can lose yourself in. Reading time is so precious: I try to make my books worthy of that sweet spot.

My office is a garden studio/shed. There are roses outside. I live in Oxford with my three children, husband, and a ridiculously hairy golden retriever, Harry.

Do say hello. Wave! Tweet me! I love hearing from readers. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @EvePollyChase and on Facebook, eve.chase.author.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eve-Chase/e/B01AKOSDWW

My review:

Thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. This is the first time I’ve read one of Eve Chase’s novels, and I’m sure it won’t be the last one as I found it a totally immersing and wonderful experience.

The plot has something of the fairy tale (or of several fairy tales), as this is a dual-timeline story where we read about some events that took place in the early 1970s —although that part of the action (in fact, the whole book) has something timeless about it— and then others that are taking place in the present. The story is told from three different points of view, those of Rita (told in a deep third person, as readers are privy to her feelings and thoughts), a very tall nanny (they call her ‘Big Rita’) with a tragic past; Hera, one of her charges, an intelligent and troubled child (almost a teen), who is more aware of what is truly going on around her than the adults realise; and Sylvia, a recently separated woman, mother of an eighteen-year-old girl, Annie, and trying to get used to an independent lifestyle again. Both, Hera and Sylvia, tell the story in the first person, and the chapters alternate between the three narrators and the two timelines. Rita and Hera’s narratives start in the 1970s and are intrinsically linked, telling the story of the Harrington family and of a summer holiday in the family home in the Forest of Dean, intended as a therapeutic break for the mother of the family, which turns up to be anything but. Most readers will imagine that Sylvia’s story, set in the present, must be related to that of the other two women, but it is not immediately evident how. There are secrets, mysteries, adultery, murders, lost and found babies, romance, tragedy, accidents, terraria (or terrariums, like the lovely one in the cover of the book), cruelty, fire… The book is classed under Gothic fiction (and in many ways it has many of the elements we’d expect from a Victorian Gothic novel, or a fairy tale, as I said), and also as a domestic thriller, and yes, it also fits in that category, but with a lot more symbolism than is usual in that genre, a house in the forest rather than a suburban or a city home, and some characters that are larger than life.

Loss, grief, identity (how we define ourselves and how we are marked by family tradition and the stories we are told growing up), the relationship between mothers and daughters, and what makes a family a family are among the themes running through the novel, as are memory and the different ways people try to cope with trauma and painful past events.

I’ve mentioned the characters in passing, and although some of them might sound familiar when we start reading about them (Rita, the shy woman, too tall and scarred to be considered attractive, who seeks refuge in other people’s family; Hera, the young girl growing in a wealthy family with a mother who has mental health problems and a largely absent father; and Sylvia, a woman in her forties suddenly confronted with having to truly become an adult when both, her mother and her daughter need her), there is more to them than meets the eye, and they all grow and evolve during the novel, having to confront some painful truths in the process. I liked Rita and Sylvia from the beginning, even though I don’t have much in common with either of them, and felt sorry for Hera. Although the events and the story require a degree of suspension of disbelief greater than in other novels, the characters, their emotions, and their reactions are understandable and feel real within the remit of the story, and it would be difficult to read it and not feel for them.

I loved the style that offers a good mix of descriptive writing (especially vivid when dealing with the setting of the story, the forest, Devon, and the terrarium) and more symbolic and lyrical writing when dealing with the emotions and the state of mind of the characters. At times, we can almost physically share in their experiences, hear the noises in the woods, or smell the sea breeze. This is not a rushed story, and although the action and the plot move along at a reasonable pace, there is enough time to stop to contemplate and marvel at a fern, the feel of a baby’s skin, or the music from a guitar. This is not a frantic thriller but a rather precious story, and it won’t suit people looking for constant action and a fast pace. I’ve read some reviews where readers complained about feeling confused by the dual timelines and the different narrators, although I didn’t find it confusing as each chapter is clearly marked and labelled (both with mention of the time and the character whose point of view we are reading). I recommend anybody thinking about reading the book to check a sample first, to see if it is a good fit for their taste.

The ending… I’m going to avoid spoilers, as usual, but I liked the way everything comes together and fits in. Did I work out what was going on? Some of the revelations happen quite early, but some of the details don’t come to light until much later, and the author is masterful in the way she drops clues that we might miss and obscures/hides information until the right moment. I guessed some of the points, others I only realised quite close to the actual ending, but, in any case, I loved how it all came together, like in a fairy tale, only even better.

This is a novel for readers who don’t mind letting their imagination fly and who are not looking for a totally realistic novel based on fact. With wonderful characters, magnificent settings, many elements that will make readers think of fairy tales, and a Gothic feel, this is a great novel and an author whose work I look forward to reading again in the near future.

Thanks to the publisher, NetGalley, and the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling. And keep safe!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog LITTLE TEA by Claire Fullerton (@cfullerton3) Recommended to lovers of Southern literature and beautiful writing #Bookreview

Hi all:

I bring you a review of a book just published at the end of last week by an author I’ve read great things about. Even before its publication, the novel has gained plenty of attention:

The Pulpwood Queens (780 book club chapters) August book selection

Finalist in the Faulkner Society’s William Wisdom International book competition

It’s currently a finalist in the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset Awards for literary and contemporary fiction

And now, without further ado…

Little Tea by Claire Fullerton

 Little Tea by Claire Fullerton

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship. For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia revisits the life she’d tried to outrun. As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

Here are 3 of Little Tea’s 7 Book endorsements:

Claire Fullerton skillfully draws us into a lost world of Southern traditions and norms where past tragedies cast long, dark shadows on present-day lives, and no one ever truly escapes.

Cassandra King, author of The Same Sweet Girls* 

“Claire Fullerton once again delivers an emotional, lyrical tale and proves she’s a writer to watch.”

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

Claire Fullerton’s unique, lovely story brings the reader a triple bonus — the sense of home, history, and compassion delivered in abundance. Her characters sizzle with personality.  This is the Old South butting heads with Today. Fullerton’s book Little Tea shows us there is hope for the future.

Val MacEwan: Editor of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Tea-Claire-Fullerton/dp/1645262596/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0817J667Y/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0817J667Y/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B0817J667Y/

Author Claire Fullerton

Biography

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, A Portal in Time, and a contributor to A Southern Season with her Novella, Through an Autumn Window. Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency. She is a featured author with  Novel Network and a two-time featured author of The Pulpwood Queens.

https://www.clairefullerton.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton

My review:

I received an ARC copy of this novel, pre-release, from the author, which I freely chose to review. This has in no way affected my opinion.

I have never read any of the author’s previous books, but I’ve read many positive reviews, and I couldn’t let the opportunity of reading this novel pass me by, especially because of the setting of the story in the American South, as I’m a fan of Southern literature.

The story centres on Celia Wakefield from old Southern Mississippi stock whose family has a cotton farm (no longer called cotton plantations) although now they spend most of their time in the city, Memphis. She is the narrator of the story (in the first person), and a phone call from one of her best friends (Renny, Ava and her became friends in college and have remained in touch through the years, even though now they all live far away and don’t see each other as much as they’d like) sets the action in motion. The three friends reunite to help Ava, who is facing a family crisis. At Renny’s lake house, in Arkansas, they renew their friendship, talk about life, and can’t help but remember the past. As a consequence, the chapters alternate, some set in the present, and others in the 1980s when Celia was a young girl. We learn about Little Tea, Celia’s friend, the daughter of an African-American family who’d always lived in the Wakefield’s farm and worked there. She is determined, a great runner, and one of Celia’s brothers becomes her trainer and encourages her to explore her opportunities. But this is the Deep South, and old social rules and mores still apply, especially when it comes to race. The story builds up slowly, and the present struggles Ava is going through in her relationship highlight not only the different approaches and personalities of the three women but also how the past influences our decisions and our take on life.

The novel deals with many themes: friendship (and the relationship between the three women feels genuine. There are the shared jokes, the strong bonds, the understanding without saying a word, and also the willingness to leave everything and do an intervention to help a friend in need, even if the other women might not agree with her behaviour), first love, family relationships, memory and the past (can we truly run away from it?), identity and family tradition (how much should we sacrifice to keep the family’s reputation intact? Can we choose who we are and break completely free from our family roots?), race relations, tragedy and mourning among others. Although we see all of this through Celia’s eyes and reflections, the separate timelines and her own hindsight allow us to read between the lines and to perceive things than young Celia wasn’t aware of (or tried not to see). This is achieved in very subtle ways, and although the sphere of the story feels quite intimate and domestic, some of the themes it discusses are neither lightweight not easy.

Fullerton creates a varied palette of characters, and I think most readers are likely to identify with one of the three friends (personally, I think I’d get on with Renny best of all, the determined and practical one), who fit in well together because they are quite different but compatible. Little Tea and her family (to a lesser extent) are wonderful characters, and Celia’s family is made up of a variety of personalities and individuals, some likeable and some not, some larger than life, and others quite nasty, but they all are fully achieved and, like them or not, come to life in the story. There are others (Tate, Mark, and some of the other young men in the story, relatives…), and although we learn less about them, we still get to see them from Celia’s perspective and they play their part, both in the past and in the present. I kept thinking about Tennessee Williams and some of his more memorable characters as I read this novel. His mastery at depicting Southern family life and stripping it back to the bone in his plays is something Fullerton also excels at, although her approach is more understated.

I know some readers don’t appreciate stories written in the first-person, and I seem to be reading plenty of these at the moment, but the writing is beautiful, lyrical, and it makes readers experience everything, from the heat to the excitement of the first love, and from the smell of the food to the disappointment and pain when life takes an unexpected and cruel turn. The story is preciously observed and told, and it will not suit impatient readers who prefer matter-of-fact writing, with only the most basic descriptions strictly necessary to help move the story forward and short sentences that rarely meander along. There are also plenty of airy and fun moments, especially when the friends are joking and having fun, and those allow readers to have a bit of a break from the most intense and soul-searching parts of the story. The author also uses Southern expressions and vernacular to good effect and this adds to the atmosphere of the novel. I have highlighted plenty of the text, and it’s difficult to choose a sample, but I’ll try (remember that I had access to an ARC copy and the final text might have undergone some minor changes):

Nostalgia has selective memory; it softens the heart and strips the details to leave you with what should have been instead of what was.

Combined, we were a girl complete. Separately, we were inchoate and in need of each other, like solitary pieces of a clock that were useless until assembled, but once assembled, kept perfect time.

Happiness seemed to me to be little more than intermittent highlights that faded to memory like the light of a burned-out star. And what’s more, in the times I thought I had happiness by the handle, I discovered that, all along, there were subterranean forces plotting to tell the rest of the story.

I don’t want to discuss the ending in detail, because I want to avoid spoilers, although there is a big twist at the end. I saw it coming, and I wasn’t particularly convinced by it (in my opinion it would have worked fine for a short story but not so much here), but many readers have liked it and it does not detract from the rest of the novel.

In summary, this is a novel beautifully written and observed, and I’d recommend it to readers who are looking for stories with complex female characters, especially those who love stories set in the South, and to fans of Southern writers such as William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams, although Fullerton has a lightness of touch that is all her own. A great author to follow, and one I hope to read again in the future.

Thanks to the author for her book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, copy, click, review, and keep smiling and keep safe.

Categories
Blog Tour Book launch Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog #DREAMLAND by Nancy Bilyeau (@EndeavourQuill)(@Tudorscribe)A wild ride for lovers of historical fiction, amusement parks, and great female protagonists #Blogtour

Hi all!

Here I am participating in a blog tour for a book by an author that has featured before on my blog and who’s become a favourite of mine.

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeu

DREAMLAND by Nancy Bilyeau

‘Achingly believable’ – Publishers Weekly

‘This fast-paced, engrossing novel from Bilyeau… gives readers an up-close and personal view of New York’s Gilded Age’ – Library Journal

‘Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Dreamland is a rollicking ride.’ – Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

‘A marvelous book!’ – Ellen Marie Wiseman, bestselling author of What she Left Behind and The Life she was Given

‘Bilyeau is at the height of her talents in the immersive and gripping Dreamland‘ – Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author

‘Bilyeau’s thrilling novel plunges deep into Dreamland’s maze of pleasure and menace’ – Marlowe Benn, bestselling author of Relative Fortunes

‘Nancy Bilyeau’s passion for history infuses her books’ – Alison Weir

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating, and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class, and dangerous obsession.

What readers are saying about Dreamland…

If you enjoyed Downton Abbey and want something from that time, set in the US, but with a delicious murder mystery thrown in, you will love this book.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 *s

“I loved everything about this book and I will definitely look for more to read by Bilyeau! I enjoyed the pacing and character development so much and completely got wrapped up in the story.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 *s

“This suspenseful tale has every element of success: murder, deceit, love, corruption, perseverance, obsession, and redemption. A book that will keep you up at night rushing to the end but that will leave you wanting more once you’re finished.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 *s

http://geni.us/Kvfg9z

Here in Goodreads.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47812578-dreamland

Author Nancy Bilyeau. Credit Joshua Kessler

About the author:

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the historical thrillers “The Blue” and “Dreamland” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry.” She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada.

In “The Blue,” Nancy drew on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied History at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to “Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Bilyeau/e/B005XPJYDG/

You can read about the story behind this book and what inspired the author to write it in this blog post:

http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-journey-to-writing-my-novel.html

My review:

I thank the publisher, Endeavour Quill, for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for the launch of this book and for providing me an ARC copy of it, which I freely chose to review. This has in no way influenced my opinion.

I recently read and reviewed Bilyeau’s novel The Blue (you can check my review here) and loved it so much that I did not hesitate when I got an invitation to read her new novel and join the blog tour. Like the previous one, this book also successfully combines history with intrigue, adventures, mystery, a fantastic cast of characters, and a heroine who is trying to find her own way amid a society in turmoil due to changes in the status-quo and to international historical events.

As the description explains, the novel is set in New York and Coney Island in the summer of 1911. Peggy Batternberg, the protagonist (the author explains that she was inspired by the historical figure of Peggy Guggenheim when she created her main character), belongs to the upper class, although as she observes, her family is only a couple of generations away from very humble origins as immigrants, and they would not have figured among the very select of society a few years earlier. They are also Jewish (not very religious), and although their money protects them from the worst of prejudice and antisemitism, that does not mean it does not exist, as the novel exposes time and again. She is trying to lead her own life as a modern woman, but her family’s power and influence, and society’s double standards of morality for men and women make it difficult for her to break completely free, and she ends up having to leave her job at a bookstore and spend the summer holiday at a posh hotel near Coney Island. Of course, although the hotel is very close to the three amusement parks, including the Dreamland of the title, the clientele of both are separated by the chasm of money and social class.

Peggy is a fascinating character. She is very young, determined, and contradictory at times. She is strong but naïve, passionate and rushed, headstrong and totally unrealistic. She tries to be practical and become independent from her family, but she acknowledges that much of what she does is only possible because she has the support of her family, and she does not have to rely solely on her salary, like her colleagues at work. She lost her father when she was young, and she is aware of the kind of hypocritical behaviour the males of her family engage in, but no matter how she struggles against it, she is still trapped by the morality of the period. Following some fairly traumatic experiences with men of her own class (and the male sense of entitlement —especially of men of a certain class— runs through the novel as a theme, and unfortunately recent events only prove that things haven’t changed as much as we might like to think), it is unsurprising that she feels attracted to an artist, a futurist painter, a foreigner, and somebody who is genuinely interested in her as a person, and not as a rich heiress. I am not a fan of love at first sight (or insta-love) stories, but considering what we know of the character and of her circumstances, it is easy to understand the attraction, and let’s say that I was quite reconciled to it by the end of the story. The character is forced to question herself and her motives more than once throughout the novel, and she does grow and develop as a result.

The story is told, almost in its entirety, in the first person, from Peggy’s point of view, but there are many other characters that create a rich tapestry of both, the wealthy upper-class society of the era (there are some real historical characters that make brief guest appearances as well), and also the working class, the underclass, and the artists working at the fair. The author paints a clear picture of the Batternberg family, its power structure, the differences between male and female roles within the dynasty, and it makes for a sobering and absorbing read, especially because over the course of the story, Peggy discovers things are even worse than she thought, and the web of deceit, secrets, and false appearances is woven thick. The fact that this people of loose morals look down upon hardworking individuals without a second thought is highlighted by the murders that take place in close proximity to the hotel, and how nobody (other than Peggy) seems to care about the victims or their relatives, only about preventing anything from disturbing the elegant guests. By contrast, some of the lower-class characters, that have the most to lose if things go wrong, go out of their way to help, even at a serious personal cost.

I must admit to being quite taken by some of the secondary characters that appear in the story, and in many cases, I’d love to know more about them (the whole of Lilliput scene is amazing; Madame Kschessinska is very intriguing; the police detective; Stefan, of course; and what to say about Ben, Peggy’s cousin, a real puzzle), but I agree with many of the reviewers and Lydia, Peggy’s sister, is a favourite of mine as well. She knows her own mind, she is supportive of her sister, and she grows in strength and maturity through the story. With her like with most things and characters in the story, appearances can be deceptive.

The historical background is well achieved, and I loved the descriptions of Coney Island, the seaside hotels, the fast trains, the clothes, the incubators, the art, the buildings… It felt as if I was peering into that era, and even experiencing the heat, tasting the food, and joining in the rides. The descriptions don’t overwhelm the story but help create a realistic setting and increase our understanding of what the period and the place were like. This is a work of fiction, and although some characters and events are recreated, the novel does not claim to historical accuracy (in fact, Dreamland was no longer functioning in the summer of 1911), but I have no doubt that it will encourage readers to learn more about the period and about Coney Island.

As for the mystery side of things… There are red-herrings; there is misdirection, and several suspects, as it pertains to the genre. There is a fair amount of action, surprises, scares, and Peggy’s turn as an amateur detective is fraught with risk. Although she is neither experienced nor particularly skilled as an investigator, she makes up for it with her determination, persistence, and a good nose for choosing her collaborators. This part of the story is the one that requires a greater suspension of disbelief, but the novel is not intended to be a police procedural, and the intrigue fits well into the overall story arc and will keep readers turning the pages at a good speed.

I have already talked about the issue of gender and gender politics that is explored in the novel. Although things were moving and women were fighting for the vote, it was not easy, and if it was hard for privileged women to have a say on how their lives should be run, for working-class women it could get positively dangerous, when not lethal. The author also explores the issue of migration, the suspicion towards foreigners (despite the melting-pot mythos of the United States society), the prejudice of society and authorities towards newcomers, and this is also linked to international politics (and, of course, we readers know that the situation was about to get much worse and it would result in World War I). These subjects are well integrated into the fabric of the novel, elevating it beyond the typical historical adventure romp, and they make comparisons to current historical events unavoidable.

The writing style is compelling, with beautiful descriptions combined with a great skill in making us feel and experience the events first-hand, and a good pace, alternating between action and more contemplative scenes, without ever stalling the flow.

I’ve read some reviews that complain about the ending being somewhat rushed and sudden. It speaks to the skill of the author the fact that we don’t want the story to end, and although there are elements of it that I think could have been further developed, overall I enjoyed the ending, especially because it isn’t a conventional one.

In sum, I enjoyed the wild ride that is Dreamland. I wish I could have visited the real one, but lacking that opportunity, this is a close and satisfying second best. I congratulate the author for this great novel, and I look forward to the next.

Thanks to the publishers, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share if you know anybody who might be interested. Oh, and in case you want to follow the blog tour…

Keep reading and smiling!

 

 

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