4 Stars for PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim – A timely tale of what it was like to move to a new country, where you knew noone and didn’t speak the language. NEW RELEASE!!!

Title: PAPER WIFE

Author: LAILA IBRAHIM

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781503904576

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

MY REVIEW:

With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the matchmaker arrived at the door of her parent’s home. A suitable match had been found for Mei Ling’s older sister and the wedding date was set. But, as fate would have it, her sister fell ill and her parents told Mei Ling that she would have to take her sister’s place.

This deception early in the story is only one of many deceptions and ‘white lies’ that occur throughout the book.

It is obvious that author Laila Ibrahim did her research for this book as the facts and traditions written about in this tale match perfectly with historic accounts from those who actually did leave China in hopes of a better life in the United States.

Laila Ibrahim’s writing style and subject matter reminds me of author Lisa See.

I enjoyed the story even though I found one event to be completely implausible. Despite that, the author has written a book that anyone who wonders what life might have been like for the huge wave of Asian immigrants who arrived en masse in the years following World War I will want to read.

I believe that by reading books such as PAPER WIFE, people will gain, at the very least, a small measure of empathy for people whose cultures and/or backgrounds are different from their own.

Reading stories like this one, prove to readers that people are more similar than they are different. We all want the same thing. We want a safe and comfortable place to sleep, a good education for our children, and a job that allows us to provide for our families.

In PAPER WIFE, Mei Ling was detained on Angel Island and interrogated by officials who used intimidation and threats to try to force her to change her story or to catch her in a lie. This is a true reflection of what immigrants were subjected to in 1925.

Chinese immigrants on Angel Island

Poetry carved into the walls at Angel Island

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We need to learn from the past. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

I rate PAPER WIFE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School.

Her education and experiences as an educator and parent provide ample for her writing – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.

She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of two wonderful young adult daughters and the not-so-proud mother of a rambunctious mini-Aussies.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel, is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference. It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation.

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923.

To read an interview with the author click HERE.

Laila loves calling or Skyping into bookclubs and public speaking. She can be contacted at ldibrahim@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

S

OME OF THE POEMS LEFT BEHIND:

(Source: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)

A Few Selected Poems


獨坐稅關中,
心內起不痛。
亦因家道貧,
遠遊不近親。
兄弟來到叫,
只得上埠行。
黑鬼無道理,
唐人要掃地。
每日食兩餐,
何時轉回返。

– 辛亥年七月十二日李字題寧邑
Poem 3

Hear Poem 3 Read In Toishanese.

Translation
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil* here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?

– Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911

*A pejorative to refer to those of African descent-here, presumably, an African Canadian working at the immigration station directed the detainees to sweep the floors.


妻囑情
出門求財為家窮,
把正心頭在路中。
路上野花君莫取,
為家自有係妻奴。
臨行知囑情千萬,
莫作奴言耳過風。
家中妻兒係莫掛,
勤儉二年掃祖宗。
妻兒衣裳無一件,
米盒掃來無半筒。
家中屋舍無間好,
爛溶爛揸穿爛帘。
夫係昔日都尋賭,
不念奴奴淚飄飄。
多得親兄來打稅,
莫學忘叔大恩公。

– 辛亥七月十二日到李字題寧邑
Poem 4

Hear Poem 4 Read in Toishanese.

Translation
My Wife’s Admonishment
We are poor, so you’re leaving home to seek wealth;
Keep hold of propriety while on this journey.
Never pick wildflowers along the road,*
For you have your own wife at home!
Before you depart, I admonish you a thousand times;
Don’t let my words just whistle past your ears.
Don’t worry about us, be diligent and frugal,
And two years hence return to sweep the ancestors’ tombs.
Your wife and children haven’t a thing to wear;
Not half a cup of rice can be scooped from the pot.
Our house and rooms are dilapidated;
Our housewares are worn, and the curtains torn.
In the past, you did nothing but gamble;
You never thought of me and my flowing tears.
You are fortunate your elder brother has paid the taxes-
Always remember your great debt to him!

– Lee from Toishan District, Arrived July 12, 1911

Footnotes: To engage in romantic/sexual affairs while away from home.

UNWRITTEN by Tara Gilboy RELEASES TODAY!!!

Title: UNWRITTEN

Author: TARA GILBOY

Genre: MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY

Age Range: 8 – 12

Grade Level: 4 – 6

Length: 200 PAGES

Publisher: NORTH STAR EDITIONS – JOLLY FISH PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 16, 2018

ISBN: 9781631631771

Price: $11.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read.

When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.

But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draw herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale.

Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her.

As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy-tale ending.

MY REVIEW:

This book is going to be a hit with young girls. The story weaves all the magic of a fairy tale with all of the mystery of a middle-grade story well told.

The idea that the main character, twelve year old Gracie is actually a character from a storybook is interesting and will be unique for the younger generation.

At first Gracie is living a normal life, just like the rest of her schoolmates. As the story continues we learn where she came from and how it came to be that her mother escaped with her into the “real” world.

The Author writes with the perfect mix of preteen angst and magic. What twelve year old girl hasn’t fantasized about discovering that she is really a Princess?

Imagine discovering that you owe your life to an author, rather than to your parents. How bizarre would that be?

After Gracie discovers with where she came from, events quickly speed up. She is desperate to know more about what the story says about her, but her mother will not tell her anything.

With typical youthful exuberance, Gracie decides that if her mother will not give her the information she so desperately wants, she will find answers on her own. This leads to a snowball effect and soon events spiral out of control and Gracie discovers that her life is now in danger.

Will she survive returning to the fairytale she had been rescued from as a baby? Or will she discover too late the power of the fairytale?

Writing Gracie must have brought out the author’s inner child. She does a brilliant job of describing the way young girls often feel. They may think they are on the cusp of adulthood, and be aggravated by the way their parents still treat them “like a child.”

It is only later (and sometimes too late, or not all) that they come to realize that maybe, just maybe, their parents are right and should have been listened to after all.

I enjoyed the mother daughter dynamics and could empathise with both characters. The scenes from inside the fairytale are terrific, as are Gracie’s interactions with the characters.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I will say no more about the plot.

UNWRITTEN is due to hit bookstores on October 16th and it is sure to become a hit. It would be a great Christmas present for the preteen or young adult in your family.

I rate UNWRITTEN as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

TARA GILBOY holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, where she specialized in writing for children and young adults.

She teaches creative writing in San Diego Community College’s Continuing Education Program and for the PEN Writers in Prisons Program.

Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Beloit Fiction Journal, Cricket, and other publications.

She lives in San Diego, California.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER by Author and Ex-Law Enforcement Officer C.M. WENDLEBOE is NOW AVAILABLE and it is one heck of a mystery

Title: HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER

Series: A BITTER WIND MYSTERY (BOOK TWO)

Author: C.M. WENDLEBOE

Genre: FICTION, THRILLERS AND MYSTERIES

Length: 288 PAGES

Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2018

ISBN: 9780738753621

Price: $15.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Two innocent victims, strangled to death on consecutive Saturday nights. Even as they see the pattern emerging, retired detective Arn Anderson and TV reporter Ana Maria Villarreal can’t seem to convince the Cheyenne police that the killer may strike again.

Hunting a remorseless murderer leads Arn and Ana Maria down a rabbit hole of ranchers and rustlers. But the closer they come to catching the killer, the more they’re met with suspicion. And when their investigation collides with a desperate act of violence, they wonder whether they’re unwinding the killer’s twisted thread of clues or tightening their own noose.

MY REVIEW:

This is the second book in the “Bitter Wind Mysteries” Series however, it can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Retired police detective Arn Anderson has moved back to his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming to renovate his historic family home that had fallen into disrepair.

Arn has two roommates; one is Ana Maria Villarreal, a television reporter for the local news station, and the second roommate is Danny, a previously homeless man whom Arn has offered room and board in exchange for working on the house renovations.

Arn has been hired by the local ranchers association to try to discover who has been stealing their sheep. Sounds like an easy (and safe) job right? Wrong.

Arn has been unable to discover who is rustling sheep despite staking out numerous fields. Then, the job becomes much more serious when a body is found in one of the fields.

The television station hires Arn to find the killer before local law enforcement does. Seeing visions of central air-conditioning, Arn accepts the job.

What follows is a true whodunit. There are clues, promising leads that go nowhere, and gut feelings that lead everywhere.

Author C.M. Wendleboe’s history as a member of law enforcement shines throughout his writing. I believe that his past gives him a unique perspective on the limitations placed on the police when trying to investigate a crime.

Between the mystery of the identity of the local Sheepherder bandit, the fact that someone might be following Ana Maria and Arn’s gut feelings, it is just a matter of time before he either solves the case or more bodies pile up.

A page-turner with believable and compelling characters, this book will keep you guessing right up until it’s stunning conclusion. Reading this book will immerse readers in the life of a Wyoming rancher and even teach you some things about the use of dogs for herding sheep.

I rate HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

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To read my review of the first book in the BITTER WIND MYSTERY Series, click HERE.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

C.M. WENDELBOE entered the law enforcement profession when he was discharged from the Marines as the Vietnam war was winding down. In the 1970s, his career included assisting federal and tribal law enforcement agencies embroiled in conflicts with American Indian Movement activists in South Dakota.

He moved to Gillette, Wyoming, and found his niche, where he remained a sheriff’s deputy for more than 25 years. In addition, he was a longtime firearms instructor at the local college and within the community.

During his 38-year career in law enforcement he served successful stints as police chief, policy adviser, and other supervisory roles for several agencies. Yet he always has felt most proud of “working the street.”

He was a patrol supervisor when he retired to pursue his true vocation as a fiction writer.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE    


ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

Celebrating ten years of the very best in mystery fiction, Midnight Ink publishes everything from quirky cozies to chilling thrillers.

From the outset, Midnight Ink has been dedicated to sleuthing out and fostering new talent, from their longest standing series by Jess Lourey, Sue Ann Jaffarian and Karen MacInerney to award-winning mysteries by G.M. Malliet and Catriona McPherson.

Prepare to burn the midnight oil with a Midnight Ink mystery.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

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THE GLOVEMAKER by Historical Fiction Author Ann Weisgarber is coming soon – Mark your calendars

Title: THE GLOVEMAKER

Author: ANN WEISGARBER

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 336 PAGES

Publisher: SKYHORSE PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 19, 2019

ISBN: 9781510737839

Price: $24.99 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried.

Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief.

When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith.

But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.

MY REVIEW:

THE GLOVEMAKER is a story that takes place in the winter of 1888 deep in a remote valley in Utah. This valley is home to a tiny town known as “Junction.” It’s residents are all Saints (as in the Latter Day variety).

This town is home to only seven families, all of them having drifted away from the strict rules of the church, and most of them did not agree with the practice of polygamy.

This book is based on a real life village and real life families, so it is history mixed with a giant dose of fiction and imagined characters. It is human nature to wonder about the lives of those who came before us. In THE GLOVEMAKER, author Ann Weisgarber has richly imagined an entire town, with backstories for all the characters readers encounter as the story moves along.

I read this book in a single day and found myself wrapped up in the life of the main character; thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler. She is my type of woman. She is a tough as nails (but with a squishy heart) take-no-prisoners kind of woman.

In 1888 a woman living alone for months on end while her husband travelled the territory fixing and making wagon wheels had to be tough. She had to be resilient and she had to be hard working.

I found the fact that the villagers were all Latter Day Saints to be an interesting twist. And including some actual history of how the government saw the people who practiced that religion might be eye-opening for many readers.

I enjoyed the story and I give Ann Weisgarber kudos for the historical research that went into the writing of this book. I rate THE GLOVEMAKER as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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**** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.****

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ann Weisgarber was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio. She has lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and Des Moines, Iowa, but now splits her time between Sugar Land, Texas, and Galveston, Texas.

Her first novel The Personal History of Rachel DuPree was longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://annweisgarber.com

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

To find out more about Skyhorse Publishing, click on the following links:

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#TheGlovemaker #NetGalley #HistoricalFiction #Fiction #2019Books #2019 #ComingSoon #bookish #2k19books #AvonBooks #AmiesBookReviews #book review #bookreviewer #tbr #tbrlist #amreading

WHEN WINTER COMES is a new take on the famous Pioneer story of the Donner party. This Historical Fiction tale will get under your skin – Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

Title: WHEN WINTER COMES

Author: V.A. SHANNON

Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: KENSINGTON BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781496716507

Price: $15.95 USD / $17.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend.

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . .

MY REVIEW:

“Hunger is an evil thing, and brings with it the worst of human nature; it is an agony of the flesh, but it is an agony of the spirit as well.”

Most people who have even a passing interest in Pioneer times have heard one or more versions of the story of the Donner party’s trek from Ohio to California which ended in murder and cannibalism. WHEN WINTER COMES is a new fictional version of this true tale.

Told thirteen years after the survivors arrival in California, this tale is written in story form, but as if it were being written in a journal rather than spoken out loud.

Mrs. Jacob Klein was but a young teenager when she set out in 1846 with nothing more than the clothes on her back to join a wagon train heading from her birthplace in Cincinnati to the wonder of a new life in California.

Her husband Jacob has no idea what befell her on her journey and does not try to force her to relive those memories. However, his gift of a beautiful, blank journal prompts her to fill it with the recollections of the very worst time of her life.

“My eyes blur with weariness, and my hand cramps. But my mind will not be still. It pours out memory like a never-ending stream of water that cannot be contained.”

Author V.A. SHANNON writes about the camraderie the members of the wagon train experienced at the start of their journey. As time and hardship start to wear on the pioneers, that early easy camraderie starts to erode.

What happens next is NOT the same as what has been reported and believed for the last 150 years.

Author V.A. Shannon seamlessly leads the reader between the narrator’s journal entries and her present reality.

Not only is this a historic tale of survival, it is also a coming of age story. In fact, it is also a study of humanity and of what people are willing to do, and what lines they will cross, in order to survive.

How far would you go to ensure your survival?

What would you be willing to do to ensure the survival of your spouse? What about for the survival of your children?

Would you allow social conventions and the fear of what others would think of you to dictate your actions? Would you stand your ground when making decisions? Would you defer to others? Would you become a leader or a follower?

Now, imagine that the year is 1846. Modern technology does not exist. There are no official roads. Would you resort to eating human flesh if the choice was between that and death?

With those questions in mind, you now need to pick up a copy of WHEN WINTER COMES. When you finish reading it, come back to my blog amiesbookreviews dot WordPress dot com and let me know what you thought and if after reading it, you have altered your answers to the questions above.

I love it when a book makes me think and when it is written well enough that not only do I feel sympathy towards the characters, but empathy as well. It is for this reason, as well as the simple fact that I enjoyed the story, that I rate WHEN WINTER COMES as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

QUOTES:

“I have come to think that there are no shortcuts in life. It is too easy to choose to do the selfish thing, and to head off in pursuit of your own happiness and your own ambition, and lose sight of what really matters in this world.”

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“…to take a risk with the happiness of those who love you and depend upon you cannot be heroic.”

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“To my mind, the man who fears the path of love as being one of dull duty, but sets along it nevertheless, is the real hero at the end.”

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“We are practical folks, we Pioneers, and rightly proud of ourselves…”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

V.A. Shannon trained originally as an artist, in the United States, and then requalified as a lawyer in the UK, but her first love has always been writing.

In 2011, she was lucky enough to be accepted on the prestigious Faber Academy novel writing course where she embarked on the first draft of the novel that was ultimately to become When Winter Comes.

She subsequently left the security of full time paid employment to concentrate on her writing, supporting herself by taking on a variety of temporary and part time roles, including working in the cloakroom at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, selling Titanic memorabilia, and cleaning houses!

She has two beautiful daughters and a gorgeous granddaughter, and lives in Welwyn Garden City, just north of London.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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FACEBOOK

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CHAPTERS

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