Blog Tour: A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy #HFVBT

A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy

Publication Date: January 5, 2021 Pegasus Crime Genre: Historical Mystery     A historical mystery in the vein of The Alienist, in which a young woman in Gilded Age New York must use a special talent to unravel a deadly conspiracy. Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity. Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of a devastating loss, he abandons a promising medical career—and his place in Philadelphia society—to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Amelia Matthew is just another patient—until she channels a spirit in front of him and proves her gift is real. When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter—a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum—he turns to Amelia. Together, they uncover evidence of a deadly conspiracy, and then it’s no longer just Amelia’s sanity and freedom at stake. Amelia must master her gift and use it to catch a killer—or risk becoming the next victim.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Advance Praise for A Deadly Fortune

“The 1893 world of the infamous lunatic asylum on Blackwell’s Island comes alive in frightening and horrific detail as a string of murders for profit is discovered when a young woman with a gift for contacting the dead becomes an accidental patient. She must fight for her life as well as her freedom in this engrossing mystery that reveals that all was not golden in Gilded Age New York.” —Rosemary Simpson, author of Death Brings a Shadow: A Gilded Age Mystery “This engrossing mystery, rich in period detail, probes the dark side of Gilded Age New York and the even darker side of life at the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Plucky Amelia Matthew rises to the considerable challenges that surround her, uncovering increasingly dangerous secrets that point to the presence of a murderer in the asylum. Amelia has a special gift that both helps and complicates her search for the truth, making her a unique heroine. A Deadly Fortune builds to a satisfying conclusion that will whet the reader’s appetite for more of Amelia’s adventures!” —Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice “Stacie Murphy proves herself to be a masterful storyteller with A Deadly Fortune—an elegantly written, fast-paced mystery that blends the dark side of the Gilded Age, great characters, and a paranormal twist. Impossible to put down.” —Julie McElwain, author of the Kendra Donovan Mystery Series “Murphy serves up a dark side of the Gilded Age with intrigue, historical detail, and captivating characters. This is a mystery to savor!” —Dianne Freeman, award winning author of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this debut novel, but I was blown away within a few pages!   This book is described as perfect for fans of The Alienist, a little bit paranormal and heavy on the mystery.  This is spot on!  I loved the setting of Gilded Age New York, I’ve always wanted to live in that time period.  Voluminous skirts, canes, top hats, high fashion!

This book centers around Amelia Matthews, a woman who suffers a traumatic brain injury that exacerbates her ‘powers’.  She is able to communicate with the dead and sometimes she can see the way a person will die.  Along with Amelia, we meet Dr. Andrew Cavanaugh, doctor who studies trauma and mental illness on Blackwell Island.  Amelia’s brother Jonas is also along for the ride!  I found Amelia and Jonas to be incredibly well developed characters with Andrew falling a little bit flat.  I really enjoyed them all, but the relationship between Amelia and Jonas was the standout for me. 

I loved the setting and found the asylum on Blackwell’s island to be very creepy, but in a good way!  This is definitely a paranormal book, perfect for the next spooky season, but also for the paranormal aficionado!   Great characters, spectacular mystery, and a well-told narrative make this a standout book for me!  The pacing was very good and well-balanced for a debut novel!  

Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and Stacie Murphy for the opportunity to read and review this title!  So, so good!

About the Author

Stacie Murphy grew up near Nashville, TN. She began writing A Deadly Fortune in 2017 as a way to force herself to stay off Twitter in the evenings. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and the worst cat in the world.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 11 Review at Coffee and Ink Review at 100 Pages a Day Tuesday, January 12 Excerpt at Probably at the Library Wednesday, January 13 Review at McCombs on Main Review at Gwendalyn’s Books Thursday, January 14 Feature at The Lit Bitch Friday, January 15 Review at A Darn Good Read Monday, January 18 Review at Novels Alive Tuesday, January 19 Review at Rajiv’s Reviews Wednesday, January 20 Guest Post at Novels Alive Thursday, January 21 Feature at What Is That Book About Friday, January 22 Review & Excerpt at Books & Benches Monday, January 25 Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals Tuesday, January 26 Review at Bitch Bookshelf Wednesday, January 27 Review at A Chick Who Reads Thursday, January 28 Excerpt at Always With a Book Friday, January 29 Review at Amy’s Booket List Interview at Madwoman in the Attic Monday, February 1 Review at Book Bustle Tuesday, February 2 Review at Tangents and Tissues Wednesday, February 3 Feature at Reading is My Remedy Review & Excerpt at The Book Review Crew Friday, February 5 Review at Passages to the Past


Enter to win a copy of A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy & a $50 Gift Card to Amazon or your favorite Indie store. Winner’s choice. The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Loxby Manor

Blog Tour: The Paris Affair by Susanne Dunlap

The Paris Affair by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: September 30, 2020
Paperback & eBook; 244 pages

Series: Theresa Schurmann Mystery, Book 3
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction

Apparently, false rumors about Marie Antoinette are all the fashion in 1783.

Marie Antoinette is facing hostility from the populace, inflamed by rumors circulated in pamphlets throughout Paris. The rumors claim that she has dozens of lovers, drinks the blood of poor people, holds satanic masses at Versailles, and more, when nothing could be further from the truth. On the advice of the handsome, enigmatic Captain von Bauer, Joseph II–emperor of Austria and Marie Antoinette’s brother–decides that mystery-solving violinist Theresa Schurman is the ideal candidate for a spy to discover the source of these vile slanders.

Theresa is only too glad to get away from Vienna for a while, unwilling to commit herself yet to marrying Zoltan–a Hungarian baron she met when she was fifteen–and running out of reasons to postpone her decision. She is eager, too, to explore a new musical scene and broaden her artistic education. But when the captain confounds her expectations and places her as a bookkeeper in the establishment of Rose Bertin, milliner to the queen, she begins to lose hope that she will ever achieve her musical aims–or the emperor’s goal of exposing the pamphleteers.

A chance encounter with the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, an extraordinary black violinist and expert swordsman, sets Theresa on the path to unraveling the mystery. But will the chevalier’s patron, the powerful duc de Chartres, confound her efforts and put her–and the captain’s–lives in danger?

Be prepared for music, mystery, love, and murder in this riveting tale of pre-revolutionary Paris.

“The settings and situations are enchanting and varied; Dunlap is adept at on-the-fly description and at lacing intrigue with romance…Dunlap proves an arresting tour guide through this rich milieu, summoning up the past without slowing down the storytelling. Author and protagonist alike boast an epigrammatic wit. The touch is light, but the scenery and chatter are sumptuous…Theresa stands as a fascinating protagonist, a woman whose nimble navigation of society’s expectations and several burgeoning romances are exciting and inspiring, even more so than the sleuthing that drives the novel’s plot. The people she encounters are likewise memorable, complex, and surprising, especially the chevalier…This sparkling historical mystery conjures up the salons, fashion, and gossip of Marie Antoinette’s Paris, with a winning emphasis on the power of music and the roles that society allowed women.” – The BookLife Prize

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Not being familiar with the Theresa Schurman books or author Susanne Dunlap, I was very excited to start reading The Pairs Affair!  The description said to get ready for a number of things, including music, mystery, love, and murder.  All are a collection of things that I absolutely love and I know that fans of YA historical fiction/mysteries will be all in on this novel! 

Theresa is a fascinating lady detective with charm, charisma, and an air of sophistication that enables her to walk through French society with ease!  She is complex, confident, and an amazing heroine.  I loved her relationships with the Captain, the Chevalier, and her charming friend Sophie.  The interwoven friendships, romantic interests, and business entanglements make for a captivating story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the backdrop of Paris, a few years before the revolution.  The reader experiences all levels of 18th century French society through Theresa’s eyes!  Readers will also note the beautiful descriptions of fabulous French landmarks and destinations.  This novel went very quickly for me, as I ate it up in one sitting!  As with many historical fiction/spy novels, this story does feature some action, but not so much that it detracts from the mystery at hand!

This has a beautiful cover and an engaging case of characters that many are sure to love!  I would recommend this to YA readers looking for something set in 18th century France!  Also, this is the third book in this series, but I had no trouble reading it as a standalone.  I felt I found Theresa’s voice very quickly and oriented myself easily.  Pick up a copy of this novel and Susanne Dunlap’s other works today!

A huge thank you to the author for sending me a copy of The Paris Affair!  Another huge thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for having me along for this tour! 

About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of nine works of historical fiction. A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, five step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and eleven grandchildren!

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

For more information, please visit Susanne Dunlap’s website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, September 30
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Thursday, October 1
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, October 2
Feature at I’m Into Books
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, October 5
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Tuesday, October 6
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Wednesday, October 7
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, October 8
Excerpt at Turn The Page

Friday, October 9
Review & Excerpt at Bookworlder

Sunday, October 11
Review at Bitch Bookshelf

Monday, October 12
Review at Nursebookie

Tuesday, October 13
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Wednesday, October 14
Review at Book Bustle

Thursday, October 15
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, October 16
Review at Passages to the Past
Guest Post at The Intrepid Reader


During the Blog Tour, one lucky reader will win signed copies of all 3 books in the Theresa Schurmann Mystery series! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Paris Affair

Blog Tour: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

A Golden Fury


Samantha Cohoe

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction

Publication: October 13, 2020

Age Group: YA

Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.


If you’d told me this was a debut before I began reading, I would say you were crazy!  A Golden Fury is a very strong debut novel from Samantha Cohoe.  This is a firmly upper-YA novel that carries the weight of it’s narrative and features superb writing!  Immediately, the reader is introduced to our main character, Thea.  It’s a bit trope-y, but Thea has worked in her famous mother’s shadow for a long time and is thrust into an odd situation after her mother suffers from a breakdown.  Thea is sent to her father, who, of course, has no idea he is her father, and many things ensue! 

While some new releases this year have very strongly relied on the YA tropes of old, I felt like this novel took a used trope and successfully built a narrative that I became wrapped up in, almost from the beginning.  Thea is incredibly well-written and well-developed, even in the first few pages, I found myself wanting to know everything about her and the strange art of alchemy!  She has quirks and nuances, which are revealed in ways that absolutely worked for me!  My only quibble with Thea is that she put a lot of faith and trust in people, which may not have always been the best idea in this story.  That’s a minor thing, though.  Truly, I enjoyed Thea.  I did notice in a few other reviews that others felt that some of the character traits weren’t quite suited to the narrative, but I think that may have been more of a deliberate action on the part of the author, given the time period.  As a fan of historical fiction, which this is loosely historical fiction, I really liked that! 

Certainly, the romance between Will and Thea is strained at times (that trust thing again), which became a bit grating at some point, but I don’t think it ultimately detracted from the narrative.  I felt that their romance kept the plot going, but wasn’t overly intrusive.  Being less of a romance fan, I also appreciated this fact.  The setting was incredible and Thea accomplishes much with the hand she is dealt through the story.  Being a longtime fan of spooky season and also a fan of anti-heroes, I felt this book was what I was looking for right now.  This isn’t a typical YA novel and certainly not a typical YA debut.  I enjoyed the gloomy setting, dire consequences, and potential failure that linger with the reader throughout the narrative. 

Once again, this was a book that was just right for me!  I would encourage any fans of historical fiction, YA fantasy, alchemy, or a non-traditional YA novel to read this!  This is also perfect for fans of other Wednesday imprint authors like Adrienne Young, Emma Lord, Allison Saft, Romina Garber, among others.

My thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review!  Thanks also to Wednesday Books and their amazing team for having me along on this blog tour!

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Review: My Long List of Impossible Things by Michelle Barker

Michelle Barker’s second YA novel, My Long List of Impossible Things, explores the aftermath of World War II through the eyes of a German teenager.  It depicts the struggles of a country and a people reeling from the horrors of war, silent compliance with genocide and Nazism, while being occupied by another dictatorial regime, the Soviet Union.  Barker treats this subject with care to make it much more of a nuanced story, rather than a work that attempts to garner sympathy for Germany in this period.  She captures the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical journey or a girl living in a bubble during the war, rarely coming into contact with those things that terrify her, until her life is upended and she must make a new way for herself.  This theme is something that many of us are feeling in the present day, adjusting to our new normal, which looks so different from what it was days, weeks, months, or even years ago. 

This heavy subject is presented in way that young readers, young adults, and college students can easily digest and understand another view of the aftermath of the war, rarely depicted in mass media.  A couple of warnings for scenes depicting or referencing sexual assault, rape, graphic violence, and genocide.  This book evoked an emotional response on more than one occasion for me due to it’s realism and highly stylistic writing.  I found myself feeling exactly what Katja felt in those moments:  terror, determination, love, fear, desperation, etc.

“You never knew when something would happen for the last time. If you did, you’d cling to every precious second.”

This sentiment is echoing so loudly here in the present day.  This novel is not only timely, but something that so many of us should read.  Though we are not facing the same dangers that Katja and Hilde eventually faced in their narrative, we are facing tumultuous change throughout our world.

The pacing of this work is spot on and the character development is wonderfully done!  I could not have been happier to have had the chance to read and review this book.  Michelle Barker is a top notch author!  I would recommend this book to all young adults, college students, and anyone interested in post WWII historical fiction.  Really a superb read!

This book is out now from Annick Press at most major retailers! 

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

Michelle Barker’s goodreads page and her website is:


Review: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

The Magnolia Sword is a beautiful re-telling of the story of Mulan.  This story has the things I look for in a teenage romance/historical fiction retelling of a myth:  blindfolded arrow catching, looks that can fell trees, and exciting conflict!

Before you start reading, I must warn you:  this novel is not in the same style as the Disney movie.  Disney’s Mulan is a comedic, musical take on the folk tale.  This book is a true re-telling of the story of Mulan, complete with historically accurate enemies and speaking styles which would have been found in 5th century China.  

The Magnolia Sword, which is a beautiful name for a beautiful sword, could really be called “A Tale of Two Swords.”  Though it bears no resemblance to the classic work about cities, there are two legendary swords featured at length in the book.  The action opens on a sword fight in the dead of night.  We find Mulan crossing blades with her rival, a similarly aged man from the Peng family.  The legend goes that the Hua family and the Peng family are sworn enemies in a generations long contest to win the two legendary swords, one held by each family.   Thomas uses beautiful descriptions of swordplay and the honorific art of speaking in 5th century China.  Some readers may need to get used to this style of dialogue, but it really adds to the historical accuracy and authenticity of the book.  

I absolutely appreciate the use of the correct tribes, the Xiongnu, Xianbei, and Rouran in the novel.  Given the history and mythology of Mulan, this is a great nod to the origins of the story and the correct time period, rather than the attempts from other pop culture attempts at a re-telling.  The book references the Xiongnu as the Huns, which is a true statement.  When most people think of the Huns, they think Attila the Hun, who was part of the Eurasian Huns.  The Xiongnu were Asiatic Huns whose ethnic and cultural makeup were a blend of many semi-nomadic steppe peoples.  I think it’s important to make this distinction.

The author put an inordinate amount of historical research into this book and it absolutely shows in the masterful telling of the story of Mulan.  It is vivid, emotion, and a masterfully crafted work of historical fiction.  As other reviewers have noted, Thomas carefully reminds us that behind the male facade, the armor, the war…. there is a teenager, dealing with all of the things teenagers dealt with on a scale 10 times harder than our modern view, who is only trying to honor her family.  She is human and vulnerable, even with all of her martial training.  

“Mulan means Magnolia….I feel a secret connection to the great blade, as if it were always meant to come to me.”

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the story of Mulan, but would caution you that this isn’t the Disney version.  This is much more true to the folk tale, with some artistic license thrown in.  If you are looking for a solid work of historical fiction, bordering on YA romance, this is the book for you!  Though it came out last year, this book is still available for order!  Don’t forget to support your local book shop and share your recommendations with friends! 

Sherry Thomas’ goodreads page can be found here

​Happy reading!