Spotlight on: One April After the War by G. S. Boarman

I’m shining a spotlight today on an interesting book that I received in April and found very engaging: One April After the War. April 1870, when this story takes place, and April 2022 lined up and a calendar accompanied my ARC, complete with notations of what occurred in the novel on any given day.

This book is actually book one of a series.

Here’s the overview:

Louisville, KY – Experience what life was like almost 200 years ago in G. S Boarman’s new series. One April After the War (GS Boarman, April 2022) follows the eccentric Mary Warner and the secret agents assigned to ensure her protection during her journey to Washington. 

Fresh from concluding a counterfeiting sting in Cincinnati, Secret Service agents Merritt and Argent are tasked by President Ulysses S. Grant to convince Miss Warner to return with them to Washington, D.C. For the two Treasury agents, this simple assignment to escort the socially awkward and willful young woman on an 800-mile railroad journey from Louisville, Kentucky to the White House proves far more interesting and difficult than the men could have ever thought possible. And, in the face of danger, it may just turn out that Mary is more of an asset than a problem for the two agents.

For Mary Warner, the trip begins to take on a sinister meaning as she finds herself a virtual prisoner to Merritt and Argent. Madness, morality, and murder all swirl in a strange April storm at midnight turning this odd odyssey into something so much more than a mere trip between cities.

And here’s some info on the author, who is new to me:

G. S. Boarman: After the death of G. S. Boarman, a great niece cleaned out the old Kentucky family farmhouse and in the attic, amid the rusting coffee mill, the rickety outdated furniture that was still awaiting repairs, and the stacks of vermin-eaten Harper’s Weekly’s and Police Gazette’s, she found a curious box marked simply “M”.

On the kitchen floor, the metal hasps were flipped back and the top pried off. Lying on the top of a very neat and orderly collection of things was a scrapbook and lying loose inside the scrapbook was a note that said simply, “Please finish the story.” The scrapbook itself contained a rough outline of a narrative with sometimes undecipherable glosses and cryptic references to mysterious sources.

From letters and notebooks, ledgers and calendars, train schedules and stockholders’ reports, the story was slowly extracted and pieced together, and the small treasures, carefully wrapped and preserved in the box, took their place in the narrative.

Boarman’s will had already been read, probated, and executed, but the niece, as executrix, felt obligated to fulfill Boarman’s last wish — to breathe life into the long-ago story of a woman who held some importance to Boarman.

Ms. Boarman shared a Q&A session that I found really interesting.

  1. What sort of historical research did you do for One April After the War? What was your most helpful resource? 

The first book I picked up that really inspired me to start writing was Illegal Tender: Counterfeiting and the Secret Service in Nineteenth-Century America (by David R. Johnson). Once I started formulating a plot and characters, I read any book or online source that I could find: books on counterfeiting, railroads (especially the iconic B&O), trains (types of engines, cars, boilers, brakes, anything), Grant’s presidency, the Secret Service (not much there), Reconstruction. Any time a new subject presented itself, I read about it, sometimes putting my book aside for weeks and months. But the most constant source was, which gave me the really interesting little tidbits that I think make the story seem real.

  1. Why did you choose Kentucky as the setting for your book?

I am a native Kentuckian, so it is natural that I should write about my home state. But more than that, I think Kentucky has been overlooked in regards to the consequences of being a border state during the Civil War. I think Kentucky suffered a true identity crisis at that time, both internally as well as externally (how the rest of the nation viewed her). I think Kentucky’s dual identity — as both a Union and a rebel state — was an ideal background for Mary Warner, struggling with her own identity.

  1. How does your book bend the gender roles that existed at the time period?

First, Mary Warner did not set out to break gender rules; she simply did not want to live under someone else’s arbitrary (as she saw them) rules. In some ways, she was childish about gender roles — she simply did not want to be denied all the things she saw her brothers could have as well as other men that she, frankly, thought she could best and therefore was better deserving of these social perks. The most outward way she exercised her objections was to wear pants, or trousers. She was not willing to do so in public but she refused to wear dresses while on her own land. At the time of the story, a woman could be jailed for wearing male attire and there were a few women who openly challenged authority on that score. Dr. Mary Walker was famous for wearing men’s clothing out in public and she was routinely followed by angry crowds who threw food and other organic material at her.

  1. Why did you choose to set your story in the late 1800s? 

I wanted the story to happen in the early days of the Secret Service, which began in April 1865. The first chief of the SS was morally unappealing, as were many of his operatives, and I did not want to showcase that period. The second chief came in 1868 and there was a decided improvement in the ethics and professionalism of the Service. Then, I simply decided that my story would cover the entire decade 1870-1880. 1870 was far enough after the war that the nation was trying to move on, but not so far as to be a distant memory for the characters.

  1. What historical artifacts have you collected in order to help you ground your story? 

I have inherited, through my mother’s family, several old pieces of furniture and a box full of old late-19th century photographs (none of them with names on them) and a slew of old books. My most prized possession, however, is my paternal grandfather’s gold pocket watch, given to him for his years of service on the old L&N railroad. This watch is an important item in the books.

  1. How did you feel when you discovered the April connection and how do you hope readers incorporate that into their reading experience? 

All while I was writing and researching the book(s), I would periodically come across little tidbits of information that I took to be signs that I was meant to write this book. The first time this idea hit me came when I was looking at old maps of Martinsburg (central to Book III) and found that one of the streets was named Eulalia (Mary Warner’s middle name, the source of her pet family name Lally). The last time this feeling hit me came when I realized that April of 2022, when I planned to release the book, was the same as April of 1870; that is, they both start on Friday and Easter falls on April 17. The full moon falls a little earlier this year, but only by a day or two, not enough to affect Easter’s date. The Easter date was especially important because that meant that each chapter of Holy Week corresponded perfectly with Holy Week of this year. It just seemed a perfect and somehow ordained coincidence, so that readers can follow the story and the journey of the characters as it happened, so to speak, day by day (one chapter for each day of the month), this April, as if it were being re-lived this year.

If you like stories of the 1800’s with strong, interesting women characters, do yourself a favor and read One April After the War by G. S. Boarman, even though this April is past! The story is continued in Book 2. And I see there is Book 3, which takes place in June and follows our June 2022 exactly — so get reading!

Two for My Ears!

I’ve been very remiss in posting about audiobooks lately, so I wanted to highlight two recent ones that I’ve listened to during my commute: The Huntress by Kate Quinn and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

I loved Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network so I was excited to get The Huntress on audiobook via Audible. Here’s the overview of the story:

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today best-selling novel The Alice Network comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted….

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, 17-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes home with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past – only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family…secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth. 

So – I loved this story and found it really intriguing and I really enjoyed the narrator (Saskia Maarleveld) who is awesome with accents; however, this is looooong. Over 19 hours long. Apparently the book is over 550 pages. It was great, but I listened to it over weeks in the car and I got confused due to the changes in time that were happening in the narrative, as well as the number of characters. The story was well-written and engaging, but next time, I would choose to read it and not try to listen to it over weeks while I’m driving.

Another lengthy listen that I enjoyed, though it was disturbing, was Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, a sequel to A Handmaid’s Tale, which I read when it first published many years ago. This dystopian novel follows the first one, but can be read as a stand alone.

Here’s the overview:

Number one New York Timesbest seller

Winner of the Booker Prize

The Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be enjoyed on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale.

More than 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

This was over 13 hours long, and at times depressing and disturbing, but it was true Margaret Atwood: well-written and makes you think. It had multiple narrators, with Ms. Atwood being one of them. Even if you haven’t read Handmaid’s Tale or watched it on Hulu, I would recommend this story.

My audiobooks today were purchased using my Audible monthly credits from my subscription.

Blog Tour for: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

I love the Katie Gayle “Epiphany Bloom Mysteries”, so I was so excited when my friends at Bookouture wrote about a new series that Ms. Gayle (or should I say Ms. Gayles?) is writing, featuring a, what I’ll call, “middle aged”, recently divorced woman (Julia Bird) who ends up solving mysteries in a small English town (why do we not have quaint villages full of mysteries here in the US like the British do??). I loved this story, which read like a modern day Agatha Christie. Well-plotted and well-paced, I didn’t want to put it down. If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll love this one!

Here’s the scoop:

Book Description:

Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswolds village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village – from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity, until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect… drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia – newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper – despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wide, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?

This totally addictive page-turning cozy mystery is perfect for fans of M.C. Beaton, Faith Martin and Betty Rowlands.

Author Bio:

Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats.

Sign up to be the first to hear about new releases from Katie Gayle here:

Buy Link: (NOT affiliated with BBNB)


Audio Links:


Listen to a sample here:

You can sign up for all the best Bookouture deals you’ll love at:

THANK YOU for my copy and for making me part of the tour!!

Spotlight on DARLING GIRL by Liz Michalski

My friends over at Wunderkind PR sent me some info on this intriguing new novel, based on the Peter pan story, but set in modern day. It just published this week! I see that it is available on Audible as well.


In this beautiful, grounded, and darkly magical modern-day reimagining of J. M. Barrie’s classic, to save her daughter’s life one woman must take on the infamous Peter Pan—who is not the innocent adventurer the fairy tales make him out to be . . .

Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy—yes, that Wendy. She’s running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she’s been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.

Eden’s disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly—ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up—which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to—her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it’s too late… or she may lose both her children.

Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.


Author bio: 

Liz Michalski is the author of Evenfall and a contributor to Writer Unboxed, dubbed a “best of the best” website for writers by Writer’s Digest. DARLING GIRL is her second novel. Liz also contributed to Author in Progress, a manual for aspiring writers. A former reporter and editor, Liz now crafts articles on human interest, living, and health as a freelance writer. She lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she loves reading fairy tales and sometimes, writing them.

Visit Liz on her website and socials! 

Website: | Twitter: @MichalskiLiz | Instagram: @lizmichalskiauthor | Facebook: @author.LizMichalski

Here’s some praise from notables!

Advance Praise for DARLING GIRL

“A fascinating contemporary drama which dives deeply into themes of aging, generational trauma, and the things parents are willing to do for—or to—their children…This dark, magical tale is sure to win fans.”Publishers Weekly“A compelling and richly imagined twist on an old story, Liz Michalski’s   Darling Girl captured me on page one and hasn’t released me yet. An emotionally gripping demonstration that a mother’s love, when tested, can become a force of nature. I will never look at Neverland and its inhabitants the same way again.” 
—Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader

“A dark and elegant look at a story we all know well. Liz Michalski takes Peter Pan where all the old stories go, where magic is never without a cost, and pixie dust might be more powerful than you imagine. Fantastic!” 
—Barbara O’Neal, When We Believed in Mermaids

“A captivating question quivers at the center of the engrossing novel,   Darling Girl: What if   Peter Pan isn’t   just a story? While meeting the Peter Pan you never knew, reading   Darling Girl is like falling under the enchanting spell of Liz Michalski prose. As with all true magic, there must be both the seductive darkness and the illuminating light: Michalski masterfully gives us both.   Darling Girl introduces us to the Darling family decades away from Wendy and Peter, descendants who are grappling with secrets that protect a family mythology and a boy who will never grow up. With a young girl and her fiercely protective mother at the center of a spellbinding story,   Darling Girl is powerful and captivating. Neverland and the reader will never be the same again.”  
— Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author

“A dark and dazzling tale. Liz Michalski has used her own magic wand to shed light on the lengths we go to in order to preserve the myth of beauty, the myth of youth, and even the myth of fairytales themselves.” 
—   Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author

“Darling Girl is a richly written story of what it means to live in the wake of a fairy tale, and the strength and courage it takes to step out of that shadow and find your own story. Full of heartache, sacrifice, and bravery, this is a book that will linger in a reader’s thoughts.” 
—   Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians