Book Review and Blog Tour: The Spirited Mrs. Pringle

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Upon the death of her husband, self-involved social climber Cora Pringle assumes her recent dalliance with a wealthy gentleman will be her second chance at a happily ever after. That is until her paramour turns out to be a penniless imposter. Despite his betrayal, Cora can’t quite let go of the tug the handsome playwright has on her heart.

Desperate for an income, Cora becomes a séance-performing spiritualist and gets a taste for celebrity—and it’s so delicious. So what if she can’t actually communicate with the dead? Her eager patrons don’t need to know that.

Amelia Baxter, an ambitious journalist and suffragist, is discouraged when her editor refuses to let her cover the horrific Jack the Ripper murders. Instead, Amelia pours her frustrations into bringing Cora’s deceptive and manipulative act to an end, even if it means risking her family’s reputation.

“Like the most memorable of its vividly drawn characters, The Spirited Mrs. Pringle is clever, lively, and unabashedly entertaining. Perhaps most enjoyable of all is the seemingly endless series of surprises. A string of sometimes astonishing pleasures to the last page.” – Award-Winning Author Leo McKay Jr.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | KOBO

BOOK REVIEW

The Spirited Mrs. Pringle is a witty, fun, and engaging look at a woman thrown into hard times in Victorian London, the way she rises to fame, and the lessons she learns along the way. It is also the story of a reporter, Amelia Baxter, who is hot on Cora Pringle’s heels, determined to rip away the facade, no matter what the cost. The characters jump off the page, and the reader is caught up immediately in the wit, sarcasm, and romance. The cunning and ambitious Cora Pringle is a manipulative delight of a character who is surrounded by a superb cast. Fans of Victorian romance with a clever twist will not want to pass this up.

I received a free copy of this book via HFVBT Blog Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Book Tour and Q&A With Author Wes Verde: Jalopy

Jalopy by Wes Verde

Publication Date: May 9, 2021 Paperback & eBook; 499 pages Genre: Historical Fiction     New Jersey, 1928. All her life, Etta Wozniak has toiled on her family’s small farm, located on the outskirts of a lake resort town. After losing her mother and siblings to one misfortune or another, life has fallen into a rut of drudgery and predictability. That is, until the day she discovers something in an unlikely place; an old car. Energized by the prospects of a world beyond the one she knows, she decides to make this her last summer on the farm. However, disaster is not through with Etta yet, and there will be consequences for her upcoming departure. Art Adams, a recent college man, arrives in town for a family reunion. After years of moving from one city to another and avoiding conflict whenever it tries to find him, he becomes enamored with the lake. However, there is another reason for Art’s visit. He is to marry a woman he has never met before; an arrangement that was made on his behalf and without his knowledge. More comfortable around numbers and machines than people, Art is reluctant to confront his parents on the matter. But if he decides to do nothing, he risks losing who and what he has come to love. In a small town of farmers and firemen, musicians and moonshiners, bossy parents and barn parties, two people will come to understand what they must give up in order to have the chance to build something new.

Amazon

About the Author

Wes Verde is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy. Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger. A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Enter to win a paperback copy of Jalopy by Wes Verde! The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. Jalopy https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js

Q&A WITH AUTHOR WES VERDE

Wes Verde graciously agreed to answer some questions and gave us great insight into the book and himself. Check out the Q&A below:

Hello Wes and thanks so much for agreeing to answer my questions.

Happy to do it. Hope your readers enjoy it as well.

What inspired you to write Jalopy?

It’s difficult to pin down one particular thing, but the prime driving force was probably a general interest in the topic. A couple years ago, I started reading history books in my spare time. You’ve probably seen the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing that specializes in collections of old photographs from around the US. On a whim, I picked up a bunch of the ones for New Jersey towns – mostly out of curiosity for what some of my old stomping grounds looked like a century ago. A few buildings had survived to the current day, but most had been lost at one time or another. “Lost to fire,” was something that I kept seeing.

It was during this time that I rediscovered the fact that NJ was a vacation destination around this time. This had been mentioned to me previously, but it was always in passing and I never really gave it much thought. Now I was seeing the pictures. Places that today are commuter suburbs, but 100 years ago were places for residents of New York City to escape the pollution, noise, and crowds for a short while. Many of these towns – to varying degrees – had a Coney Island or Atlantic City feel, albeit on a smaller scale.

That got me wondering if there was ever a “city mouse/country mouse” moment between a vacationer and a local who got together and how they sorted out who had the better situation. From there, enough of these elements started coming together where I finally decided to put pencil to paper.

The “Jalopy” in question is an abandoned car where Etta dreams of her future.  Cars often inspire dreams for many of us–dreams of travel, adventure, success, and/or  escape.  What would you like the reader to take away from Jalopy and Etta’s dreams vs. her life experiences?

Totally agree. Cars were absolute game changers for the early 20th Century and I chose one for this reason. Travel and adventure are the obvious ones. It’s faster than walking. It carries more people than a bicycle. It’s not locked on a schedule like a train. Within practical limits you can take it off the road. In a pinch, you can sleep in it.

Escape is an interesting one. You don’t often hear about the “getaway horse” now do you? And of course, there is the less dramatic use of the word, where one is merely escaping monotony and drudgery in hopes that the grass is greener on the other side.

As for success, it will certainly expand your options for where you can work vs. where you want to live (I expect that we will see a transition of comparable significance resulting from the doozy that started in 2020). Per my earlier comment about commuter towns, it was the car that made it possible to live among trees and nature but still be able to commute east for employment. You can debate the wisdom and drawbacks of our car-dependent culture, but there’s no overstating what the automobile has accomplished for individual liberty.

At the end of the day, it’s just a tool.

When we meet Etta, she is not in a good way living in the past and trudging along, thinking only of how to get a fresh start somewhere new. On the surface, this is what she wants but not what she needs. Helen is her near opposite, and embraces her place in the social network almost to the exclusion of all other concerns. That’s not to say that we should settle for an untenable situation with people who are not worthy of our affection. Consider Art, who starts in what today we might call an unhealthy familial situation, but later (possibly spoilerish?) finds a place among people who embrace him and to whom he also contributes.

That’s probably the main thing I would hope someone takes from this story. Have dreams. Figure out where you want to be and – just as importantly – how to get there, but also recognize that it is the relationships we have with other people that give our lives meaning. I believe that this is why the trope of the small town is so enduring; it’s an idyllic model of this idea.

Your depiction of the drudgery and worry of trying to get by in the late 1920s captured the era perfectly.  What was your research process for this time period?

Aside from the local history books which I mentioned previously, a lot of it came from discussions with my grandmother. She was born in 1932, a few years after the events of the novel, but she grew up on a farm in a then-rural part of New Jersey. I attempted to remain as authentic to her experiences as possible. They grew their own vegetables and raised chickens and pigs – what soap they had was made from the tallow of their own animals. The incident with the chickens pouncing on Etta was inspired by something that actually happened to Grandma. To this day, she still uses the term “ice box” to refer to the refrigerator. The division and specialization of labor was far different than what most of us know today. They did much of it themselves – some might call that drudgery.

Other aspects were things I extrapolated from standalone facts. For example, in 1908 – when Etta would have been born – there were 2 cars per 1,000 people in the US. By the events of the novel in 1928, that number had jumped to over 200. Her formative years would have been during a time when parts of the country were surging ahead while others were being left behind. 

If you were of limited means but still wanted to hear music, church was probably your best bet. Alternatively, options for consumer radios were quickly expanding for those who could afford one. A cabinet radio like the one described in the novel would be about $1,500 adjusted for inflation. Even then, not everyone was hooked up to the electrical grid. While refrigeration was starting to become the standard, ice was largely harvested during the winter months and in some places would remain so for decades. There were many more farmers: about 30 per 100 workers at the time compared to just 2 per 100 today.

Additionally, the 18th Amendment obliged many to add beer and wine making to their list of chores… All told, that’s a lot of manual labor.

Jalopy is your first novel. What will you be working on next?

The Interwar Period in New Jersey is my literary home for the moment. There’s just so much worth exploring. As mentioned previously, it was the home of many lakeside vacation towns where residents of New York City would go to let their hair down. Novel #2 will mostly keep with this setting, but in a different direction thematically and tonally.

Not long after I started Jalopy I had this idea for a story about a heist involving a band of rogues and shysters who bite off more than they can chew. Mostly staying within the Garden State, this novel will be somewhat greater in scope and include locations of historical interest. It will also delve more into the social, industrial, and commercial concerns of the time.

Your bio describes you as an Engineer by trade.  How do your experiences as an Engineer reflect in the novel and how does an Engineer become a writer of Historical Fiction?  It’s not necessarily a traditional path for an Engineer.

Indeed, it is not a traditional path, but neither is it completely unheard of. While he doesn’t do HisFic, Andy Weir worked on software before his success with The Martian and later Project Hail Mary.

As for how such a background translates into writing – well… there’s a reason I include details like how many pedals are on a 1926 Model T vs. a 1914 Studebaker. Mechanical engineering is my specific discipline which is great for the setting of the novel. The time before electronic controls and digitization inspired many novel solutions that often blurred the line between careful design and whimsical tinkering – I love stuff like that. Early automobilists were more pilot or operator than modern drivers.

I also love to learn, especially when it comes to old machines. The description of the menagerie of farm equipment lining the walk up to Gregory’s workshop was heavily based on my experience at a farm museum in Northern New Jersey. In fact, the same place features a 1918 burgundy REO which served as the model used for the cover image.

In short, I’d say that I’m a gear head first, an engineer second, and an author as time allows. 

You self-published this novel.  What advice can you give new authors who want to self-publish?

Be patient. The time from my first handwritten notes to publication was about 25 months. That was setting aside about an hour or so each day, but even 15 minutes will add up over time if you are consistent and stick with it.

The barrier to entry has never been lower. If you have an idea and something to write with (I wrote two chapters on my phone) you can find an audience.

The cover artwork is fantastic.  Who created the cover for your first novel, and what is your opinion of the importance of the book cover in overall sales?

Angela Fernot, a friend of mine for many years and – as luck would have it – a professional artist. I believe she has something like ten years of experience (not including school) mostly doing portraits and fantasy work as well as graphic design (Link to her website is below). This may have been her first car, but you can see she’s got the hand for it. I cannot recommend her enough and will most certainly look to commission her for my own future books.

As for importance of the cover, there’s a reason we have to tell people not to judge a book by it because that’s exactly what everyone does. It’s not entirely without good reason. After all, if the author didn’t care enough to make it look good, how much effort could they have possibly put into the content?

The current trend for HisFic covers is an individual woman, often looking away from the viewer and toward a sepia-toned city or landscape. For the romance-centric, it’s a woman in a flowing gown which tells you exactly what you need to know (you Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean fans know what I’m talking about).

To its credit, this quickly informs the potential reader what you’re about. On the other hand, there’s a fine line between looking professional (like every other book) and standing out (possibly in a bad way). There’s a whole thread somewhere featuring a bunch of book covers that are woefully apparent in their do-it-yourself quality.

If you must cut expenses somewhere in the process of getting to print, don’t do it on the cover.

Thanks Again, Wes, for taking the time out to let us get to know you better.

LINK TO MY PREVIOUS REVIEW OF JALOPY

LINK TO ART OF ANGELA (ANGELA FERNOT)

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Book Review: Pursuing Miss Hall

Hertfordshire, England, 1812. Margaret “Meg” Hall has missed her first London season due to serious illness, but now that she has recovered, she is back on the “marriage market.” Her mother decides to have a house party and invite three eligible men, one of whom is a viscount. Meg knows she is expected to marry well, and she intends to do so. However, her best friend, Nathan, has also been invited. Nathan has no desire to see Meg married off to someone else, but he is not the best prospect and has never declared his love for her. Will Meg choose love or duty?

This is a charming novella that transports us to a Regency-era house party with all its customs and propriety. The point of view shifts between Meg and Nathan as they struggle to deal with their feelings. In the midst of picnics, dances, and garden strolls, Nathan’s angst and Meg’s confusion are well portrayed. The plot is timeless, as two friends struggle between what they want to do and what society tells them they ought to do. This is a pleasant and endearing love story that Regency romance fans will enjoy.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Thornell

Karen Thornell grew up reading when she should have been sleeping, but it wasn’t until 2019 that she started writing. Tired of ending books and saying ‘goodbye’ to beloved characters, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters that lived in her head always. It was probably a mark of sleep deprivation that she wanted people living in her head, but the idea was planted regardless. 

Karen lives in Utah with her husband and kids. When not writing contemporary or regency romance, she spends her free time doing endless loads of laundry, playing board games, and, yes, talking to those characters in her head.

BUY PURSUING MISS HALL ON AMAZON

Self-Published Saturday: September 4, 2021/Transylvania’s History A to Z

It’s another installment of Self-Published Saturday, as my goal is to share with you as many Indie books as I can, and I hope that you share them with others. Remember to push those Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter buttons and help these Indie authors show their books to the world. The next feature is an amazing book of stories, photos, and historical facts about Transylvania, written by Patricia Furstenberg.

BOOK REVIEW

By Patricia Furstenberg

Transylvania’s History A to Z by Patricia Furstenberg is a wonderful combination of stories, photos, history, and legends about Transylvania, Romania. Each historical fact is accompanied by a photo and a 100- word story arranged in alphabetical fashion. It is a fantastic way to learn more about Transylvania. Although this book is just 68 pages, I feel I learned so much I didn’t know before! The reader is transported from the Paleolithic era to the 20th century. The history, change, war, and upheaval over the centuries is shared so well in the stories, and each story is accompanied by photos and historical facts.

This book will take you on a journey through time as you watch Transylvania change and grow and learn so much about its history, people, and legends. My favorites were A Paleolithic Murder, Dacian Horses of Bronze Age, Motives of Christianity, Romanian’s Brother, The Woodland, and Quest Beyond the Forest, but I encourage readers to check out this little gem for yourself, learn about Transylvania, and choose your own favorite stories. I would recommend this book to all fans of history and historical fiction, as this is a fantastic combination of both.

I downloaded this book via Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patricia Furstenberg

(In Her Own Words)

I have always been drawn to discovering more about the people and the dogs who featured in historical and contemporary events. Why they chose to fight that war; what was it that they sacrificed, silently. What was the lay of the land that they walked upon, the color of the sky or the scent carried by the wind… It is such stories that I find they still resonate today. Discovering these secrets, writing these books, thrills me. Thus, my passion for historical and contemporary fiction books and historical events was born.

As an armchair historian, I love researching such tales, traveling (researching my next book we visited medieval Sighisoara), exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no details are too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100 Words Stories based on the history of Romania.

Facts belong in the history books, but the passion, the thrill, and the fantasy, these are the realm of the novels. Welcome to my writing world.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon (Only $1.99 to purchase the e-book, or read it free via Kindle Unlimited)

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
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Book Review: No Journey Too Far

In 1909, Grace McAlister, her brother Garth, and her sister Katie were sent from England to Canada, among the thousands of British Home Children taken from their families, often under suspicious circumstances. Grace was adopted by rich parents, the Hamiltons, but Garth and Katie, like many of the British Home Children, were forced into indentured servitude. Ten years later, Grace Hamilton is about to turn 18 and her parents are launching her into Toronto society, trying to find her a well-to-do husband. They stress that Grace is not to tell anyone she was a British Home Child, as there is stigma attached. Then she finds a trunk in the attic that could help her locate the McAlister family.

This is a gripping saga of a family torn apart. The second book in the McAlister Family series, it can be read as a standalone, but reading the first book, No Ocean Too Wide, is recommended in order to get the complete story. We learn the tragic and true history of the British Home Children, who were taken from their families and their country between 1869 and 1939. This is the story of a struggle against extreme injustices that were forced on young children against their will. It also depicts the determination of a family, fighting against odds and across the ocean in order to reunite. There is a gentle Christian message of trusting God during hard times, and there are also two romances that occur in the midst of turmoil. Similar in vein to Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours, this is a heartrending novel that is not to be missed.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Multnomah, for Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Turansky

(In Her Own Words) I was born and raised in Oregon, so my heart longs for tall evergreens, the rugged Oregon Coast, and the pristine Cascade Mountains. But I presently live in beautiful central New Jersey.  This is the Garden State, so we enjoy shopping at our local farmers’ market for sweet corn and juicy tomatoes or picking strawberries, blueberries, and peaches at local farms. We are close to Princeton University, Philadelphia, and New York City, so we sometimes take day trips in and enjoy museums, plays, and touring around.

I am married to Scott and we have five adult children, two daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law, and seven beautiful grandchildren. Being a wife, mom, and grandma are fulfilling and rewarding roles for me. Scott and I partner in ministry at Calvary Chapel Living Hope, a church we helped plant along with a team of hardworking, Jesus-following friends in Robbinsville, New Jersey. We love our church and feel blessed to have the privilege of serving the Lord with these dear friends. Visit the Calvary Chapel Living Hope website to learn more about our church.

My husband is the author of several parenting books filled with practical insight and biblical wisdom. We invite you to visit our ministry website and sign up for free parenting tips, then check out the articles and helpful resources there. That web site is: www.biblicalparenting.org.

My first book was published in 2005, and I’ve had twenty novels and novellas published since then. Before that, I wrote several articles, short stories, devotions, and essays. Writing fiction is my passion, and I thank the Lord for the creative ideas and characters He puts in my mind and heart. I am very grateful for friends and family who believed in me and encouraged me on my writing journey.

When I’m not writing you will find me enjoying time with my family, working outside in my flower gardens, cooking healthy meals for family and friends, or walking around the lake near our home.

BUY LINKS

NO JOURNEY TOO FAR (BOOK 2) (AMAZON)

NO OCEAN TOO WIDE (BOOK 1) (AMAZON)

Book Blast/Promo: The Rake of Hearts

*Not a book review

The Rake of Hearts by Emily Windsor

Publication Date: August 23, 2021
Senara Press Ltd

Series: A Lady to Suit, Book 2
Genre: Regency Romance

When the heart is afire…
By his own admission, Lord Ernest Brook is a rake. With sapphire gaze, sinfully handsome looks and a duke for a brother, the pleasures of London have come with ease…apart from one.
Ever since the gauntlet of her first wintry dismissal was thrown, the widowed Hebe Lock has stirred his deepest desires, but just what would it take to woo such a woman?

Sparks will fly.
Hebe Locke has vowed to never again fall for a scoundrel after her brief marriage to one left her broken and haunted.
Now she finds comfort with paintbrush and canvas, but as a female artist in a male world, commissions are as rare as a ballroom without rakes.

A castle of enchantment.
As the heat of late summer warms the land, an ancient, moated castle plays host to a widow and a rake, both concealing passions contrary to their reputations.
But as Lord Ernest awakens Hebe’s desire and thaws her frozen emotions, can she hold true to her vow?
Or can this rake win the one heart he yearns for?

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

Amazon US | Amazon UK

A Lady to Suit Series

1 – The Duke of Diamonds – Out now!
2 – The Rake of Hearts – Out now!
3 – The Earl of Spades – Coming soon
4 – The Prince of Clubs – Coming soon

Praise

“Five gleaming stars for this amazing Regency romance.” -Bookbub Reviewer

If you love historical romance, you can’t do without this wonderful book.” -Goodreads Reviewer

“This is a beautiful historical romance where our author paints a picture just as well with her words as our heroine with her sketches.” -Bookbub Reviewer

“A little masterpiece.” -Bookbub Reviewer

About the Author

Emily Windsor grew up in the north of England on a diet of historical romance and strong tea.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t study Regency slang, so she did the next best thing and gained a degree in Classics and History instead. This ‘led’ to an eight-year stint in engineering.

Having left city life, she now lives in a dilapidated farmhouse where her days are spent writing, fixing the leaky roof, battling the endless vegetation and finding pictures of well-tied cravats.

Newsletter | Amazon | Facebook Author Page | BookBub | Goodreads | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Instagram

Book Blast Schedule

Friday, August 27
Novels Alive
Bonnie Reads and Writes
What Is That Book About
Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Saturday, August 28
Pursuing Stacie
Passages to the Past
Reading is My Remedy
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Sunday, August 29
Coffee and Ink
Saynab Reads Books
The Cozy Book Blog
CelticLady’s Reviews

Giveaway

Enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card & an eBook of The Rake of Hearts!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Rake of Hearts

Book Review: Beyond This Broken Sky

This is a dual-timeline novel set in London in 1940 and 2019. In 1940, rich and carefree Ruby has surprisingly volunteered for the ambulance service during the Nazi bombing of Britain, otherwise known as the Blitz. Her partner and driver is Joseph, a conscientious objector. Ruby owns a house in London and has rented out one of the top two floors to Joseph and the other to a married couple, Kitty and Reg. In 2019, Edi has purchased an apartment in London and is trying to start life anew. A neighbor, a book, and a hidden object lead her to pursue a mystery and learn about the actions of truly courageous women in a dangerous time.

I was spellbound by this novel, which transports us to a shell-shocked London being hit with a barrage of bombs night after night. We careen through the streets in an ambulance, saving who we can, and we do it over and over. This is the life of Ruby at that time. We also meet Joseph, who cannot take a life but wants to help his country in other ways. We learn of life-threatening prejudice against women, and we witness the very real September 1940 occupation of the Savoy Hotel, as the differences between the shelter accommodations of the rich and poor are made very obvious.  In 2019, the heartbroken but determined Edi, with the help of her neighbor, Pearl, unravels a mystery that has been hidden for decades.

This is a unique and eye-opening look at London during the Blitz that gives us deeper insight into the realities of life in that era. I highly recommend this book to fans of World War II fiction, women’s fiction, and mysteries.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Siobhan Curham

(In Her Own Words)

When I was a child my evil genius parents decided not to have a TV as they thought it was bad for a child’s imagination – I mean, as if?! And, as this was in the days before the internet and mobile phones, I had a choice – I could either learn to love books or I could die of boredom. So I learnt to love books and pretty soon my love of reading grew into a love of writing and I dreamt of one day having a shelf of books of my own.

At eighteen I set off for uni in pursuit of my dream, to study English Literature. But two years into my degree, I become plagued by the fear that I just didn’t have what it took to become a professional writer. I came from a much poorer background than most of my fellow students and I started to feel that people from council estates didn’t belong in the middle class world of publishing. So I dropped out of uni and ended up working in the complaints department for a frozen food company where all I wrote were grovelling apology letters to irate customers. (This is the tragic low point of my story).

After four years of working in jobs I hated I came to an important realisation: life can be a very dull and dark place when you don’t dare to dream. So I dusted off my literary dreams and instead of seeing writing as some kind of rarefied world solely for the silver-spooned, I decided to approach it as I would any other job, starting small and working my way up. I began my quest writing short stories for weekly women’s magazines (the kind of magazines that have headlines like: The Day My Womb Fell Out! and OMG My Fella is Sleeping With the Milkman!). Then I wrote some articles. Having short stories and articles published gave me the confidence to finally have a go at writing my first book.

That book was published in 2000.

Fast forward 20 years and I’ve now written over 30 books and I’ve won three book awards. Moral of the story … never give up on your dreams!

I love helping other people with their writing, in my work as an editor and writing coach.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

Self-Published Saturday: August 21, 2021

It’s Saturday, and I’ll be reviewing only Self-Published/Indie books all day. Saturday is exclusively Self-Published/Indie. Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Indie authors market their books. As I always say, Self-Published/Indie authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. My hope is that this feature will give them a little help. Please remember that if you decide to review the book, leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and anywhere else you review the book. This is so important for Self-Published authors. Today I am featuring the wonderful Alice and Trudy mystery series by Valerie Fletcher Adolph, set in post World World II Yorkshire. I actually reviewed Books 2 and 3 for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. I haven’t written a book review for Book 1 yet, but I’m including a book description. My reviews for books 2 and 3 are below. They can all be read as standalones.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Fleeing an abusive husband, Trudy finds herself helping to run a private hotel (The Avalon Hotel) for elderly guests. But only a couple of weeks after her arrival, Alastair Mackie, one of its owners, is poisoned. Suspicion falls on Trudy and on Alastair’s wife, Alice.

Together, Trudy and Alice struggle to find the identity of the killer, or even a reason for the murder. They are helped along the way by Ben, a man from the moors, and by dear Doctor Taylor himself, beloved by the elderly residents of the hotel.

Only slightly in the way are Colonel Starr, who has difficulty telling one war from another, Calvin Hunt with his shocking remarks, the name-dropping Mrs Shand and the frequent fainter (but artistic) Fay Bowen. Oh! I almost forgot Miss Harriet – she is easy to overlook.

While Alice tries to discover the secret behind the killing, Trudy must fight with a husband who is determined to force her back.

Set in a large Victorian house in Yorkshire in 1947, this novel introduces readers to a new pair of detectives – Alice, raised in a country mansion by aristocratic parents, and Trudy, daughter of a butcher from the market.

BOOK REVIEWS

In England in 1947, Princess Elizabeth prepares to marry Phillip Mountbatten. And at the Avalon Private Hotel, sweet, elderly Miss Harriet is planning to marry John Prentiss. But there are obstacles in the way. Neither John nor Miss Harriet is particularly interested in wedding planning, there are issues agreeing on a church, and to top it all off, somebody wants to kidnap Miss Harriet! Alice, Trudy, Kenneth Wilson, the local police detective, and the guests at Avalon band together to try and keep the wedding on track and protect Miss Harriet. Tidbits from Elizabeth’s wedding are dropped throughout the book. This is the second in the wonderful Alice and Trudy Mystery series by Valerie Fletcher Adolph.

This is an entertaining read which alternates between the perspectives of Alice, the owner of the Avalon, and Trudy, who helps her run the hotel. In addition to wedding plans, we are caught up in the other residents—Fay, who is using her considerable talent as an artist to sketch the local dogs; Colonel Starr, whose mind is generally geared to military matters; Mrs. Shand, who does some uppity criticizing of the wedding planning, both royal and non-royal; Calvin, the elderly flirt; and Sophie, who tries to help out in every situation. Alice’s aristocratic family makes appearances, as do Ben, a local man, his dog Yan, and others.

This is a sweet, mild cozy mystery, softer and more comfortable than most. It is a relaxing read about post-World War II England. I loved the characters, especially the elderly hotel guests. Fans of weddings, cozy mysteries, and postwar novels will enjoy this book.

In post-World War II Yorkshire, Alice and Trudy are taken aback when Jeremiah Bickerstaff, the formidable patriarch of the rich and powerful Bickerstaff family, makes the surprising decision to move into a vacant room at the Avalon hotel while recovering from a stroke. Despite begging, conniving, and groveling from his family, he will not move back home. This makes things difficult for Trudy, as Bickerstaff is the grandfather of her abusive ex-husband, Jeremy. Then another young man enters the picture. He bears a strong resemblance to the Bickerstaff grandsons. Is he a long-lost heir? When a death happens on the premises, one of the elderly tenants is quick to point the finger. Was it an accident, or something more? This is the third book in the Alice and Trudy mystery series. It can be read as a stand-alone.

The elderly Avalon gang is back in another delightful mystery adventure. Led by hotel owner Alice and manager Trudy, the aged but active residents lend a hand and plenty of opinions after Mr. Bickerstaff joins their ranks. This series is such a delight to read. I truly enjoy all of these characters, especially Colonel Starr, who thinks everyone should join the Army, and Mrs. Shand, who is always ready with a comment, whether you want to hear it or not. You will laugh at the hijinks of this hilarious crew of lively lodgers. Fans of cozy mysteries will want to rent a room at the Avalon hotel, and stay long-term.

OVERALL COMMENTS

This is a warm hug of a cozy mystery series with characters who keep you chuckling. You will want to continue coming back to the Avalon Hotel.

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Book Review: Murder at Wakehurst

After the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in 1899, Emma Cross is in mourning and has no desire to accompany her cousin Neily (Cornelius Vanderbilt III) to a decadent and rousing party. The party will be held in Newport, Rhode Island, at the home of a member of one of America’s richest and most powerful families. But Neily had been estranged from his late father, and his wife Grace implores Emma to attend to help keep him out of trouble. Then, during an elaborate jousting ceremony, a distinguished judge is murdered, and Emma finds the body. Police detective Jesse Whyte does not seem to be on the case as usual. There is a new detective, and he wants no help from Emma. Emma, a reporter, continues to investigate the crime anyway, with the help of Derrick Andrews, heir to a Providence newspaper fortune. This is the ninth book in the Gilded Newport series.

This fantastic series continues with another installment, and plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings. The life of opulence lived by the Gilded Age’s privileged families is richly described. As a Vanderbilt cousin, Emma has access to elegant parties and mansions, but she is also looked down upon by some as a poor relation who has to work for a living. While sometimes hanging with the high-flyers, Emma keeps her feet firmly on the ground. Her position as an outsider with connections is an intriguing one, as she can hold her own amongst the elite, but is also accepted in the staff kitchens. This is another gripping and clever mystery about a sleuth who inhabits two worlds at once, and it will transport you to a time of luxury, greed, and the quest for power. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from Kensington Books for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own. 

Murder at Wakehurst will be released on August 31, 2021. Books 1 – 8 in the Gilded Newport Mysteries are available now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyssa Maxwell

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she is a member of the Mystery Writers of America-Florida Chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the Florida Romance Writers. 

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Book Review: The Secretary

The Secretary is another book I reviewed for the August edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

In Germany in 1940, Magda has become Heinrich Himmler’s secretary. But all is not as it seems. By day she organizes glamorous and decadent parties for Nazi officials, and by night she smuggles secrets out of the office and helps others get to safety. Risking her life every day, she places her trust in very few people. However, an unsuspected source of betrayal is lurking in the background. In East Berlin in 1988, Nina finally gets her grandmother to talk about a beautiful drawing of a house that she found hidden away as a child. With her grandmother as a new ally, Nina attempts escape from East Berlin for both of them.

This is a heartrending dual-timeline novel that shows us the horrors in Germany in both Hitler’s 1940 and the Cold War years in late 1980s East Berlin. Two women, grandmother and granddaughter, risk themselves to help others. What ties it all together is a house and the secrets it holds. Your heart will race, and you will weep as you are swept back and forth from Heinrich Himmler’s office in the 1940s to an East Berlin prison in 1989. You will see the downfall of the Third Reich and watch the Berlin Wall come down. This is a sad but thrilling novel full of danger, love, and loss that will keep you enthralled. I was especially entranced as I watched the Berlin Wall open up from the perspective of someone inside East Berlin. The descriptions of the differences between East Berlin and West Berlin at the time were fascinating. Fans of World War II fiction, Cold War fiction, and German history will not want to miss this one.

I received a free copy of this book via Bookouture for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Hokin

(In Her Own Words)

I seem to have followed a rather meandering career, including marketing and teaching and politics (don’t try and join the dots), to get where I have always wanted to be, which is writing historical fiction. I am a story lover as well as a story writer and nothing fascinates me more than a strong female protagonist and a quest. Hopefully those are what you will encounter when you pick up my books.

I am from the North of England but now live very happily in Glasgow with my American husband. Both my children have left home (one to London and one to Berlin) which may explain why I am finally writing. If I’m not at my desk you’ll most probably find me in the cinema, or just follow the sound of very loud music.

I’d love to hear from you and there are lots of ways you can find me, so jump in via my website https://www.catherinehokin.com/ or on my Cat Hokin FB page or on twitter @cathokinRead less

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