Cover Crush: Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Glory RoadThe Cover: Such a beautiful cover! Makes one want to walk down that dirt road amongst the flowers and trees over hanging.

The Story: What a great title and fitting to the cover design. I do love reading southern stories and about generations of people’s lives. I’m not really into heavy romance so I hope this one fits the bill for me as far as my reading taste goes. The story sounds great and I am adding this one to my to-read pile! -Stephanie Hopkins

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Paperback, 368 pages

Published March 19th 2019 by Thomas Nelson

Written in Lauren Denton’s signature Southern style, Glory Road tells the story of three generations of women navigating the uncertain pathways of their hearts during a summer that promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.

At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she’s fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she’s really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who’s known her better than anyone and whom she hasn’t seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions–particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.

As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.

Previous Cover Crush

A cover-crush-banner

 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain (Blackbird Mountain #1) by Joanne Bischof

I started this story last night and so far so good! -Stephanie

Sons of Blackbird MountainAfter the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar place?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

Novel Expressions Blog Tours

Novel Expressions Facebook Pic

If you are a Jane Austen fic Fan and have a blog, please get in contact with me! Thanks! My email: novelexpressions1@yahoo.com

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Novel Expressions Blog Tours

Website 

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin Giveaway!

The Girls in the pciture giveaway

Novel Expressions Giveaway!

Enter to win a signed copy of The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin HERE

Giveaway starts today and ends on February 18th. Winner will be announced on February 19th.

This giveaway is open internationally.

Good luck!

Cover Crush: Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

 

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.

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

Hurricane SeasonHurricane Season

A Southern Novel of Two Sisters and the Storms They Must Weather

by Lauren K. Denton

Thomas Nelson–FICTION

General Fiction (Adult) , Women’s Fiction

Description

From the author of the USA Today Bestseller, The Hideaway comes another story of families and mending the past.

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world—and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing—and the relationships that must be mended along the way.

“A story both powerful and enchanting: a don’t-miss novel in the greatest Southern traditions of storytelling.” —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author for The Hideaway

My thoughts:

What a magical cover…I love this layout and the colors used. It reminds me of those magical evenings in the south.

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

Stay calm and support book bloggers

Book Review: Camino Island by John Grisham

Camino IslandA gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

My thoughts:

I had great hopes for this book but the further I got into it, I became disappointed somewhat. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it at all but there are some things I need to point out.

Problems with the story:

  1. The character development needed to be much stronger. There was not one character I could connect too or particularly liked.
  2. Too much telling and not enough showing
  3. The premise is great but the overall story-telling is weak.
  4. The plot was too weak.
  5. This is not Grisham’s best story and I question the writing style-too breezy- and if someone else actually wrote it.

I would have liked to have read about Mercer sitting down trying to write a scene out and showing her frustrations of writer’s block. I think that would have been more realistic and would have made her character stronger and given that story-line a more polished feel. Not to give spoiler, in that regard the ending fell flat to me for reasons of her writer’s block. You’ll just have to read the story to understand what I’m saying. I would like to discuss it with someone when they read the book.

Things I liked about the story:

  1. I like the premise of valuable manuscripts being stolen and racing to finding out who done it and its recovery.
  2. Going undercover is a big risk. Especially for a civilian. That was interesting to read about.
  3. The setting of the story-an Island off of Florida. Nice touch.
  4. The bookstore-Love it when books and book people revolve around stories.
  5. The local literary circle-When writers get together to talk shop or take shots at each other. That was fun to read about.

Overall, this book could have potentially been a fantastic story. Too bad it fell short for me.

I recommend this book for a light read and I will be interested in seeing what a few of my friends come away with this story.

I have rated this story a generous three stars.

Four stars for the book cover.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Interview with Author Lorna Fergusson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Born and brought up in the north of Scotland, Lorna Fergusson studied English at Aberdeen and Oxford Universities. She now runs Fictionfire Literary Consultancy. In addition to her own workshops, she teaches creative writing at the University of Winchester’s Writers’ Festival and for various Oxford University writing programmes. Her novel The Chase was originally published by Bloomsbury and is now published under her own imprint, Fictionfire Press. Her stories have won an Ian St James Award, been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and long listed for the Fish Short Story Prize. Her unpublished children’s novel Hinterland reached the shortlist of four for Pan Macmillan’s Write Now prize. Her chapter on Pre-Writing appears in Studying Creative Writing, in the Creative Writing Series published by The Professional and Higher Partnership. Her story ‘Reputation’, longlisted in the Historical Novel Society’s short story award 2012, appears in the e-anthology TheBeggar at the Gate. She is working on a collection of historical short stories and a novel, the opening of which has recently won Words with Jam magazine’s First Page Competition. She has just won the Historical Novel Society’s London 2014 Conference Short Story Award with her story ‘Salt’.

Stephanie: I am so delighted to be interviewing Author Lorna Fergusson about her book, The Chase.

Hello, Lorna! It is truly a pleasure to be chatting with you today.

Lorna: Thanks Stephanie! I’m delighted to be here – thank you so much for inviting me.

Stephanie: Congratulations on the HNS Short Story Award. That is absolutely wonderful! Before we officially start this interview about your book, The Chase, could you tell me a little about ‘Salt’?

Lorna: I come from the north of Scotland and the story is inspired by memories of my grandmother, who was a ‘herring lassie’ at the time when the herring trade was huge. The fish were known as ‘the silver darlings’. The men went out to sea and the women followed the fishing fleet to gut the catch and pack it in barrels. Incredibly hard work and not in the least bit glamorous! My grandmother was working in Great Yarmouth, on the east coast of England, at the start of World War 1 and something she said about that experience when I was a little girl is what triggered the story.

Stephanie: How wonderful to have such amazing memories and to share them. I would love to hear more about your grandmother sometime…

Your story, The Chase, sounds amazing! I love stories like this and I have lots of questions and I MUST read your story soon. Please tell your audience a little about it and what genre it falls under.

Lorna: The story is about an English couple, Netty and Gerald Feldwick, who move to the Dordogne region of France. Gerald has fallen in love with a house there, deep in the woods near the village of Malignac. Netty is less happy about the move and is soon oppressed by the house, which is imbued with an almost supernatural sense of the past. We learn that their real reason for leaving England is to try to escape memories of a traumatic loss. They need to heal their marriage.

In France, they meet a range of characters, some English like themselves, some French, including the wealthy owner of a nearby château and a local wine farmer. Netty becomes friendly with a Cambridge professor who has retired to a cottage nearby. Gerald returns temporarily to England – and while he’s there he does something that will only add to Netty’s pain.

As the shadows close in and Netty learns the truth about her husband, her state of long-suffering passivity is about to change …

As for genre, well, that’s always been a tricky question to answer! It’s ‘literary fiction’, I suppose, though that can be an off-putting description. It has thriller, suspense and mystery aspects, along with satire of the English expatriate community and the social class system. The Chase has been compared to Daphne du Maurier – who famously wrote Rebecca – because the atmosphere of place and the sinister brooding quality is there, and also to Joanne Harris, who wrote Chocolat, because of the descriptions of the sensory pleasure of living in France. It’s Chocolat, with a darker bite!

The Chase_MEDIUM

Stephanie: Why did you choose the Dordogne region of south western France in 1989 for your period and setting? And please tell me, if it won’t give anything away, how the past is revealed to Gerald Feldwick and his wife Netty?

Lorna: I chose the Dordogne region because for several years my husband and I part-owned a house there. Le Périer stood on a hillside overlooking a vineyard – that’s the view I had when I flung open the shutters and sat at my desk to write! We grew to know the area very well, and I was fascinated by the rich layers of history all around, from prehistoric caves to Roman ruins, to medieval castles. Our house had an old bread oven built into the back wall of the kitchen and we were told the German soldiers used to get their bread there during the occupation of the region in World War II. I wanted to celebrate the richness of the location from its natural beauties to the pleasures of its food and drink. 1989 was a time when even more English people than usual were choosing to have holiday homes there or even move out there permanently, so there were villages which were like little England. The English and French have had a long-term relationship in that part of France, going back to the Middle Ages. There are castles there which changed hands repeatedly during the Hundred Years’ War.

In the novel, it’s Netty who is more sensitive to the echoes of the past, when she converses with the Professor or visits Claudine Bellenger, the châtelaine of Bel Arbre. She senses the dark memories of Le Sanglier – is almost haunted by them, you might say …

Stephanie: What is an example of the house’s history they live in and how old is the house?

Lorna: Le Sanglier, we learn, was built as a hunting lodge just prior to the French Revolution, by the Comte de Saint Eymet – and he got up to fairly nefarious activities there. What Netty and Gerald don’t know is that the location has been the site of dramatic events for centuries. The novel opens with the caves beneath it being painted with images of the animals of the hunt, like the famous cave at Lascaux. Only the reader knows those caves are there.

Stephanie: The past covers a pretty wide range of history from the Roman period, through the Hundred Years’ War, the French Revolution period, to the early nineteenth century and the Second World War. Was there extensive research involved for you to cover these periods? Or were some of them mentioned briefly in your story? And what is one of the ways the past affects the people living on the land in the modern period of your story?

Lorna: I did quite a lot of research, especially on the Roman aspect and the French Revolution, partly by reading, partly by visiting places such as the Roman Tour de Vésone in Périgueux and the museum there. Each of these periods features as an inset narrative, a self-contained short story – but I enjoyed relating those periods to the modern era by showing the ruin of a Roman temple, the descendants of a character featured in the Revolutionary period – and even the consequences of what happens in the World War II episode. I wanted to show that everything is connected and everything repeats itself.

Stephanie: Please describe Gerald and Netty’s relationship. And what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Lorna: Their relationship is in serious trouble, even though they’ve loved one another for a long time. I wanted to explore the effects of trauma – how individuals deal with loss, plus the paradox that grief can tear people apart rather than bring them together. Netty and Gerald have very different ways of handling their situation. Gerald is a doer and a talker – he has energy and drive but is self-pitying and lacks dignity, Netty feels. Netty is buttoned-up and passive – but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. She has a lot of anger brewing. She is also sensitive and creative; during the course of the story she learns a lot about who she really is – and she doesn’t always like that person.

Stephanie: Could you give an example of what their relationship is like with their children?

Lorna: I don’t want to go into too much detail, but alienation and secrets play their parts!

Stephanie: Please introduce me to Professor Rutherford Appleby. What is he a professor of and what is his role in the story? And does he know the history of the land?

Lorna: Professor Rutherford Appleby is genial and sensible and he understands Netty better than her husband does. He’s a kind of wise old uncle figure – but Netty has to learn he isn’t perfect either. He’s a Professor of Comparative Mythology and understands not only the history of place but the history of beliefs about place. He’s particularly expert in the Gallo-Roman history of that part of France and has chosen to retire there because he knows it so well.

Stephanie: In my questionnaire to you, you told me beautifully how you came to write your story and I absolutely love what you said. Could you please tell your audience what that is?

Lorna: The Chase is, first of all, an expression of love for France and for a special time in my life. The story came to me out there, via a vision of its ending. I started to explore what would bring the characters I visualised to such a pass, and the whole novel developed from there. I incorporated images of hunting and of tapestry to illustrate the tension between death and life, between destruction and creation. I focussed on how hard it is for people who love each other to handle loss – how people cope, or don’t cope, in different ways. My characters question the very notion of a benign order to the world and they demonstrate that even when you try to escape your past, the past is always with you.

Stephanie: Who are your influences? And what are you currently reading?

Lorna: My influences are probably too many to mention! I love writers who create a sense of place, definitely. I studied English Literature and specialised in Medieval English, so have an affinity with that, which meant I loved writing the Hundred Years’ War vignette in The Chase! Currently I’m reading an excellent non-fiction work, Philip Marsden’s Rising Ground, which is about the search for the spirit of place and why places are so important to us and have been throughout history. He lives in Cornwall and describes it so well – and Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the world.

Stephanie: How much time do you spend writing and where in your home do you like to write?

Lorna: I write in my study upstairs, which is a lovely room fast disappearing behind ramparts of books and piles of paper! It’s painted ivory white and a Greek island blue, which I find both restful and stimulating. As for time, well, there’s never enough. I run a literary consultancy so spend much of my time thinking about, editing and responding to other people’s fiction! When I do write, it tends to be in the middle of the night, because I’m quite an owl. It’s usually past 3 a.m. before I go to bed.

Stephanie: How has writing played an important role in your life?

Lorna: Writing is central – it’s central to my sense of who I am and what I’m here for. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer and even when I’m not being productive, I think like a writer – I notice things, formulate things in my head, jot notes and phrases on scraps of paper which then get lost, and wonder ‘What if …?’ all the time!

Stephanie: Thank you, Lorna! Your story sounds absolutely wonderful and I look forward to reading it soon!

Reviews:

‘Lorna Fergusson weaves a vivid but dark tale set in the beautiful Dordogne, where past and present fuse in a page-turning mystery. I could go back to this again and again.’ Alison Weir, novelist and historian

‘Superbly written, ambitious in scope, morally complex, emotionally challenging, this is a real page-turner.’ Linda Gillard

‘Steeped in the atmosphere, history and excitement of France … It is definitely the sort of book that is difficult to put down.’ Living France magazine

‘Lorna Fergusson has a natural gift for telling a story – think of Daphne du Maurier.’ Scotsman newspaper

The Chase is available as a paperback and an ebook and also on Kobo

Fictionfire Literary Consultancy

Fictionfire Press

Lorna’s blog, Literascribe

YouTube

Facebook and Facebook Fictionfire-Inspiration-for-Writers

Twitter: @LornaFergusson

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

The Lost Duchess

My Review:

The Lost Duchess holds several meanings for me. I love my countries history and I’m fascinated with the early settlers who came to the new world. The history holds such a profound interest to me not only because I love knowing about people of the past,  how they lived and built a new world but because this countries founding history is engrained in my own family ancestry.

I have read several books about the early colonies where the story begins with the settlers already here. This story begins in England with a young lady named Emme who is a lady of Queen Elizabeth’s court in the sixteenth century. Emme falls prey to a titled man and desperate to escape him designs a plan to leave England and make the long journey to the new world. Emme endures many hardships along the way and quickly develops an attraction to one of the men sailing with her named Kit Doonan-who has happen to have quite a life to say the least. When they arrive to the new world they find themselves not only striving to learn and endure the everyday life of a world that is unknown to them but a race for survival.

Emme is a woman of courage and strength and a person to admire. I was truly caught up in her story and her plight. I couldn’t read fast enough to see what she would do next and the outcome of her decisions and actions.

This story also explores the lost colony of the Roanoke. One that I have always been intrigued with and I have always had my suspicions of what happen to the colony and I have to admit I was impressed with the author’s rendition of the story. I recommend you read this book to find out what it is….and you will be caught up in the adventure of Emme and Kit as much as I was.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this story and the beautiful descriptions throughout. This story meant so much to me that I still have this book on my night stand. That says a lot right there…..and the book cover, beautiful!

Stephanie Moore Hopkins

Buy the Book

Amazon (AUS) Amazon (UK) Book Depository

About the Author

Jenny Barden

I’ve had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armour at Tamworth Castle. Training as an artist, followed by a career as a city Jenny (Portrait 2) solicitor, did little to help displace my early dream of becoming a knight. A fascination with the Age of Discovery led to travels in South and Central America, and much of the inspiration for my debut came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. The sequel centres on the first Elizabethan ‘lost colony’ of early Virginia. I am currently working on an epic adventure during the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada.

My work has appeared in short story collections and anthologies and I’ve written for non-fiction publications including the Historical Novels Review. I am active in many organisations, having run the ‘Get Writing’ conferences for several years, and undertaken the co-ordination of the Historical Novel Society’s London Conference 2012. I am a member of that organisation as well as the Historical Writers’ Association, the Romantic Nevelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. I’ll be coordinating the RNA’s annual conference in 2014.

I have four children and now live on a farm in Dorset with my long suffering husband and an ever increasing assortment of animals.

I love travelling, art, reading and scrambling up hills and mountains (though I’m not so keen on coming down!).

Author Links

Website Facebook Twitter Jenny Barden’s Blog English Historical Fiction Authors Blog

Monday, May 26 Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books Book Blast at Reading the Ages Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse Book Blast at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, May 27 Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

Wednesday, May 28 Review at Carole’s Ramblings and Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell Book Blast at The Little Reader Library

Thursday, May 29 Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook Book Blast at Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Friday, May 30 Review at WTF Are You Reading? Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer Book Blast at Curling Up by the Fire

Saturday, May 31 Book Blast at From L.A. to LA Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books

Sunday, June 1 Book Blast at Lily Pond Reads Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, June 2 Review & Giveaway at The Tudor Enthusiast Book Blast at The Bookworm Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, June 3 Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book Book Blast at West Metro Mommy Book Blast at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog

Wednesday, June 4 Review at The Wormhole Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, June 5 Book Blast at Books and Benches Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, June 6 Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog Book Blast at Kincavel Korner Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, June 7 Book Blast at Royal Reviews Book Blast at History Undressed

Sunday, June 8 Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, June 9 Review at A Chick Who Reads Book Blast at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Tuesday, June 10 Review at She Reads Novels Book Blast at Just One More Chapter Book Blast at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, June 11 Review at Historical Fiction Obsession Book Blast at Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 12 Book Blast at Big Book, Little Book Book Blast at Historical Fiction Notebook

Friday, June 13 Review at Susan Heim on Writing Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Saturday, June 14 Book Blast at Hardcover Feedback Book Blast at One Book at a Time

Sunday, June 15 Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Monday, June 16 Review at Layered Pages Review at Starting Fresh Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, June 17 Review at The Lit Bitch Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Wednesday, June 18 Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Thursday, June 19 Review at A Bookish Affair Book Blast at Girl Lost in a Book

Friday, June 20 Review at Broken Teepee Review at Jorie Loves a Story Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

The Lost Duchess_Tour Banner_FINAL