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Beauty Among Ruins: Review & Blog Tour

 

Beauty Among Ruins

Author: J’Nell Ciesielski

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: WWI Historical/Christian Romance

Pages: 416

In Ciesielski’s latest sweeping romance, an American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

Synopsis:

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

Review:

This book is sure to captivate a reader as a historical romance with a dash of Beauty and The Beast. The characters are lively and well-developed with backstories that made them equally interesting and endearing.

I found myself rooting from Lily and Alec from the start and found both of them likeable – something I struggle within the romance genre. No brooding and troubled characters here which was a refreshing change.

The Scottish countryside and crumbling castle were the perfect backdrop for this story and the author did an excellent job of capturing both the time period and the mysterious atmosphere of the castle.

If you are looking for an escape read with a satisfying ending, Beauty Among Ruins fits that bill perfectly.

Make this your next read:

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble Thomas Nelson

 

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Connect with J’nell

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Your Story, My Story: blog tour & review

Your Story, My Story by Connie Palmen

Publisher: Amazon Crossing (January 1, 2021)

Language: English

Hardcover: 186 pages

Genre: Biographical Fiction

Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of The Friendship comes a shattering, brilliantly inventive novel based on the volatile true love story of literary icons Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

In 1963 Sylvia Plath took her own life in her London flat. Her death was the culmination of a brief, brilliant life lived in the shadow of clinical depression—a condition exacerbated by her tempestuous relationship with mercurial poet Ted Hughes. The ensuing years saw Plath rise to martyr status while Hughes was cast as the cause of her suicide, his infidelity at the heart of her demise.

For decades, Hughes never bore witness to the truth of their marriage—one buried beneath a mudslide of apocryphal stories, gossip, sensationalism, and myth. Until now.

In this mesmerizing fictional work, Connie Palmen tells his side of the story, previously untold, delivered in Ted Hughes’s own uncompromising voice. A brutal and lyrical confessional, Your Story, My Story paints an indelible picture of their seven-year relationship—the soaring highs and profound lows of star-crossed soul mates bedeviled by their personal demons. It will forever change the way we think about these two literary icons.

Review:

As a longtime Plath fan, I was immediately curious when I saw this book and the premise. Biographical fiction does not seem like it would be an easy genre to write but Palmen captured the spirit and the story beautifully.

Ted Hughes’ voice could be heard throughout the book which made the story come to life for me. So much has been made of their relationship and marriage over the years and this fresh perspective was both painful and captivating. The storyline was fair in showing the pain of mental illness – both within the person and the impact on those around them.

My one fear going into this book was that his infidelity would be brushed aside or excused due to Plath’s long battle with clinical depression. There were times that the plot flirted with that notion but overall it maintained perspectives well.

The writing was excellent and the translation was beautifully done. I am a huge fan of translated works and I found this one to be exceptional in both the story and the voice of the author.

If you are Sylvia Plath and/or Ted Hughes reader, this is a book you will not want to miss!

Content Warning: Mental Illness, Suicide, Infidelity

Thank you to Over The River PR and Amazon Crossing for this gifted copy in exchange for my honest review

Tour info:

Be sure to check out these other stops on this blog tour!

 

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Confessions in B-Flat: Review & Giveaway

Essence bestselling author Donna Hill brings us an emotional love story set against the powerful backdrop of the civil rights movement that gripped a nation–a story as timely as it is timeless…

Synopsis:

The year is 1963. In Harlem, the epicenter of Black culture, the fight for equality has never been stronger. The time is now. Enough is enough. Yet even within its ranks, a different kind of battle rages. Love thy neighbor? Or rise up against your oppressors?

Jason Tanner has just arrived in New York to help spread the message of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of passive resistance, while beat poet Anita Hopkins believes the teachings of Malcolm X with all her heart: that the way to true freedom is “by any means necessary.” When Jason sees Anita perform her poetry at the iconic B-Flat lounge, he’s transfixed. And Anita has never met anyone who can match her wit for wit like this…

One movement, two warring ideologies–can love be enough to unite them?

Confessions in B-Flat is a celebration of the hard-won victories of those who came before us, and a stark reminder of just how far we still have to go.

My Review

✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

Writing Impressions: Beautifully written, the author captured the history, the tension, the fight for change and the relationship between two very complex characters during the Civil Rights Movement. The use of historical landmarks, media, and larger than life leaders made this book so much more than your typical historical romance.

Characters: The relationship Jason and Anita was everything I had hoped for and then some. They were both well-developed and Jason was a representation of sorts for the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while Anita represented the beliefs of Malcolm X. This was a fascinating and educational way to show the contrast between the two and was genius to show it in the contest of a relationship. The addition of other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, while fictional, made this book come to life.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this book immensely. I would classify it as historical fiction with a very real romantic relationship at the center. This book is timely and while it shows how much has changed, the bigger impact for me personally was just how far we have to go.

To enter the Instagram giveaway:

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•Follow me, @bluntscissorsbookreviews and @brooklyngirl737

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Sorry, U.S. entries only. This giveaway will end on 12/23 and the winner will be announced in my stories. This giveaway is not associated with Instagram.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Entangled Publishing

Connect with Donna

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Forever 51: blog tour & review

About Forever 51

• Paperback: 332 pages
• Publisher: Fawkes Press, LLC (November 5, 2020)

Immortality’s a bitch.

Veronica is eternally fifty-one years old with a proclivity for problematic drinking. Like most hormonally challenged women negotiating the change of life, she is a hot mess. To retain her sanity, she attends weekly AA meetings and adheres to a strict diet of organic, locally-sourced, (mostly) cruelty-free human blood from the hospice facility where she works. Her life stopped being fun about a hundred years ago, right about the time her teenage daughter stole her soul and took off for California with a hot, older guy. These days, Veronica’s existence is just that – an existence, as flat and empty as her own non-reflection in the bathroom mirror.

When her estranged daughter contacts her via Facebook, Veronica learns that she has one chance to escape her eternal personal summer: she must find and apologize to every one of the people she’s turned into vampires in the last century. That is, if they’re still out there. With raging hormones and a ticking clock, Veronica embarks on a last-ditch road trip to regain her mortality, reclaim her humanity, and ultimately, die on her own terms.

Review:

✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

A menopausal, 12 stepping, road tripping vampire… what could be more fun? Seriously. This book was darkly funny and unique and has something for everyone!

I nearly gave up on vampires a few years back because the genre had been so overdone. But not this book.

The writing was sharp and the characters were realistic and well developed. I especially appreciated the depth and emotion the author put into the addiction and recovery storyline.

You can’t help but root for these characters and you also might learn a thing or two about vampires that you’ve always wondered about.

A ride or die road trip sounds hilarious for a story about a vampire but I don’t think there could be a more perfect, unexpected description.

I was thrilled to learn that this author is local to me and now I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel because that ending.

If you’re looking for a trope-busting, smart, and fun book for the vampire fan in your life – add this to your holiday season shopping list!

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org

About Pamela Skjolsvik

A curious thing happens when you have the audacity to call yourself the death writer; people want to talk to you about death. A lot. This is all well and good for those daring types of writers like Mary Roach or Jessica Mitford, but for me it was initially problematic. Prior to declaring my morbid writing intention of exploring death professions during my first semester of Goucher College’s MFA program in 2008, I had little experience with death or grief, not to mention very little social engagement with the living. It wasn’t until after I finished the two years of research for this book that I was officially diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and went through four months of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through a research study at Southern Methodist University.

My writing life began in 2005 when I received a fellowship to the San Juan Writers’ Workshop. The instructor, Lee Gutkind, told me not to publish for the sake of publishing, but to publish well. He also informed me that I was a horrible public speaker. Admittedly that stung, but he did like an essay I’d written. It was published in Creative Nonfiction Issue 33 and in Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives. In August 2010, I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and read five pages from my manuscript in front of a packed room without passing out.

As part of my therapy, I was encouraged to join a writer’s group where I would have to read regularly in front of a group, as this was one of my main fears. I am happy to say that I am now an active member of the DFW Writers Workshop in Euless, TX. We meet every Wednesday and I make it a point to read out loud every week.

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

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Fawkes Press for the gifted copy of this fantastic book. My opinions and review are my ow.

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Just Jones: Feature & Book Review

Just Jones by Andy Andrews

Publish Date: September 8th, 2020

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 272

Genre: Literature & Fiction, Magical Realism, Ethics & Philosophy

Book #3 of The Noticer Series

From New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews comes the return of one of our favorite characters: Jones, the Noticer. Jones’ wise stories have comforted and guided millions of readers. In JustJonesnavigate the hope that the impossible can come true.

Synopsis:

At 3:29 a.m. on May 22, a telephone rings in Orange Beach, Alabama. Breaking the sleepy silence inside the bedroom of New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews, a hastily whispered message heralds the news that Andy has been waiting on for seven years: Jones is back in town. Apparently, however, he is also in jail.

The old man is tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding his brief incarceration. After arriving to bail him out, Andy is shocked to discover that his trusted friend has already opened an unusual business in one of the resort town’s most high-profile shopping districts. Jones’s Five & Dime seems to always have exactly what visitors are looking for, even as their fate steadily becomes entwined with Jones’s.

As the town moves from spring to summer, a practical joker is becoming bolder and more inventive with every prank that is pulled. Could Jones be behind some of it? Why? And what will happen if he is? What’s the truth about that four-hundred-pound table in his Five & Dime? What compels certain people to gather around it every morning? And why does it look as if every person Jones meets has a secret they will reveal only to him?

With rare insight, Andy and Jones take us on a journey that proves the importance of perspective, the power of connection, and the ability we all have to make the impossible come true.

Just Jones is lightning in a bottle–pure genius on paper. If you can imagine a hilarious mystery filled with useful wisdom that is fresh and new, you’ve just conjured up this book. Andy Andrews is our generation’s Mark Twain. Just Jones is the latest proof.’ –Dave Ramsey, national bestselling author

Just Jones is a rare accomplishment–a mystery that is at times touching but often so funny that I laughed out loud. When one wraps an awesome story around wisdom with the power to change lives . . . well, how many great books can you name like that? Just Jones is a masterpiece.’ –Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author

Review:

Andy Andrews is a longtime favorite author of mine. His writing is full of warmth & wisdom with a dash of wit. Just Jones continues in that same tradition.

It is the third book of The Noticer series but Andrews does a fantastic job of looping the reader into the story and this can certainly be as a stand-alone.

The characters are endearing, flaws and all, and the hint of mystery gave these characters an extra layer of depth.

I am a huge fan of magical realism and having that element included made the book for me. That genre is not always to write and Andrews does a masterful job in this space.

Without giving too much away, you will laugh, question your own perspective, consider the value of community, and read excellent, well-written book that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.

Even if this is your first book, you will quickly see why Andy Andrews is a favorite writer of mine. It’s available now at your favorite local bookseller.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson

Connect with Andy

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Thomas Nelson, and Andy Andrews for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.