Blog Tour – The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson

I am the next stop on the blog tour for The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about the book before I joined the tour. This book has a moody yet poetic story line. While reading it you can almost feel a hot breeze in your hair and smell the old grain factory down the street. I hope you’ll add this book to your to-be-read list asap!

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Goodreads Description:

“The dead come to me vulnerable, sharing their stories and secrets…”

Mary Crampton has spent all of her thirty years in Petroleum, a small Western town once supported by a powerful grain company. Living at home, she works as the embalmer in her father’s mortuary: an unlikely job that has long marked her as an outsider. Yet, to Mary there is a satisfying art to positioning and styling each body to capture the essence of a subject’s life.

Though some townsfolk pretend that the community is thriving, the truth is that Petroleum is crumbling away—a process that began twenty years ago when an accident in the grain elevator killed a beloved high school athlete. The mill closed for good, the train no longer stopped in town, and Robert Golden, the victim’s younger brother, was widely blamed for the tragedy and shipped off to live elsewhere. Now, out of the blue, Robert has returned to care for his terminally ill mother. After Mary—reserved, introspective, and deeply lonely—strikes up an unlikely friendship with him, shocking the locals, she finally begins to consider what might happen if she dared to leave Petroleum.

Set in America’s heartland, The Flicker of Old Dreams explores themes of resilience, redemption, and loyalty in prose as lyrical as it is powerful.

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Early reviews and praise:

“Susan Henderson offers us the wondrous, sharp picture of the small town of Petroleum, Montana where the past comes back on two feet and a blizzard rages. The Flicker of Old Dreams is a fine novel, heartfelt and bracing company. It is a gem.” — Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies

“Susan Henderson’s The Flicker of Old Dreams is a clear-eyed, wise, and poignant tale of losses and gains, told with tremendous empathy and grace.” — Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

The Flicker of Old Dreams is at once a vivid and wildly compelling study of small town American life and an intimate and incisive exploration of the human condition, from love to loss and beyond.”   — Jonathan Evison, the New York Times

“Susan Henderson has secured her position as one of my favorite novelists. You won’t be able to turn away from this tender, elegiac and haunting novel that beautifully exposes the human heart, the human body, and the human condition.” — Jessica Anya Blau, author of the nationally bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

“This novel is so breathtakingly good, so exquisitely written. About a female mortician, about a childhood tragedy that still haunts a damaged young man, about the endless landscape and about those tiny sparks of possibility. Oh my God. Trust me. This book. This book. This Book.” — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beautiful World

“A truly magnificent work of art. The soul energy that is pushing through this story is unstoppable, beautiful, vulnerable, powerful.” — Jessica Keener, author of Night Swim and Strangers in Budapest

“Like the wind scours paint from an old grain silo, Susan Henderson’s writing scours away all the pretend niceness of small town life in Montana to reveal the frayed and patched nature of humanity.” — Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Before the War

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Book review – The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Happy first day of Spring! It’s another Tuesday here at Jenn Blogs Books which means another fabulous new release. I am so excited to talk about The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. This book was on my radar for a very long time. I am so thankful that Berkley Pub sent me an early copy to review.

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Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

Goodreads Description:

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

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My honest review:

I really enjoyed reading The Broken Girls. This book was on my wish list from the first time I heard about it. It is a modern ghost story that is haunting and creepy. I found myself reading late into the night because I couldn’t put the book down.

The book jumps between Vermont in 1950 and 2014. There are a few missing persons and murder cases surrounding the Idlewild Hall boarding school for girls. I think Simone St. James did an excellent job going between the different time frames and murders. I was never confused and deeply invested in every crime investigated.

I was most impressed with the ghost story aspect of the novel. So many books with a ghost story theme are on the corny side or at least very predictable. The Broken Girls was a refreshing change to the Gothic genre. I could easily imagine the places described in the book. Especially the scenes inside the boarding school.

This book touches on the Holocaust and the terrible things that happened at Ravensbruck  Concentration Camp. I wish that Sonia, the character from the concentration camp, had her own novel. There is so much about her that I want to know. She was so strong even when others never realized it. She might be my favorite character from the 1950 story line.

I think this book would intrigue a very wide range of readers. Anyone interested in historical mysteries, Gothic novels, ghost stories, and thrillers in general will find something they love in this book. Be warned, once you pick up this book it is very hard to put it down until you finish it!

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Blog Tour – A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson

I am so happy to be participating in the blog tour for A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson. I loved the first book in the series, A Talent for Murder. These books are fictional tales about Agatha Christie’s life and the possible adventures she encountered. It is the perfect series for Agatha Christie fans and fans of a good whodunit mystery.

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Goodreads Description:

Two months after the events of A Talent for Murder, during which Agatha Christie “disappeared,” the famed mystery writer’s remarkable talent for detection has captured the attention of British Special Agent Davison.

Now, at his behest, she is traveling to the beautiful Canary Islands to investigate the strange and gruesome death of Douglas Greene, an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service. As she embarks on a glamorous cruise ship to her destination, she suddenly hears a scream. Rushing over to the stern of the liner, she witnesses a woman fling herself over the side of the ship to her death.

After this shocking experience, she makes it to the Grand Hotel in a lush valley on the islands. There, she meets a diverse and fascinating cast of characters, including two men who are suspected to be involved in the murder of Douglas Greene: an occultist similar to Aleister Crowley; and the secretary to a prominent scholar, who may also be a Communist spy. But Agatha soon realizes that nothing is what it seems here and she is surprised to learn that the apparent suicide of the young woman on the ocean liner is related to the murder of Douglas Greene. Now she has to unmask a different kind of evil in this sinister and thrilling mystery.

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Early reviews and praise for A Different Kind of Evil:

“In a stranger-than-fiction spin, crime novelist Agatha Christie went missing for 11 days in 1926. Author Andrew Wilson uses that real-life mystery as a starting point for a whodunit as gripping as Christie’s own beloved writing.”

Coastal Living, 50 Best Books for the Beach This Summer

 

“[A Talent for Murder] offers up a theory—and a good story.”

Houston Chronicle

A Talent for Murder reads like an amalgamation of a clever Agatha Christie puzzler with the darker characters and psychological insights found in Patricia Highsmith’s thrillers… With strong characters, shrewd plotting and a skillful blending of fact and fiction, A Talent for Murder is a compelling period mystery that will keep whodunit fans captivated… Andrew Wilson’s debut mystery features Agatha Christie in a tantalizing and captivating cat-and-mouse puzzler with a creepy undercurrent of Patricia Highsmith’s darkness.”

Shelf Awareness

 

“Real facts and events are included in this compelling and thought-provoking mystery. It is well-written and researched, and compulsively readable.”

RT Book Reviews

 

“It’s the classic starting point for an Agatha Christie novel with, of course, the extra dimension that she is going to be the murderer. How she outwits Kurs is but one part of Wilson’s very clever puzzle.”

Open Letters Monthly

 

“Wilson effectively imagines a different scenario in this twisty thriller… Wilson fully realizes the potential of this ominous setup.”

Publishers Weekly

 

“Wilson’s ‘what if’ story is equal parts psychological thriller, detective fiction, and mystery. Readers will become emotionally involved with the protagonist, whom Wilson portrays as both sympathetic and quick-witted, even at her lowest points. VERDICT Those who enjoy fiction and detective fiction, including Dame Agatha’s own writings, will delight in this singular take on a strange event in Christie’s life.”

Library Journal

 

“A most ingenious homage, solidly researched… Christie would have applauded its intricacy.”

—Andrew Taylor, author of The Ashes of London

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About the author:

Andrew Wilson is the highly-acclaimed author of biographies of Patricia Highsmith, Sylvia Plath, Alexander McQueen, the novel A Talent for Murder, as well as Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived. His first novel, The Lying Tongue, was published by Atria in 2007. His journalism has appeared in The GuardianThe Daily TelegraphThe ObserverThe Sunday TimesThe Daily Mail and The Washington Post. 

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