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About the Book
When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.
As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .
I rarely read books set during the Gilded Age, so I was excited to try Behind the Scenes, the new release by Jen Turano. The back cover sounded like something I would enjoy and Ms. Turano is an author I have never read before.
And I am disappointed that I did not enjoy this book, though some parts of it worked for me.
The romance is very low-key but enjoyable. You can see the characters beginning to respect and like each other and it is believable when they fall in love. I can see this couple making it after the end of the book and I don’t always see the couple that way at the end of a romance!
The characters are done well, as both Permilia and Asher are fully realized and have believable positive traits and flaws. Asher is a little more relatable to me because I understand his desire to change after the realization he had become someone he didn’t want to be. Permilia is a little too outlandish for me. Every time she would commit a societal faux pas or insert her way into the action in a way that was often unsafe and over the top, I became embarrassed for her!
The back cover makes it seem like the mystery of who is trying to kill Asher is a big part of the book, but it feels as if that plot thread goes away in the later portion of the book until the reveal. The mystery was convoluted though I was genuinely surprised by who was trying to kill Asher. I’m rarely surprised by a book’s outcome so that was nice!
The characters’ faith felt like an afterthought and I would’ve appreciated more of it. There are a few scenes where the characters talk about learning God’s plan for their life but I just didn’t feel as if the characters truly lived their faith.
The book itself felt light and frothy (even with a murder plot) and I enjoy my stories a little darker and more serious, so I did not enjoy the tone of the book. I’m not sure I would read any of Ms. Turano’s work in the future, simply because of the style.
I give this book 2/5 stars. The characters are nice, the setting is unusual and imagined well, but I just can’t recommend it as I do not appreciate this specific type of humor and found Ms. Turano’s writing extremely wordy—the ball where Permilia finds out about the murder plot takes over half the book! People who enjoy light and frothy romances and do not have an issue with over the top humor and extremely talkative characters will enjoy this book more than I did.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Interview with Jen Turano
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you personally?
Amusing things happen to me all the time, but I think my favorite was back in college when I was a lifeguard. You see, there’s a lifeguard code – You will be cool at all times, especially when you’re sitting in a lifeguard chair, twirling your whistle exactly so, and, you know…looking cool. So, there I was, in my black lifeguard bathing suit – swinging my whistle. It was an unusually hot day, so I’d angled my umbrella exactly right as I watched the diving-board section. Now, I know this might come as a surprise, but being a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool isn’t exactly thrilling. It’s rare that anything exciting happens, and that particular day was no exception…until a large gust of wind came out of nowhere and the umbrella took it upon itself to close – right over me. And because it was now really gusty, the umbrella then lifted up, taking me with it right off the chair and into the depths of the deep end of the pool. From all accounts, it was quite the sight. First, there I was, swinging my whistle and looking groovy. Then all you could see were my legs flailing about as the umbrella covered the rest of me, and then…I was plummeting toward the pool, hit the water with the umbrella over me, and promptly sank. Obviously I managed to get out of the umbrella, but in the process, part of my bathing suit came off, and…well, that’s a story for another day.
What is your favorite book from your childhood?
“Andrew Henry’s Meadow.” It was actually my little brother’s book, gotten from one of those book of the month clubs, but I loved it. I recently found a copy on an e-site and ordered it, and it’s just as delightful today as it was back in my childhood.
Who does the cooking and cleaning in your house when you are on a deadline?
I don’t actually cook much even when I’m not on deadline, so that’s not really an issue. Al and I do a lot of salads or throw some chicken on the grill. We also have a lot of grocery stores that have wonderful deli and gourmet foods, so we get a lot of things there. As for cleaning, I’m one of those neurotic people who can’t work without everything being in place, so I do a lot of tidying up before I go to bed. And, because I do some of my best thinking when I clean, I’ve been known to abandon my writing when I get stuck and pick up a mop or cleaning rag, which means my house is rarely a disaster since I need to get unstuck a lot.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I do the majority of my writing in my office, although I will occasionally take a pad of paper and a pen outside to handwrite when I get bored of my office or it’s a really nice day and I don’t feel like being trapped inside. It’s not that my office is my favorite place to write, it’s more that my writing is my job and I’m more focused on that writing when I approach it as such.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I really like when characters and new story ideas begin to fester. That normally happens when I’m in the midst of another series. By the time I’m done with whatever series I’m working on, the next series is pretty firmly set in my mind, which means I can jump right in as I wait for edits on recently completed work. My absolute favorite part of writing, though, is when I turn in the very final edit on a book and don’t see it again until it comes out in print. Although, I must admit, I’ve never, not once, read one of my books after it has gone to print. Seems rather pointless since I do always know how the book is going to end.
Why did you choose the timeframe or setting this book is written in?
I’ve been wanting to set a book during Alva Vanderbilt’s famous costume ball of March, 1883, for years. Since I decided to slowly travel through the Gilded Age, I just reached 1883 on my plot timeline, so knew I was finally going to get to throw some characters into the very midst of Alva’s ball. It was a blast to write, loved going back to all my books on this particular ball and seeing the pictures, and only wish the Vanderbilt house at 660 Fifth Avenue was still standing so I could visit it in person to visualize the splendors located inside a little more clearly.
What inspires you?
I think like most writers, I simply get inspired by the world around me. I love to people watch, and I love to imagine all sorts of outlandish scenarios as I do that watching. I also get inspired by reading the headlines of the daily papers, and by the research books I read. I also love to look through old photographs of the Gilded Age, and became intrigued with Alva Vanderbilt’s ball when I saw a picture of a young lady, Miss Kate Strong, with a stuffed cat on her head and wearing a choker necklace with the name Puss engraved on it. That was all it took for me to investigate the Vanderbilt ball further, delighted to discover it truly was a ball that only comes along every blue moon.
April 27: Reading Is My SuperPower
April 27: The Scribbler
April 27: Genesis 5020
April 27: These Splendid Sentences
April 28: Back Porch Reads
April 28: Smiling Book Reviews
April 28: Fiction, Faith, and Fun
April 28: Just the Write Escape
April 29: Bookworm Mama
April 29: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
April 29: Books. Books. AND More Books.
April 29: Karen Sue Hadley
April 30: Lighthouse Academy
April 30: Radiant Light
April 30: Bigreadersite
April 30: Lane Hill House
May 1: Faithfully Bookish
May 1: Counting Pinecones
May 1: Blogging With Carol
May 1: Moments Dipped in Ink
May 2: inklings and notions
May 2: Blossoms and Blessings
May 2: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses
May 2: Neverending Stories
May 3: For The Love of Books
May 3: Singing Librarian Books
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May 4: A Baker’s Perspective
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May 5: With a Joyful Noise
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May 6: A Greater Yes
May 6: Christian Bookaholic
May 6: Connie’s History Classroom
May 6: Splashes of Joy
May 6: Just Commonly
May 7: A Simple Life, really?!
May 7: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
May 7: Daysong Reflections
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May 8: Ashley’s Bookshelf
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May 9: Bibliophile Reviews
May 9: History, Mystery & Faith
May 9: I Hope You Dance
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May 10: His Grace is Sufficient
May 10: History, Hope, Laughter & Happily-ever-after
May 10: Raining Butterfly Kisses
May 10: Reader’s Cozy Corner
To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card and the four books: After a Fashion, In Good Company, Playing the Part, Behind the Scenes!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
About the Book
Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution to his impossible situation, but he needs Jenny's help. While her loyalty to her country compels her to agree, she was too badly hurt to fall for Ryan again despite his determination to win her back. When an unknown threat from Ryan's past puts everything at risk--including his life--can they overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them in time?
I have never read any of Ms. Camden’s previous books. And based on reading To the Farthest Shores, I am not sure I will attempt another one.
I wanted to love this book. It’s written well (Ms. Camden has a lovely prose style), full of excellent details and research, and the characters had both attributes and flaws. In the end, though, I just couldn’t relate to the characters or connect with them in any way, and so the book fell flat for me.
The setting, just after the Spanish-American War in the early 1900s, is one rarely seen in historical romance, and featured Jenny Bennett, a nurse heroine from a rough upbringing, and Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher, whose service to his country includes dangerous and secret missions.
I liked Jenny well enough, though only at some parts in the story. Though she’s “respectable” at the beginning of the story as a hard-working nurse, her backstory as a child growing up in rough conditions made it seem as if the respectableness was a veneer. I didn’t truly believe she changed as much as Jenny thought she did, and she had issues that I did not feel were resolved satisfactorily.
Ryan is calm. Seriously, he’s so calm I wanted to shake him to make sure he was still alive. And because he is also fairly unobservant (which I found hard to believe as he’s done undercover work in the past), it makes him appear dumber than he is. He’s a perfectly capable character, especially when he’s talking about oysters, but other than that there wasn’t much emotion from him.
I also think it suffered that the majority of the story was told from Jenny’s point of view. Because she was so untrusting I kept wanting to yell at her that she needed to listen to what the other characters were telling her. Ryan was trying to protect her and so he avoided telling her things about his past, which made her lack of trust worse. Lack of communication is a big issue for me in romance and these two hardly talk about anything deep or important.
I know at that time in history, promises to be married were rarely broken and considered nearly as sacred as marriage itself, but I did not interpret Ryan being with, marrying Akira, and having a child with her as “infidelity” and each time Jenny referred to it as such I was thrown a little out of the story. It was definitely a part of what they needed to discuss and work through, but I do not believe I would classify it as such because they weren’t married or even together when those events happened.
I loved the descriptions of oyster farming and the story itself was excellently researched. Unfortunately, my inability to connect or relate to the characters, along with the lack of communication between them, means this is a story that I cannot recommend for romance fans. Lovers of oysters and pearls will enjoy the details Ms. Camden provides. I give it 2/5 stars for the lovely prose, excellent historical detail, the beautifully detailed setting, and the unusual timeframe.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, the publisher. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
About the Book
Life After by Katie Ganshert is the kind of book that makes you think. About life, and death, and finding purpose after tragedy.
One of the characters in the book says a quote that I feel demonstrates one of the themes that Ms. Ganshert was striving for in her book: “It’s not easy to keep going. It’s not easy to get back up after life knocks you a hard one.”
Autumn Manning, the main character, knows this well. She’s the sole survivor of a train bombing and the book picks up a year after the event. In that time, she’s learned about the people killed and is struggling with survivor’s guilt.
Paul Elliot is the other main character, and his wife died in the train accident. He’s raising their two kids alone now and is trying his best. He avoids mentioning his wife to the kids, which causes problems for him and his daughter.
This book is a well-written and heartbreaking examination of tragedy, loss, survivor’s guilt, and God’s plan for our lives. Questions of “why did this person have to die and why did I get to live” permeate Autumn’s entire story arc, and the resolution of it is so satisfying I nearly cheered—and probably would have if it wasn’t close to midnight when I finished reading it
As a family member, Paul’s grief and guilt is different than Autumn’s, but is also excellently examined. The resolution of his character arc is as emotionally charged as Autumn’s as well and also immensely satisfying.
This book is heart wrenching. Several places had me in tears, and I identified with Autumn more than I want to admit to. Ms. Ganshert has seamlessly woven in real events into her book and the world the characters live in feels very real. All of the characters feel like people you’d meet in real life, and the different stories of the family members of those killed do not feel as if they are there only for Autumn and Paul’s character development—they seem like real people’s stories you’d hear after a tragedy.
I read Life After in one sitting and I cannot say enough about this book. I don’t want to spoil any of the character’s arcs, as discovering their secrets and motivations is an essential part of the reading experience, but I urge you to pick up Ms. Ganshert’s book.
Life After is not easy reading, but it was well worth the emotional upheaval I felt while reading it. I will be pondering this book for a while.
I give this book 5/5 stars for the characters, the examination of the core themes of tragedy, loss, and survivor’s guilt, and the full immersion into the lives of the characters I experienced while reading it. I will be adding Life After to my keeper shelf and know I will return to it when life’s losses get to be too much for me.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
About the Book
Gifts From Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer, a book of short essays detailing a moment in each of the individual author’s life where God answered a prayer, was complied by James Stuart Bell (who also wrote one of the essays).
I will admit that I do not often read books about miraculous answers to prayer. Not because I don’t believe in the power of prayer (I do), but because the stories tend to be heart wrenching, dramatic, and often, cross into simply unbelievable.
Thankfully, Gifts from Heaven isn’t one of those books. These stories are heart wrenching and dramatic, and I admit I shed a few tears while reading. There are stories about people being healed from terminal disease, people being uninjured after accidents that should have been fatal, and a few in which prayers were answered not in the way the author had hoped. One of my favorites is “He Opened My Eyes” by Jeff Adams. This particular story stuck with me and I marked it to read again later. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t reveal what it was about. But all of the stories are well-executed and gave me much to ponder on about how prayer works in my own life.
I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone who struggles with believing that prayers are always answered.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
James Stuart Bell is a Christian publishing veteran and the owner of Whitestone Communications, a literary development agency. He is the editor of many story collections, including Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters; Heaven Touching Earth; and Encountering Jesus, as well as the coauthor of numerous books in the Complete Idiot's Guide series. He has cover credit on more than one hundred books. He and his wife live in a western suburb of Chicago.
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran. Bakery Owner.