The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

My Review

I have read other books by Irma Joubert and am always fascinated by her writing style.  I attribute a lot of her style to being from South Africa and having different authorial mentors and colleagues. She delves deeply into the lives of the people, surroundings and time frame; because of this, her stories are rich in content. The Crooked Path is the same.

**********May Contain Spoilers**********

There are four distinct stories presented.

The first story deals with Lettie, a socially inept, awkward young lady, more interested in academia than “playing games.” Her focus and determination pay off in the form of the title and career as a doctor. She is vested in her patients from day one.

The second story deals with Marco and his childhood love, Rachel.  The story of Marco and Rachel is sad and poignant, dealing with many of the atrocities endured by the Jewish during WWII. This portion of the story is at times difficult and heartbreaking to read.

The third story centers on Marco and Lettie, beginning with Lettie becoming Marco’s doctor. There are many sweet, endearing moments. However, there is much sadness, too.

The fourth story focuses on Lettie’s life after Marco. This portion of the story for me was a little off. There were parts where Lettie’s childhood daydreams seemed to be coming true, yet she put up every roadblock possible, and it just didn’t ring true to me.

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Overall, The Crooked Path was a unique book. Poignant and heart-tugging, it will leave a mark on you, leaving you with the question, “Is a crooked path a journey worth taking?”

(Caution-the story is targeted to the over 16 age group.)

I received this book from The Fiction Guild sponsored by Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

From the bestselling author of The Girl From the Train, comes another compelling coming of age story of delayed love, loss, and reconciliation in WWII-era South Africa.

Lettie has always felt different from and overshadowed by the women around her– this friend is richer, that friend is more beautiful, those friends are closer. Still, she doesn’t let this hold her back. She works hard to apply her mind, trying to compensate for her perceived lack of beauty with diligent academic work and a successful career as a doctor. She learns to treasure her friendships, but she still wonders if any man will ever return her interest.

Marco’s experience in the second world war has robbed him of love and health. When winters in his native Italy prove dangerous to his health even after the war has ended, he moves to South Africa to be with his brother, husband to one of Lettie’s best friends. Marco is Lettie’s first patient, and their relationship grows as she aids him on the road back to restored health.

In the company of beloved characters from The Child of the River, Marco and Lettie find a happiness that neither of them thought possible. With that joy comes pain and loss, but Lettie learns that life—while perhaps a crooked path—is always a journey worth taking.

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My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey by Amanda Barratt

My Review

My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York is written by Amanda Barratt, a new to me author. The book is also her first full-length novel, as she’s only written novellas in the past.

I enjoyed learning about funambulism through Drew Dawson, a main character. I also liked Drew’s character and his devotion to his invalid sister, Hope, whom I also liked. I was pulling for them to be able to make a better life for themselves as I read the story.

I didn’t care much for Adele Linley, an English aristocrat looking for a wealthy husband in America to save her family’s home and land. She tended to rush into things headlong, heedless of the consequences. Her tendency to do this created a major catastrophe.

I didn’t care for most of the other characters in the novel. They were rude, snobby, self-centered and cared little for each other, even though many of them were related. I never grew to like Adele, either. Right about the time I may have started liking her, she did something so genuinely terrible, heart-breaking and life-changing for other characters that even though it worked out in the end, I still cared very little for her.

One minor character I really liked was the butler, Delany, who was from Texas. I liked how he stayed true to himself and to the Dawsons in their times of need (and I’m partial to anyone from Texas!).

One sign of a good book, I have heard said, is it brings out strong emotions within you. If this is true, then My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York, fits the bill.

One note of caution. However, there are a few scenes of semi-graphic violence.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Journey now to Niagara Falls, New York, of 1870 where…
She avoids danger at all costs. He makes his living by rushing headlong into it.

Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband.

Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.

On a sightseeing trip to the Falls, Adele meets several eligible suitors. Incredibly wealthy and pompous, Franklin Conway takes an immediate fancy to her. But Adele would truly like to marry for love.  When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is NOT looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?

Seasons Series by Robin E. Mason-Blog Tour and Giveaway

Seasons series blog tour 4

Welcome to the Seasons series (by Robin E. Mason) Blog Tour and giveaway, hosted y JustRead Publicity Tours!


Welcome Colonel and Ms. Mason

BRUCE:  Good afternoon, Birdie Girl.

rem:  Good afternoon, Mr. Rochester. So nice to see you again.

BRUCE:   Why don’t you call me Bruce. Leastways for now.

rem:  Well, all right then, Bruce. Welcome. I do enjoy chatting with you.

BRUCE: I know so little about you, and you sit here so mélancolique, mon amie. Please, tell me a little about yourself!

rem:  I’m an oddball in a bunch of oddballs. LOL, I’m 59 and act 12 (no really). I’ve three grown kids and three beautiful granddaughters, and four kitty babies. Besides my writing, I sing and play the piano, I danced and directed the dance team at church for a few years, I paint and draw, and I’m an actress. I love, love, love being on stage, and do a smashingly brilliant British accent!

I also love baking and cooking, and big family gatherings, and I enjoy working in the yard and going for walks.

BRUCE:  Thank you kindly, Birdie Girl.

rem:  Now that Simone is home, can you tell us—

BRUCE:  Now, now, Birdie Girl. I do believe I’ll be asking the questions today. Hmm?

rem:  Yes, quite right…

BRUCE:  Could you explain what you mean when you say you can’t market as Christian Fiction, but you can as Faith Fiction?

rem:  When I first started writing, I would just write. I had no clue of genre, or what specs to follow. And some of my characters, well, not being believers, they, er, um, say things they shouldn’t. The less offensive of “street language,” and on occasion, “Oh my God.” I use that, too, but as a prayer and a plea to Him. And from what I understand of CF, that isn’t allowed.

But my faith is evident in my stories, in subtle ways. A character in my first book surprised me later in the story when they turned out to be a praying force behind my main character’s struggle.

BRUCE:  NODS  Go on, go on.

rem:  Allow me to share the words of my sweet friend, Carrie Schmidt, when she reviewed The Silent Song of Winter recently:

In her novels, Mason wrestles with some of the darkest parts of human nature. But she also wraps each story in the loving arms of Grace… A realization that the words of Scripture are God’s heart written just for her. A new awareness that she is a child of the King who is dearly loved. As this transformation takes place in Pearl’s heart, it touches every area of her life – with some very moving results.”
http://readingismysuperpower.org/2018/03/09/book-review-and-a-giveaway-the-silent-song-of-winter-by-robin-e-mason/

BRUCE:  Where did the idea of using seasons for your books come from, was it your plan to give each season its own book? What is your favorite season, and is it your favorite of the four books?

rem:  Yes and no. There’s another series out there, TOTALLY different to this one, waiting for me to write it. That’s what I thought I was going to be writing with this series! LOL, I’m a panster, and sometimes I get a title or character name, and the story evolves from that “seed.” I knew the titles of each of the four books, but when I started writing—it was so not the story I thought it was going to be! But yes, I knew that each book was its season.

And my favorite season is spring—it’s a robin thing-wink, wink—and yes, perhaps The Whispering Winds of Spring is my favorite. For one thing, it wraps up the series. But Simone’s battle was so characteristic of all of us sometimes; she made great strides in some ways, but still struggled in others.

BRUCE:  Speaking of seasons, it is a little humid out here, perhaps we could go to your lovely library!

rem:  But, of course!

BRUCE:  Here, mon amie, let me assist you!

rem:  Why, thank you, monsieur!

BRUCE:  I thank you kindly, Birdie Girl. TAKES OUT CIGAR  May I?
rem:  You have to ask?

BRUCE:  LAUGHS  Touché, Birdie Girl. Touché. I thank you kindly.

HOLDS CIGAR SUSPENDED TAKES A PUFF  Now, where were we?

Ah, yes… Are any of your characters modeled after you or someone you know?

rem:  Yes. Me. Mostly. All of my main characters have some of me in them. And most of my characters are either my imagination or a composite of people I know, or a combination.

BRUCE:  How did you come to know of our lovely town?

rem:  Oh, well, I suppose Mercedes told me. PAUSES  No, on second thought, I think it was Simone.

BRUCE:  PUFFS SMOKE  Interesting, you didn’t mention Pearl or Scarlett.

rem:  Hmmm… If I know Scarlett, and I think I do, she would have been rather too intimidated to speak out.

BRUCE:  NODS

 rem:  And Pearl, well, you know Pearl. She is a dear, but she can… shall we say, be wrapped up in herself betimes.

BRUCE:  Yes indeed. Now how did Simone tell you?

rem: TILTS HEAD, CONSIDERS  I remember knowing she needed help.

BRUCE:  That she did. That she did, indeed. PUFFS CIGAR  And you surely gave it.

rem:  Well, I’m not sure I did that much, really.

BRUCE:  Oh, Birdie Girl. You told her story. Without you she never would have, well, we can’t tell our secrets now, can we?

rem:  LAUGHS  No, we surely cannot.

BRUCE:  I know there is one person we will all love to hate! Were they a surprise, or did you know how they would be from the beginning?

rem:  Fontaine first comes to mind. Until you get to know his story. Same for Lissette. She was so troubled and tormented. Both of them were vile in their actions, and while interesting to write, and sometimes challenging, I can’t say either of them was fun. I knew both of them were despicable from the beginning; Fontaine, however, I did not discover his past until well into the first book.

BRUCE:  Do you let anyone dictate their story?

rem:  Dictate? I am but the humble scribe whose pleasure and privilege it is to put to pen—or digital form—the stories of my characters. Honestly, I know the general direction the story/series needs to go, but the fabric of it “comes” to me as I write. There are some minor bits that I construct, but mostly I am at their beck and call.

BRUCE:  Now then, you’ve told of the stories, Simone’s story, our story. What of your story?

rem:  My story?

BRUCE:  EXHALES AND CHUCKLES  My dear girl, we all have a story to tell.

rem:  SPUTTERS  I’m not sure…

BRUCE:  Stuff and nonsense! To quote our dear Pearl. PUFFS CIGAR Of course, you have a story. You were married once, were you not?

rem:  SIGHS  I was, yes.

BRUCE:  SHAKES HEAD  My word, Birdie Girl. You are making me work for it, aren’t you?

rem:  MUMBLES  Sorry.

BRUCE:  Tell me, what do you do when your characters behave this way?

rem:  NERVOUS LAUGH

BRUCE:  As I suspected.  PUFFS CIGAR Now. Tell us about your love.  CUTS A GLANCE And, I don’t mean the man you married.

rem:  SIGHS The one that got away.

BRUCE:  Got away? Was that the way of it?

rem:  LOOKS DOWN  No, it wasn’t.

BRUCE:  REACHES HAND OUT TO MY SHOULDER  Can you tell us what happened?

rem:  I sabotaged it.

SILENCE

rem:  He was too good to me, it was too good to be true. At least, that’s what I believed at the time. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing—I certainly didn’t consciously destroy the relationship.  SNIFFS

 BRUCE:  There, there, dear girl. That’s a hard thing to discover.

rem:   NODS

BRUCE:  I know you know the Almighty has your best interest at heart.

rem:  NODS

BRUCE:  WINKS And, He’ll bring you a love when you least expect it.  PUFFS CIGAR Why, look at me and my Trudy.

 rem:  SMILES, SWIPES AT STRAY TEAR  Yes, Col—Bruce, you’re right.

BRUCE:  Of course, I’m right. I’m always right.

BOTH LAUGH

BRUCE:  And what was this dear gentleman’s name?

rem:  BLUSHES  Terry.

BRUCE:  Well I dare say, Terry has suffered a great loss.

rem:  BLUSHES REDDER

 BRUCE:  No, no, it’s true. PUFFS CIGAR  You are a lovely and charming lady. Oh, mon amie, I haven’t upset you, have I?

rem:  No, I just decided to sit at the window. They truly are a remarkable set of books!

BRUCE:  Well, of course, they are!!  Now then, I believe the custom is to ask what’s called Fast Five.

rem:  SMILES

 BRUCE:  Coffee or tea?

rem:  That depends—

BRUCE:  STERN LOOK, THEN SMILES  No, Birdie Girl, Fast Five. SNAPS FINGERS

 rem:  Tea

BRUCE:  That’s more like it. Mountains or shore?

rem:  Easy, mountains.

BRUCE:  Horse or motorcycle?

rem:  Horses—OH!

BRUCE:  WINKS  Cats or dogs?

rem:  Cats, of course.

BRUCE:  Fiction or non?

rem:  Fiction, a thousand times fiction.

BRUCE:  What is the most important thing that you want your readers to take away from your books?

rem:  That God is always with us, and for us. I do not for a minute believe He causes us harm or danger or heartache to “teach us” a lesson. Rather, things happen (fallen world and all) and He is there in the thick of it, whether we see Him—or acknowledge Him—or not.

BRUCE:  Well done, dear girl.  PUFFS CIGAR  And now, dear Birdie Girl, I believe our time is done.

rem:  This has been… interesting.

BRUCE:  Indeed. Reversing roles is always a challenge—and no easy task.

rem:  Bruce, Colonel, I do so enjoy my time with you. I shall miss you.

BRUCE:  Stuff and nonsense.  WINKS  You never know when I might show up.

rem:  Quite true.

BRUCE:  I do thank you for the time. KISSES MY HAND  It has been a delight.

rem:  BLUSHES  And, I do believe the pleasure is all mine, dear Colonel.  WINKS BACK AT HIM


“Mercedes?” I could barely breathe. I didn’t remember this woman. The name only tumbled in my mind, tugging at memories I couldn’t see. I don’t know how but I knew I could trust her. Still…”

“NO!” My throat raw already, my scream was jagged and panicked and desperate. “No!” I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to remember… Not this. I didn’t want to remember this.”


About the Seasons series
Goodreads | Amazon

The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind.

It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.


the long shadows of summerTitle: The Long Shadows of Summer
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: August 31, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

Mercedes has always been an avid reader and devours each new Sherlock Holmes mystery as soon as she gets her hands on them. When one of her friends comes to her, Mercedes vows to keep Simone’s secrets and uncover the truth.

But as Mercedes plays detective to her friends’ questions, she discovers something far more shocking—she herself is not who she thought she was.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


the tilting leaves of autumnTitle: The Tilting Leaves of Autumn
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: November 22, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

Scarlett was the shrinking violet in the group. Faithful to her friends, and hiding secrets of her own. When Mercedes steps in to rescue her, she unknowingly plucks the thread that unravels Scarlett’s whole world.

But as Scarlett strives to hold fast to what is familiar the fabric of her life continues to come undone and secrets that are best kept hidden are exposed.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


The Silent Song of WinterTitle: The Silent Song of Winter
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

When all the noise has gone silent, all that is left is her song.

Pearl had lived under the impossible taskmaster of perfection. Nothing she does or ever did pleased her mother. And nothing she ever did could disappoint her father.

Caught up in the mystery of her friend’s curious—and secretive—return, Pearl wrestles with her own decisions and flees lest her own secrets are exposed.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


The Whispering Winds of SpringTitle: The Whispering Winds of Spring
Author: Robin E. Mason
Publisher: Bird’s Nest Books
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction

Amidst the clamor of confusion, can she hear the whisper of her memories?

Simone Dubois’ life was unraveling. All she had known and held dear was gone from her. At ten, all she wanted was to escape beneath the black waters of the Edisto River. She couldn’t know her whole life would be stolen from her.

When she returns to Saisons sixteen years later, she has no memory of ever having been there. Not even that it was her birthplace. Enlisting the help of her childhood friend, Mercedes—whose name stayed with her, if in shadowy dreams only—Simone encounters misty memories, and stirs up more mystery than she started with.

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon


About the Author

robin elizabeth mason

I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design. I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years. My characters face many of these same demons.

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

CONNECT WITH ROBIN: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | GoodReadsInstagram | Amazon

seasons series giveaway

Robin E. Mason is offering a Seasons series prize pack for her tour! ONE winner (US only) will receive:

  • a packet of Saisons Plantation tea
  • a Seasons series mug
  • a Seasons bookmark (handmade by the author)
  • Seasons notecards (also handmade by the author)
  • 4 pairs of earrings (one pair to represent each book)
  • AND winner’s choice of (1) signed print copy of Seasons book of choice OR kindle copies of all 4 books!

Giveaway will run from midnight June 11, 2018, through 11:59pm June 18, 2018. It is subject to the policies found here.

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2b09c62e288/?

Click on the banner below for a full tour schedule & more chances to win!

tour schedule