Lords of St. Thomas by Jackson Ellis

A few months ago, I received a copy of Lords of St. Thomas from the author, Jackson Ellis. This novel is the story of a family who is one of the remaining inhabitants of St. Thomas, Nevada, a town that is set to be demolished and go “underwater” with the expansion of Lake Mead. Henry, the main character, is a young boy, and we see his family and his daily life through a child’s eyes, whether he is playing under the house in his secret spot, going to school, or just riding the ups and downs of life.

Here’s the overview:

Winner of the 2017 Howard Frank Mosher First Novel PrizeShortlisted for the 2016 Plaza Literary Prize
In the Mojave Desert, at the southern end of the isolated Moapa Valley, sat the town of St. Thomas, Nevada. A small community that thrived despite scorching temperatures and scarce water, St. Thomas was home to hardy railroad workers, farmers, shopkeepers, teachers, and a lone auto mechanic named Henry Lord.

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Lord lived in a small home beside his garage with his son, Thomas, his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his grandson, “Little” Henry. All lived happily until the stroke of a pen by President Coolidge authorizing the construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Within a decade, more than 250 square miles of desert floor would become flooded by the waters of the Colorado River, and St. Thomas would be no more.

In the early 1930s, the federal government began buying out the residents of St. Thomas, yet the hardheaded Henry Lord, believing the water would never reach his home, refused to sell. It was a mistake that would cost him―and his family―dearly.

Lords of St. Thomas details the tragedies and conflicts endured by a family fighting an unwinnable battle, and their hectic and terrifying escape from the flood waters that finally surge across the threshold of their front door. Surprisingly, it also shows that, sometimes, you can go home again, as Little Henry returns to St. Thomas 60 years later, after Lake Mead recedes, to retrieve a treasure he left behind―and to fulfill a promise he made as a child.

I will admit that I have a strange fascination for stories about towns underwater. I grew up near one and there’s one not far from where I live now. The whole idea of a town lying beneath the stillness of a lake is both terrifying and oddly compelling. So my odd predilection for books about flooded towns drew me to this novel, but the strong writing and storyline kept me reading. I really enjoyed it and still think about little Henry. I would recommend it highly.

Thank you for my review copy!

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

 

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Description

A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the story behind the picture is worth a thousand more…

Philadelphia, 1931. A young, ambitious reporter named Ellis Reed photographs a pair of young siblings on the front porch of a farmhouse next to a sign: “2 children for sale.”

With the help of newspaper secretary Lily Palmer, Ellis writes an article to accompany the photo. Capturing the hardships of American families during the Great Depression, the feature story generates national attention and Ellis’s career skyrockets.

But the photograph also leads to consequences more devastating than ever imagined—and it will take jeopardizing everything Ellis and Lily value to unravel the mystery and set things right.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers throughout the country, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of ambition, redemption, love, and family.

 

I love Kristina McMorris’ writing, and was thrilled to receive this galley through Net Galley. I actually thought of the picture that this novel is based on as I’ve seen it, too, so I had the picture perfect (no pun intended) image in mind while reading. This is such a sad but moving story, reminding us that sometimes desperate people do desperate things. The main characters, Ellis and Lily, want to right the wrong that was done and put themselves on the line to do it.

I love a book that has self-forgiveness and redemption as a theme, and that ran throughout, culminating in a satisfying ending.

I follow Ms. McMorris on Facebook and she seems like a lovely and positive person. This is the second novel of hers that I’ve read – and it won’t be the last! Thank you for my e-copy!

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me, you know I adore the Royal Spyness books, with clumsy yet likable Georgie (34th in line to the throne) and her solving of mysteries that seem to find her wherever she goes. There’s a likable cast of characters throughout, including her stage actress and completely self-absorbed mother, her East London rough grandfather, her dashing beau Darcy (Irish and Catholic!), and her always bumbling maid, Queenie.

We’ve been waiting for books and books for Georgie and Darcy to get together and to marry. Will it finally finally happen??

Publishing today, this novel is a great addition to an already favorite series. You can read it alone or mix them up, but I like reading them as soon as they are published!

Thanks for my e-copy to review via Net Galley.

THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE by Melanie Benjamin

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I love Melanie Benjamin’s writing, so I was excited to find this book on Net Galley. If you know me, you know I LOVE reading about the heyday of Hollywood. This novel is a fictionalized account based on the true story of the relationship between Frances Marion and Mary Pickford.  I didn’t know any of this and found it both interesting, and a bit sad. If you like reading about old Hollywood, you’ll enjoy this one!

Here’s the description:

Description

For My Ears: BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate – Read by Emily Rankin

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Wow! This story was recommended online in the blogisphere, and I thought I might enjoy it, but I was blown away by this story of a family torn apart and the young girl who tries to keep her siblings together against all odds.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

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While these children weren’t real, this is based on true events, and you will be forever haunted at the shocking and terrible things that happened to poor families in the Depression and post-Depression era South. Normally I don’t like disturbing books centered on children, but this story was so compelling, and I loved the character of Rill so much, along with the fact that the present day protagonist was unraveling the mystery of the family tree, I just could not stop listening!

Beautifully narrated, it’s a story you won’t soon forget.

I used my audible credit for this one.

Rhys Bowen’s On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service

 

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If you read me, you know I love ALL Rhys Bowen’s novels, but I particularly enjoy the Royal Spyness Mysteries with Lady Georgiana and her adventures that are both exciting and funny. I never find this series boring as each installment is unique and engaging.

Here’s what is happening this time:

Description (via Net Galley)

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Poor Georgie! Will she ever be able to marry Darcy?? Will good friend Belinda ever think of anyone except herself and her enjoyment? Will Georgie’s mother act like a mother for once?
You’ll have to read it to find out!
I hope Ms. Bowen continues writing these novels for quite some time. She’s a bit of an Agatha Christie — you just never get tired of her!
Thank you for my review e-copy!

HFVBTour for ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC by J.B. Rivard with GIVEAWAY!

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I’m happy to be shouting it out today for the interesting novel: ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC, which I received through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Here’s the overview:

Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago
by J.B. Rivard

Publication Date: April 17, 2016
eBook; 233 Pages
ASIN: B01EGSC8N8

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

READ AN EXCERPT.

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The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Illusions of Magic, set in Chicago in early 1933, does a masterful job of telling the highly entertaining love story between an out-of-work magician and his old flame . . . Rivard creates a historically accurate background for his cast of fascinating characters, creating a moving novel . . .” —Dr. Willard Oliver, Professor at Sam Houston State University and co-author of Killing the President.

Illusions of Magic, a story of political intrigue in 1930s Chicago, is written in an informative, yet entertaining style. Rivard weaves into his narrative the true story of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak’s murder and he does it with accuracy and complete authenticity . . . Each chapter powers along, insisting you read ‘just one more’ part. The taut writing has a ‘made for the movies’ tension . . .” —Mel Ayton, author of The Forgotten Terrorist and Hunting the President.

[The] attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in…1933…is part of the dramatic backdrop of Rivard’s fast-paced and punchy novel….Nick Zetner’s adventures, part screwball comedy and part Dashiell Hammett, combine with the richly authentic atmosphere of the setting to create a quick and very enjoyable read that smoothly intermingles Nick’s love life with a challenging case he takes on for a corrupt banker. The book reads like a breath of fresh air – recommended.” -Joanna Urquhart, Historical Novel Society

About the Author

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Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.

As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.

Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.

For more information, please visit the Illusions of Magic website.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 9
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 10
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, January 11
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, January 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 13
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, January 19
Review at Laura’s Interests

Friday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, January 23
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 24
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, January 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, January 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 27
Review & Interview at Quitterstrip

Giveaway!

To win a paperback copy of Illusions of Magic by J.B. Rivard, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/MmmM2/illusions-of-magic