The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen



Description (via Net Galley)

A Note From the Publisher

If you read me, you know I LOVE Rhys Bowen’s books — Molly Murphy Mysteries, Royal Spyness mysteries, Tuscan Child, In Farleigh Field, etc. etc. This novel is a stand alone, historical fiction piece, that reminded me a bit of In Farleigh Field, as it was a war story. I loved Emily’s character and found the historical piece so interesting — young women volunteering to work on farms in the British countryside as “land girls’. She is quite resourceful and plucky, though when she becomes pregnant she certainly has to make some decisions as to where her future will lie. There is a bit of mystery, too, as to the history of the cottage where she lives and its former inhabitant. All in all it was a great read and I hope Ms. Bowen continues to writes historical stand alones!
Thank you for my review e-copy!

HFVBTour for Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton with Giveaway!

02_Lilli de Jong Paperback.jpg

I’m thrilled today to take part with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours to promote Janet Benton’s amazing novel: Lilli de Jong (which I originally received from Net Galley)


Paperback Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Anchor Books
Paperback; 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.

Lilli confides this story to her diary as it unfolds, taking readers from a charity for unwed mothers to a wealthy family’s home and onto the streets of a burgeoning American city. Her story offers a rare and harrowing view into a time when a mother’s milk is crucial for infant survival. Written with startling intimacy and compassion, this accomplished novel is both a rich historical depiction and a testament to the saving force of a woman’s love.


NPR Best Books of 2017
Library Journal Best Historical Fiction 2017
Bustle The 17 Best Debut Novels by Woman in 2017
An Amazon Best Book of May 2017
Semifinalist in historical fiction, Goodreads Choice Awards, 2017
Finalist, David J. Langum Prize in Historical Fiction, 2017

Praise for Lilli de Jong

“A heartrending debut…Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.”—Publishers Weekly

“Powerful, authentic… A heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“I loved this novel. It’s deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous.”—Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute…A gripping read.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Piece of the World

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow

“A captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.”—The Millions

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr… Stunning!”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“A stunning ode to motherhood.” —Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“A new feminist classic…Benton’s writing is shrewd and beautiful.”—Philly Voice

“Eloquent and powerful.”—HuffPost Books

“This is both a super lush historical novel and an amazing feminist manifesto…Buy it for everyone.”—Book Riot

“You would be hard-pressed to find a more intimate—even revolutionary—depiction of the emotional and sensory experiences of motherhood.”—UMass Magazine

“A brilliantly quiet novel with a spine of steel.”—Read It Forward

“[What a] monumental accomplishment the novel achieves. . . . Benton holds a mirror up to the past and in doing so, illustrates how far we have come as well as how far we have yet to go.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

JANET BENTON’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has cowritten and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For decades she has taught writing at universities and privately and has helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit for more information. You can also find Janet on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 13
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, August 15
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Friday, August 17
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Monday, August 20
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, August 23
Feature at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 28
Review at Dressed to Read

Friday, August 31
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 3
Review at Oh, October

Friday, September 7
Review at The Book Mind

Tuesday, September 11
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, September 12
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, September 13
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of Lilli de Jong to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents 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:

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng (Read by Jennifer Lim)


From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

(from Amazon)


Wow! I loved Celeste Ng’s first book, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and I loved this one as well. What a great story. Ng has a way with words, and her prose paints such a vivid depiction of daily life. It’s all in the details.

This was a captivating story, which I listened to on my commute. You could see where things were headed and that disaster was looming on the horizons, but I just couldn’t stop listening. Devastating yet memorable, this was one of my fave books of 2017.

I got mine from Audible, and you can, too — or get it an your local favorite indie bookshop, online, or at the library!

DUTY TO THE CROWN by Aimie Runyan


Via GoodReads:
Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

Praise for Promised to the Crown
“A heart-wrenching and timeless tale of friendship, love and hope that skillfully blends history and romance to educate, entertain and inspire.” –Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (less)

ebook, 352 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Kensington
I absolutely love this historical fiction series about the young women who were “Daughters of the King” – sent to Canada as the “New Land” to marry and populate for the good of France in the 1600’s. This was Book 2 in the series, and it continues the story of the characters introduced in Book 1, with individuals growing older as the books go along. Three young girls from Book 1 are now young women, and they have many trials and tribulations to face as they tackle pioneer life in the 1600’s. I love how these books encompass the highs and lows of life — births, deaths, joys, and sorrows.
I can’t wait for Book 3!
Thank you to the author who sent me this copy as she knew how much I enjoyed Book 1!
BBC – what are you waiting for? Make a miniseries from these novels!!

LIFE CREATIVE by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart with Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Today I’m part of the Litfuse Publicity tour for the new book by Christian authors, Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart:

Book info
About the book:

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom(Kregel, September 2016)

What was God thinking when He created you creativeand then gave you children?

Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down. But God had something special in mind for the creative woman during this intense season of mothering.

In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children’s parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes, and blogs filled with poetry and prose, it is clear that we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance. Not one born in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but rather in kitchens, nurseries, and living rooms around the world. Mothers, working in the cracks and crevices of each hectic day, are adorning the world with their gifts, and they’re showing all of us the beauty of this Life Creative.

In this book, you’ll learn:

-Why the world needs your art
-How this Life Creative begins at home
-When art can turn a profit
-Your part in this modern day Renaissance

Life Creative paints the stories of moms, just like you, who are fitting their inspired lives into the everyday, ordinary places of motherhood. Women like home decorator Melissa Michaels and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard, author Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb, and many more.

Purchase a copy:

About the authors:

Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt teacher. She ministers to women’s hearts through storytelling and life applications, utilizing drama, comedy, poetry and the study of God’s Word. During her career in Hollywood, Speake found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women. She is the author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses (BRU Press, 2015). Speake is a wife and homeschooling mother of three boys.

Kelli Stuart is a writer and a storyteller at heart. She has written for several websites including The Huffington Post, 5 Minutes for Mom, The MOB Society, (in)courage and Compassion International. She is the author of three books, including Like a River from Its Course (Kregel Publications, 2016) and a noted speaker. Stuart her husband live in Florida with their four children.


Is there room for creativity and children in a mother’s life? Learn how to balance home, art, and family in Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart’s new book, Life Creative. In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children’s parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes, and blogs filled with poetry and prose, it is clear that we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance. Life Creative paints the stories of moms, just like you, who are fitting their inspired lives into the everyday, ordinary places of motherhood.

Join Wendy, Kelli, and other moms in celebrating the beauty of being a creative mom by entering to win the Called to Be Creative Giveaway (details below) and by attending their author chat party on October 27!


One grand prize winner will receive:


Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 10/27. The winner will be announced at the Life Creative Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Wendy, Kelli, and other creative moms, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!


Thank you, Litfuse and Kregel Publications, for my review copy!

Quick Review: ONE GOOD EGG by Suzy Becker

I had heard of Suzy Becker – we live in the same small town – so I was happy to see ONE GOOD EGG pop up on Net Galley. I downloaded a galley to read and also contacted Suzy (I hope to follow up this review with an author interview!).

ONE GOOD EGG is Suzy’s very personal story of finding her life partner and wife, Lorene, and their quest to have a baby. Suzy’s struggles with infertility and their journey to motherhood is the basis of this book – often told so humorously it had me laughing aloud. Suzy has illustrated this memoir with line drawings, most of which are witty, too. Beyond the “top story” of Suzy’s journey through life decisions, infertility, fertilization (from donor friend Steve), pregnancy, and childbirth, is a touching and very candid look inside a very likable and honest woman.

While some readers may find this book’s honesty about Suzy’s pregnancy too personal, others will be nodding their heads in recognition of a journey that was similar to their own.

Thank you, Suzy, for sharing your very personal experience with us -and the offer of an author interview still stands! 🙂

Thanks, Net Galley and Bloomsbury USA, for my digital download!

Review: SISTERLAND by Curtis Sittenfeld

Coming out next Tuesday, June 25, is Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel SISTERLAND – a story weaving twins, relationships, ESP, marital issues and relationships, and earthquakes into its plot. Twins Daisy and Violet share a special bond and use their ESP to gain popularity in school. When accused of being a witch, Daisy decides to never use her “senses” again. The girls grow up and Daisy changes her name to Kate, marries a stable young college professor, and has two children. Vi embraces her quirkiness and becomes a psychic, using her powers to locate an abducted child. Now in current day, the girls are in their twenties and living where they grew up, St. Louis . Vi becomes convinced that a major earthquake is looming. Kate agrees. Violet’s prediction going public leads to a chain of events that threatens all that Kate holds dear. Will the prediction prove to be right?

This story certainly had a lot going on in it! Along the relationship front, Kate is struggling with her at-home mom role, while building a “best friendship” with her neighbor Hank (whose wife works with Kate’s husband). Violet is tentatively trying out a lesbian relationship. Meanwhile, Kate is quite tethered to her two children who are about 1 and 3 (one is nursing – quite regularly throughout the book). I found the ESP portion of the book really interesting. Their “senses” (as they called them) weren’t extraordinary or freaky. They just knew things with a certainty, or had dreams of things. A lot of it seemed like good guessing and common sense to me (with the exception of finding the abducted child by visualizing his kidnapper). I kept reading this book and couldn’t put it down because it was moving towards the date of the predicted earthquake (October 16). I had to know: would it happen? Would they be okay? What would happen if Vi was completely wrong?

I won’t say whether the earthquake happens or not — but I will say some things do occur that are brought about by everything happening in this book. At one point I almost shouted at Kate: “NO! Wait! Stop! Don’t do this!” I found Kate a very likable character, though she was rather immature and self-centered. I thought it was interesting how the twins were so disparate in personality at the beginning of the novel – almost like two parts of the same person – and then both went more to the middle of the continuum. Violet was a bit of a disaster in the beginning, then made some strides to get her life together. Kate was ultra-organized to the point of being an autotron, and she became more human. I liked this piece of character development.

One thing that did throw me off was the point of view at the end. Throughout the book the story is told in Kate’s voice, moving towards October 16, with various pertinent flashbacks thrown in to provide “back story”. Then, post 10/16, the story moves to a future perspective, telling the story from looking back on it from a few years afterwards.  This shift threw me for a bit and felt awkward to me.

Overall, I really liked this novel. I loved PREP and AMERICAN WIFE and really like Ms. Sittenfeld’s writing. Her characters are well drawn and she has a flair for humor.

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my ARC – I was quite psyched to get it!

Review: RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA: A NOVEL by Kimberly McCreight

It seems that RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA is all over the blogosphere these days, so I requested it from the library. There were a ton of holds already ahead of me. When it didn’t materialize after a month, I purchased it for my kindle. I had heard a lot about this book and it didn’t disappoint me!

In RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA, high powered attorney Kate Baron gets a phone call from her daughter’s private school that there’s been an incident of cheating and her daughter is being suspended. When she reaches the school, her daughter Amelia is dead, apparently having committed suicide by jumping off the roof. “Sorry” is written on the wall near where Amelia was. Then Kate receives a text: “She didn’t jump”. Thus begins Kate’s journey into discovering who her daughter really was – her secrets, her desires, her inner self. Kate harbors a lot of guilt for being a working single mom, and she seeks to prove that Amelia did not commit suicide and she did not plagiarize. The more she digs, the more she finds, and that makes her rethink all that she thought she knew.

This story is told in present day tense (Kate’s voice) and then through flashback (Amelia’s voice), texts, blog posts, and emails. Even though it jumped around a lot chronologically, I liked that way of telling the story.

There were some of elements in this story that did NOT work for me (SPOILER ALERT!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!). For instance, this principal at Grace Hall had a lot of spare time on his hands (having worked in independent schools for over twenty years I can tell you that spare time for a headmaster is rare!). Also, no one questioned the writing on the wall at first. And Amelia didn’t think it odd that Ben got her private cell number supposedly from Princeton since they would be attending a summer session there (strangers, but both attending, and Princeton just gives it out?). Kate, supposedly brilliant, was the last to figure out who Amelia’s father was (I figured it out before she did – lol). And that English teacher?? Can we say: quick way to lose your job?

But – overlooking these things – I found this novel to be compelling and thought-provoking, suspenseful and exciting. I could hardly put it down because I wanted to know what happened. My only sadness was that it started with Amelia’s death and I knew she wasn’t coming back. Having the book in her voice and getting to know her made for a poignant reading experience.

Here’s a book trailer I found on You Tube for this book — also found on the Amazon page — it’s interesting and thought-provoking!!