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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

[Blog Tour Review, Excerpt & Giveaway] The Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini





The Blue Hour: A NovelSometimes you get a second chance to live the life you’ve always wanted…if you’re brave enough to take the chance.

In this epic tale of love, loss, and redemption, the year is 1861, a time when women are expected to be married by a certain age. At 26, spinster Emily Wainwright has no reason to believe her sheltered life will ever change — until the charming Samuel Todd unexpectedly crosses her path.

Samuel yearns to homestead and start a family in Oregon, but he first needs to find a wife. Blinded by Samuel’s good looks, and grasping at her final chance to have a husband and children, Emily accepts his marriage proposal. However, Samuel is not the man she thought he was, and her marriage becomes a cold, cruel prison, offering her no solace amidst the hardships of farm life.

When Samuel dies and a second chance at love and happiness arrives in the form of farmhand Cole Walker, Emily must overcome her bitter past—or risk losing Cole and the life she has always dreamed of having.
 

It's no secret on the blog that I'm an avid lover of historical fiction especially historical fiction with a strong female lead and Vicki Righettini put forth a wonderfully written debut showcasing her newcomer talents.

Emily Wainwright is our 26 year old heroine, She's intelligent, resourceful, steadfast and very much a woman after my own heart. I loved everything about her. She was perfectly imperfect in her actions through out the whole novel. I might not have always found myself agreeing with her choices that she was making especially in terms of Samuel (her husband). Yet, there was so much to like about her. Her kindness, her willingness not to give up in the face of extreme adversity while dealing with her husband's wretched red hot temper and the uncertainty of being a woman travelling the Oregon trail in the 1860's. I found her to be rather inspiring, perhaps because I, like Emily am 26 and I find our lives so different from each other. In her day at 26 years old she was shelved as a spinster, yet my peers are considered much to young to get married. I found Vicki Righettini writing of her to be beautiful. Rarely do I find such a character that is so well written that I should like to be their friend but in The Blue Hour she certainly did it.

In my reading of it, found it to be rich in historical details. As a Canadian I have very limited knowledge of many things that American's would know already. I'd never even heard of the Oregon Trail before and I'm a die hard reader. I enjoyed seeing the authors take on the social injustices that were the norm of Emily's day. To me there's nothing like reading a book about women pioneers and Emily certainly was a trailblazer that while not a real person, was inspiring nonetheless.

I reveled in being transported to the Oregon Trail with Emily. The smell of the rich dirt, mixed with the musty smell of leaves, to the warm smell of valley's of tall grass baking in the sun I couln't help but fall in love with the picture of the setting that the author put forth.

For me this book was part historical fiction (with a tad bit of romance to help our dear Emily get through hell), and part love letter to the world of yesterday. From the rich, vibrant details of the setting to the outstanding characters falling all over the spectrum from ally to enemy I couldn't help but fall in love with the Oregon Trail of The Blue Hour.

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for an amazing historical fiction read with a great character who will make your heart ache when hers break and glow in her times of joy as well as an amazing plotline. This is a book I can see re-reading this one later on if life.



Excerpt:

The travelers arrived at Independence Rock – the great register of the desert – on schedule and in time to observe the Fourth of July. One man dug a string of firecrackers out of his wagon, and the young boys had a fine time setting them off. But this was mere overture to the bombs bursting in air for the country’s 86th birthday celebration. As was his custom – and against Jack Brand’s decree – Jim Connor lifted the ban on rifle fire for this one night. Gun shots and inebriated, patriotic oratory soon echoed throughout the camp.

Emily escaped the free-for-all by joining a group of women trekking to Independence Rock, the most famous landmark on the trail. On this night the excursion seemed fitting, even after walking all day. More to the point, if she stayed in camp she might be hit by a stray bullet. If the men were so intent on shooting each other, why didn’t they go fight in the civil war?
 As they walked to the vast monument, Delia mused that it looked like a giant turtle’s back. Another woman said it resembled an enormous whale from Melville’s Moby-Dick. Emily remembered reading the book by the fireside in her father’s study. Heavens, how long ago had that been? Not that long, really. It was hard to imagine she’d ever had time to settle in for a good, long read; harder still to imagine she ever would again.
At the rock, the women hiked up their skirts and scaled the crumbling granite, combing the surface for recognizable names, daubed in axle grease or carved into the rock. Some of the carvings were beautifully rendered and must have taken days to complete.

When they reached the top, Emily settled in to admire the sunset while the others added their names to the rock. She wondered how they could think their marks would last. Inscriptions just a few years old were fading, blasted away by wind-driven sand. A few perused the monument as if it were a newspaper, their eyes bright with hope that someone they knew had gotten this far – anything to give them the will to continue. Emily let them search. Instead, she reveled in the cool evening and the fiery sunset. For the rest of her days, whenever she thought of the American West, she would recall the vivid scene before her: the vast darkening sky with its massing clouds of purple and blazing scarlet, the glowing russet sandstone, and at the horizon a sunset of pure, molten gold.

Before lighting their candles to descend the rock, the women stood with her and watched the fading rays. Ahead was a sobering view of the Wind River Mountains, their snow-capped peaks aflame in the setting sun. The thought of scaling those mountains stirred in them equal parts anticipation and dread. Perhaps the men were right to celebrate and forget about the road ahead.

They arrived back at camp only to step into the middle of a heated debate over hunting rules and the rate of travel. Emily went directly to the wagon. As she slipped under the covers, she prayed she’d get to sleep before any fighting broke out. The Indians must be laughing at them, the way.their men were always at each other. There was nothing the Indians could do to them that they weren’t already doing to themselves.

Giveaway: 

Win a copy of The Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini
.  Print is open to Canada and the U.S. only however, ebook is open worldwide. 
*Comment with your name, e-mail and whether you qualify for the print or e-book.

Friday, April 21, 2017

[Blog Tour Review & Giveaway]* A Question of Devotion: A Mrs. B Mystery (A Mrs B Mystery Book 1) by Anita Kulina





A Question of Devotion: A Mrs. B Mystery (A Mrs B Mystery Book 1)Then she saw it – a sheet of paper in the mailbox, underneath the mail. It was white with large black letters and said LEAVE IT ALONE.

Mrs. B has a quiet life, and she likes it that way. Morning pinochle games at St. Mary’s Senior Center. Afternoon lunches with Myrtle, Anne and Rose. Peaceful evenings with a cup of coffee and the classic movie channel.

But one day she wakes to a phone call, which leads to consequences she could never have foreseen. Secrets snowball and threaten to change the neighborhood of Burchfield forever. Someone has to make things right. It’s up to Mrs. B.

Summary & Cover taken from Goodreads.com 

The first book in the cozy Mrs. B mystery series was just as delightful as you would expect with an older sleuth in the leading role. I was a little partial to the her because I had a delightful teacher once upon a time that went my the name Mrs. B so I was already set to like her, but I ended up loving her just for who she was.
Mrs. B was a lovely character. She wasn't the bumbling kind of older sleuth at all, she was kind, intelligent and ultimately has a flare for solving crime. I loved that she didn't pretend to be anyone other than herself. In solving the mystery she isn't afraid to help out a friend indeed, making new friends (and enemie) along the way.
At 133 pages long this was a warm, feel good, all around well written first book in a delightful cozy mystery series from an author that was new to me, but one who I will be sure to check out further and hopefully read more from soon.
I would recommend this to any one. From fans of the genre to newcomers this is a great little intro to the world of cozies. There's plenty of laughs to be had and I can't see where Mrs. B's antics take her next.

*Note I'm posting this a few days late and would like to extend my apologies to the author an organizer of the tour. I was dealing with a private family matter at the time and got my post dates confused*



Excerpt:

Mrs. B did her best to focus on the pinochle game. They played another hand, and only bickered once when Don was dealing and Vic thought he had dealt Mike one too many cards and shorted Vic. Which, to no one’s surprise, turned out not to be the case. After the second hand they all got up, took a restroom break, got another cup of coffee—or in Old Mike’s case, tea—and went back to the table.
Mrs. B stood behind her chair for a second, to see if she could see what Myrtle was doing, but from that vantage point all she could see was the back of Myrtle’s head.
The deal and the rest of the game, as usual, were silent except for the bidding and an occasional exclamation or grunt if someone made an unexpected play. Vic tallied up the score and read it off. Then all four of them got up and walked toward the kitchen and then to the back of the room for lunch. The men headed toward long tables to the right. Mrs. B went to the left where the ladies congregated at little card tables, each with a centerpiece of cheerful pink plastic roses.
Sometimes I feel like a kid in a school cafeteria, Mrs. B thought as she made her way toward Anne, Myrtle and Rose, already sitting at one of the square tables toward the back of the room.
On her way, Mrs. B passed the mahjong ladies. Most of them spoke only Chinese, so they usually kept to themselves. Lily, who spoke English, waved her hand in greeting as Mrs. B passed.
Mrs. B said “Nee how” to everyone, the way Lily taught her to years ago. Two of the ladies looked up and said, “Ni hao!” The others waved and smiled.
At the lunch table, Mrs. B’s beige plastic tray made a comforting sound as it hit the tabletop. Myrtle looked good. Cheerful, even.
These three women were Mrs. B’s closest friends at the Senior Center. She met Anne Barker when she and Albert first moved to Burchfield. Anne’s cousin Mary owned the Burchfield Grill, where Mrs. B and Albert used to stop for fish sandwiches on Friday nights before the children were born. Anne had lived in Burchfield all her life and she seemed to be related, through blood or marriage, to half the people in the neighborhood. Glamorous by Burchfield standards, Anne had been a model in the days when artists drew clothing for newspaper ads. She still got her hair done every week at the beauty parlor, and her clothes were always the prettiest colors.
Myrtle Monaghan’s curly hair was, as usual, sticking out all over the place from under her pink hair band. Myrtle was normally sweet and full of sunshine. She grew up in Burchfield, too, in the little house where she raised her own family and still lived now.
Rose O’Malley—little, quiet Rose—moved to Burchfield when she got married, just like Mrs. B did. A private person, Rose was. None of the other ladies at the table had ever even met her before she started coming to the Senior Center, though of course
they would see her at Mass from time to time. Rose’s husband was retired from the police force and her son was a detective. That was all they knew about her. Rose looked like she might be Italian, but Mrs. B wasn’t even sure about that.
“We were talking about something on TV last night,” Anne said as Mrs. B steadied herself on the table with one hand and pulled out her chair with the other.
“Did you watch channel 13? It was one of those nature specials,” Myrtle said. Rose looked up and nodded at Mrs. B, then continued fussing with her macaroni and cheese.
“I was watching a movie,” Mrs. B said.
“It was all about walruses. They’re big, fat buggers,” Myrtle said.
“I think my first husband was a walrus,” Anne said. They all giggled.
The rest of the lunch was like any other of the numerous lunches they had shared together. Myrtle seemed perfectly fine. Why, Mrs. B thought. Why the sudden change? 

GIVEAWAY:
Dear readers! There is a book available for giveaway is for the choice of one Print or ebook.  Print is open to Canada & the U.S. only.
Leave your E-mail address (or e-mail me Kimberly at Turning,the.pages@hotmail.com) your name, e-mail address and specify whether you live in the U.S., Canada or abroad.
Giveaway ends April 28th!