Category Archives: Uncategorized

Aos Sí (Viking P.I., #4) by Tommy Ueland

Aos Sí: A Viking P.I. Mystery (Viking P.I., #4)Aos Sí: A Viking P.I. Mystery by Tommy Ueland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Viking PI is back for Book 4!

Tommy Ueland, as his alter-ego, is back with another case for the Viking P.I., and, once again, his girlfriend, Alvide, is the investigator busting his chops. This time, the murder victim seems to have left a clue to his killer by way of a bloody message scrawled near his body. With things pointing in Tommy’s direction, Alvide brings him in, and the police chief, disgruntled with Tommy from a previous encounter, takes advantage of the opportunity to flex his authority. With Alvide angry at him and the evidence supporting an easy resolution with Tommy as the murderer, tempting the police to call it a day, Tommy has no choice but to find the real killer himself.

Aos Sí (a Celtic woodland paranormal creature) is another short, exciting case from the Viking P.I.’s logbook. As always, the dialogue and Tommy’s delivery delights. New readers should start with Book 1, as this entry doesn’t have a lot of backstory to really understand and enjoy the character dynamics. But, even if it did, the previous books in the series are not to be missed. Alvide definitely doesn’t show her good side in this one.

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Book Blitz: Bride of the Corpse King by Emily Shore

Bride of the Corpse King
Emily Shore
Publication date: September 1st 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy

~From Bestselling Kindle Vella Author Emily Shore

“I will have you on my throne. And worship you like the goddess you are.”

Flowers have followed Isla Adayra her whole life. Things are no different in the City of the Dead.

After volunteering to be Bride of the Corpse King to save her family, Isla sets a course to woo the God of Death. From seducing him with her corpus roses to accepting his mark of Death, Isla must keep him from reaping her soul.

With Death in his cursed form, the Corpse King, Allysteir, meets his match with Isla and her passion. It isn’t long before his feeble heart falls for the girl who eats forbidden fruit and grows roses and thorns from her flesh. But could she truly tempt Death? And break their land’s Curse?

For fans of A Touch of Darkness comes a dark and rapturous fantasy retelling starring a brooding and tortured Corpse King and a heroine strong enough to conquer the God of Death…

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Author Bio:

As a bestselling Kindle Vella Author for fantasy romance, I love to feature strong, badass heroines, dark, tortured love interests, spicy romance, and queer inclusivity. My past work includes a Top 100 YA anti-trafficking dystopian: The Uncaged Series.

After finding my voice late 2020, I am celebrating my newer debut works. Bride of the Corpse King: A Hades and Persephone Retelling and Bride of Lucifer are my top Kindle Vella books. Learn more at “Emily’s Vella Verse” on FB or connect with me on any social media pages, especially Tiktok!

An abuse survivor and trained advocate, I’ve worked as an awareness speaker all over Minnesota including the MLA and MEA conferences attended by hundreds of educators and librarians. As a recently out and proud bisexual feminist, my passion through my advocacy work and writing is to celebrate and normalize queer characters, showcase trauma-overcoming themes, and to empower female audiences, including my two daughters.

Please subscribe to Emily’s newsletter at – http://www.emilybethshore.com – to keep up with my series projects, author promos, and contests to receive fun prizes!

Emily lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two daughters. When not writing enemies to lovers with sex positive and empowered females smashing the patriarchy, Emily is pursuing grad school for domestic abuse advocacy.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / Pinterest / Amazon


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Jove Brand is Near Death (Ken Allen Super Sleuth, #1) by J.A. Crawford

Jove Brand Is Near DeathJove Brand Is Near Death by A. Crawford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pure entertainment from start to finish!

Ken Allen is a former competitive martial artist with one IMDB credit to his name. Eighteen years earlier, he had portrayed the fictional super spy, Jove Brand, of the wildly successful film franchise of the same name in one awful movie that was only released overseas. When the movie was eventually leaked to the US market, Near Death and its star attained a cult following. Now, Ken ekes out a living as “Sensei to the Stars,” providing personal training to an exclusive list of BIG NAMES in town, working the fandom convention circuit, and doing the occasional cameo as Jove Brand on television.

His most recent TV appearance on Good Morning, Burbank, was going better than usual. The popular actor, Sir Collin Prestor, the current Jove Brand and star of the last six blockbusters in the series, was retiring. He was hosting the popular morning show to “officially” turn over the reins to Jove Brand to the new young actor chosen to continue the role. However, the understated Prestor wasn’t wowing the audience. Enter Ken Allen with his display of martial arts kicks and jumps and his comedic portrayal of the character, and the audience responds enthusiastically, saving the bit. But only a short while later, one of the evening’s co-stars is found dead, murdered in the same over-the-top manner that Ken’s nemesis in Near Death met his end; Ken becomes the police’s number one suspect.

Jove Brand is Near Death is fun and quirky, and immensely entertaining. I was hooked from the start. Parodying such successful movie franchises as James Bond, Marvel, and DC Comics, I laughed out loud in delight at the fun parallels (and remembering my own experiences going to the cons; the descriptions are spot on!) The throwbacks to the past are fabulous, but there are also up-to-the-minute cultural references, making the whole story fresh and funny. Ken’s devotion to his diet and the frequent inclusion of trendy food choices had me smiling. The writing is easy to read, and the dialogue sparkles as Ken investigates the murder.

Ken is a genuinely nice guy, and he’s got a solid circle of friends who have his back. I particularly enjoyed Yuen Hung, his former Near Death co-star and convention partner. I hope he returns in future books. The effects master, Ray Ford, provides awesome working props that he engineers to Ken’s needs. I loved his whole persona and vibe.

The plot is a solid mystery with constant action as Ken follows his instincts and chases down possible leads. The story is more complex than I expected and kept me guessing.

Tim Campbell narrates the audiobook edition, and I thought he was perfect as Ken Allen. He has a wonderful voice and delivery and uses it to get perfect results. He is my Ken Allen now. I will also be looking for more audiobooks that he’s voiced.

I recommend JOVE BRAND IS NEAR DEATH to mystery readers, especially those with a fun interest in spy movie thrillers and comic book-themed film series. However, no knowledge of either would keep a reader from enjoying this delightful book.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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Dead in the Alley by Sharon D. Michalove

Dead in the AlleyDead in the Alley by Sharon D. Michalove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful setting and characters with a keep-you-guessing mystery!

Back in her hometown of Sherburne, Michigan, after an 18-year absence, Bay Bishop is the head chef and co-owner with her husband, Derrick Anderson, of the Sherburne Bistro, a successful and much-needed upscale restaurant in the popular tourist destination. She was in the kitchen the day Derrick stepped out the backdoor for a smoke break and was struck down and killed by an unknown assailant on a motorcycle. Bay is devastated by the loss of her partner of 10 years, and when his death is deemed a homicide, she is naturally the chief suspect!

To make matters worse, one of the detectives on the case is her old high school boyfriend, Greg Musgrave, the boy who broke her heart and drove her to leave Sherburne in the first place. The investigation quickly discovers Derrick was keeping a lot of secrets from his wife, including not paying the mortgages on the restaurant or home, insurance, or the bills, and Bay has been left destitute, with the bank taking everything.

She must turn to her family, with which she has a complicated and uncomfortable relationship. And in a place she should have found refuge, she encounters even more secrets, and her parents are absolutely not forthcoming with the answers she desperately needs. Instead, she finds herself drawn back to Greg and discovers her feelings for him are as strong as ever.

Dead in the Alley was an entertaining mystery with a lovely second-chance romance with a plucky, deserving heroine in Bay Bishop. The setting is small-town Michigan, and the story has a culinary-themed foundation. The story is told from two points of view, that of Bay and Greg. However, the greater focus is on Bay, as she takes a lead role in solving the mystery and clearing her name. Deaths occur out of sight, and details are general, placing Dead in the Alley in the cozy mystery category. I loved the characters, the setting, and the whole vibe of the story, and with both main characters still having several irons in the fire, I hope the author is using the book as a jumping-off point for a new series.

Besides the highly likable main characters, there are quite a few secondary characters that really shone. In particular, I liked the two “wingmen” of the story: Terrie Sullivan and Danny Tellman. Their appearances in the story and subplot were usually fun, sometimes snarky, but always delightful. Dog lovers will enjoy Greg’s Portuguese Water Dog, Ace.

The mystery behind Bay’s husband’s murder had several good suspects. The author had me suspecting some characters that were eventually shown to have no part in the events at all: subtle and tricky.

With an attractive and tantalizing Fall setting in beautiful and comfortable small-town Michigan, likable and genuine characters, and a solid, kept-me-wondering mystery, I recommend DEAD IN THE ALLEY to cozy mystery readers especially those who enjoy a culinary-themed story.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Tours.

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What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix by Tasha Suri, Narrated by Becca Hirani and Alex Williams

What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights RemixWhat Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix by Tasha Suri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fresh reimagining of the story behind one of the most renowned couples in literature.

Author Tasha Suri takes the literary classic, Wuthering Heights, and reimagines the backstory of Heathcliff, Catherine, and her family, breathing new life into this polarizing tale of gothic trauma. The story is set when Heathcliff has fled The Heights, and Cathy has been left behind to agonize over where he’s gone and what’s happened to him. Events from the original tale are recounted and take on new life and meaning with the telling. Suri’s story is presented from Catherine’s and Heathcliff’s points of view, giving an understandable heft to the reasons for their sometimes-murky relationship in the original. If you were left wanting after reading Brontë’s story, this envisioning might give you some satisfaction.

Suri explores the shadowy details of the period Heathcliff is absent from The Heights, later revealed in the original story to be when he is amassing his fortune. The story follows him to Liverpool and into the seamy underbelly of the port city, where poverty and press gangs are all-encompassing. The author weaves the results of Britain’s colonial history in India on its people into the story as Heathcliff comes to understand who he is. At the same time, Catherine also comes to realize her own hidden heritage as she and her brother, Hindley, attempt to lay the ghosts of their father’s past wrongdoings.

The audiobook version is voiced by Becca Hirani as Catherine and Alex Williams as Heathcliff. They breathe life into these characters, imbuing each with a personality that gives the listener a fresh new perspective on what’s driving their actions. The audiobook’s cover is beautifully moody but depicts these two as older than they are during the story’s events. As the story ends on a more hopeful note than the source materials, is this an additional nudge in the direction that things work out differently for them?

Touted as one of the greatest, most legendary love stories of all time, Wuthering Heights often eludes and disappoints modern young adult readers. Like many classic works, it has both its fans and foes. Depending on the reason for their dissatisfaction, Suri’s version may very well ease some of the latter group into the former, with its updated dialogue and delivery, more revealing first-person points of view, and its fresh underpinning based on the main characters’ secret, hidden ancestries.

I recommend What Souls Are Made Of to readers who enjoyed Wuthering Heights or wanted to but were left disappointed and those who enjoy YA historical fiction, especially that featuring a portrayal of the immigrant experience in 18th-century Britain.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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Giveaway, Blog Tour, & Review: Washed in the Blood by Shelton L. Williams

WASHED IN THE BLOOD

by

SHELTON L. WILLIAMS

Genre: Memoir / Biography / True Crime

NEWLY UPDATED!

Date of Publication: February 17, 2022

Number of Pages: 175 pages 

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The true story behind the Kiss and Kill murder in Texas in 1961. Author Larry King says: Washed in the Blood is a page-turning read about the time–early 1960s–and place–Odessa, Texas–during its rowdy oil boom days when violence often rode the range. It is at once an examination of local mores and foibles, piety and hypocrisy and an inside-look at the famed ‘Kiss and Kill’ murder of a 17-year-old would-be actress, Betty Jean Williams, whose ghost is said to haunt the Odessa High School campus to this very day.

Washed in the Blood gives Betty Williams, the victim of the Kiss and Kill murder, a voice!

Washed in the Blood is an excellent and heartfelt tribute to the author’s cousin, Betty Williams, who was tragically killed at the age of 17 by her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Mack Herring. The book is a memoir of the cousins growing up together in the West Texas oil patch of Odessa during the 1950s and early 60s, where football was KING and anything else not worthy of notice. It was on the cusp of the hippie counterculture and before women’s lib. It is a tale of a young man and woman coming-of-age, a shattering of innocent belief in our justice system, and a ghost story. I was utterly enthralled by Shelton L. Williams’ unfolding tale of the events of that time, now 60 years in the past.

The newspapers, radio, and television of the time focused on the young man that ended Betty’s life. Here, the author tells the victim’s side of the story, at least what he knows of it, including his personal memories and involvement in the events surrounding his cousin’s death; he was there after all. Her death continues to resonate with young women even today.

After Betty’s death, Williams continued to pursue the answers to questions that remained after the investigation and the trial about what and why things had gone as they did. He talked to an astonishing number of people that may have held a piece to this enduring puzzle. His method of relating this story made it feel like these events had happened only yesterday. I appreciated how he identified the different individuals involved at the time, their roles, and his thoughts at the time and now, years later, after a lot of thought and life experience has made their impact. Many were just kids from school and friends he or Betty hung out with or dated. Her death affected so many more people than you’d suppose until you stopped to think. And the impact is still felt today.

Washed in the Blood presents the reader with a sharply focused picture of life at that time and in that place, but it is a near-perfect reflection of the concurrent and broader society. He delineates the double standards of conduct acceptable and expected of women, girls, men, and boys. His research into Betty’s life also reveals some of the impacts that those differences had on her, himself, his family, and so many other lives.

At just under 200 pages with accompanying photos and illustrations, this book could be read in just one enthralling sitting. I recommend WASHED IN THE BLOOD to readers who enjoy gritty, honest memoirs, coming-of-age tales, true crime stories, and those set in West Texas in the early 1960s.

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AmazonShelton L. Williams

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks Mysteries series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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Calliope: The Gods We Dreamt of as Children by Scott Mari

Calliope’s latest story fairly bristles with dire threats from all sorts of newly discovered alien beings!

The Gods We Dreamt of as Children is another exciting entry in Scott Mari’s Calliope series, picking up with Calliope’s rescue of her mother and arch-nemesis, Mattias. Calliope continues to innovate and build. Friends and enemies, old and new, make their appearance. But we’re back in space, and the discovery of even MORE alien races prepares the groundwork for future story development.

Mari does a stellar job developing the alien cultures of the Barovaults and the Larvaltics. They are suitably terrifying, and I enjoyed the plotlines told from their points of view. But the author doesn’t stop there. Mari continues to introduce other intriguing and imaginative alien cultures to the mix. Readers will learn, right along with the characters themselves, a lot more about the aliens who practically destroyed the Earth of Calliope’s past.

I’m suspicious of Calliope’s mother’s motives and actions. But I liked her storyline and inclusion in this series, and I want to know more about her time as a captive of the aliens. I’m super curious about how her teaming up with the experienced pilot, Shepherd, will work out because I liked that curmudgeonly character, too. I’m looking forward to more of these characters and their work assignment in intelligence.

Eylana and her family are some of my famous characters in the series. Eylana is fun, sassy, and sexy, and I liked that she has a prominent role in this series. Her sisters are up to their old tricks and, even though they had little “screen time,” I found even the mention of them and what they are up to entertaining.

I did have an issue with dialogue in this book; it was confusing and hard to follow at times. I found this especially true when Calliope is talking with her mother. I often felt that their responses didn’t make sense and didn’t quite follow the conversational thread. I had to re-read passages several times to understand what they were saying, and I often wasn’t successful. I had to forget it and move on.

The requisite climactic space battle doesn’t occur until the very end of the book. Honestly, I felt like I really had to work for the pay-off this time. Battle scenes can often be confusing, and Mari is usually great at laying things out for the reader, but this time, the action seemed to stay chaotic. There’s just a lot going on, and it covers a lot of territory. I’ll admit I got lost with who was doing what where and whether or not things were working out or not. Still, the action is heart-pounding and exciting as it unfolds.

The Gods We Dreamt of as Children is the fourth book in Scott Mari’s Calliope series. There is an emphasis on the development of space stations, expansion of the Space Force, and new ships and weaponry as the humans prepare for the aliens to bring the battle to them. There is little time spent on the characters’ backstories, so the reader will need to be familiar with the characters beforehand. The author absolutely reinvigorates Calliope’s story with all sorts of new and dire threats. This novel is a meaty addition to the series and not a standalone book, and I recommend it to readers who have enjoyed books 1 – 3 already.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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Death in the Walled City by Aditya Banerjee

I loved the plot, the characters, the setting, and the trip back to the early 80s.

On the day of Nitya Chaturvedi’s well-deserved promotion to senior management at The New India Courier, a riot erupted inside the old sector of the city known as Old Delhi. Railcars were burned, shops vandalized and looted, and when it was all said and done, 11 people had been killed and dozens injured.

But the incident was still very different than the communal riots that had plagued the ancient walled city. Rather than lasting for days at a time, this one peaked and dissipated within hours, and no one could identify what had touched things off in the first place. Even the torched railcars had been empty ones. Another oddity; one of the victims killed suddenly disappeared – all official records of his death gone, along with the body.

Disgraced senior police officer, Shankar Sen, was on patrol in Old Delhi near the riot’s epicenter when the first report was made. He and his driver discovered the first two murder victims in an alleyway near the rail station, their bodies burned. It is one of these bodies that inexplicably goes missing, and Sen is compelled to unravel the secrecy.

Meanwhile, Nitya and her team of reporters at The New India Courier are tasked with writing features about each of the ten victims. When one of her new young journalists discovers they should be looking into the background of 11 lost lives, she teams up with her old friend, Shankar Sen, to get to the bottom of the cover-up, which may involve key members in the police and government itself.

Death in the Walled City is a moody and engaging mystery set in the winter of 1983 in New Delhi. Seeing the inner workings of Nitya’s newspaper was intriguing, as was her working environment and the culture of the early 1980s. She was a woman in a man’s world. The old boys’ club, the office politics of the time, strategic relationships and alliances among colleagues, and the rumor mill are all on full and glorious display. She’s joined the senior ranks and there are those that would be glad to see her fail.

The investigation into what was behind this unusual riot was captivating, and the location and culture of Old Delhi were fascinating. The contrasts among the characters’ lives were eye-opening, with two separate, and not equal, Indias apparent. I rooted for the underdogs, Shiv and Shankar Sen, and was “all-in” on Nitya’s success in her quest for answers from the start.

I really enjoyed the subplots involving the characters’ personal and their families. Nitya’s mother’s machinations to find her a husband was fun. But her sister’s marital situation was left at a pivotal juncture. Also, I felt for Shankar and his struggle to balance his work life and family life. I hope there are future books planned so I can see what becomes of these people.

There is quite a bit of exposition throughout the novel. This had me worried, initially, that the book was going to be a lot of telling and not enough showing. However, I came to believe this information was to catch readers up with what had happened historically, not only with the city and culture but with the two main characters, Nitya and Shankar Sen, who have a prior history together. (There is a previous book in which they meet.) But the bottom line is I loved the plot, the characters, the exotic (to me) setting, and the trip back to the early 80s.

I recommend DEATH IN THE WALLED CITY for mystery readers who enjoy stories featuring investigative reporters, underdog police officers, strong female protagonists, a historical time frame, and a setting in India.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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Mrs. Betty Jones: Lady Vigilante by Hayley Camille

Fun historical action-adventure featuring an Avon Lady in 1940s New York City

Mrs. Betty Jones: Lady Vigilante is an excellent introduction to the characters and plot that evolves in Lady Vigilante Season 1.  This prequel foreshadows what is to come as Betty Jones AKA Suzie Poletti, a seemingly average pre-WWII housewife and mother, faces the changes the war in Europe is bringing to daily life and the behind-the-scenes machinations of NYC’s criminal organizations.

Betty is far from your average homemaker, mother, and Avon Lady.

Mrs. Betty Jones: Lady Vigilante is available free of charge at this posting on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

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Katherine’s Wish by Linda Lappin

After Loving Modigliani,

Linda Lappin

is back on Tour

October 14-November 30

with

Katherine’s Wish

(Historical fiction/fictional biography)

Officially released in 2008,
now re released in 2021
250 pages
Wordcraft of Oregon

Goodreads

Buy It Here:
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Also Available From The Publisher / On Amazon

SYNOPSIS

In this dramatic, fictional retelling of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield‘s final years, and of the events which led up to her meeting with P.D. Ouspensky and G. I Gurdjieff, novelist Linda Lappin transports the reader like a time traveler into Mansfield’s intimate world.

Scrupulously researched and richly evocative, the novel has been praised by Mansfield scholars as “creative scholarship.”

With vivid detail and beautiful language and style, Lappin has built on journals, letters, and diaries to fashion a true-to-life mosaic, using themes, motifs, and methods of Mansfield’s own writing.


Katherine’s Wish celebrates Mansfield’s deep love of life and its final message is a life-affirming one of joy and of wholeness achieved.

Finalist, ForeWord Book of the Year Award in fiction, IPPY Gold medal in historical fiction, honorable mention Hoffer Awards, honorable mention Paris Book Festival, finalist Next Generation Indie Awards.

A radio play adaptation of Katherine’s Wish is forthcoming.

France Book Tours is honored to start featuring this book on October 14,
which happens to be Katherine Mansfield’s birthday!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katherine's Wish_Linda Lappin

Linda Lappin has published four novels:
The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004); Katherine’s Wish, dealing with the life of Katherine Mansfield (Wordcraft, 2008), shortlisted for Foreward Book of the Year and IPPY gold medal winner in historical fiction; Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery, winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award from RWA for the best mystery novel of 2013; and Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne. She is also the author of The Soul of Place: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci, winner in 2015 of the gold medal in creativity in the Nautilus Book Awards. She lives in Rome.

Visit the author’s website and her blog.
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MY REVIEW

A vividly immersive novel of Katherine Mansfield’s final years

Katherine’s Wish by Linda Lappin is the mesmerizing novel of Katherine Mansfield’s final years. Lappin researched the story for more than 20 years and developed the story from Mansfield’s own writings and those of people who knew her personally. Written from Katherine’s and her long-time companion, Ida Baker’s points of view, the story gives insight into Mansfield’s relationships, feelings, and thoughts of the world around her, especially her deteriorating health. Her efforts to seek a cure for her consumption during this timeframe, after the First World War, were eye-opening regarding the state of medical knowledge then. (A lot has changed in the last 100 years, however even today, there are still “cures” lurking out there for the desperately ill.)

Lappin’s writing is lovely, so smooth and evocative. I could feel the characters’ emotions as if I were there to share them. My heart ached for both Ida and Katherine. Having finished the novel, I am inspired to read more about Katherine, her work, and many notable friends and acquaintances.

I recommend Katherine’s Wish to readers of literary fiction, historical fiction, and biographies, especially those with an interest in Katherine Mansfield and her contemporaries or those curious about the state of Europe after WWI.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.

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