Book Excerpt: Arroyo by Chip Jacobs

About Arroyo

Set against two distinct epochs in the history of Pasadena, California, Chip Jacobs writes in ARROYO the parallel stories of a young inventor and his clairvoyant dog in 1913 and 1993. In both lives, they are drawn to the landmark Colorado Street Bridge, which suffered a lethal collapse during construction but still opened to fanfare in the early twentieth century automobile age. When the refurbished structure commemorates its 80th birthday, one of the planet’s best-known small towns is virtually unrecognizable from its romanticized, and somewhat invented, past. While unearthing the truth about the Colorado Street Bridge, in all its eye-catching grandeur and unavoidable darkness, the characters of ARROYO paint a vivid picture of how the home of the Rose Bowl got its dramatic start.


Read an Excerpt

This excerpt has been adapted from Arroyo, 2019 by Chip Jacobs. Published by Rare Bird Books.

Say what you will about his morning pep and cowlick, his galling diet and corny pride. No one ever rode Mrs. Grover Cleveland, the animal, quite like Nick Chance. Already the speediest one in the yard, she shifted into another gear whenever Nick sank down on her fluffy mane and whispered encouragement. Promised a treat. Today, as she folded her black wings into her white chest to blow ahead of the competition, you might’ve expected smoke coiling off her hooves. They didn’t call her the “feather cannonball” unwarranted.

Nick’s companions breathed her dust, but on this four-mile pleasure dash anything was possible. Adept a rider as their front-running chum was, he often grandstanded in the lead, and crashed because of it. So, they pressed their boots into their own steeds, whooping to themselves this wasn’t over. The three good-timers raced under the trees atop their six-foot-tall birds, whose feathers were guaranteed retail gold. Moving at a blurry clip, in a canyon being auctioned off by the day, the group rooted up dust onto a pathway accented by imported shrubs and plants. Gauzy light laced through the veiny branches. Everyone, human and beaked, wished the jaunt could stretch into dusk.

Their valley trail was pristine, so far as trails go, and empty, with no snobs around to bewail what they couldn’t comprehend: two-legged animals being ridden saddle-less, low to the ground, where hands served as reins. The steeds, cobra-necked creatures more prehistoric roosters than horses, high-stepped in this amber light, their clawed feet pahrumping on the terrain. Mrs. Cleveland was particularly delighted to be away from her monotonous day job being sheared for the textile business. She cranked her pimpled mouth to telegraph this. Awk-awwwwwwww. Awkawwww. The ostrich’s shriek of joy carried a wild edge.

The posse next burst into a shamrock-green meadow, clopping past mossy ponds filled with ducks and swans, then grasslands, and then chubby sheep too busy grazing to observe this unusual bunch. Nick, a dark-haired free spirit in a white, collarless shirt, was also ready to whoop. Rotating his torso back, eyes electric, he shouted at his pursuers: “If either one of you idiots says life can get better than this, I’m stealing your wages. I swear it.” The best part for him still lay around the bend, up north, though he didn’t advertise what others might call obsession.

Waldo Northcutt and R. G. Crum nodded in agreement, snapping mental photographs of their lunchtime joyride away from Cawston “World Famous” Ostrich Farm where they all worked. Someday, they might be retelling escapades about how they mimicked cowboys, if only for a few hours a week, on the backs of quicksilver beasts native to South Africa. The burning competitors in them tried closing the gap, even if was merely for show.

About the Author

Chip Jacobs grew up in northeast Pasadena. In 1985, he graduated from the University of Southern California with BAs in journalism and international relations. He lives in Southern California with his wife, a USC public relations professor, and their two children. Chip’s previous non-fiction books include Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon ZahlerThe People’s Republic of Chemicals and the international bestselling Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. His reporting has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Daily News, CNN, The New York Times,BloombergL.A Weekly, the Pasadena Weekly, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, among others.

Thank you to Chip Jacobs and Angela Melamud for the opportunity to share this excerpt of Arroyo with you all!


Blog Tour Book Review: Madam in Silk by Gini Grossenbacher

Publication Date: July 15, 2019 JGKS Press
eBook & Paperback; 476 Pages
Series: The American Madams, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction

About Madam in Silk

    San Francisco,1849. Despite her objections, twenty-year-old Ah Toy and her servant Chen voyage from China to San Francisco with her husband who dies on board ship. With little cash and bound feet, how is she to find employment in the Gold Rush town? Since she is the only Chinese woman there, she opens a “Lookee Shop,” catering to miners who pay in gold dust to see her exotic beauty. As her notoriety grows, so does her attraction to the devoted policeman, John Clark. Yet should she put her faith in one man? Will their love survive despite her frightening encounter with Sydney Ducks, threats from rival madam Li Fan, and a tempting offer from Henry Conrad who promises her wealth and security? Armed with her mystical beliefs of the inner dragon and Goddess Mazu, Ah Toy faces much more than the journey from the ancient ways in China to the new world in America. In fact, she must find the true source of courage in a life or death struggle for her own fate, justice, and dignity. Based on page-turning accounts about the life of Ah Toy, one of San Francisco’s most legendary madams.

“Readers were effusive in their praise of Gini Grossenbacher’s dynamic debut novel Madam of My Heart, based on the life of the infamous brothel owner Belle Cora. This, the prequel to her American Madams Series, is inspired by the life of a beautiful young Chinese woman of high birth brought to California against her will. She was able–and willing–to do whatever it took to find security and fortune in Gold Rush San Francisco. Madam in Silk is this year’s exciting addition to historical fiction.” -Cheryl Anne Stapp, Author of Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

My Thoughts

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Grossenbacher and surely will not be my last; I ordered her other book from Amazon when I was in the middle of Madam in Silk!

This book starts off with a bang as Ah Toy immediately faces death, a change of plans and the risk of everything she crossed the ocean for being pulled out from under her by no choice of her own. Right off the bat, I was inspired by Ah’s tenacity and what she refers to as her inner dragon. The hits just keep coming in the years to come and yet Ah doesn’t give up. She seeks strength and advice from people she respects and trusts. Such an important message!

The book is really well paced and I appreciated that there was a push and pull to Ah’s story much like real life. Ah also knows her worth despite being beat down and continually told that she’s basically worthless or knows nothing because she’s female and because of her country of origin and its traditions. Just because other people don’t agree or respect her doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of taking care of herself.

If you’re looking for a flowing story about a strong female underdog who has an inner flame that cannot be extinguished and will find a way to survive and thrive, you’ve come to the right place. For me, this is a four star read and a new-to-me author that I can’t wait to read more from!

Thank you so much to the author and HFVBT for the opportunity to read and review Madam in Silk. I have voluntarily read this book and the review expresses my own personal opinions.

About the Author

California author Gini Grossenbacher was a successful high school English teacher until she abandoned grades and term papers, choosing to write historical novels instead. Now she leads small writing groups and coaches other writers. She loves researching the history behind her novels, and enjoys traveling to the setting where they take place. Her hobbies include needlepoint, nature walks, and Scrabble. She lives in the Sacramento Valley where she grew up, east of San Francisco.

For more information, please visit Gini’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 23
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, September 25
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, September 27
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, September 30
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Tuesday, October 1
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Thursday, October 3
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, October 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 7
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 10
Review at @jypsylynn
Review at

Friday, October 11
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Madam in Silk! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 11th. 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 will be 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 a new winner is chosen.
ENTER HERE: Madam in Silk

Book Review: Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

About Cilka’s Journey

Cilka’s beauty is what ultimately saved her from the same fate as many of her Auschwitz companions. Despite the end of World War II, Cilka is now paying the price.

Now Cilka is in a prison camp in Siberia. Its similar yet different from the concentration camps. She’ll need to navigate new politics, adjust to living with a new set of women, and juggle attention from the guards again. Will she survive?

This is the chilling sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It goes on sale tomorrow, October 1tst

My Thoughts

Cilka’s Journey is a book that has a burning intensity that will hit you hard in the gut. The author did an amazing job of really bringing out the depth of the characters; there were times that I could feel the pain in the soul of some of those women. There’s something to be said about pain and another about the instinctive want to survive that comes out in some.

It was really interesting Cilka’s inner battle of trying to keep her head low and unnoticed versus working in a role that could potentially differentiate her from the pack. She struggles with wanting to fit in and it takes some intuitive people to push her out of the small box of a headspace she had cornered herself in (and rightfully so). It was amazing to see her blossoming as she tried things outside her comfort zone working with the doctors and nurses and ending up flourishing and helping others despite the circumstances.

I also really appreciated that Cilka’s Journey could be read as a standalone novel or as the sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I personally think you should read both of them because they are really intense and well-written but options are good too. Overall, I’m awarding Cilka’s Journey four stars for its character depth and exploration of human ethics and compassion in dire circumstances.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review Cilka’s Journey. I have voluntarily read this book and the review expresses my own personal opinions.

Book Review: The Good Cop by Peter Steiner

About The Good Cop

In a world of growing nationalism, a quiet few are determined to resist. This gripping historical mystery explores the darkest days of the early 20th century.

Munich, 1920. Detective Willi Geismeier has a problem: how do you uphold the law when the law goes bad? The First World War has been lost and Germany is in turmoil. The new government in Berlin is weak. The police and courts are corrupt. Fascists and Communists are fighting in the streets. People want a savior, someone who can make Germany great again. To many, Adolf Hitler seems perfect for the job. When the offices of a Munich newspaper are bombed, Willi Geismeier investigates, but as it gets political, he is taken off the case. Willi continues to ask questions, but when his pursuit of the truth itself becomes a crime, his career – and his life – are in grave danger.

My Thoughts

The Good Cop is one of those reads that will make you question your own ethics and linger with you when you’re done reading. The author was able to capture the inner turmoil people faced between the two world wars in Germany. Their own government is unstable and there are new regimes rising. Which side do you take? Do you follow your moral compass that’s telling you what is right or do you support a potentially dangerous group in order to protect yourself and your family?

Without getting too political, I found this book incredibly interesting because in my personal opinion, there are some similarities between 1920s Germany and the current world leadership situation. There is a level of instability in leadership in multiple areas of the world currently that is higher than in the past. The instability is driven in part by the growing divide in decisions country leaders are making. Whether or not you agree with them, you’re on a side driven by your ethics or by self-preservation. The same goes for the growth of Adolf Hitler; he was a polarizing person and you’ll see that throughout this book. And despite serving some jail time for what would normally have had a harsher punishment, he continued to grow in popularity. Sadly, it’s a feeling of de ja vu; there are moments in the book that have the potential to repeat themselves historically in the upcoming years in real life.

Overall, I’m awarding this book a four-star rating. It was very thought-provoking and the mystery, tension and ethical questions kept my attention.

Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR, Severn House and author Peter Steiner for giving me the opportunity to read The Good Cop. I have voluntarily read this book and the opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

About Peter Steiner

Peter was born and grew up in Cincinnati, the eldest child of immigrants from Austria.  After graduation from the University of Miami, he served two years in the Army in Germany.  After that, he got an M.A. and a Ph.D. in German Literature from the University of Pittsburgh.  Peter taught German language and literature at Dickinson College for eight years.

Peter left teaching to become a painter, but he started cartooning at the same time in order to earn a living. He moved to Georgia and sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker in 1979.  He has had about 400 cartoons published there.  One of these cartoons, “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog,” is the most reprinted cartoon in the history of the magazine. 

Peter also did a daily cartoon for The Washington Times for about 20 years starting in 1985 and a weekly cartoon for The Weekly Standard for about the same length of time. He estimates that he drew about 15,000 drawings over the course of his cartoon career and still creates occasional cartoons on his blog.  In 2017 he published An Atheist in Heaven, a graphic novel—a story told in words and pictures—as a fine art limited edition.    
Peter has continued to paint, and has had many one-person exhibitions in the United States and abroad.  

Peter started writing novels in the nineteen-eighties.  He is well known for his critically acclaimed Louis Morgon series, with the most recent novel, The Capitalist, published in 2016. 

Visit Peter at:

Book Review: The Daughter of Hardie by Anne Melville

From the Publisher

Grace Hardie has grown up in a sweeping estate on the outskirts of Oxford. But her life has been a far cry from a fairytale. Ailing and asthmatic as a child, she never really found her place – not with her brothers, not with any friends – always on the outside.

And when tragedy strikes twice in the same day, Grace’s world, and her place in it, is turned upside down. Ungainly and lonely at sixteen, could the bloom of first love be the guiding light she needs? Or is the history of The House of Hardie bound to repeat itself?

As class once again threatens to tear the family apart, so too does the Great War: sweeping away this budding romance before it’s had a chance to begin. Through heartbreak and betrayal, longing and loss, Grace Hardie must adapt to this changing world and struggle to find her own way.

This poignant and moving saga is the second in the Hardie Family Series.

The Daughter of Hardie was first published as Grace Hardie in 1988.

My Thoughts

This book picks years after the first book entitled The House of Hardie which you can read about here. I have to say, I always enjoy dropping back in on characters I’ve grown to adore and I love meet new ones along the way!

I found myself in a whirlwind while reading this book; it was a complete roller coaster of emotions. Grace and her family experience losses early on and you see through incredible character development how those losses impact their decisions growing up and even as adults. It really shapes much of the story and yet the story is not at all predictable.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was the author’s exploration of the expectations of women during that time period. I’m curious if there really were young children, teens and adults who so deeply questioned why women had strict life parameters the way they did in this book. Granted, that would be hard to do since none of us were alive then but it piques my interest! It’s also a somewhat subtle exploration. For example, a young Grace asked about why her aunt couldn’t be married if she was the head of the school. It seems like something a child would ask very innocently but ultimately it has a big impact.

All in all, The Daughter of Hardie will strike a chord in your heart on many different levels. You’re sure to find yourself thinking about the people in the story even after you finish. Make sure you have a box of Kleenex with you! I’m awarding it a four-star rating. Be sure you head over to Goodreads to add it to your TBR or Amazon to pick up a copy!

Thank you to Agora Books for providing me with the opportunity to read this lovely book. I have voluntarily read it and the thoughts expressed in the review are my own.

Excerpt & Giveaway – With Kisses from Cecile Blog Tour

Publication Date: September 12, 2019
eBook & Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

About With Kisses From Cecile

    A heartbroken Maggie travels to Paris to visit the grave of her great-grandmother’s French pen pal Cécile and uncovers 100-year-old secrets that give her courage to rebuild her own life.

Maggie Ruth Mitchell’s failed attempt at reconciliation with her unfaithful husband has left her more confused than ever—and with a consequence that will change her life forever. Heartbroken, Maggie travels to Paris to visit the grave of Cécile, the French pen pal of her great-grandmother Ruth. Reading Cécile’s letters and learning about Ruth’s past gives Maggie not only an understanding of the strength and courage of the women in her family—all sharing the name Ruth—but also allows Maggie to find her way forward.

In the year 1919 following World War 1, two young girls, Ruth and Cécile, find each other through a Pen Pal program between American and French students. In their letters they share their dreams and bare their heartaches. A tragic death of a loved one has torn Ruth’s family apart, leaving her with a dark secret to hide. Cécile, having survived the bombs that devastated Paris, is battling against consumption. Ruth draws courage from her pen pal’s inspiring letters, each signed With Kisses from Cécile, to face what fate brings.

Available on Amazon

Read an Excerpt


Copyright © 2019 by Jan Agnello and Anne Armistead

All rights reserved



The mad rush to the airport distracted Maggie from Cole’s multiple texts, each pleading for them to meet. She reached the limit of her patience while waiting in the security line and blocked his number. She would not let him continue to intrude on this trip.

Once settled into their first-class seats, Maggie half-seriously wondered if having an estranged father intent on buying her affection was too awful. Obviously, he had spared no expense to make sure she and Grams would enjoy themselves.

Once in the air, Maggie’s tension melted a bit. They were on their way. She leaned back her window seat, grateful Grams preferred the aisle. The couple across from them, young and obviously in love, reminded Maggie of how she thought her first trip to Paris would be with Cole. She looked out the window to hide her welling tears from her grandmother. No matter how emphatically she told herself she was done crying about the end of her marriage, she obviously wasn’t. Damn.

“Maggie, dear. You’re deep in thought.” 

Maggie forced control of her emotions before facing Grams. “Deep in thought about Paris. I can’t believe we’ll soon be there.”

Grams reached into the canvas travel bag stored under the seat in front of her. She’d insisted on carrying it on. She pulled out a decorative wooden box with words in French engraved on its lid.

“Now that we’re on our way, it’s time I introduce you to Cécile.” She patted the top of the box. “The first letter Cécile posted to Ruth was on June 28, 1919, the date of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, ending the war.”

She handed the box to Maggie, adding softly, “The Great War, they called it. They believed it to be the war to end all wars. Unfortunately, many wars have followed, claiming too many lives.”

Maggie realized Grams must be thinking of her own husband’s death. She’d never remarried, raising her daughter alone on a secretary’s salary and military death benefits. Maggie’s throat burned. Everything prompted her to cry now, even the death of the grandfather she’d never met.

She pulled down her seat tray and placed the box onto it. Tracing the engraved words with her fingers, she read them out loud in her halting high school French. “Il n’ya que les montagnes qui ne se rencontrent pas.” Maggie looked questioningly at Grams.

“Cécile wrote that in one of her letters to my mother. Can you translate it?”

Maggie studied the words once more, translating slowly. “Something about mountains. It is only mountains that never meet?” She furrowed her brow in confusion.

“You translated it literally, but what it means is ‘There are none so distant that fate cannot bring them together.’ It’s an old French proverb.”

The saying opened for Maggie the wound of her failed marriage. Nothing could bridge the distance between her and Cole.

Grams added, “Our trip is in tribute to Ruth and Cécile. All the miles between them, along with what fate had in store for each, kept them from meeting. We are thwarting that fate by our trip, though. Their friendship lives on through me, through you. Through your children, Maggie.” 

That sixth sense of yours, Grams, Maggie thought. She brushed her fingertips across the engraving again. She opened the box. “I can’t wait to begin reading the letters.”

The scent from the box’s interior reminded her of old books, combined with something tangier. Maggie held one of the envelopes to her nose. “It smells faintly of tobacco.”

“My mother kept the letters in an old cigar box of her father’s until she received this box, a wedding gift from my father — your great-grandfather Clinton. He knew she would enjoy its touch of secrecy.” She put her finger on an unnoticeable button on the inside of the box, and a bottom drawer came ajar.

“Oh, look at that!” Maggie pointed. “A secret compartment.”

“Yes. That’s where my mother kept this lovely necklace my father gave her.” Grams dangled the chain with a coin-like medallion hanging from it. Pressed into the medallion were the initials CC.

“It’s charming,” Maggie said.

“Yes. How coincidental that the two most special people in my mother’s life shared the same initials: Clinton Carlock and Cécile Cosquéric.” Grams returned the necklace to the drawer. “The story behind this gift will keep for now. It’s all part of a larger one I will share with you.”

“It’s one I can’t wait to hear, Grams.” Maggie studied the envelope she still held. The teacher in her admired the perfect cursive swirls. If only her students could write that legibly! Her mother had been right. Ideas whirled in Maggie’s mind about how to integrate Cécile’s letters into her World War One lesson plans. She couldn’t believe Grams had kept these treasures from her this long!

She read the envelope’s address out loud. “Colorado Springs? Hasn’t our family always lived in the Oakland area?” 

“Not always. My mother’s family actually lived in Colorado Springs on a farm when she was a child. She moved to Oakland right after she and Cécile exchanged their first letters.” Grams rested her head against her seatback and stared past Maggie, into the darkening sky. “The move was difficult and for difficult reasons.”

Maggie’s eyes widened. “My curiosity is brimming after what Mom said last night. I’m guessing you’ve been hiding deep, dark family secrets from me?”

“As a matter of fact, yes.” Grams’s serious reply heightened Maggie’s curiosity.

“Oh, my,” Maggie said. “I had no idea.”

The idea of family secrets and skeletons in the closet was both intriguing and surprising. Yet she withheld her own secret. How much longer could she keep quiet about her news?

She carefully flipped through the bundle of letters, recognizing different handwriting on a couple of the envelopes. The last envelope, addressed in that different handwriting, showed the postmark of January 1921. What had happened to end the two girls’ correspondence?

Maggie angled her body into the corner of the spacious window seat, giving silent thanks once more for traveling first-class. “We have a long flight,” she said. “I’m your captive audience.”

   “This is the first letter Ruth received?” Maggie took the envelope her grandmother handed her.

     “It is. Now, you’ll meet Cécile, as Ruth did long ago.” Grams’s glowing face conveyed delight at the introduction.

     Maggie pulled the thin paper from the envelope, along with a postcard and a strip of paper with neatly printed English words. She read the letter out loud before examining the other items.

18, bis Avenue d ‘Italie

Paris 75013 France

 the 28 of June 1919

I put my letter in the

Letterbox the day

of the peace.

Dear Miss Ruth,

     I have known today your address. Since a long while I was looking for an American friend to correspond with me in French or in English. If you want to correspond with me I shall be very glad. I’m 16 years old, My name is Cécile Cosquéric, I live in Paris with my parents. I have a brother, Lucien. We call him Lulu. He is soon twenty years old. His birthday is 21st of September.

     I was not born in Paris, I was born in Bretagne, at Quimper, a small town near the Atlantic Ocean. I have come in Paris at eight years old. Last month I have passed my brevet elementaire and I have been received, then I have leaved school and now I’m learning stenography and dactilograph. There are many American soldiers in Paris. Near my house bombs are dropped in a house which have been demolished, many persons have been killed.

     My hair is dark, and I have a white complexion. By your name I see you are of English race. I am 1 metre,

58 high, 4 ft 8 in your manner to count. As I am thin I seem tall.

Do you speak French? I do, naturally. I write English sentences, just like I speak French. Some of my

school fellows say always, “English is too difficult.” As I am very fond of English conversations and reading, I was the first in English and my teacher was interest with me. I send you my first lesson of English. You can see how I was well up. During the war sometimes there was no school so I would practice with

English at home.

     Do you know other countries than Colorado? Is it a large town? Are there many inhabitants in your town? At cinema I have seen many views of the mountains of Colorado. Have you seen the films “Hands Up” with Miss Ruth Roland? The French people admire your Hollywood stars Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. Have you seen the President Wilson? I have seen him, with his wife, his daughter, and the General Pershing. Is there many Indians in your country? Are they pretty?

     With hopes for our friendship, I send you a postcard of pretty flower Edelweiss which grows on the alps. Do you know the flower, Edelweiss? It smells very good. The postcard says Bonne Année, which means Good Year. We shall have a good year, writing, will we not? I kiss the Edelweiss picture I enclose.

Kiss it too and like that, we shall kiss the both. Do you understand?

By waiting news from you, I kiss you and say au revoir.

With kisses, Cécile

      Maggie studied Cécile’s English lessons and the Bonne Année postcard. Impulsively, she placed it against her lips. “I kiss it too.” With that, Cécile became her own pen pal.

     “It’s clear why your mother loved these letters,” she commented. “Cécile transports you to Paris. Imagine having seen President Wilson and General Pershing. The history teacher in me is quite impressed.”

     Maggie carefully folded the letter. She inserted it and the other contents back into the envelope. “This letter marked ‘the beginning of a beautiful friendship,’ to quote Casablanca.

     “Oh, I adore that movie too, sweetie.” Grams stroke an oratory pose, one hand reached out. “We’ll always have Paris.”      “And, we will, Grams.” Maggie gave a playful grin.

About the Authors

Photo Credit: Sitting Pretty Photos

JAN AGNELLO comes from several generations of hobbiest antiquers. Her love of stories behind the antiques inspired her in 2013 to form Storyology Design, now Storyology Design and Publication. The necklaces Jan crafts from antique coin purses have generated a loyal customer following and garnered attention from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, jewelry network executives, and TV and film costume designers. Her love of books, romance, history, and unique jewelry design led her to collaborate with author Anne Armistead to offer a series of historical novels, each paired with heirloom quality jewelry named for the female protagonist. The first in the series, WITH KISSES FROM CÉCILE, is a story of love and redemption drawn from Jan’s family history. It is paired with THE CÉCILE JEWELRY COLLECTION. Visit to learn more about Jan and Storyology.

ANNE ARMISTEAD is a writer of historical romance. She earned her English literature degree from the University of Georgia and her MFA in creative writing from Spalding University. Her background includes project management with AT&T and teaching English at the middle, high, and college levels. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Georgia Writers of Romance. WITH KISSES FROM CÉCILE is her second romance, following the publication of DANGEROUS CONJURINGS (Soul Mate Publishing, April 2018). Anne writes for and serves as an editor for Storyology Design and Publication. Visit to learn more about Anne and her novels.

Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, September 7
Feature at I’m All About Books
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 9
Review at
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, September 10
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, September 11
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, September 12
Review at Maiden of the Pages
Excerpt at Short Book and Scribes
Excerpt at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, September 13
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Monday, September 16
Review at Jessica Belmont
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, September 17
Review at Melissa Reads


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of With Kisses From Cecile! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be 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 a new winner is chosen.
ENTER HERE: With Kisses From Cecile

Blog Tour Feature – Farewell My Life by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Publication Date: April 7, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 586 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

    Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country. And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.

The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.

An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.

Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.

Amazon | IndieBound

Praise for Farewell My Life

“A unique, deftly scripted, and extraordinary novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style that will hold the readers dedicated attention from beginning to end, “Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia” is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished.”–Mid-West Book Review

“The author knows her characters very, very well; this shows in the consistent and very individual way they act. This is not a plot-driven story; it’s character-driven. In this book, the characters are the jam which holds everything together. The best example of this is Grace, the talented violinist, who, simply, jumps off the page. I loved her.”–Wishing Shelf

“This is not your typical mystery; it’s for fans of thrilling action and historically­-inspired events…Contra to the status quo of the genre, the men are the romantics – though in a deranged manner – and the women showcased are the core strength of the novel.”–BookLife Prize.

“The author…adeptly summons the era in all its manners and details with her descriptive prose…Her omniscient, third-person narrator effectively flits through the heads of various characters, offering momentary glimpses of their inner lives.”–Kirkus Reviews

“I loved the elaborate descriptions of all the places in this book. This is the kind of book that shows instead of just telling. The characters are very well-developed and interesting to read about. Angelina is a fascinating character, as is Grace. Along the duration of the book, Grace learns a lot about herself. I was amazed by her quiet yet vibrant personality, and her brilliant talent.”–Pavani Mathur (The Voracious Bibliophile)

About the Author

Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015.

Her first novel, Thwarted Queen, a frustrating tale (hence the title) of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) who was nearly crowned Queen of England, was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.

Her forthcoming novel, Farewell My Life, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.

When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. You can visit her at You can also find Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 9
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 10
Feature at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, September 16
Review at girl-who-reads

Tuesday, September 17
Feature at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, September 18
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Thursday, September 19
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Saturday, September 21
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Monday, September 23
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, September 24
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, September 27
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Sunday, September 29
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, September 30
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Saturday, October 5
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 8
Feature at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, October 9
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two eBooks of FAREWELL MY LIFE! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be 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 a new winner is chosen.
ENTER HERE: Farewell My Life