Tag Archives: Blog Tour

Blog Tour – The Girl Who Stayed

The Girl Who Stayed

Title: The Girl Who Stayed

Author: Tanya Anne Crosby

2016 – Fiction

Source: TLC Book Tours

The Story: After years of running from responsibility and her past, Zoe Rutherford returns to the island where she grew up in order to take care of the family’s home, which has fallen into disrepair due to years of neglect. From the moment she steps foot onto the island, she is beset by memories of her sister, who went missing as a child and was never found. She also must come to terms with the realities of her family and the culture in which she grew up, exploring how that has shaped her as an adult. Dealing with these family skeletons only adds anxiety, as Zoe also faces a grumpy neighbor, an abusive ex, an attentive man who happens to be the police chief’s son, and the fact that women are going missing and a murderer may be running loose on the island.

Review: For me, the book started off really slowly. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is actual truth or if it is due to the current reading slump in which I find myself. It’s been a couple of weeks now with no end in sight. Regardless, I read the book in fits and starts, a chapter here, ten pages there. As I read, the story started to slowly draw me in.

I love novels that are set on the coast – they just feel so atmospheric and set such a believable scene. So the backdrop of the low country, the small details of living by the ocean, the small town behaviors and habits, these things really provide a great setting for a story which is ultimately about facing the past, realizing that it has an impact on who you grow up to be, and learning to love yourself.

I had a couple of issues with transitions – sometimes it wasn’t quite clear to me when the story transitioned from present to past. Nothing that can’t be cleared up with further reading, of course, but it did leave me confused a couple of times.

Overall, Zoe’s story felt really authentic. She often makes the point that she wouldn’t have believed that she could end up a victim of domestic abuse, which could really hit home with other women who have found themselves in situations that they can’t quite understand. For Zoe, when it rains, it storms, but it didn’t really feel overdone or too much. It just read like real life. Even in the midst of a slump, this book was a quick read that I enjoyed.

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Blog Tour – Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)

Title: Maisie Dobbs

Author: Jacqueline Winspear

2003 – Fiction – Mystery/Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

The Story: Years after World War I, Maisie Dobbs opens her door to clients who need answers in their lives. Her first client is a husband afraid that his wife is having an affair. But what Maisie finds is much deeper – a young woman grieving the loss of her first love. A suspicious home for wounded veterans known simply as “The Retreat”. And always, the memories of war lurking in the background.

The Opening Line: Even if she hadn’t been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle.

Review: Sadly, this is one of those books that I stumbled upon years ago, banished to my ever-growing, looming TBR (to-be-read) list, and pretty much forgot about. I’m happy to report that now my TBR list is one book shorter and that this truly worthy book no longer languishes unread.

I love mysteries, and the historical fiction genre is one that continues to grow on me. Turns out, the two pair quite well, especially in the hands of an author like Winspear, who deftly weaves a narrative that leaves no loose ends or plot holes to infuriate the reader. Every last nugget of information felt well-earned, and I came to care about Maisie on such a deep emotional level. With each new added bit to Maisie’s story, I felt my heart twist in sympathy or leap with joy.

With, what, something like 12 books (?) in the series now, I was prepared to read this novel and be done. I mean, 10+ books is a  big commitment. But after finishing Maisie Dobbs, I think I’ll keep reading, keep getting to know these characters and be a part of their lives. This book is a masterpiece, something to read and treasure and think about long after you’ve finished.

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Blog Tour – The Indifferent Stars Above

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride

Title – The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride

Author: Daniel James Brown

2009 – Nonfiction

Rating – 4/5

Source – TLC Book Tours

The Story: In April of 1846, Sarah Graves was torn between two seemingly contradictory options. She could either follow her family as they set off along the Oregon Trail in search of a better life or she could stay and marry the violinist that she loved. But the choice was made for her when her young man decided to marry her and come along. The families loaded up their wagons with plenty of provisions and set off in search of California. But they couldn’t imagine the horrors in front of them when they joined up with the Donner party and took a dubious “shortcut” to California.

The Opening Line (taken from author’s note): Even well after the tragedy was over, Sarah Graves’s little sister Nancy often burst into tears for no apparent reason.

Review: I don’t know how I first learned about the Donner party, but it seems like it’s something that everyone knows just a little about, if not the whole story. I’m not sure where I picked up the knowledge I do have – did I read about it, watch a documentary, hear it in passing? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t taught in school. But mention the Donner tragedy to almost anyone and they will immediately associate it with the taboo practice of cannibalism. Without even knowing the rest of the story, the two are irrevocably intertwined.

The Indifferent Stars Above sets out to educate its readers on the complexities and peculiar circumstances that led to tragedy and unthinkable decisions. From political and cultural backgrounds to the prevailing attitudes and social mores of the time to details about life on the trail, Brown weaves a tale of hardship, desperation, and above all else, hope. Hope for a better life, a fresh start, new opportunities. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of a man choosing to take his family on such a long and arduous journey, but Brown deftly writes of the motivations that led to so many families embarking on the trail.

I think one of the lesser known aspects of the Donner party story is the chain of events that led to tragedy and disaster. It wasn’t just that the party started on its journey a little too late in the season, although that did play a part. It was also a chain of everyday disasters on the trail, the decision to take a “shortcut” that ended up adding time to their journey, the unique weather patterns of the year. All in all, a perfect storm of events culminated in the party being snowbound in the mountains, facing a long winter with little shelter and few provisions.

This is a story of disaster, yes. But it is also a story of hope, bravery, morality, and family. It is a story of cowardice, revenge, murder, and yes, cannibalism. To only associate the Donner party with that taboo practice would do a disservice to the number of men, women, and children who fought so hard to survive. To the men who mounted rescue parties and returned multiple times to escort their own families to safety, risking their own lives. To those already established in California who sent along supplies and provided nourishment and safety to survivors.

Brown’s book, while at times delving into speculation over such things as feelings and intents, is one primarily grounded in fact and research. Spanning everything from weather patterns to modern research into PTSD, The Indifferent Stars Above is a fantastic guide to the true story of the Donner party, one that I highly recommend for those with any interest in the tale at all.

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