Be Still My Heart: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Early on in the month I was approved of an (ARC) The Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
from St. Martin Press through NetGalley. My first thoughts were, “How glorious the title was, the premise, Jane Austen, the cover, debut novel, new author I haven’t read, memorable characters, new beginnings, and strong literature. Maybe not all in that order but Jane Austen fans get me. I began my journey back into Jane Austen’s world last night and much to my surprise, even at the early stages of the story, I’m completely and madly in love with the what I’ve read, and a few characters thus far. How can this unknown writer- to me- capture my heart so quickly? These days, it is extremely hard to hold my interest in stories.

I can tell that Jenner knows her stuff, as my Grandmother would to say. It’s as if Jenner knows Jane Austen’s mind and heart. As if she has had an engrossing conversation with Austen about her characters motives and emotions. I felt a kinship to the story and two of the characters in the first scene.

Now my evenings can’t come fast enough to lose myself in the world of Jane Austen and the people who live in the town of Austen’s final home and connection the Great House and over a hundred years later after her death. May this story continue to capture my undivided attention. Right now, I have no doubt. -Stephanie

The Jane Austen SocietyThe Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press
General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
Pub Date 26 May 2020

Description

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

 

Advance Readers Copy Approved!

I’m seeing quite a few of particular hues in book covers this year. I love it and St. Martin Press and NetGalley approved me for an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of The Jane Austen Society!! I am thrilled to no need! I will be starting with this one right after I finish Finding Dora Maar.

I’ve also acquired an ARC of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare by NetGalley and Severn House Publishers. The premise sounds fantastic! Check it out below and let me know what you think. I adore both covers!

I have been in a reading/reviewing slump for a while and these new ARC’s will really help, I think. I am so thankful for the publishers’ for not giving up on me! I hope you all are having a wonderful week and happy reading! -Stephanie

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The Jane Austen SocietyThe Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press
General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
Pub Date 26 May 2020
Description

“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

The Indigo GhostsThe Indigo Ghosts

by Alys Clare

Severn House Publishers

Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 02 Jun 2020

Description

In this gripping forensic mystery set in Stuart England, Gabriel Taverner uncovers a series of shocking secrets when he’s summoned by his former naval captain to investigate strange goings-on aboard his ship.

October, 1604. Former ship’s surgeon turned country physician Gabriel Taverner is surprised to receive an urgent summons from his old naval captain. Now docked in Plymouth harbour, having recently returned from the Caribbean, Captain Colt believes his ship is haunted by an evil spirit, and has asked Gabriel to investigate.

Dismissive of the crew’s wild talk of mysterious blue-skinned ghosts, Gabriel is convinced there must be a rational explanation behind the mass hallucinations. But matters take a disturbing turn when he and the captain discover a body hidden behind one of the bulkheads. Calling on the help of his old friend, Coroner Theophilus Davey, piece by piece Gabriel uncovers a terrifying tale of treachery, dark magic, unimaginable cruelty – and cold-blooded murder.

 

Cover Crush: Olive the Lionheart by Brad Ricca

My thoughts on the cover and my overall impression about my first glimpse of the story description: 

Although the cover reminds me a bit of a movie poster (maybe it’s the positioning of the fonts?), I still love it and the colors used. If you read the book description below, even the main character is a, “Redhead.” That one got a smile out of me. Now, it would have been hilarious if the character’s name was, “Auburn.”  As in, “Auburn the Lionheart.” Ha! I’m getting a kick out of this week’s cover crush write up! On a sober note, is there not enough contrast in the layout? Hmm…Or maybe the ladies color of dress and travel trunk does the trick? Or is it her looking off to the distance of a new world unknown to her? See how her upper body is slightly turned with her left arm behind her back? Its as if she is unsure she should continue on, knowing the dangers she obviously will be facing. Regardless, the cover definitely has a dramatic effect going on.

I’m curious as to how the author portrays Olive-since this is based on a true story- and if she will be another predictable heroine I often see in stories or how will the author portray the different cultures mentioned. However, the story does draw on Olive’s own letters and secret diaries so there is that. Will this story truly be real life like or will it be sugar coated so not to offend anyone? If you know the history of Africa during that time or of anytime, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Also, I’m invested in keeping an eye on how this story influences readers. Having said all this, St. Martin Press is one of my favorite publishers because they tend to publish quality stories. The gist of what I’ve read from the description below is that Olive the Lionheart entails jungles, swamps, cities, deserts, letters, secret diaries, cobras, crocodiles, wise native chiefs, a murderous leopard cult, a haunted forest, and even two adorable lion cubs. Whew, that is a lot to digest. Sign me up! -Stephanie

Olive the LionheartOlive the Lionheart

Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman’s Journey to the Heart of Africa

by Brad Ricca

St. Martin’s Press

Biographies & Memoirs

Pub Date 11 Aug 2020

Description

In 1910, Olive MacLeod, a thirty-year-old, redheaded Scottish aristocrat, received word that her fiancé, the famous naturalist Boyd Alexander, was missing in Africa.

So she went to find him.

Olive the Lionheart is the thrilling true story of her astonishing journey. In jungles, swamps, cities, and deserts, Olive and her two companions, the Talbots, come face-to-face with cobras and crocodiles, wise native chiefs, a murderous leopard cult, a haunted forest, and even two adorable lion cubs that she adopts as her own. Making her way in a pair of ill-fitting boots, Olive awakens to the many forces around her, from shadowy colonial powers to an invisible Islamic warlord who may hold the key to Boyd’s disappearance. As these secrets begin to unravel, all of Olive’s assumptions prove wrong and she is forced to confront the darkest, most shocking secret of all: why she really came to Africa in the first place.

Drawing on Olive’s own letters and secret diaries, Olive the Lionheart is a love story that defies all boundaries, set against the backdrop of a beautiful, unconquerable Africa.

This book is avaible for request at NetGalley.

Last week’s Cover Crush

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated by Erin at Historical Fiction Reader 

Other book bloggers who participated in the great cover crushes series. 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts, art work and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.)

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Book Review: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

DAUGHTER OF A DAUGHTER OF A QUEEN“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my Mama never let me forget it.”
Missouri, 1864

Powerful, epic, and compelling, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queenshines light on a nearly forgotten figure in history. Cathy Williams was born and lived a slave – until the Union army comes and destroys the only world she’s known. Separated from her family, she makes the impossible decision – to fight in the army disguised as a man with the Buffalo Soldiers. With courage and wit, Cathy must not only fight for her survival and freedom in the ultimate man’s world, but never give up on her mission to find her family, and the man she loves. Beautiful, strong, and impactful, Cathy’s story is one that illustrates the force of hidden history come to light, the strength of women, and the power of love.

My thoughts:

General Sheridan and his soldiers were burning everything in sight and took Cathy Williams-a slave-off a plantation as contraband to be an assistant to the generals cook. After the war is over she enlists in the Union Army disguised as a man with the Buffalo Soldiers.

I’ve always wondered how the Union Army was able to recruit/convince ex-slaves-right after the civil war- to become Buffalo Soldiers knowing what they were going to do to the Indians. It really has always baffled me. This story goes into that a little of that and explores the feelings of the Buffalo soldier’s feelings on this. The Union Army was not kind to the soldiers and I believe used them horribly.

As I was reading this story, I was dreading reading about what was going to happen once they get out west-already knowing its history and the author gives you a vivid picture of their struggles and Cathy’s efforts to keep her disguise as a man.

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a top-notch historical fiction story, memorable characters, outstanding history details of its setting, conflict and I’m truly looking forward to more stories by this author.

I obtained a copy of this book from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

I have rated this book five stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins