The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Another St, Martin Press book I got approved to review through Netgalley from St. Martin Press! Goodness! I didn’t think I would be sent a copy…I am so behind on reviews. Its been tough focusing on reading lately but I am determined to get back on track. I started reading this one last night and although for me it didn’t start off with a bang, I’m curious about the story so far… -Stephanie M. Hopkins 

The Long CallPub Date 03 Sep 2019  

Description

From Ann Cleeves—bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—comes the first in a gripping new series.

“Ann Cleeves is one of my favorite mystery writers.”—Louise Penny

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.

 

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Book Event: The Believers In The Crucible Nauvoo by Alfred Woollacott III

If you’d like to learn more about a novel that weaves Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and Brigham Young’s succession with Naamah’s story, then come to the Oak Bluffs Library, Saturday May 19th from 2 – 3.

Alfred author talk

Location:

56R School Street
Oak Bluffs, MA 02568

About the book:

The Believers In The Crucible Nauvoo

From the author of The Immigrant, another stimulating novel that will linger with you regardless of your faith or beliefs.

After enduring early parental deaths, Naamah Carter discovers renewed meaning to her strong Christian beliefs through Joseph Smith’s testaments. His following in Peterborough, New Hampshire flourishes, yet Naamah, her beloved Aunt Susan, and other believers suffer family strife and growing community resentment. She leaves her unfriendly situation and journeys to Nauvoo to be among thousands building their Prophet‘s revelation of an earthly Zion on a Mississippi River promontory. There, her faith is tested, enduring loss of loved ones and violence from those longing to destroy Nauvoo. With the western exodus imminent, she faces a decision that runs counter to her soul and all she holds sacred – whether to become Brigham Young’s plural wife.

This meticulously researched novel weaves the momentous events of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and Brigham Young’s succession with Naamah’s story and offers differing perspectives to create a mosaic of Nauvoo, the crucible out of which arose today’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

About the author:

Alfred Woollacott, III retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

When not writing, Al serves on several Boards, and keeps physically active with golf, tennis, and hockey. He and his wife of 44 years, Jill, have four children and ten grandchildren.

Author Links:

Website

Goodreads

Amazon Bio

Layered Pages Interview with Alfred

LAP it Facebook Banner

L.A.P. it Marketing

Literature/Art/Photography

 

 

Cover Crush: Meeting with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

Meeting with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De HamelAbout the Book:

Hardcover, 640 pages

Published September 22nd 2016 by Allen Lane

This is a book about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend that a well-known celebrity is no different from anyone else, and yet there is an undeniable thrill in actually meeting and talking to a person of world stature.

The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history – and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artifacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste.

Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible. At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge. It is a most unusual book.

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

My thoughts:

I believe I stumbled upon the cover on Instagram. The image is beautiful and love the soft tones of the background. I wonder where the image of the tree comes from?

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Other great cover crushes from my fellow book bloggers: 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum

 

Book Spotlight: The Immigrant by Alfred Woollacott

The ImmigrantPaperback: 416 pages

Publication Date: January 1, 2015

A historical saga that covers a winter of 1650/1651 journey of John Law, a young Scotsman captured by the English Lord Cromwell’s forces in seventeenth century Scotland during “The Battle of Dunbar”. He survives a death march to Durham, England and is eventually sent to Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant, arriving aboard the ship “Unity” that was carrying around 150 prisoners of war from different Scottish clans. Now an outcast, and in the sanctuary of the new colony, John starts over as an immigrant in a Puritan theocracy. He is first indentured to the Saugus Iron Works and then to Concord as a public shepherd in West Concord (now Acton). The young man faces obstacles often beyond his control, and his only ally is his faith. After his indenture is served he struggles a near lifetime to obtain title to his promised land. From start to finish “The Immigrant” is an intoxicating journey that follows the travails of John, his faith in God, his good wife and growing family.

What readers are saying about The Immigrant:

“Woollacott has the rare ability to capture the nuance of the historical narrative while imbuing his characters with a crackling rich dialogue that springs from the pages. As one reads through the story, one becomes transported to an immensely important time in our history, seeing exactly how they lived, and died, and struggled, and the enormous forces that weighed against their new way of life and culture, both from Great Britain and from the Indian tribes with whom they have to co-exist.” -Amazon Review

“By the end of the novel, you will find that it is not just John Law going through his daily routine, but you too are there with him, toiling in the fields to shape his “New Scotland”.” -Amazon Review

“Excellent historical fiction based on the authors ancestor. If you love history you will get a great sense of what our forefathers endured when immigrating to America.” – Amazon Review

About the Author:

Alfred W

Alfred Woollacott, III retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

When not writing, Al serves on several Boards, and keeps physically active with golf, tennis, and hockey. He and his wife of 44 years, Jill, have four children and ten grandchildren.

Social Media Links:

Amazon

Website

Facebook

Twitter  @AlWoollacott

Tour Schedule: Blog Stops

April 16th

Book Review – Locks, Hooks and Book

April 17th

Book Review- before the second sleep

Book Excerpt – A Bookaholic Swede

April 18th

Guest Post – A Literary Vacation

Special Spotlight at Layered pages

ALFRED’S SECOND BOOK. THE BELIEVERS IN CRUCIBLE NAUVOO IS ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS ON THE AMAZON KINDLE FOR A SHORT TIME. GET YOUR COPY TODAY!

The Immigrantby Alfred Woollacott (1) Blog Tour Banner

Novel Expressions Blog Tours

On This Day in History

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On a blustery April 7, 1844, Joseph Smith stepped to the podium to address the congregation gathered for the general conference. Smith’s friend, Elder King Follett, had died a month earlier from accidental injuries. As Joseph scanned the more than twenty thousand gathered on the banks of the Mississippi, they expected he would eulogize his friend’s tragic death. Smith splayed his arms and said, “May the Lord strengthen my lungs and stay the winds.”

Smith went on to deliver his most important sermon. In Richard Lyman Bushman’s book Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, he notes that literary critic Harold Bloom called the sermon ‘one of the truly remarkable sermons ever preached in America’. As Smith concluded, the clouds had parted, sun shone on Nauvoo, and the winds had been stayed. Within three months of his eloquence, an angry mob murdered Smith and his brother while they were in a Carthage jail cell.

In The Believers in the Crucible Nauvoo, amid controversy swirling in Nauvoo on 26 May 1844, George Taggart reflected on his prophet’s words delivered earlier. Below is the relevant part of the chapter.

************

As George waited to hear from Joseph Smith, he reflected. Several weeks earlier, he had attended a general conference, which occurred shortly after the death of Elder King Follett. Joseph took the occasion to speak about death in general rather than eulogize his friend’s tragic demise. George had hoped for inspiration since at the time he was still grieving his father’s and Oliver’s deaths. He received more, which now replayed as he waited.

On that day, Joseph approached the podium as dark clouds loomed and trees swayed. He gripped his lapels and said. “May the Lord strengthen my lungs and stay the winds.” The leaves continued to flap, yet George heard every word Joseph had said.

“God himself was once as we are now, an exalted man, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens. If the veil were rent today, and God was made visible, you would see him like a man — like yourselves.”

When George first heard those words, he was confused. “How can I or any man become a God?” But as quickly as he had questioned, the Prophet answered.

“When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and ascend step by step until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.”

As the Prophet continued to expound, George reflected on his life. He had taken his first step toward exaltation when he was baptized, and his father’s and brother’s deaths had brought him higher up the ladder, closer to God. “Am I becoming more Godlike?” He had pondered, still unconvinced and hoping for answers.

“The mortal body has a beginning and an end. Thus, here is your eternal life; to know the only wise and true God. Learn to be Gods yourselves by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you sit in glory with those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

As Joseph continued, George had realized mortal existence is brief and the spirit is eternity, a spirit the same as God. As the sermon ended, the clouds had parted, creating darkness on either side of the blue skies above Nauvoo; and the winds had been stayed. As George left, he had an enriched view on living his life – as he was now, God once was; and as God is now, he could be.

Soon after Joseph’s King Follett sermon, the apostates had proclaimed Joseph a fraud saying, “Mortal men becoming Gods is utter blasphemy.” The apostates’ rhetoric continued, and William Law, the most outspoken, accused Joseph of adultery, creating deeper church schisms and fanning anti-Mormon flames. The hullabaloo that followed continued to trouble George.

Now as Joseph arose to speak, George prayed he would respond and vanquish the apostates’ mistruths. Joseph’s stride lacked its usual vigor. His smile seemed contrived. He appeared as beset upon as George was feeling. He didn’t grip the podium with authority, but slouched, using it as a crutch. His opening remarks were barely audible. George feared his Prophet’s recent tribulations had taken their toll. But Joseph cleared his throat, and a vigor came into his voice. . . .

By Alfred Woollacott

Previously published on My Four Legged Stool

About the Author:

Alfred Woollacott, III retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

When not writing, Al serves on several Boards, and keeps physically active with golf, tennis, and hockey. He and his wife of 44 years, Jill, have four children and ten grandchildren.

Layered Pages Interview with Alfred Woollacott HERE

Alfred’s second book. The Believers In Crucible Nauvoo is on sale for 99 cents on the Amazon Kindle for a short time. Get your copy today!

About the Book:

From the author of The Immigrant, another stimulating novel that will linger with you regardless of your faith or beliefs.

After enduring early parental deaths, Naamah Carter discovers renewed meaning to her strong Christian beliefs through Joseph Smith’s testaments. His following in Peterborough, New Hampshire flourishes, yet Naamah, her beloved Aunt Susan, and other believers suffer family strife and growing community resentment. She leaves her unfriendly situation and journeys to Nauvoo to be among thousands building their Prophet‘s revelation of an earthly Zion on a Mississippi River promontory. There, her faith is tested, enduring loss of loved ones and violence from those longing to destroy Nauvoo. With the western exodus imminent, she faces a decision that runs counter to her soul and all she holds sacred – whether to become Brigham Young’s plural wife.

This meticulously researched novel weaves the momentous events of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and Brigham Young’s succession with Naamah’s story and offers differing perspectives to create a mosaic of Nauvoo, the crucible out of which arose today’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

Read the first chapter of The Believers In Crucible Nauvoo HERE 

Moments to Cherish

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Yesterday morning I went for a lovely stroll in my neighborhood before meeting two of my literary friends for a late lunch at Grace 1720 in Norcross Georgia. On my stroll I took the time to look at the landscape around me and opened my mind to the sounds of nature. People need to take the time in the day for oneself to reflect and to appreciate what we have. Too often we are so focused on any hardships that we are going through, we lose sight of the good.

Ana Raquel is working on a story and Deborah Mantella is working on her second book to be published hopefully soon! They both have so many creative ideas that inspires me to keep working on my own stories and projects. Deborah’s story. “My Sweet Vidalia” is a wonderful read and this is a book that you want to hold the book in your hand. Below is the book blurb and I want to encourage you all to read her story. Women especially….

Tomorrow, I’m sharing a chapter from Janet Stafford’s book series, Saint Maggie. This is an important series for our American History on several levels and I hope you take the time to come back tomorrow to read a sample of her work.

Before I sign off, I want to thank all the book bloggers and readers out there for supporting stories and the authors who write them. Happy Easter and God bless.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah MantellaMy Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella

On July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal Jackson’s pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances, the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother’s side.

For as long as she is needed―through troubled pregnancies, through poverty, through spousal abuse and agonizing betrayals―Cieli Mae, the determined spirit child, narrates their journey. Serving as a safe place and sounding board for Vidalia’s innermost thoughts and confusions, lending a strength to her momma’s emerging voice, Cieli Mae provides her own special brand of comfort and encouragement, all the while honoring the restrictions imposed by her otherworldly status.

Vidalia finds further support in such unlikely townsfolk and relations as Doc Feldman, Gamma Gert and her Wild Women of God, and, most particularly, in Ruby Pearl Banks, the kind, courageous church lady, who has suffered her own share of heartache in their small Southern town of yesteryear’s prejudices and presumptions.

My Sweet Vidalia is wise and witty, outstanding for its use of vibrant, poetic language and understated Southern dialect, as well as Mantella’s clear-eyed observations of race relations as human relations, a cast of unforgettable characters, an in-depth exploration of the ties that bind, and its creative perspective. My Sweet Vidalia is a rare, wonderful, and complex look at hope, strength, the unparalleled power of unconditional love, and a young mother’s refusal to give up.

**In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.

Book Review: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Grief CottageGrief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury USA

General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 06 Jun 2017

After his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she’d moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it “Grief Cottage,” because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty-years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that–an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.

My thoughts:

The story has strong characters and the protagonist, Marcus, is an old soul or how old was he really telling this story? I was never quite sure and at times I felt like there was too much telling rather than showing. He doesn’t have childhood friends really and he relates to adults more than children his own age. His Aunt Charlotte-who takes him in after his mother dies- is quite an odd bird and values her privacy in extreme ways.

While the premise is an interesting one, I found it hard to get into and it took me sometime to finish the book. When I finally got to the ending it just seemed to end abruptly and I was dissatisfied, as I was hoping there would be a strong climax to the story. How is this a thriller ghost story? I didn’t come away with that feeling at all. The conflicts seemed muted to me.

On a positive note, much of the story is atmospheric and the setting is quite good.

I am sad to report I gave this book two stars.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley for my honest opinion.

Stephanie M. Hopkins