Writing and Wrapping Up A Series #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread

Writing a series of stories is common among novelists. Most of the time the stories are merely set in the same world with some common characters so you can read the books in any order. When I set out to write the Fury Falls Inn series, I had no idea how challenging it would be. I knew I wanted to write six stories, the first one introducing the ghost haunting the inn followed by Cassie’s four brothers coming to the inn, and then ultimately the sixth book bringing the family all together.

One little known fact: when I finished writing The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, Book #1, I had absolutely no idea what Mercy had done to the family. I mentioned it frequently in that first book, but even when one of my beta readers asked me, as in after I’d written The End, I still had no clue.

Days later, I was watching some movie—I don’t even recall which one—when Mercy suddenly whispered in my ear the truth of what she’d done to break up the family unit. I was shocked! But then I realized just what a treasure trove of storylines could spring from that revelation.

Then the real planning and strategizing began. I had to define each of my characters, both who they are and who their family was. I needed to understand the backstory of everybody in order to write their current story. I needed a timeline of who was born when, who married whom and when, who died when and how. All the minutiae of a person’s life that could impact their future choices and decisions.

The six books in this series are closely coupled stories, spanning June through October 1821, so you’ll want to read them in order. I researched the happenings in north Alabama during that same span of time in order to weave in historical details to give the stories authenticity. I went to Burritt on the Mountain living museum to research the architecture of buildings of that time period, and visited Constitution Park in downtown Huntsville to learn more about the history of Huntsville, too. I even bought a detailed book and accompanying sketch of what downtown Huntsville looked like then, what businesses were in which buildings, so I could more accurately depict the city in my writing.

This is my most popular series to date! If you haven’t read these books, you might want to give them a try. I had one reader demanding Book #4 immediately after she’d finished reading Book #3—unfortunately I was still writing that story so she had to wait. But you don’t have to! You can buy all 6 books now and binge read through to the end. In fact, that’s why I’m releasing Books #5 and #6 on the same day—so nobody has to wait any longer to read the conclusion of the Fairhope family saga. Enjoy!

Happy reading! I’m off to celebrate my book launch tomorrow!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

The final 2 books Legends of Wrath and Homecoming release tomorrow, August 9! Binge away!

Did you know… You can order signed paperbacks of any of my books at The Snail on the Wall book store!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn

Under Lock and Key

Desperate Reflections

Fractured Crystals

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Meet Reggie Fairhope – Character Interview #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread

One more character interview is coming your way… and that is to introduce you all to the lead character in Homecoming, Reginald “Reggie” Fairhope, the patriarch of the Fairhope family. The most frequently asked question I’ve heard about Reggie is why hasn’t he returned to the inn? Let’s ask him that and a few other questions. Ready?

Betty: How would you describe your parents?

Reggie: They are the most supportive and loving parents I’ve ever known. Even if they both are powerful witches in their own right. They made sure to teach me and my brothers and sisters how to use our might in all its forms for right. They loved each other with a purity of heart not often witnessed through actions toward one another.

Betty: The burning question round-about the inn is, why has it taken you so long to start the trek back home. What’s been occupying you so that you felt you couldn’t come sooner?

Reggie: The short answer is that Beck was being Beck and insisting, or trying to, on doing everything his way instead of how I’d requested the furniture to look. I didn’t trust him to not mess with the design and even the mystical aspects of the pieces. He likes to put too much of himself into his work, if you get my meaning.

Betty: Do you know how to swim? How did you learn, if so?

Reggie: No, that’s one skill I never got around to developing. I wish I had because maybe then I could have done something—anything—to intervene when my nephew drowned. It wasn’t that I hesitated for my own sake but I hesitated out of fear for my family. The repercussions of using my magic out in the open against an unknown adversary stayed my wand. If only I knew what—or who—I might have been able to change how things played out for little George.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why?

Reggie: That’s easy. Not protecting my wife and daughter from harm. But I’m heading home now to see to things. My sisters in marriage will need to be packing their trunks… And if I catch that no-good devil hunting my family he’ll pay a dear price. That’s a promise, not a threat.

Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you?

Reggie: Meeting the love of my life, Mercy. She brought a light and a joy to my heart.

Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change?

Reggie: I’d not leave the inn to have furniture made. I’d find somebody closer to home to make it so that I could prevent the death of my wife. But then of course you have to ask, would I have ever had the chance, the one I have now as I head toward home, to see my sons again if she hadn’t died and Cassie asked them to come? We’ll never know, of course. I just have to be grateful for that chance even as I confront the sadness and grief waiting for me.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Reggie: I’d like to think I’m not afraid of anything but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I fear losing my family. With a witch hunter preying on them, I feel like I need to be home as soon as the oxen can drag the furniture home. Which should be very soon, thank goodness.

Betty: What’s your favorite game to play?

Reggie: I used to play a mean game of eight ball but it’s been a while. I used to best my older brother, Beck, on a regular basis when I was a much younger man.

Betty: Do you have a favorite sibling? Who?

Reggie: That’s a good question… I love both my brothers and my two sisters equally. But I guess if I had to pick one it would be Scarlet. She’s such a firecracker and smart as a whip. She won’t let anyone take advantage of her or her family either. I’m so pleased she’s making the trip back with me, too. I think she’ll fall in love with Alabama.

Betty: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Reggie: The Fury Falls Inn is my home and always will be. They’ll have to bury me out back because I’m not leaving again.

Betty: How do you like to relax?

Reggie: Sitting on the back porch of the inn, watching the cloud shadows dance across the mountains and sipping on some fine whiskey. If Mercy could be at my side, then my life would be perfect.

Betty: What genre of books do you most enjoy reading?

Reggie: I don’t get much time for reading. When I do, I prefer to read a history or biography. I like to learn something when I read.

Betty: How do you like to start your day?

Reggie: With a rousing discussion with Sheridan over the day’s menu and orders necessary. That really gets my blood flowing. He’s not only an excellent cook but a good friend after all these years working together. I’m so happy for him to be reunited with Pansy, his wife, after so many years apart, too. A happy ending to what could have been a tragic love story.

Betty: What kinds of friends do you have?

Reggie: Most everyone I meet is a friend in some way. We’re all on this earth together so we have to find a way to get along as best we can. It irks me no end when people willingly hurt each other. My blood boils just thinking on it. And trust me, you do not want to see me when my temper gets away from me. People die. So, please, just shake my hand and be on your way if you have a grievance with me. It will be better for everyone concerned.

Um, okay. Well… Thanks, Reggie, I will spread that word around. I’m sure you’re relieved that the inn is almost in view now and looking forward to seeing Cassie again.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

The final 2 books Legends of Wrath and Homecoming
will release on August 9 and are up for preorder now!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic.
A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn

Under Lock and Key

Desperate Reflections

Fractured Crystals

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Meet Silas Fairhope – Character Interview #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread

I’d like to do something a little different this week and that is to introduce you all to the lead character in Legends of Wrath, Silas Fairhope. Silas is the youngest of the four brothers in the family. Like me, he’s a writer and knows how to address a topic to a given audience. So, let’s put a few questions to him and see what he has to say, shall we?

Betty: How would you describe your parents?

Silas: For years I’ve thought of them as mean spirited and unloving. Until I came to the Fury Falls Inn at my sister’s request. That’s when I discovered the truth behind their seemingly uncaring actions that sent me away from home to fend for myself for years. Now I understand how much they cared and loved all of their children, even if it appeared on the surface that they didn’t.

Betty: Do you know how to swim? How did you learn, if so?

Silas: My oldest brother, Giles, taught me how to swim when we were younger and still living at home. Me and my brothers would go to the lake down the road from our house and spend all afternoon splashing around and jumping in off the rope swing. What a fine memory. Up until the day my cousin drowned and everything changed.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why?

Silas: I think not seeing what was happening to my family, or at least not fathoming the causes. I was still young, just entering my teen years when the tensions began and the relationship began to fray.

Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you?

Silas: That’s easy. Being reconnected with my sister, Cassandra, and my brothers. I’ve been on my own, feeling a bit lost and floundering about in search of something I couldn’t define. Turns out, that something is my family. It’s good to find a home again.

Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change?

Silas: I wouldn’t change the past because the situations we confront and the choices we make all define who we are. Changing the past would undo the lessons learned from them. Still, I do sometimes wish my cousin hadn’t died. I miss him and his easy grin when he was about to do something stupidly daring.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Silas: I didn’t realize it until I came to the inn at Cassie’s request. My greatest fear has to be living alone for the rest of my life. I thought I handled the isolation from my family but I was fooling myself. I can see clearly now how I hid that truth from myself for years. Acting as if traveling around the country could fill the void left by my sister and brothers.

Betty: What’s your favorite game to play?

Silas: I enjoy a game of cards now and then but who has time to play when you’re on the move every day of one’s life? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the sights of America and meeting fascinating people to write about for the newspapers. I just don’t have a lot of time to play games.

Betty: Do you have a favorite sibling? Who?

Silas: Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I adore my sister. I’ve missed her beautiful smile and her sense of humor. I was so glad to hear from her even if her news was so sad, that our mother had died. She didn’t tell me until I arrived just how our mother had been murdered, so that was a surprise. But I’ve always felt close to her on a different level. Now I understand the connection is more than simple affection but has magical undertones to it.

Betty: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Silas: Of all the places I’ve visited, I’ve enjoyed the mountains most. If I could have a cozy mountain cottage on a pretty piece of land, I’d live right happily I think.

Betty: How do you like to relax?

Silas: With a good novel, of course. I like for a story to transport me to places I can’t travel to on my own. I can pretend for a short period to visit other countries, for example.

Betty: What genre of books do you most enjoy reading?

Silas: A good adventure tale is always enjoyable to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was excellent. Anything along those lines will entertain me for hours.

Betty: How do you like to start your day?

Silas: I put down a few lines each morning in my journal to help me focus on priorities for the day.

Betty: What kinds of friends do you have?

Silas: I don’t really have any since I’m on the move so much. Perhaps now that I have what I’d like to think of as a home base here at the inn I can also begin to make a few friends. We’ll see.

Thanks, Silas, for taking time away from your writing and travels to talk with me for a few minutes. Your story, Legends of Wrath, really answers many questions posed during the earlier stories in the Fury Falls Inn series.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale during July 2022!

The first 4 books in the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series set in 1821 Alabama in a haunted roadside inn are reduced! The final 2 books, Legends of Wrath and Homecoming will release on August 9 and are up for preorder now!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn – $.99

Under Lock and Key  – $1.99

Desperate Reflections – $1.99

Fractured Crystals – $2.99

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Menu Planning for Historic Gathering #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

One of the most fun things I do when writing my stories is coming up with historic menus or individual foods to include. In Homecoming, the 6th and final book in my Fury Falls Inn series, there is both a wedding supper and an Allhallows Eve party in need of delicious entrees and desserts. So I pulled out my colonial recipe books—I have 3 of them not including Martha Washington’s recipe book—and perused the offerings within their covers.

Some of the items I’ve prepared in my own kitchen over the years. You can find a couple of them on my Book Club page at my website. Some of the items on the menu were typically served even if I wouldn’t serve them to my husband today. Curious as to what I envisioned for the two important menus?

Apple-stuffed acorn squash

Wedding Supper

Roast turkey with cranberry relish

Asparagus dinner rolls

Apple-stuffed acorn squash (this is one I’ve made and will make again. See the recipe for Legends of Wrath)

Martha Washington’s White Cake

Allhallows Eve Feast

Gazpacho

Stuffed roast hare

Scotched and colloped venison steaks

Turnip greens with bacon/vinegar

Stuffed eggplant

Sweet potato pudding

Beets in orange sauce

Relish, pickles, olives, etc.

Pumpkin bread

Molasses gingerbread

Burnt custard (known today as crème brulee)

Brescia cheesecake

Pound cake (made this 1824 recipe and it’s so yummy! See the recipe for Homecoming)

So what do you think? Sound like a tempting array of goodies?

Now I’m hungry! Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale during July 2022!

The first 4 books in the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series set in 1821 Alabama in a haunted roadside inn are reduced! The final 2 books, Legends of Wrath and Homecoming will release on August 9 and are up for preorder now!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn – $.99

Under Lock and Key  – $1.99

Desperate Reflections – $1.99

Fractured Crystals – $2.99

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Celebrating Independence Day with a Free Book to Read — Emily’s Vow #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

Happy Independence Day! For a limited time only, Emily’s Vow (A More Perfect Union Book 1) is free to read! This series is set during the American Revolution in besieged Charleston, South Carolina. Get your free ebook in any format at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/xM9vNXhB.

About Emily’s Vow:

How could she love a man suspected of being a turncoat?

As the American Revolution drags on, Charles Town, South Carolina, remains under siege by the British, and one woman’s father is determined to marry her off to a suspected traitor. Emily Sullivan is beset from all sides but vows to fight her own war for independence. Using the best tool she has—her pseudonymous essays—she embarks on a path toward her freedom, risking the town’s condemnation as a female writer. A path putting her at ever greater odds with her father and the man she’s supposed to marry.

Frank Thomson walks a fine line between spying for the Americans and being a perceived loyalist traitor. He desires to end the blasted war and return to his private life. Unfortunately, the enemy conscripted his home. He accepts lodging from Captain Sullivan, happy to be under the same roof as his beloved Emily until his house is returned. Posing as a simple printer of broadsheets and pamphlets, he sends crucial encrypted intelligence to the general camped outside of town. But when Frank learns Emily has been imprisoned by the enemy, he risks his own life, freedom, and heart for hers.

Books2Read     Barnes and Noble      Amazon      Apple     Kobo     Google Books     Bookshop

For signed paperback, contact The Snail on the Wall Book Store

If you enjoy Emily’s Vow, I hope you’ll continue with the other books in the series: Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, Evelyn’s Promise, and Elizabeth’s Hope.

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale during July 2022!

The first 4 books in the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series set in 1821 Alabama in a haunted roadside inn are reduced! The final 2 books, Legends of Wrath and Homecoming will release on August 9 and are up for preorder now!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn – $.99

Under Lock and Key  – $1.99

Desperate Reflections – $1.99

Fractured Crystals – $2.99

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Impressions of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’ve finished reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. If you missed my initial thoughts, you may want to hop over there to read that post first. Let me just say how much I enjoyed reading this story. It’s a kind of gothic mystery, murder mystery, historical, blended with a coming of age romance of sorts. There’s a lot going on, with lots of red herrings and mysterious doings sprinkled throughout.

The use of the key elements of gothic tales really creates the atmosphere of this story. Not only the large, shadowy spaces featured throughout. There are fallen angels pointing accusingly toward one of those immense buildings, angels made of concrete who outlive the symbol of power and money as it is abandoned by the rich family and falls into ruin. You’ll find disfigured people, too. Strangers who become friends who find out they don’t really know each other as well as they’d thought, or hoped. Families that break apart, and some that come back together. Freaky weather—unusual rain, flooding, and snow, for example—lends an unsettled air to the tale.

One strong thread throughout this entertaining and intriguing story is that of the power of friendship and family. True, not every friendship and family survives the throes of this tale of the 20th century. The ones that do are forged in fire to withstand anything going forward, though. I particularly enjoyed and appreciated the friendship between Fermin and Daniel, Fermin acting as a kind of unreliable mentor at times but with a heart of gold. Daniel grows throughout the story both in size and maturity.

Zafon’s story is memorable and engaging, one I think is worth reading. Some of the descriptions (metaphors, similes, etc.) were a bit flowery for my taste. Not to say any of the writing was bad! Not at all. I wonder though if the somewhat exaggerated (?) terms is because of the translation from Spanish (a romantic language) into English (more a Germanic based language). Someone else will have to determine the answer to my question, since I don’t know Spanish and of course don’t have the Spanish edition to compare to even if I did.

Zafon also created unique and individualistic characters to have to work together, or against each other, in order to help solve or confuse the puzzle Daniel and Fermin are trying to solve. Corrupt police. Killers. Librarians. Booksellers. Housewives. Mothers. Girlfriends. Guy friends. Shady people working in cahoots with the corrupt police. It’s quite a fun mix.

I hope you’ll give this book a chance. I think it was definitely worth reading, which explains the well-worn covers and pages!

I’m going to take a little break from this tour of historical fiction because I’ll be having surgery and treatments for breast cancer over the next few weeks. I don’t expect to have a post next week because the surgery is this Friday. I’ll get back into the swing of it in a week or two, and will most likely start telling you more about my upcoming releases in July and August. But I will swing back to this series because you all seem to be enjoying it as much as me! And I’m learning more and more about nuances to writing from different countries.

Have you ready Becoming Lady Washington yet? If not, in honor of her June 2 birthday, it’s on sale through the end of June 2022. Think of it as a fictionalized autobiography of her life, from when presented to society until she died. I hope you enjoy it!

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale for only $1.99 for a limited time!

Patsy Custis manages a large 18th-century plantation in Virginia but as a widow she struggles to balance her business with caring for two young children. When Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her, her life veers in an unexpected direction. But when trouble in the form of British oppression leads to revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, she must decide whether to stay home or follow her heart into a dangerous future.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Apple     Google Books     Bookshop

Initial Thoughts about The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’ve started reading the next book on my Historical Fiction (Authors) Around the World tour which is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The story is set in Barcelona, Spain, and Zafon included a map of the area where the story takes place. That helped me have a better sense of relationships and distances, too. That’s the only extra material included in the book but it’s useful. He uses some Spanish terms as well, which aren’t defined anywhere so I’m just skimming over them most of the time. Sometimes I can sort of tell what they mean, but not always.

This story is 487 pages long in the paperback edition I’m reading. I’m only on page 98, so I’ll just say that I’m intrigued by the story. It’s written with a gothic flare that I really appreciate and enjoy. Lots of large, shadowy spaces and mysterious people coming and going, threatening and sometimes harming. Including a special library that is called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It doesn’t hurt that Barcelona is a “foreign” place to me which adds to the sense of mystique of the setting.

Zafon apparently wrote the story in Spanish and then Lucia Graves translated it into English. The language of the story is very elegant and flows along like a calm river. I cannot do the phrasing justice in this short post, but if you pick up a copy for yourself you will soon see what I mean. I can give you a snippet, though. “Six years later my mother’s absence remained in the air around us, a deafening silence that I had not yet learned to stifle with words.” So much is contained in that description of how the youth felt about the loss of his mother that it’s difficult to fully explain. Indeed, I almost feel like if I were to try it would spoil the effect, the atmosphere of the narrative.

The story is told from the first person perspective of a boy grieving for his dead mother. I am not a huge fan of first person stories, but Zafon and Graves have done an excellent job of making the story enjoyable (to me) despite that. I have the impression that the story is being told in retrospect despite being in first person, much like how I told the story of Martha Washington. Becoming Lady Washington is the only story I’ve ever published written in first person past tense. I have the same sense in Zafon’s story of retelling a personal history.

I’ll see if I can finish the book over the next week so I can tell you more about what impresses me about the story and the writing. I’m sure there is more to come on that score!

Be sure to take advantage of the sale on Becoming Lady Washington below, in honor of her June 2 birthday.

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale for only $1.99 for a limited time!

Patsy Custis manages a large 18th-century plantation in Virginia but as a widow she struggles to balance her business with caring for two young children. When Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her, her life veers in an unexpected direction. But when trouble in the form of British oppression leads to revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, she must decide whether to stay home or follow her heart into a dangerous future.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Apple     Google Books     Bookshop

My Impressions of The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

If you enjoy mysteries set in the art and chess worlds, you’ll enjoy The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. If you haven’t read my Initial Thoughts on this book, please take a moment to do so before continuing with this post.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this author’s elegant writing. His descriptions are so poetic and vivid. Dialog flows and reveals much about each uniquely crafted character. Yet he has woven a mystery into this sometimes shocking (to me, at least) depiction of life in Madrid in 1990 (I think that may be the timeframe of this story after reading the entire book). I have never been to Spain, so don’t really have a frame of reference for the locations mentioned in the story.

The mystery stemming from a hidden inscription on a painting called The Chess Game involves reverse playing the game depicted on the chess board. Now, I have played chess in the past but I am not a very strong player. One surprise in this ebook (borrowed via Hoopla from my local library) was the number of illustrations, specifically of the chess board and the location of the pieces being mentioned in the story. That helped me to understand the moves and decisions the players were having to make. (It also made me realize I can add some more illustrations into my own books, but that’s another story entirely!)

Each of the individual characters were distinct and memorable. Some I loved to hate, some were edgy, some were funny, and the main character, Julia, seemed like she’d make a very good friend. She’s smart, loyal, trusting until that trust is broken. Some of the characters I’d avoid in real life because you simply cannot trust them. Which ones are which, you’ll have decide for yourself.

Another interesting aspect of this author’s story is that the ending is rather open-ended. The reader is left to decide how they envision what the characters will do next. The author does provide the options they are faced with but not their final decisions. It’s left me debating, knowing the characteristics of the individuals involved, what path they’d choose. It gives the reader the power to choose the ending they’d prefer. Curious, isn’t it? Authors don’t typically hand over that power to the reader, most preferring to definitively end the story. I don’t know if this is a common technique from authors in Spain or that general region, or particular to this author. I’m also unsure whether I could pull off the same sort of ending as effectively as Pérez-Reverte has done.

One other thing I’ll mention about reading this book. I borrowed it from the library as a digital book available via Hoopla. I read it on the app on my iPad. I must confess I’d much prefer to read the actual paperback. I couldn’t resize the tiny text to something just a little bit larger so it was harder to read than an actual paperback I could hold in my hands. The iPad is also slimmer, so for me it was tiring to hold. I ended up propping the device on a small pillow to “hold” it so I didn’t have to.

So next up on my Historical Fiction (Authors) Around the World tour is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Zafon is another author from Spain, so maybe I’ll find answers to my questions above. And it’s an actual paperback, too!

Check out the sale on Becoming Lady Washington below, in honor of her June 2 birthday.

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

Patsy Custis manages a large 18th-century plantation in Virginia but as a widow she struggles to balance her business with caring for two young children. When Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her, her life veers in an unexpected direction. But when trouble in the form of British oppression leads to revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, she must decide whether to stay home or follow her heart into a dangerous future.

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Initial Thoughts on The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’ve begun reading the next book in my Historical Fiction Around the World tour of historical fiction authors, which is The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. This book is translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa, an award-winning translator. The setting is Madrid, Spain and the original book was published in 1990; the edition I’m reading was published in 2004. I’m about 40% through the digital book via Hoopla. I haven’t had as much time to read over the last week because of some travel to two cities over the last week. But I’m back home and will get back to my normal rhythm and routine for the next month at least.

In trying to determine whether this story is actually historical fiction, I considered the premise of the fact that it involves a “five-hundred-year-old murder,” one which is alluded to in a 1471 painting, The Chess Game, created a few years after the actual killing. So, 500 years after 1471 would be 1971, and the book was first published in 1990. The “definition” of historical settings is anything at least 50 years before the time of writing and/or publication. So while the story is all about solving an historical murder mystery, I’m hesitant to call the story itself historical fiction.

The main female character, Julia, is apparently living in contemporary times and is an art restorer working on restoring The Chess Game. Even if we assume she is living in 1971, the book was published in 1990 which is 19 years after the time in which the character is living. It’s also only 32 years earlier than our present time. See, I just can’t make the historical fiction claim work. That said, it’s a fascinating story and a murder mystery too boot!

I’m thoroughly enjoying the vividly unique characters as well as the sleuthing into the mystery encapsulated in the painting. I feel like I’m being educated on art analysis at the same time as learning how to determine previous chess moves based on the current placement of the pieces. I didn’t even know that was possible, so it’s intriguing to me. I’ve played chess in the past but I would not call myself a chess player. I prefer checkers…

The tone of the story enhances the rather dark atmosphere of the art world, too. I think Pérez-Reverte has a great story going and I’m anxious to find out more about what’s going to happen and to whom.

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

Amy Abernathy is a woman renowned for her storytelling prowess but even she cannot invent a sound reason for her suitor’s inexplicable actions. She picks up the shreds of her heart and endeavors to forget him, until he suddenly appears without any fanfare or explanation.

Benjamin Hanson returns to make amends with his captivating Amy. While he knows she’s upset with him, he also knows she’ll eventually forgive him and agree to marry him. But marriage has to wait until after he’s finished spying for the Americans against the British during the war.

When he discovers her and a friend—along with a precious gem—missing from her sister’s home, he finds them in the hands of desperate renegade soldiers. Can he protect the women, the gem, and his heart before it’s too late?

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My Impressions of The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I have finished reading Nguyễn Phan Qué Mai’s The Mountains Sing. This story is set in Việt Nam and really paints a clear picture of the difficult life and times of the people who lived there in the 1930-1980 timeframe of the story. You can read my Initial Thoughts on the story from last week here. I’ve come away from this story with a deep appreciation for the culture and the people that I did not have prior to delving into these pages.

As the book description states, the story is “an intimate, enveloping story of four generations of the Tran family, as seen through the eyes of the matriarch, Tran Dieu Lan, and her granddaughter, Huong.” (I must apologize for not including all of the diacritic marks. I simply don’t seem to have them in my word processor.) So the overall structure of the story is Huong telling the story of her grandmother telling her about life when Huong’s aunts and uncles were children. The family faced many hardships and tragedies, including being separated for several months when they were forced to flee for their lives.

One thing I really appreciated was seeing the impact and impressions of the Việt Nam war on the people of that country. My brother fought over there—he was a Ranger in the Army—during that conflict and came home very different. In fact, he’s estranged himself from the family for the past 30+ years. Reading about the conflict from the other side of it gives me a much clearer idea of what he might have seen or done that he never would tell me about. I was a child at that time and not aware of what was happening. I have since watched a documentary on the war and now this story provides another view of what transpired.

The hardships and sacrifices throughout this book are incredible to me. I realize how very fortunate my life has been that I’ve never faced such challenges. Some seemed insurmountable I’m sure. Survival is one very strong thread running through the lives of these characters. Family and cooperation also underlie everything. Working together to keep the family together no matter what they faced. It’s a powerful story. I’m very glad I read it.

So next up for my Historical Fiction Around the World tour of historical fiction authors is The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. This author is from Spain. This will be the first book I read from the Hoopla app on my iPad/iPhone. So a new experience in checking out books from the library for me!

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

Amy Abernathy is a woman renowned for her storytelling prowess but even she cannot invent a sound reason for her suitor’s inexplicable actions. She picks up the shreds of her heart and endeavors to forget him, until he suddenly appears without any fanfare or explanation.

Benjamin Hanson returns to make amends with his captivating Amy. While he knows she’s upset with him, he also knows she’ll eventually forgive him and agree to marry him. But marriage has to wait until after he’s finished spying for the Americans against the British during the war.

When he discovers her and a friend—along with a precious gem—missing from her sister’s home, he finds them in the hands of desperate renegade soldiers. Can he protect the women, the gem, and his heart before it’s too late?

Books2Read    Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Apple    Bookshop