Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Showcase: THE PIPER by Charles Todd

The Piper

by Charles Todd

on Tour February 1-28, 2017


The Piper by Charles Todd
Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge returns shell shocked from the trenches of World War I, tormented by the spirit of Hamish MacLeod, the young soldier he executed on the battlefield. Now, Charles Todd features Hamish himself in this compelling, stand-alone short story.
Before the Great War, Hamish is farmer in the Scottish Highlands, living in a small house on the hillside and caring for a flock of sheep he inherited from his grandmother. When one spring evening he hears a faint cry ringing across the glen, Hamish sets out in the dark to find the source. Near the edge of the loch he spots a young boy laying wounded, a piper’s bag beside him. Hamish brings the piper to his home to stay the night and tends to his head wound, but by the time Hamish wakes the boy has fled. He tracks the footsteps in pursuit of the injured lad and finds him again collapsed in the grasses—now dead.
Who was the mysterious piper, and who was seeking his death? As Hamish scours the countryside for answers, he finds that few of his neighbors are as honest as he, and that until he uncovers a motive, everyone, including Hamish, is a suspect.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 100
ISBN:  0062678094 (ISBN13: 9780062678096)
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #19.5

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗
| Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Charles Todd

Author Bio:

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.

Catch Up with the latest Charles Todd news on their Website
,  Twitter & Facebook

Tour Participants:

Visit the tour stops for great features & reviews!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Book #46: THE ORPHAN'S TALE by Pam Jenoff

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff 
ISBN: 9780778330639 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778319818 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781460396421 (ebook)
ASIN: B01HB9Q7CW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA 
Publication Date: February 21, 2016

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep. When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

Noa Weil is a sixteen-year-old that was forced from home due to a pregnancy. Her child was taken away from her by the Nazis and she's forced to find the only job she can, cleaning at a small out of the way train station. When Noa comes upon a seemingly abandoned train car filled with infants, she's horrified as most of these babies are dead...all but one. Noa grabs the infant and runs from the only safety she knows, determined to save this child at all costs. Fortunately for Noa, after collapsing in the snow with the infant, she is found and incorporated into a nearby circus. 

Ingrid Klemt Sorrell aka Astrid Sorrell is a former circus aerialist that was married to a German Nazi officer. Her married life was good until the day her husband came home and stated he was divorcing her because she was Jewish. Unsure of what to do, Ingrid returns to her family's home only to find it abandoned. With nowhere else to turn, Ingrid approaches a neighbor and rival circus owner for advice. She quickly becomes Astrid Sorrell, the lead aerialist and trapeze artist for the Neuhoff circus. Over time, Astrid meets and falls in love with a fellow circus performer, Peter Moskowicz. Astrid and Noa are from very different backgrounds and have had very different lives, but both find refuge in the circus. Constantly on guard against Nazis, collaborators, and the SS, Noa and Astrid do all they can to protect one another and their secrets. 

Before I go any further, let me just say that I loved The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff. This was an incredibly fast-paced read that kept me enthralled from the first few pages until the very last. The Orphan's Tale is not just a story about two women and their friendship, it's a story about sacrifice, survival, love, and hope. This story was heartwarming as well as heart-wrenching. It takes place during World War II so you know there's going to be drama, tragedy, intrigue, and sadness. Even with all of the despair of the times, Ms. Jenoff imbues this story with an overriding sense of hope. The story is told in the alternating voices and perspectives of Noa and Astrid. The characters are well-developed, the settings are quite realistic, and the story is compelling. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, books about World War II, or just want something a little different to read, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Orphan's Tale to read. This is another must-read fiction recommendation. I look forward to reading more from Pam Jenoff in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 Book #45: THE SHIMMERING ROAD by Hester Young

The Shimmering Road (Charlie Cates #2) by Hester Young 
ISBN: 9780399174018 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698190788 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781524703042 (audiobook)
ASIN: B01HCGYY6K (Kindle edition)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
Publication Date: February 14, 2017

A pulse-pounding mystery from the author of The Gates of Evangeline featuring Charlotte "Charlie" Cates, an unforgettable heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her...
When soon-to-be mother Charlotte "Charlie" Cates begins to have recurring dreams about harm coming to her unborn daughter, she knows these are not the nightmares of an anxious mom-to-be. They are the result of her mysterious gift. But before she can decipher what these dreams might mean, Charlie learns that the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler is the victim of a double murder in Arizona. The other victim Jasmine, a half-sister Charlie never knew she had has left behind a child, a little girl who speaks to Charlie in her dreams and was present on the night of the murders. Convinced that she must help her orphaned niece, Charlie travels to Tucson, Arizona, where she must confront her painful ties to her mother and delve into her sister's shadowy past.
To untangle the web of secrets that will reveal the truth of her nightmares, Charlie can no longer avoid her family s checkered history. Who is in the racy photos that turned up in Jasmine s apartment? Where is her niece's father, whom Jasmine was rumored to have been seeing again on the sly? Was her mother's charity work in Mexico really as selfless as it seemed? And most important of all, what did her niece really witness on the night of the murders?
The search for answers leads Charlie across the Mexican border, from the resort town of Rocky Point to the border town of Nogales, and elucidates the meaning of her dreams in most unexpected ways. Ultimately, to protect her niece and her unborn child, Charlie must battle not just evil but the forces of nature, in one final terrifying encounter in the Tucson desert.
A thrilling mystery that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist that is unputdownable. If you love Kate Atkinson and Alice Sebold, you should not miss Hester Young.

At the end of The Gates of Evangeline (a highly recommended read), Charlotte "Charlie" Cates is pregnant by her new lover, Noah Palmer. Their relationship seemed doomed from the start since Charlie lived in Connecticut and worked in New York and Noah lived and worked in Texas. Fortunately, they are in love and committed to working on their relationship and looking forward to their growing family. Charlie has moved to Texas and is really trying to make things work, but she feels as if she's living in the shadows of Noah's former life with his ex-wife. Just as things are about to come to a head in Texas, Charlie receives a phone call informing her that her long-estranged mother and a half-sister she never knew about have been murdered in Arizona. If that's not troubling enough, Charlie seems to be the only living family member left for her half-sister's daughter, Michaela or Micky. After traveling to Arizona, Noah becomes enamored with the idea of adopting Micky and adding another child to their little family. Charlie isn't quite sure if she's ready to make that step, but with no other alternatives available they stay in town for awhile. Charlie and Noah try to learn as much as possible about Charlie's mother, Donna, and her half-sister, Jasmine. Is it possible that Jasmine's past was the reason for her and her mother's murder? How does Donna's job assisting poverty-stricken and troubled women in Nogales, Mexico tie into her murder, if at all? The more Charlie and Noah learn the more questions they have and these questions raise even more doubts and fears than ever before. Can they find the answers before another murder takes place?

If you read my review in 2015 for The Gates of Evangeline, you probably recall that I loved that book (this was one of my favorite reads for that year). If you haven't read it, trust me, run out and grab a copy to read as soon as possible. The Shimmering Road is the second book in the Charlie Cates trilogy and pretty much takes off where The Gates of Evangeline ended. I found The Shimmering Road to be a fast-paced and engaging read. I enjoyed learning more about Charlie and witnessing her growing relationship with Noah. There are a lot of issues raised in The Shimmering Road, including abject poverty, drug abuse, childhood prostitution, politics, murder, family drama, mystery, a bit of romance, the paranormal, and more. There are good guys, bad guys, and not-so-bad guys, but it's not always easy to tell who's who and that alone kept me guessing until the bitter end. Ms. Young provides plenty of twists and turns in the story to keep the reader off-balance and wondering just what is going on, and I've got to say, I love that in a story. I loved the characters, the settings, and the action not to mention the storylines. So now, yes you guessed it, I've got to recommend that you grab a copy of The Shimmering Road to read immediately after you read your new copy of The Gates of Evangeline. Seriously, this is a good series and one you don't want to miss. I'm looking forward to book three in this series and just may bide my time with a reread of both books (yes, they are just that good).

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

2017 Book #40: THE RUNAWAY MIDWIFE by Patricia Harman

The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman 
ISBN: 9780062467300 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062467317 (ebook)
ASIN: B01FD9RXFW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Books 
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

From the USA Today bestselling author of the Hope River series comes a new contemporary midwife novel.
Say "goodbye" to your old life, and "hello" to the life you've been waiting for…
Midwife Clara Perry is accustomed to comforting her pregnant patients…calming fathers-to-be as they anxiously await the birth of their children…ensuring the babies she delivers come safely into the world.
But when Clara's life takes a nosedive, she realizes she hasn't been tending to her own needs and does something drastic: she runs away and starts over again in a place where no one knows her or the mess she's left behind in West Virginia. Heading to Sea Gull Island—a tiny, remote Canadian island—Clara is ready for anything. Well, almost. She left her passport back home, and the only way she can enter Canada is by hitching a ride on a snowmobile and illegally crossing the border.
Deciding to reinvent herself, Clara takes a new identity—Sara Livingston, a writer seeking solitude. But there's no avoiding the outside world. The residents are friendly, and draw "Sara" into their lives and confidences. She volunteers at the local medical clinic, using her midwifery skills, and forms a tentative relationship with a local police officer.
But what will happen if she lets down her guard and reveals the real reason why she left her old life? One lesson soon becomes clear: no matter how far you run, you can never really hide from your past.

Purchase Links

Clara Perry is having a horrible year. First, a good friend commits suicide. Second, she finds out that her husband is cheating on her...again. And last, one of her midwifery patients dies in labor and Clara is wanted for questioning about medical negligence and possible manslaughter charges. Unable to cope with everything crashing down around her, Clara does the only thing she can think of and that's run. Not only does she run away from her husband and the medicolegal dilemmas facing her in West Virginia, she runs away from everything, taking all of the cash available in the bank, assuming a new identity, and leaves the country. She ends up on a small Canadian island off of Lake Erie across from Ohio. It is there that she finds the chance to find out what she wants from life and how she might be able to obtain it since she's living as not only a fugitive but also as an illegal immigrant. But how can she truly find herself if she's living a lie? Is it possible to run away from who we really are and build a new life on a shaky foundation?

I found The Runaway Midwife to be a fast-paced and entrancing read. Even though I was dealing with an increasingly severe migraine headache, I kept on reading simply because I had to know what happened next. (I did eventually wind up taking a break for a few hours to allow the pain medication to kick in, but I didn't want to set aside this story even for a cursed migraine.) I enjoyed reading about Clara/Sara's journey of self-discovery and the realization that the past might just come back to bite you when least expected. Ms. Harman incorporated so much more into this story than just run away from life's problems, there's an unsolved rape case on the island that has repercussions in the present, there's an initial divide between the life-long islanders and the so-called "hippies" that have moved in and are interested in living off the land, there's an environmental standoff when confronting development versus preservation, and then there's the socioeconomic adversity of a dwindling population and what can be done to maintain the island and the islander's lifestyles. This isn't just a story of running away from life's problems, it's also a story about new beginnings not just for Clara/Sara but for the island as well, and a story of hope. If you haven't read anything by Ms. Harman, you are sorely missing out. Her nonfiction, as well as her historical fiction books, are truly a delight to read (I'm not just saying that because she's a fellow West Virginian either). The Runaway Midwife is a recommended read by this blogger/reader and I hope that you'll enjoy it just as much as I did. Now, go out and get yourself a copy so you have something enjoyable to read this weekend. Just in case you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed reading The Runaway Midwife and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Harman in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About Patricia Harman

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.

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

This review is part of a tour brought to you by:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Guest Post: "First Lines" by Merry Jones, author of CHILD'S PLAY

I'm always thrilled and slightly amazed when an author agrees to visit my blog. Today is no different. I'm pleased to welcome Merry Jones, author of Child's Play. Ms. Jones will be discussing the idea of first lines, where do they come from and how important are they. Thank you, Ms. Jones, for taking a few minutes to share your thoughts on first lines with us.

First Lines
Merry Jones

Sometimes, writing fiction seems a lot like trying to pick up a Hot Stranger in a bar: The opening line makes or breaks us.  

If we blow that first line in a bar, the Stranger turns off, never to find out what scintillating people we are. In a book, the reader stops, never to find out what scintillating prose awaits them on page two.  

In other words, if we don't grab them immediately, it's over.

Or so writers sometimes think. Of course, grabbing doesn't have to involve a chokehold. But it does have to make readers (or Strangers) want to find out more. To engage them. Build curiosity. Create intrigue and draw them in.

Convinced about the importance of immediate grabbing, some writers sweat over these opening lines. Even talented, accomplished authors can find first lines daunting, getting intimidated, believing that these lines have to be perfect. Powerful. Strong. Meaningful. Dramatic. Unique. After all, these first sentences are supposed to set tone, establish style, lead readers into the world of the book—In short: hook them. 

So what is it, exactly, that makes a good opening line? Are there rules? Definitions? Does anyone really know?

Maybe looking at some will help. Of course, Snoopy's "It was a dark and stormy night" is unbeatable. But consider these:

"Mrs. Ferrars died on the night of the 16-17th September—a Thursday."  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
"Last night I dreamt I was in Manderley again."  Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
"Patsy sat by herself at the beginning of the evening, eating a melted chocolate bar."  Moving On, by Larry McMurtry
"They're out there."  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
"I am ninety."  Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
"It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills."  The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
"It was a Sunday morning at the peak of spring."  The Judgment, by Franz Kafka
"It was a slow Sunday afternoon, the kind Walden loved."  The Man from St. Petersburg, by Ken Follett

These opening lines are by iconic fiction writers. And, in a way, each sets a tone and presents key information. But, honestly, if you didn't know where these sentences came from, would you think they were anything special? Please. "It was a slow Sunday afternoon…"? Or, "It was about eleven o'clock in the morning…"? 

No, to me, the opening sentence isn't all that important. What's important is all the sentences that follow it. Without a compelling story and appealing characters, these opening lines, even though by such distinguished authors, would be just—well, sentences.  

So here's my theory: These iconic authors didn't worry about the opening sentence; they just started telling their stories. There has to be a beginning. That beginning might indicate time and place, might introduce a character. Might reveal a thought. Present a fact. Drop into the middle of some ongoing event or action. Whatever starts the telling makes the first sentence. Just as whatever concludes the story will make the last.

Mickey Spillane supposedly said that the beginning sells the novel and the end sells the next one. But that gives the first and last lines a lot of responsibility, causes lots of pressure. For me, the advice of my wise third-grade teacher works just fine and doesn't cause as much anxiety. Mrs. Kellen told her class, "The best way to start is to start."

So that's what I do. No pressure to create a perfect first sentence. No need for fancy phrasing or affected action. I just start.  

So far, that's worked well in writing. I imagine it would also work in picking up Hot Strangers in a bar. If you try it, let me know?

Merry Jones
Meet the author:

Merry Jones is the author of some twenty critically acclaimed books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been translated into seven languages. Her previous Elle Harrison novels have been The Trouble With Charlie and Elective Procedures. Jones lives with her husband in Philadelphia.

Catch Up with Merry online:

Website ,  Twitter , & Facebook 

Child's Play by Merry Jones

Child's Play

Merry Jones

February 1-28, 2017 Tour


Child's Play by Merry Jones
Since her husband's murder two years earlier, life hasn't been easy for Elle Harrison. Now, at the start of a new school year, the second grade teacher is determined to move on. She's selling her house and delving into new experiences―like learning trapeze.

Just before the first day of school, Elle learns that a former student, Ty Evans, has been released from juvenile detention where he served time for killing his abusive father. Within days of his release, Elle's school principal, who'd tormented Ty as a child, is brutally murdered. So is a teacher at the school. And Ty's former girlfriend. All the victims have links to Ty.
Ty's younger brother, Seth, is in Elle's class. When Seth shows up at school beaten and bruised, Elle reports the abuse, and authorities remove Seth and his older sister, Katie, from their home. Is Ty the abuser?
Ty seeks Elle out, confiding that she's the only adult he's ever trusted. She tries to be open-minded, even wonders if he's been wrongly condemned. But when she's assaulted in the night, she suspects that Ty is her attacker. Is he a serial killer? Is she his next intended victim?
Before Elle discovers the truth, she's caught in a deadly trap that challenges her deepest convictions about guilt and innocence, childhood and family. Pushed to her limits, she's forced to face her fears and apply new skills in a deadly fight to survive.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspsense
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date:  January 3rd 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1608091910 (ISBN13: 9781608091911)
Series: Elle Harrison Thriller #3 (Each can be read as a Stand Alone Novel)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Tour Participants:

Don't miss your chance to stop by these awesome sites for reviews, guest posts, interviews, & more great giveaways!

Oh, & Enter the Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for  Merry Jones. There will be 1 winner of one $15 Amazon.com Gift Cards AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Child's Play by Merry Jones. The giveaway begins on January 26th and runs through March 3rd, 2017.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

2017 Book #37: ALWAYS by Sarah Jio

Always by Sarah Jio 
ISBN: 9781101885024 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101885031 (ebook)
ASIN: B01FC02OS8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2016

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart's capacity to remember. 
While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 
When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants. 
Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Kailey Crane is a thirty-something-year-old journalist engaged to a good man, Ryan Winston. They are in the midst of arranging for the upcoming wedding and life is good. Well, as good as can be expected when you're engaged to someone involved in real estate and you're writing an investigate piece about how developers are in the process of destroying a necessary social services institution, namely a homeless shelter. Kailey and Ryan have their differences, but they do love one another and are looking forward to building a life together. Ryan knows that Kailey has a past and that her past has involved a lover or two, but he's willing to let the past stay in the past as long as they can build a future together. Everything is going well until the man from Kailey's past returns and his disappearance and return are surrounded by a mystery. Can Kailey ignore the old love of her life in order to build a new life? Can she help the old love of her life without destroying her new love life? And more importantly than either of these questions, is that old love truly dead?

I've just got to say that I loved Always. I ripped through this story without interruption in one sitting on Sunday evening. This story touched me in so many ways, but primarily because I have a good friend from high school that suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a severe beating and his recovery has been long and hard. Ms. Jio has taken several sensitive subject matters, traumatic brain injury or TBI and homelessness and incorporated them into a story about loss and love. I enjoyed the twin storylines, as they provide the reader with a glimpse of Kailey's early relationship with Cade and its development, as well as her current relationship with Ryan and the impact finding Cade has on it. I enjoyed all of the characters, the action, and the settings. Seriously, I loved this book and can foresee me rereading it over and over again. (Yes, it was just that good in my not-so-humble opinion.) Always is more than just a love story it is a story that pulls at the emotions as it asks what will and won't we do for the sake of love. If you've read any of Ms. Jio's writings then I encourage you to go out and grab a copy of Always to read. If you've never read anything by Ms. Jio then Always may be the perfect starter book. I will say this, set aside enough time to read uninterrupted and for those of you that get a little misty when reading emotionally laden books, grab some tissues. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

2017 Book #35: THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY by Meredith Jaeger

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger 
ISBN: 9780062469830 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062469847 (ebook)
ASIN: B01G1GD9WM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 7, 2017 

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco's gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband's wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways.
An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom...
San Francisco: 1876
Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city's most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna's future is altered forever. With Margaret's encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret's fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision...one that will echo through the generations.
San Francisco: Present Day
In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer's block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?

Sarah Schmidt Havensworth is struggling to complete her MFA degree. The novel she's working on is not coming together and Sarah doesn't want to tell her husband or her academic advisor. Then Sarah has a spark that quickly becomes an inner fire when she reads about two immigrant women from the late 19th century. Sarah finds herself pulled to find out the truth behind this missing and presumed dead women from over a hundred years in the past. Little does Sarah know that this story has ties to her husband's family past and there are some secrets that are best kept in the dark.

The Dressmaker's Dowry is told in alternating voices of Sarah Havensworth and Hannelore "Hanna" Schaeffer. Hanna is a hardworking seamstress struggling to provide for her younger siblings and avoid the physical abuse heaped on them all by their alcoholic father. When Hanna's father becomes abusive to the point of serious injury Hanna does the only thing she knows to do and that's run. She takes her younger siblings and leaves, but she refuses to leave town until she knows the fate of her missing friend and co-worker Margaret. The only person she knows that might help her is Lucas Havensworth, the only wealthy customer that ever treated her as a fellow human being worthy of kindness instead of as a lowly servant deserving scorn and ridicule. Not only does Lucas help Hanna with her search for her friend, but he takes Hanna and her siblings to his family's home and offers refuge. Will they be able to find the truth about Margaret before she becomes a victim of the rampant crime in town? Sarah's journey is to seek the truth about these two missing women, be there for her friends, and be supportive of her husband's growing business. The more Sarah learns about Hanna, the more she realizes that Hanna may have close ties to her husband's family. She also must quietly contend with threats against continuing to seek the truth about what happened to Hanna and Margeret. Will she be able to reveal the truth about Hanna and Margaret without having her secrets revealed? Will that secret be the death knell for her marriage?

I found The Dressmaker's Dowry to be a fast-paced and engaging read. I enjoy reading stories that combine contemporary and historical storylines and Ms. Jaeger has done an admirable job with Hanna and Sarah's stories. The author provides the reader with glimpses into the past, especially the lives of immigrants in an inhospitable environment. That storyline is nicely melded with the contemporary storyline that includes social entrepreneurship on the part of Sarah's husband Hunter Havensworth, who has a clothing company that offers free clothing to the homeless for every clothing item sold. Both storylines focus on the haves and the have-nots in society and how many of the "haves" talk a good game about raising funds and awareness for the "have-nots" but don't want to get their hands dirty by actually dealing with these people. Yes, there's a lot more going on in the story than just missing women and social entrepreneurship, there's child abuse, poverty, family secrets and the lengths people will go to just to protect those secrets, and romance. If you enjoy reading historical fiction or stories with a realistic bent, then you'll definitely want to add The Dressmaker's Dowry to your TBR list. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Jaeger in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."