Listen to the Wind: Review & Guest Post.

Listen to the Wind
by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: April 22, 2019
Bellastoria Press
eBook & Paperback; 388 Pages

Series: The Orphans of Tolosa, Book 1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval



Sent away from their families for their own protection when they were very young, Azemar and Azalaïs become separated when they are forced to flee from the band of outlaws who served as their supposed protectors. Armed only with scraps of memories and the wits and intelligence that have helped them survive brutal conditions, they struggle to find each other again and discover the mysterious past that links them across distance and time. Who are they? And do they hold the secret of the legendary Cathar treasure? All they know is that knights and monks spell danger, and they must find a way to survive at all costs if they are to fulfill their destiny—and preserve their vanishing culture.

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Let me first apologise for the lateness of my post. Internet troubles have once again plagued me. Fortunately, all is fixed. 

Now then. This book. Holy crap. I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Dunlap’s books, I love her attention to detail, her dedication to bringing history to life, to picking those figures who perhaps you’ve heard of, but know little about them. In this particular tome, we’re brought back to thirteenth-century Languedoc. (Modern Day France.) Two Orphans are separated from one another, and in their journey to find one another again, they face numerous trials. This is the end of the Crusades, which you can imagine brought religious strife to new levels. Azalaïs and Azemar are the main characters and I found Azalaïs to be a brilliant character in particular. I absolutely adored the intelligence, grit and, ingenuity they used to get out of whatever situation they found themselves in. Every character is well rounded, lively, three dimensional. They really come off the pages to tell their story.

I love how vibrant the world is made, how danger really struck fear into my heart, how the pain felt real…everything is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed this. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series. I hope we find more of their origins out, because I am intrigued!



Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and nine grandchildren!

In her spare time, she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website. You can follow the author, Susanne Dunlap, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

Guest Post!

The question I’m most often asked about this book is where on earth I got the idea for it. And that’s a really, really good question! Let me try to answer:

I think it probably all started when I was in graduate school for music history. I’ve always been fascinated by women’s place in the history of music. My first three novels grew out of that fascination—Émilie’s Voice is about a young singer and the composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier in the court of Louis XIV; Liszt’s Kiss is the story of a young pianist’s fascination with the composer Franz Liszt and his lover Marie d’Agoult; and my first YA novel, The Musician’s Daughter, is a murder mystery about a young violist in Haydn’s Vienna.

But the women in all those novels were performers rather than creators. This is a sad fact of music history, that women lacked access to the institutions and training that fostered male composers. Those who did compose were lost to history for quite a while, only being “discovered” by modern scholars within the last half-century or so—women such as Clara Schumann, Fanny Hensel, and Amy Beach.

That’s partly why the idea that a whole culture of poetry and music, which women participated in on an equal footing with men, existed in a specific part of what is now France—Languedoc—blew my mind when I learned about it in graduate school. Sadly, because this remarkable set of circumstances occurred so long ago in the 12th and 13th centuries, not much of the poetry and even less of the music survives. But enough does to give a sense of the important role of women in this tradition.

The music and poetry wasn’t the only part of this history that fascinated me. The Albigensian Crusades, the Christian religious sect of the Cathars—it was all intriguing to me. Fast-forward to a trip my partner and I took to Languedoc in 2004. I wanted to see the region for myself. We drove incredibly treacherous roads through the foothills of the Pyrenees, climbed up to the ruins of Cathar castles on their isolated pogs, visited medieval walled cities (Carcassonne, Caunes Minervois, Béziers) and the vibrant port city of Narbonne, and an idea started to form itself as I absorbed everything about this beautiful part of the world.

There are a few well-known names from the time. The brutal Simon de Montfort (not to be confused with the English Simon de Montfort, the 6th earl of Leicester), Ermengarde of Narbonne, Count Raymond VI—no doubt excellent novels could be written about any of them. But their stories weren’t the ones I wanted to tell. Too little is known about the actual women troubadours to wrap a story around them. In fact, only one trobairitz composition survives with both poetry and music, by countess Beatriz de Dia.

Thus, Azalaïs and Azemar were born, followed shortly after by Jordane and Johana, Fraire Goncort, Raimon, Fraire Martin, and the entire cast of characters who populate the adventure that is Listen to the Wind.

My hope is always that people will read my books and become interested in the actual history, that I’ll shed a bit of light on a distant time and place. I’ve got snippets of historical background on the trilogy’s Web site,, and I hope readers will explore it to find out more. I’m thrilled that this book of my heart is now out in the world to be read! And I look forward to answering readers’ questions.


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away one copy of Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Listen to the Wind

Top Ten Tuesday!


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s theme is “Page to Screen”, which is a freebie, so I picked books I liked that are movies I like too. I omitted Gone With The Wind, Little Women, and the Wizard of Oz. I feel I use them too frequently and you’re all probably sick of them, lol.



1. The Da Vinci Code || Angels and Demons. I know these books aren’t all that popular for some reason; they had been and then interest seems to have waned. I love both of them, though I like to forget Inferno. (Sorry, Tom Hanks. Didn’t love that one.) I think the stories are creative and the acting was well done. I adore Tom Hanks and I watch things I have no interest in because he’s in it. You’ll see he was in another film based on a book too. I just enjoyed the fast pace of the films and how they stayed (mostly) true to the books.

2. Forrest Gump. Told you that you’d see Tom here again. This one goes firmly in the rare “the movie was better” category. In the book, Forrest is an ass. He is not the kindly figure that Tom Hanks plays him as. Forrest is just plain mean. The writing was choppy and I just hated that book. Hate it. The entire cast was brilliant. From Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan to Sally Field as Mrs. Gump. Just a stellar film. I found it to be just fun yet a bittersweet movie. It is one of my favorite films.

3. Me Before You. You know I love this book. And you know I love the movie. Do I really need to go into detail? It’s heartbreaking, but yet…I still love it. It’s a good story, if not (overly) sweet.

4. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I think I’m in the minority, but I loved both the book and the movie. I’ve spoken of it before so I won’t go on too long, but I think it was very clever how they took things in history and added a spin on it that made it appealing and fun.

5. The Book Thief.  There isn’t anything about the book or the movie that I don’t love. Both hit me fiercely in my heart and I think I’m all the better for having read it.

6. The Help. Great book, great movie. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but hear Minnie talk about a certain type of pie whenever I think of it.

7. The Godfather. Another case of the book and movie being equally as good. I absolutely adored the pair of these. Watching the movie was like reading the book; there weren’t /that/ many differences. If you haven’t seen the films or read the book; you should. My favorite is the second one, where we see Vito’s youth and simultaneously, Michael’s life as the Godfather.

8. The Harry Potter movies. Except for the third movie and Dumbledore losing his shit in Goblet of Fire, I loved all the movies. The third one was okay. Not my favorite. As to the books, the core seven, not Cursed Child. Brilliant. Also, you get a Professor McGonagall gif. Just cause.

9. A Walk to Remember & The Notebook. These don’t seem like my types of books or movies, does it? I had to really think about it. I dislike romance movies and these two fit that category extraordinarily well. I’m just not into them generally. However, I think both of these books and films are exquisite and I really enjoyed them. A Walk to Remember in particular. I know everyone aims for ‘The Notebook’, but I’ve always loved the former. Mandy Moore played Jamie amazingly and made me cry. And even now, I can hear her singing. ❤ (Fun Fact: I saw her when she was an opening act for the Backstreet Boys in 99!)

10. Les Liaisons Dangereuses || The Dangerous Liaisons I read an English translation a while ago and I just was blown away by it. It’s such a delightfully wicked read. The scheming, the revenge…mmph. And then there’s the film with John Malkovich and Glenn Close. There’s a review titled, “Outrageous, Delightful, Scandalous” on Amazon and it’s fitting. If you haven’t had the chance to see it, you should. Granted it’s older, but it’s no less delightful.

“When I came out into society, I was fifteen. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while, under the table, I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn’t pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with. And in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die.”–Marquise de Merteuil

Happy Bookday to Resistance Women!

Continuing on with the Release Day Spotlights! What a banner day this is!! As I said, I’ve been a big fan of Ms. Chiaverini’s since I read Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. I haven’t finished this yet, as I said, it’s a big one. But I can promise you that you will enjoy it. It’s absolutely wonderful and pulls you in from the first few pages. I can’t wait to post my review.


  • Hardcover: 608 pages (It’s a chunky one, but hell yes!)
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Publish Date: May 14, 2019

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of an era and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin.

After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.

As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.

For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.

Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.


Amazon || Books-a-Million || Indie Bound || Barnes & Noble


Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.




Also, if you’re in Madison, Wisconsin and need something to do tonight…


Happy Bookday to We Hunt The Flame!

This is another #Debut19 that I’ve been anxious for. I’m absolutely delighted to get to share it with you here, on it’s debuting day. I am absolutely over the moon for Hafsah Faizal. Y’know, she almost gave up writing? True story. It’s on her Twitter. I’m really glad she didn’t because this is truly a magical book. Marieke Nijkamp’s endorsement, “Lyrical and Spellbinding” is on point. I can’t wait to get myself a hard copy. ❤


  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
  • Publish Date: May 14, 2019

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing in Arawiya, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, WE HUNT THE FLAME is a gripping story of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.


“Hafsah Faizal’s voice is not one that simply speaks, but sings across the page. WE HUNT THE FLAME is a spellbinding tale filled with deception, political intrigue, and atmosphere that lives and breathes—I am obsessed with this story.” – Kerri Maniscalco, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“A sparkling debut, full of mystery and magic, vivid characters and rich language.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Beautiful storytelling, mesmerizing settings, and fiery characters—WE HUNT THE FLAME is danger, magic, and hope all wrapped into one, and it is intoxicating.” – Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game series

“In her incredible debut, Hafsah Faizal has crafted a whirlwind Arabian-inspired fantasy, filled with heart-stopping twists; powerful friendships; a steamy well-developed romance; and lyrical prose that left me breathless. Fans of City of Brass or Children of Blood & Bone will devour this tale that left me with my jaw on the floor, distressed that the story was over.” – Shauna Sinyard, bookseller at Park Road Books

Amazon || Indie Bound || Books A Million || Barnes & Noble


Hafsah Faizal
 is an American Muslim and brand designer. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured. WE HUNT THE FLAME is her first novel.

Happy Release Day to The Candle and the Flame!!

It’s the Big Day!!!!! I’m so excited to share that you can now grab a copy of this absolutely stunning debut from Nafiza Azad. I will have a review up later this week (spoiler–5 stars!) but for now, do yourself a favor and go get yourself a copy. Seriously. I mean it. Go. Now. Before I send a djinn after you. 😉 

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • Publish Date: May 14, 2019

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.


Amazon || Indie Bound || Barnes & Noble || Books A Million


Nafiza Azad was born in Fiji and spent the first seventeen years of her life as a self-styled Pacific Islander. Now she identifies as an Indo-Fijian Muslim Canadian, which means she is often navigating multiple identities. Nafiza has a love for languages and currently speaks four. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia and co-runs The Book Wars (, a website dedicated to all things children’s literature. Nafiza currently lives in British Columbia with her family.

The Song of the Jade Lily [Spotlight!]


  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Publish Date: May 14, 2019 <—-TOMORROW!!

1939: Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.

2016: Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks, Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself.

The Song of the Jade Lily is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

Amazon || Indie Bound || Books-a-Million || Barnes & Noble

Sunday Night TV.

Like a lot of you, my Sunday nights have been filled with a few TV shows that just have me in awe. Game of Thrones for one. This season….is both amazing and underwhelming for me. I wish they’d made it longer than six episodes, it just feels rushed, y’know? That’s not to say the actors aren’t doing the best with the material given, but I wish the producers had taken HBO up on their offer of extending the season. Still, I do love the story and the world. So when I saw this on sale at Target, I splurged. I always thought the Lannisters would keep the Throne, but Dany is not here to play, haha. I thought I would share some info about this one. Whilst it’s not as story-driven as the series, it gives a lot of background info. If you like history, this will be to your taste. If you find things like that dull, you may want to skip on this. I kind of hope he’ll release books about each house or at least House Lannister, because they’re my favorite. (Sorry, not Sorry.) My favorites are Targaryen, Lannister, and Tyrell. I like House Stark, but I honestly just liked those houses better.

The thrilling history of the Targaryens comes to life in this masterly work by the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the inspiration for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire & Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why was it so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What were Maegor the Cruel’s worst crimes? What was it like in Westeros when dragons ruled the skies? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice & Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire & Blood is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.

pjimageMy other Sunday night show is A Discovery of Witches. I just got into the books last year, and I quickly fell in love with them. A friend of mine gifted me recently with ‘The World of All Souls‘. It’s quite handy for all the things you don’t know about the characters mentioned, history, alchemy–fascinating stuff, I swear!– historical figures, wine–Matthew is quite the connoisseur– all sorts of things. It’s quite brilliant and I adore it. I’ve included some images below that I took. There are drawings and vignettes from the author and I’m just over the moon. It really adds to the experience of the book and also the series. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it, you should. It’s a rare thing when the show is as good as the books and this is definitely that. I’m usually a big critic, but I am enjoying this and I hate that there are only two episodes left before the season finale. The perk is that it has been renewed for seasons two and three already, so yay! pjimage
A fully illustrated guide to Deborah Harkness’s #1 New York Times bestselling All Souls trilogy—”an irresistible . . . wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy.” (People).
Look for the hit TV series “A Discovery of Witches” airing Sundays on AMC and BBC America, and streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder.

A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Shadow of Night and The Book of Life carried Deborah Harkness’s series to its spellbinding conclusion.

In The World of All Souls, Harkness shares the rich sources of inspiration behind her bewitching novels. She draws together synopses, character bios, maps, recipes, and even the science behind creatures, magic, and alchemy–all with her signature historian’s touch. Bursting with fascinating facts and dazzling artwork, this essential handbook is a must-have for longtime fans and eager newcomers alike.

And lastly…I’ve just begun The Spanish Princess on Starz. I confess that I’m not a huge Phillipa Gregory fan, but I was intrigued by the idea of watching something about Katherine of Aragon, whom we see portrayed mostly as a dowdy older woman. In this, she is young and only the Princess of Wales and the Infanta of Spain. The show is interesting so far, one episode in. I have yet to watch episode two. I confess I didn’t enjoy the book–but I’m trying to be open-minded for the show.  I had to laugh at the Queen Isabella scene in the first episode. Hello, inaccuracy!

I am, however, a sucker for a historical drama, so bring it on. Maybe I’ll make weekly postings about my gripes…and things I like, of course. But, we’ll see! Here’s a preview of the show if you’re interested. 

1926361t70bnztsmwWhat have you been watching? Anything good? Make a recommendation to me if you have some!! ❤


Waiting On Wednesday.

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Redhook
  • Publish Date: September 10, 2019

When I was seven, I found a door. I suspect I should capitalize that word, so you understand I’m not talking about your garden or common variety door that leads reliably to a white-tiled kitchen or a bedroom closet.

When I was seven, I found a Door. There–look how tall and proud the word stands on the page now, the belly of that D like a black archway leading into white nothing. When you see that word, I imagine a little prickle of familiarity makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You don’t know a thing about me; you can’t see me sitting at this yellowwood desk, the salty-sweet breeze riffling these pages like a reader looking for her bookmark. You can’t see the scars that twist and knot across my skin. You don’t even know my name (it’s January Scaller; so now I suppose you do know a little something about me and I’ve ruined my point).

But you know what it means when you see the word Door. Maybe you’ve even seen one for yourself, standing half-ajar and rotted in an old church, or oiled and shining in a brick wall. Maybe, if you’re one of those fanciful persons who find their feet running towards unexpected places, you’ve even walked through one and found yourself in a very unexpected place indeed.

Or maybe you’ve never so much as glimpsed a Door in your life. There aren’t as many of them as there used to be.

But you still know about Doors, don’t you? Because there are ten thousand stories about ten thousand Doors, and we know them as well as we know our names. They lead to Faerie, to Valhalla, Atlantis, and Lemuria, Heaven and Hell, to all the directions a compass could never take you, to elsewhere. My father–who is a true scholar and not just a young lady with an ink pen and a series of things she has to say–puts it much better: “If we address stories as archaeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care, we find at some level there is always a doorway. A dividing point between here and there, us and them, mundane and magical. It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen.”


In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world and the mystery behind a magical door in this captivating debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Early praise for The Ten Thousand Doors of January:

“Many worlds, vanishing doors, mind-cracking magic: I clung to each page, searching for answers. This is one of the most unique works of fiction I’ve ever read!” —Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author

“With lush writing and a sense of wonder, The Ten Thousand Doors of January examines power, progress, and identity. It is an adventure in the best and grandest sense.” —Erika Swyler, national bestselling author of The Book of Speculation

“A tantalizing quest through strange and beautiful places, and a love story that spans time, worlds, and magic. I couldn’t put it down.” —Peng Shepherd, critically acclaimed author of The Book of M


Calendar Girls!

Hosted by Katie @ Never Not Reading and Darque Reader Reads, “Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile, and will now be hosted by Katie. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl. Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and I will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!” — Katie

I found this to be a particularly hard subject, truthfully. Picking just one is proving a challenge for me. But as I thought about it, I went to one of my favorites. I picked Little Women. I especially loved Jo and Marmee’s bond. Marmee understood her daughters, knew each was different and she gave them all sage advice and I just adored it. Whilst it was the 1800’s and there were expected roles, however, she knew that each girl had their own path before them. She never was harsh, she was firm in her own gentle way.

Jo, being my favorite, and Marmee’s relationship was special to me. Marmee knew Jo dreamt of being a famous author, of finding her place in the world and she encouraged it. Even though Jo was the strongest of the girls, she knew that Jo would sacrifice her own happiness for the betterment of her sisters. She is isn’t a major character, not one of the four girls, but she is a character who no one should ignore. Marmee is the core, the heart. Were it not for her advice and guidance in their youths, they would not have grown to be the women they were. And bear in mind, she was also dealing with her husband being away during the war. She didn’t have it easy–at all.

I have always loved Susan Sarandon’s performance as Marmee, so I picture her when I read the book. I know this is a short post, but it sums it up perfectly. Marmee is such an integral part of Little Women that it’d be hard to speak of it without mentioning her. I like to think there was more to her than met the eye. I think she was like Jo but with Beth’s sensibilities, Amy’s passion and Meg’s heart and aches for better lots in life.

Whatever she may have been in her youth, as a mother, Marmee is simply aces. ❤


“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your faults.”

“Our burdens are here, our road is before us…Now, my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get before Father comes home.”

“Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for everyone. It keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion.”

“If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage.”

“Don’t be troubled, Meg; poverty seldom daunts a sincere lover.”

My favorites have always been these two.

“Oh, Jo! Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life? You’re ready to go out and – and find a good use for your talent. Tho’ I don’t know what I shall do without my Jo. Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it.”

“You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone.”


A big shoutout to my Mom for helping me pick my book this month!! ❤ ❤

American Princess: A Review.

american princess final cover


  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • Publish Date: March 12, 2019


Alice may be the president’s daughter, but she’s nobody’s darling. As bold as her signature color Alice Blue, the gum-chewing, cigarette-smoking, poker-playing First Daughter discovers that the only way for a woman to stand out in Washington is to make waves–oceans of them. With the canny sophistication of the savviest politician on the Hill, Alice uses her celebrity to her advantage, testing the limits of her power and the seductive thrill of political entanglements.

But Washington, DC is rife with heartaches and betrayals, and when Alice falls hard for a smooth-talking congressman it will take everything this rebel has to emerge triumphantly and claim her place as an American icon. As Alice soldiers through the devastation of two world wars and brazens out a cutting feud with her famous Roosevelt cousins, it’s no wonder everyone in the capital refers to her as the Other Washington Monument–and Alice intends to outlast them all.

If ever there were a figure whose life is worthy of having it put into a novelization, Alice Roosevelt is definitely one of them. Add in that Stephanie Thornton writes it and you have the perfect scenario. I have been a fan of Ms. Thornton’s for several years now, and she is not only an author I love but a person too. She is a teacher and one who is clearly passionate about what she does. I admire her greatly and wish I could take her class. Fortunately, she writes. American Princess focuses on Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Theodore. She’s someone who has enough spirit for ten people, wit sharp enough to stab someone fatally, beauty and style in spades. Two days after she’s born, her mother and grandmother both died within hours of one another. Teddy can’t seem to process their deaths; his grief is immense. He takes off, leaving newborn “Baby Lee” with her aunt.

From childhood on, Alice is herself. She forms her own identity, which tended to clash with everyone. Headstrong, intelligent, beautiful…no one could ever say that she was a bore. Now, consider the time period. Women had limited roles. You can imagine that Alice stuck out like a sore thumb. And she cared not a whit.

Alice was a bulldozer in human form; not really giving a damn and doing as she pleased. Hers was a life that never simmered into something quiet and mundane. She was an amazing woman, as I suppose you’ve gathered from my fangirling here, and she lived a long life–until 96, in fact. I believe President Jimmy Carter summed her up quite well.

“She had style, she had grace, and she had a sense of humor that kept generations of political newcomers to Washington wondering which was worse—to be skewered by her wit or to be ignored by her.”

This is definitely a book I will read over again. Stephanie has a true gift in bringing historical figures to life; making them seem more like real people rather than just figures in a book if that makes sense. Perhaps it’s because she is a teacher and she knows her students like a figure who pops off the pages to tell their own story.

Go check it out!





Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora,” “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt,” and “The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan” and “The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great” are available now.  “American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt” will hit the shelves in March 2019.

For more information please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find he

r on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.