A Review: Liar Temptress Soldier Spy (I Met the Author!)

Summary: New York Times bestselling author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything during the Civil War. Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, an avowed rebel with a dangerous temper, shot a Union soldier in her home and became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her considerable charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to enlist as a Union private named Frank Thompson, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the war and infiltrating enemy lines. The beautiful widow Rose O'Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring—even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House—right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives. With a cast of real-life characters, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, Detective Allan Pinkerto,n, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor NapolĂ©on III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy shines a dramatic new light on these daring—and, until now, unsung—heroines.

Thoughts: I LOVED this book! Even though a reader's copy was provided, I ended up purchasing it through Audible as well so I could listen when I was editing photos and cooking dinner and reaching my 10,000 steps. I needed to know what was going to happen next! I'd heard of Belle Boyd from one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and had been interested in hearing more about women involved in the Civil War after reading Erin Lindsay McCabe's I Shall Be Near to You (which is FANTASTIC), so this seemed like it would fit the bill. Abbott doesn't disappoint-- she really brings each of these women to life with beautiful prose and her attention to detail. If you're into fast-paced nonfiction about incredible women in America's history go grab a copy NOW!

Oh, and don't be jealous, but Karen Abbott just happened to be in Chicago this week so I also got to meet her and get my book signed!!! Yep, so cool. Here's some photos from the event at Women and Children First in Andersonville (these were taken on a Nikon and edited on an iPhone-- be nice!):

The Author: Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City, American Rose, and, most recently, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, which was named one of the best books of 2014 by Library Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Amazon, and Flavorwire, and which was optioned by Sony for a miniseries. A native of Philadelphia, she now lives in New York City, where she's at work on her next book.

*I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours and Harper Perennial in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, TLC!


RIP X Challenge: The List

Fall is around the corner. Pumpkin spice is about to be added to every known culinary dish. AND the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X Challenge is kicking off!! Did I mention it's my absolute favorite reading event?!? The fact that The Estella Society is hosting this year is also pretty freaking awesome. You go ladies! And of course, we can't mention the event without a very BIG thanks to Carl V. Anderson of Stainless Steel Droppings who created it ten years ago. 

The Deal:

Read novels that fit any of the following genres from Sept 1st to October 31st:

Dark Fantasy.

Without further ado, here's my RIP X Challenge pledge (I'm going all in):

(read ANY four books that fit the RIP genre outline above)


(celebrate and read short stories)

The Books:

*Note: My husband is participating this year and has chosen Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Peril the Third. Yay, Justin!!

I have about three or four more on my Kindle that I haven't added here, but they'll probably be read while I'm touring Iceland later this month!! Can't think of a better place for a brooding atmosphere.

What are you guys reading this year?!? 


A Review: Again and Again by Ellen Bravo

Summary (from the book jacket):
If sexual shenanigans disqualified candidates for Congress, the U.S. would have no goverment. But what if the candidate was a pro-choice Republican support by feminist groups-- and a college rapist whose secret could be exposed by a leading women's rights advocate?

Again and Again tells the story of Deborah Borenstein-- as an established women's rights leader in 2010 Washington, DC, and as a college student, thirty years earlier, whose roommate is raped by a fellow student. The perpetrator is now a Senate candidate who has the backing of the major feminist groups...which puts Deborah in a difficult position. Torn between her past and present, as the race goes on, Deborah finds herself tested as a wife, a mother, a feminist, and a friend.
Thoughts: Despite the disturbing content, I was interested in the concept of this book as I've actually never read a fiction title that explored sexual assault in the political realm. I found it informative, in the sense that there's much to research after reading, and enjoyed getting into something that was focused on women's issues in such a direct way. It definitely stirred emotions as the reader realizes its meant to emphasize how far society still has to go on this issue. Is it true that women face the same scrutiny and disbelief when reporting date rape now that they did in the 1970s?

This was very much a first novel for the author, but could still be a great learning tool for young men and women. I was impressed with Bravo's representation of Deborah and Liddie's relationship, but less so with Deborah and her daughter, and even less so with Deborah and her husband as they felt one dimensional and relied on the snotty teenager/inattentive husband stereotypes. The storyline had much to offer, but was somewhat dulled down by the technical language of Deborah's daily life and the tidbits clumsily added to modernize the story. I don't want to share too much as the summary has already provided enough, but I would recommend the novel based on the importance of the content and can definitely say I can't wait to see more from Bravo in  the future.

*Please note that those who have suffered from similar encounters may want to refrain from reading as the defining scene is graphic.

I received a copy of this novel from TLC Book Tours and She Writes Press in exchange for an honest review.

*Ellen Bravo is the head of Family Values @ Work, a network of state coalitions advocating family-friendly policies, and an award-winning writer. Her award-winning nonfiction books include Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism Is Good for Families, Business and the Nation. A Cleveland native, she makes her home in Wisconsin.

Take a look at what other bloggers are saying on the tour here.



A Review: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

"That was when I first heard about Layla Beck, when I began to wonder about my father, and when I noticed I was being lied to and decided to leave my childhood behind."

For the first time ever I believe I might actually meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for the year. This is exciting for so many reasons. Maybe it's because I actually made it more realistic, setting it at 40 rather than 50, like in the past, where I've never even gotten close. It just didn't happen... but maybe it could now?! The Truth According to Us was my 20th and was completed just a day before the half-way point in the year! I can see victory on my horizon. These are exciting times, people! It also happened to be my favorite read thus far and has helped propel me into my next book, another ARC, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, which I'm also really enjoying. Ahhh... the book life.

I digress.

When I first started I was unable to overcome my desire to see what fellow book bloggers and enthusiasts were thinking about this one. It really is such a detrimental action but yet I still succumb. And I came across several reviews of respected fellow bloggers who just didn't feel like this delivered, and let me be the first to admit that it was far from perfect, but there was just something there that I loved so much. I was so happy that for once my impatience and curiosity hadn't spoiled something. What's more... I purposely paced myself in order to keep that world alive for just a bit longer and that's really what you want a book to do. It was just what I needed to start the summer and the next half of the year. For fans of the epistolary style found in the other title Barrows is so famous for, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I promise you won't be disappointed. While the novel isn't told exclusively through letters from each of the participating characters, there are many that move the story along and add extra entertainment.

The novel centers on the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia during the depression. A small town much like any small town in the US of A at this period in time, everyone knows everyone, and they've all got a story to tell. Layla Beck is sent to Macedonia to record the history of town and its people for the Works Progress Administration after she refuses to marry a man her father, a wealthy senator, has chosen for her. Entitled and certainly naive, Layla learns Macedonia's history through the colorful townspeople, and her host family, the Romeyns. Little does she know she'll quickly fall head over heels for the patriarch, Felix Romeyn, and unearth some skeletons in the family's closet. With narration from the perspectives of Willa, Felix's eldest daughter, Jottie, Felix's eldest sister, and Layla herself, the reader is lost in Macedonia and an era that defined the nation.

Guys, I LOVED THIS NOVEL. All caps love. It's that serious. The story, tbh, was predictable and has been done before... BUT the characters! Oh my god. Jottie?! I loved her. I loved the family and the small town atmosphere and the southern dialogue. It offered a glimpse of how my grandparents' families were when they all got together. The phrase "hush up" took me back to family reunions from my childhood. I wanted to spend forever in those pages, conjuring up visions of my Nana sitting amongst my Papa's many sisters and their husbands. And if I'm being fair, that's probably why I connected to it like I did. On a deeper level, though, it also reminds readers what it's like to start seeing things as an adult as one comes of age.

Read it if you love historical fiction. Read it if you love epistolary tales. Read it if you're wanting something you could get lost in.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from Random House through in exchange for an honest review. 

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