Self-published Saturday: My Alien Life #bookreview

Self-published Saturday is my effort to help self-published/indie authors with marketing. Self-published/indie authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to spreading the word about their book. If I can help even a little with marketing, I’m happy to do it. Below is my review of My Alien Life, a wonderful novella about a 9-year-old girl taken in by her elderly aunt after her father’s death.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

“My mother was a no-nonsense woman. If it wasn’t in the Bible or on Jerry Springer, then it couldn’t happen. Of course, there’s a lot of freaky stuff in the Good Book, with ladders to heaven and angels with animal faces and such. And crazy, muckraking talk shows probably aren’t the best yardstick for anything short of how depraved humans can be. But the point is that when she was abducted by aliens and impregnated with me, she had some trouble processing. I’m pretty sure Jerry actually covered that one, but I guess she missed the show that day. TiVo hadn’t been invented yet, just in case you’re wondering. Trust me, if it had, she’d have been all over that.” — Lynette, age 9

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Martain is a coastal North Carolina native who spends most of her time questioning the way the universe and all the beings in it work. This often leads her down a deep research rabbit hole until she resurfaces with a new theory and a backstory to explain it. Her characters are sometimes human, sometimes not, but they prefer not to be judged on that criteria.

#BookReview

Abandoned by her mother, Lynette is raised and cared for by her devoted father, until the day he dies when she is 9.  Amongst a sea of uncaring relatives, her elderly Aunt Magnolia arrives and takes her home, with a deal that “Mags” will stay alive at least until Lynette is 16 and can raise herself.  This is a heart-touching novella that will induce smiles as well as tears. 

The writing of J. Martain absolutely captivated me throughout.  Every bit of dialogue and every descriptive word paints a vivid and imaginative picture that allows the reader to completely immerse themselves in Lynette’s world. Lynette’s strong, realistic, and precocious personality just jumps off the page. Mags’ no-nonsense manner does not hide her loving nature, and she begins showing Lynette how to care for herself at a very young age.  Together they are an unlikely pair—a woman in her 90s and a preteen, but they become a family.  This is a lifetime of a story in four chapters and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves stories with strong characters

I received a free copy of this book via BookSirens. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

BUY LINKS

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BEFORE YOU GO

*If you buy the book, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share this book with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published/indie authors go a long way!

Self-Published Saturday/Repost of Songbird

Self-Published Saturday (SPS) is my effort to help self-published and indie authors with the heavy task of marketing their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to marketing and more. This is my effort to take a bit of that load and help promote their books on a Saturday. Please share these books on your social media, so all of your followers can see these great books as well. Today’s first review is of Songbird, a wonderful cozy historical mystery by Gail Meath set in New York City, 1923.

Following the review is a short Q&A with the author, Gail Meath.

FULL DISCLOSURE

I am the editor of this particular book. I wanted to make sure you had full knowledge of that before you read my review. My review is honest and my opinions are my own. This was my first editing adventure, and I want to thank Gail Meath for allowing me the opportunity. I am planning to start freelance editing next year and am doing a few editing jobs right now free of charge in order to gain experience. So let me know if need any help!

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Normally I come up with a paragraph describing the book on my own. But Gail Meath’s description is so good I couldn’t possibly come up with anything better, and it’s so clever I wanted to share it with you. So here is the book description written by Gail Meath.

**********************************************************************

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a fantasically fun cozy mystery set in 1923 New York. The characters don’t just jump off the page, they pull you into their world. Jax’s sidekick, Ace, the wonderfully charming German Shepherd, will make his way into your heart in no time. The setting in 1923 New York City is well described and transports us back to that place and time. The portrayal of Coney Island makes you feel as if you are there, hanging on for dear life in the Steeplechase or winning a prize in the baseball toss. The mystery is so well done, with puzzles and red herrings that will keep you guessing. The main characters are complex and interesting. Jax, private investigator and former cop, has his own secrets to keep, and Laura’s talents are revealed to expand way beyond singing.

There is a sweet romance, but the complex and fascinating mystery is the star of the show, along with the lovable Ace. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, to all mystery fans and to anyone who loves reading about our canine friends.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Songbird will be released November 11, 2021.

Q&A WITH GAIL MEATH

Songbird is a fun cozy mystery, and a little more lighthearted than your complex and wonderful previous historical novels, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  Where did you get the inspiration for Songbird

 A while back, I found and fell in love with the cover, and I knew that I had to write a book around it.  Over the summer, I had so much fun researching the Roaring Twenties era; the story just became a reflection of how I envisioned life on Broadway back then.  And it was a nice break from writing about the struggles of war.   

The series is set in 1923 in New York City.  Did you face any challenges in setting a mystery during this time and place?  

Choosing New York City made research easier than other places since it is one of the largest cities.  And I found tons of information regarding historical restaurants, speakeasies, theaters, etc.  There was so much more I wanted to include in the book, but I didn’t want to distract from the story.

Your description of Coney Island is fascinating and the rides sound like deadly fun.  Seriously, I’m not sure how anyone survived some of these rides.  Was there a lot of research material available for 1923 Coney Island?  

Like the rest the city, there was a great deal of research, but none of the articles tells you more about the Coney Island Amusement Park than the video I found.  It is a hoot!  Note from Bonnie: Please check out the link here of old 1920s Coney Island rides. You won’t want to miss it, and you will also be wondering how anyone survived! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wz5vZmU8Dc&t=47s

One of your main characters is a German Shepherd, and he is delightful!  Was it challenging to make an animal a major part of the story, and do you have any dogs yourself?  

I am an avid animal lover and have a little Boston Terrier now.  Years ago, as soon as I married and moved to the country, I adopted Gretchen, the most beautiful, loyal and loving friend I’ve ever had.  She even saved my son’s life once.   She is still sorely missed, so it was very easy and fun finding a place for her as Ace in this book.

Was Gretchen a German Shepherd?

Yes, Gretchen was a shepherd, and she looked just like the pic I have of Ace under the covers in the book.

It appears there will be a sequel to Songbird.  Can you confirm that? 

 BLACKSTONE, Jax Diamond Mysteries – Book 2, should be ready in March and takes place in New England, but I’m not done with BROADWAY yet (Book 3)

Thank you Gail, for another great interview and for answering my questions today on short notice!

PRE-ORDER SONGBIRD

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COVER RATING

I love this cover. You instantly know you are in the 1920’s, and Ace and Jax are represented by the cards in the left corner. Very well done. The cover was done before the book, which is unusual, but as Gail stated above, it served as inspiration for the story.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Blog Tour and Book Review–The Girl In The Picture

*Book Review Near the Bottom of the Page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

As the newspaper clipping falls from the cardboard box Tegan takes in the woman in the picture: her chestnut hair, her eyes full of laughter, the way she nestles against the man beside her. And as she reads the words in the article, Tegan almost stops breathing. Was coming here a terrible mistake?

When Tegan’s family is torn apart by a terrible tragedy, she runs away in search of somewhere to keep safe from the past that haunts her, and the painful secrets she’s never told anyone. Arriving in Copper Canyon, Colorado, where wooden storefronts line the quiet streets and no-one knows her name, Tegan breathes easy for the first time in years. And when she grows close with Jack, another lost soul who won’t talk about his home, it seems she’s found the perfect companion to explore the mountain landscapes with.

But just as Tegan starts to think maybe safety isn’t a place, it’s a person, she notices the box of photos and newspaper clippings that Jack takes everywhere in the trunk of his car. Who is the woman in every frame? And why does she look so familiar…?

Tegan knows the only way to protect herself, and keep her dark family history locked away, is to discover more about the woman in Jack’s photos. But when she does, will the truth help her build a new life, or will it send her running once more?

An absolutely unforgettable and breathtaking novel about love, loss, and the secrets we’re all hiding. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher, Diane Chamberlain, and Kerry Lonsdale.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Wiesner


Melissa Wiesner is a night-owl who began writing novels about five years ago when her early-to-bed family retired for the evening. In 2019, she won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award in the Mainstream Fiction Category for her first novel. Melissa holds two Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Community Agency Counseling. Her day job is in Social Work where she often encounters people knocked down by hard times but who pick themselves up and keep going, just like the characters of her novels. Melissa lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her charming husband and two adorable children.

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BOOK REVIEW

If there is ever a book that is going to speak to me, it will be one about a road trip. I’ve been the queen of road trips many times in my past, so this book was like another trip into memories of my own as I read it. The best books remind you of scenes from your own life, and this one does that for me. The main theme of this book is home. Tegan is searching for a home for herself and her brother. Jack is desperately trying to get back to his family home as he flees horrific memories from his past. Thrown together unexpectedly, they are an unlikely pair. Tegan, abandoned as a child, grew up wanting to be a writer. Jack is a wealthy attorney who is somewhat over-protected by his family. On the road, they grow from annoyance to acceptance to friendship and more. They also find there are lessons they can learn from each other and adventures they can take together.

I loved the fact that we are immediately thrown into Tegan’s life in a dramatic way at the start of the book, and by the time she meets Jack, you will find your heart already racing. The meeting with Jack is a collision of coincidences that starts an unforgettable journey. The road itself becomes almost a character in the story, as some of the situations they encounter can only occur on a long-distance highway adventure. The differences in their lives and personalities help build strength, as Tegan encourages Jack to sway from his well-planned path, and Jack convinces Tegan to use a little more caution. The Girl In The Picture is an emotional and inspirational story of heartbreak, adventure, letting go, and the search for home. It was a beautiful read.

I received a free copy of this novel via the publisher, Bookouture. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

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Self-Published Saturday: May 29, 2021

Once again, it’s time to feature a great self-published book. I really enjoy this feature because it helps independent authors with the monumental task of promoting their books. If you decide to read this book, please write a review and post it on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites where you talk about books. This helps authors so much. I can’t stress that enough. Your review makes a difference.

Today’s book is the first in a series that captivated me from the beginning, The Hamelin Stoop series by Robert B. Sloan. In fact, I have been known to drop everything and ignore my giant TBR list in order to read the next installment. See the review below.

BOOK REVIEW: THE EAGLE, THE CAVE, AND THE FOOTBRIDGE

Hamelin Stoop is an exciting young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure series in the vein of the Chronicles of Narnia and even Harry Potter.

In The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge, Hamelin’s mother Johnnie is on the run from evil trackers, so she places him, still a little baby, on the stoop of an orphanage in a tomato box. One of the only legible words in the note she left was “Hamelin,” and since he was found on the stoop, he was named Hamelin Stoop by the orphanage staff.

Upset and frustrated, Hamelin runs away from the orphanage when he is 8 years old. That’s when strange things begin happening. He is drawn to a cave by a talking eagle, and then he begins to learn more about his parents and his true purpose. There is a related story about three princesses in another land as Sloan begins to weave this tale together.

This is a “good vs. evil” adventure series which drew me in immediately, and I am always excited to see the next book. This book has everything–talking creatures, evil overlords, distant lands, and lost princesses. So far, there are three books, and I’m anxiously awaiting the fourth. I see definite nods to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which is always a good thing. I would recommend this to anyone over 10 years old who enjoys fantasy, adventure, and good vs. evil stories.  As C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” And this is a great children’s story that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

I received a free digital copy from Booksirens. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Robert B. Sloan is President of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He is also a former President of Baylor University. Dr. Sloan and his wife Sue have seven adult children and more than 20 young grandchildren. He is an author, communicator, educator, and leader—all hats he has worn many times for a variety of reasons. These four areas represent life experiences that have provided him and his family with many memories. It is in the experiences of life that memories are made and lives are shaped.

Robert Sloan has a passion for Christian higher education and the spiritual formation of young people for the glory of God, which can be seen in both his professional and personal life.

Dr. Sloan’s Website

FASCINATING Article by Dr. Sloan About Why He Wrote The Hamelin Stoop Series

BUY BOOK 1: THE EAGLE, THE CAVE, AND THE FOOTBRIDGE

BUY BOOK 2: THE LOST PRINCESS AND THE JEWEL OF PERILUNA

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Book Review: A Distant Shore by Karen Kingsbury

BOOK REVIEW

Lizzie James is just 8 years old when she is told her mother and brother have drowned. She is taken to her father’s “palace” in Belize and her name is changed to Eliza. She soon learns her father is in the sex trade and trafficks young girls. She is always told she is being saved for “something special,” which turns out to be a forced marriage with another drug and sex trafficking family. Then an FBI agent enters her life, someone she has met before, although she does not remember him, and he does not realize she is a child he rescued from drowning the same day his brother died.

I have read many books by Karen Kingsbury, but this one goes to a whole new level as it exposes the horrors of the sex trafficking industry. The characters are well written and the despair of Eliza and the younger girls is palpable and real. Kingsbury shows us the depths of evil in the sex trafficking industry, the laws that sometimes hinder rescued victims from surviving even after escape, and the hearts of the people in and out of law enforcement determined to rescue every single child. She shows us how God is present, even in desperate, cruel, and wicked situations from which there seems no escape. This is a well researched novel that everyone needs to read in order to know the evils that exist in our world.

I received a free copy of this book from Atria Books via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

A Distant Shore will be released on April 27, 2021.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist, is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped bestseller lists and many of her novels are under development with Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. Her Baxter Family books are being developed into a TV series slated for major network viewing sometime in the next year. Karen is also an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University. In 2001 she and her husband, Don, adopted three boys from Haiti, doubling their family in a matter of months. Today the couple has joined the ranks of empty-nesters, living in Tennessee near five of their adult children.


WEBSITE: https://www.karenkingsbury.com

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Surviving Savannah

Diamond Level Read

Sometimes when I don’t think five stars is enough, I add a diamond on this blog so people will know how special it was. This is one of those books.

In 1838, The Steamship Pulaski set sail from Savannah to Baltimore, loaded with wealthy passengers, their extravagant belongings, and also their enslaved people. Lilly Forsyth, her nursemaid, the enslaved Priscilla, and Lilly’s daughter Madeleine board along with Lilly’s cousins, the wealthy and famous Longstreets. Lilly is also accompanied by her arrogant, cruel, and abusive husband, Adam. Dripping with wealth and carrying all the comforts of home, the Pulaski sets sail for a one-night voyage to Baltimore so the rich can escape the Southern heat. A horrific explosion and fire occur during the night, causing the sinking of the ship and great loss of life. Lilly, Priscilla, and Madeleine begin their desperate attempt to survive in more ways than one.

In present day, Everly has suffered a great personal loss after the death of her best friend Mora. She is approached by Oliver, who was engaged to Mora when she died. Oliver is part of a team which has discovered the remains of the Pulaski after more than 180 years and is beginning the recovery.. He asks Everly to curate the artifacts and help arrange an exhibit. Everly has been living a reclusive life since the death of Mora in a horrible hit-and-run accident that Everly survived. She is going through the motions and is obsessed with finding the hit -and-run driver, who is still unidentified. Can she commit to a project such as the Pulaski?

This captivating and exquisitely written story looks at the many different sides of survival. There is survival of a tragedy, such as the sinking of the Pulaski, there is survival of slavery and horrific abuse, and survival of an accident that turned to murder. Then the author looks at different reactions of the survivors. This takes a fascinating turn, as different characters have very different reactions to the same tragedy. Some embrace life, knowing that it is fleeting, some cower in fear, and others blaze with hate and anger. The characters, especially Lilly, Priscilla, and Everly, are well developed and engaging. The story is an intriguing mix of fact and fiction. Patti Callahan takes a real event, the sinking of the Pulaski, and combines it with both real and fictional characters to create a story that is fascinating and hard to put down. I would recommend it for any fans of historical fiction or maritime fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from Berkley Publishing. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patti Callahan Henry

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of sixteen novels and podcast host. She writes as both Patti Callahan and Patti Callahan Henry. She is the recipient of The Christy Award — A 2019 Winner “Book of the Year”; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019. She is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast. A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE

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The Girl From Berlin

BOOK DESCRIPTION: (My review is further down below)

From her beautiful new home in Berlin, a young woman named Liesel Scholz barely notices the changes to the city around her. Her life is one of privilege and safety thanks to her father’s job working for the new government.

But a chance encounter with Rosa, the daughter of their Jewish housekeeper, confirms Liesel’s fears that something isn’t right. That the Nazi government’s brutal rules are cruel and dangerous, and that others aren’t as safe as she is. When Rosa begs Liesel to help—pressing her grandfather’s gold pocket watch into Liesel’s hand—Liesel recklessly agrees.

She will help hide Rosa and her loved ones—in the dusty, unused rooms at the top of their house—even if it means putting everyone she loves in danger. Even if it means risking her own life.

Frankfurt, 1946: An idealistic American captain, Sam Houghton, arrives in Germany to interrogate prominent Nazis on trial and to help rebuild a battered country. When he hires an enigmatic, damaged interpreter named Anna, he doesn’t expect sparks to fly between them. Perhaps there is a chance of love for both of them. But then the question of what happened to Anna in the war raises its head.

Because Anna has secrets—ones that link her to Berlin, the Nazi party, and the story of one gold pocket watch and two young women who became friends, even when they were told it was impossible…

REVIEW: BONNIE READS AND WRITES


Oh what a beautiful and heart-rending novel! There is so much World War II fiction out right now and this one absolutely stands apart as a must-read. The character development–where should I begin–it’s a master class. The sharp awakening of the sheltered young Liesl is so well done, and you will cheer on her determination to protect the innocent, even from her own father. The relationship between Anna and Sam is touching and bittersweet as Anna fights off demons from her past and Sam tries to help her live again. Ambition and its possible pitfalls is examined in detail through the life of Leisl’s father. The purest bravery and innocence abound in the lovely character of Friedy. A lifelong friendship between Rosa and Leisl is born out of great peril. Kate Hewitt has penned a novel that will capture your heart and keep you thinking, long after you are done. This is highly recommended for all, because it’s a story that will touch every heart.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture. I also purchased a copy of this splendid novel. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Kate Hewitt is the author of many romance and women’s fiction novels. A former New Yorker and now an American ex-pat, she lives in a small town on the Welsh border with her husband, five children, and their overly affectionate Golden Retriever. Whatever the genre, she enjoys telling stories that tackle real issues and touch people’s lives.

https://www.kate-hewitt.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KateHewittAuthor/
https://twitter.com/author_kate

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The Kitchen Front

BOOK REVIEW

The Kitchen Front is a wonderful book which feels like a World War II based combination of Downton Abbey and the Great British Baking Show. In Fenley Village, England, 1942, Ambrose Hart is reluctantly looking for a radio cohost. His bosses have decided they want a local woman who can help listeners find the best uses for their food rations. A cooking contest begins, and the winner will be Ambrose’s co-host on The Kitchen Front radio show. The four contestants are Audrey, who is trying to raise three sons and wallowing in a mountain of debt, Nell, a kitchen maid who is tired of her poor treatment, Lady Gwendoline Strickland, the haughty grand lady of the manor, who is both Nell’s boss and Audrey’s sister, and Zelda Dupont, an English girl turned London-based French chef who has been forced to cook in a British factory and is not happy about it. As the show progresses, each woman’s life begins to change forever.

I immediately connected with the characters and the story. The “upstairs/downstairs,” “Downton Abbey” type relationship is demonstrated by Lady Gwendoline, Sir Strickland, and their cooks and other staff. The radio show cooking contest reminds me of a World War II radio version of the Great British Baking Show. For the contest, each contestant has to provide a starter, a main dish, and a dessert, all on different episodes of the show. All of the recipes for the contest, plus others mentioned in the story, are included in the book. We are given a window into each contestant’s life, both before and during the contest. Audrey is a grieving war widow. Gwendoline is a neglected wife of a strict and domineering nobleman. Zelda is pregnant and abandoned by the child’s father, and Nell is a young girl who wants to get out of the bonds of service. Interesting tidbits about food and history are included, such as why British sausages are called “bangers,” and how some villagers would run to “Anderson shelters,” to escape the bombings. We even get a little education on World War II era planes. I enjoyed every minute of this book, read it in one day, and will read it again. 

If you love cooking and cooking shows, World War II fiction, and strong female characters, you will enjoy this book.

The Kitchen Front will be released on February 23, 2021. I highly recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Ryan

Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR, THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE, and THE KITCHEN FRONT. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother’s tales of the war in Britain.

JENNIFER RYAN’S WEBSITE

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Telling Sonny

Faby Gauthier lives in a small town in Vermont in the 1920’s. She is bored with small town living and fascinated by Vaudeville and the showbiz life. When she meets Slim White, a dancer in a traveling Vaudeville show, she quickly gets pregnant and caught up in a marriage that happens before she knows it. We follow Faby on the Vaudeville circuit, travel with her on uncomfortable train trips, and stay with her in cheap hotels as we learn about the less glamorous side of showbiz. 

This is a beautifully written novel by Elizabeth Gaffreau that starts in small-town Vermont and takes us all over the Vaudeville circuit in the Eastern United States in the 1920’s. We learn a lot about Vaudeville life, sacrifice, and the loss of innocence. We are shown through Faby’s sister the life she could have had. We are also reminded of the priceless gift of family and the care of those who love us.

Gaffreau has an amazing ability to show us the reality of life behind the facade. For example, her descriptions of 1920’s telephone operators: “…where, inside, pale young women plugged and unplugged the telephone conversations of the village with bony fingers while they waited for someone to marry them.”

I would recommend this well-crafted novel to everyone who enjoys historical novels or anyone who wants to read a moving family story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

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Village Teacher

Village Teacher by Neihtn, who also writes as Nguyen Trong Hien, is a well-written novel set in Vietnam in the late 19th or early 20th century while Vietnam was under French colonization. Teacher Tâm has traveled to the Imperial City of Hue to take the national examinations, challenging tests that help the country choose its leaders. He meets Giang, the daughter of a powerful Frenchman and a wealthy Vietnamese woman. The teacher becomes the student as Giang begins teaching him to write Vietnamese in Romanized script without using the Chinese characters. Outside forces begin to intervene in Tâm’s life in many ways, and the reader is taken on a journey through Vietnamese history, language, and customs as the Village Teacher and those who love him fight for his life and his rights.

This is such a beautiful historical love story. The author is an expert in Vietnamese history and I learned so much in this book. The struggles of Teacher Tâm are struggles that are being repeated even today as the wealthy and powerful try to hold down those of lesser means, especially the smart and talented. Over and over again we see in this book how some of the rich and powerful will use any means to try and destroy anyone who they believe threatens their total control. The love story is beautiful, and the reader gets a master class in Vietnamese history, language, and culture. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the history of Vietnam or anyone who just wants to read a well-written historical love story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nguyễn Trọng Hiền is originally from Vietnam. In the United States, he is known as Hien Nguyen, or Hien T. Nguyen.  neihtn is his Vietnamese first name (Hien)  and initials, spelled backward. Why backward? One reason is to indicate that he now lives on the opposite side of the world from where he was born and spent over two decades of his life.

Hein wrote Village Teacher at night and on weekends over four years while he worked a full-time job. He is now retired and spends his time writing and taking photographs of birds, wildlife, flowers and landscapes. He posts the photos on his blog, Village Teacher. He also published another novel, The Siege of An Loc, in 2020.

Buy Village Teacher on Amazon

Buy The Siege of An Loc on Amazon

MY AMAZON REVIEW OF VILLAGE TEACHER

My Review of The Siege of An Loc