Blog Tour: The Glittering Hour @Iona_Grey @StMartinsPress #BlogTour #HistoricalFiction #MomsWhoRead

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Glittering Hour, a historical British fiction read!  I’m going to change up my usual blog tour format and start with a little background on Iona Grey!
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About the Author:
IONA GREY is the author of the award winning Letters to the Lost. She has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.
TheGlitteringHour
About the Book:
An unforgettable historical about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from an award-winning author

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.

If you’re looking for a historical read that has a treasure hunt, drama, family secrets, and even more secrets, this is the read for you!  It is truly an emotionally strong read that some of you may need tissues for.  For someone like myself who isn’t the biggest fan of historical fiction, this was such a lovely tale it has left me a little empty since finishing.  It is out soon and will be available to buy at these places:
Thank you again to St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour!  Now everyone, get to reading!! 🙂

Blog Tour: Death Among Us @StephenBentley8 @Shalini_G26 #Murder #MurderMystery #BookWorm #MomsWhoRead #Anthology #ReadMe

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Welcome to my stop on the Death Among Us Blog Tour!!!! This was such a fun and unique book to read!
Ten authors made this anthology of murder mysteries.  I will admit, some I skipped over and some I read with such intensity.  It has a great mix for everyone who enjoys lovely, quick reads.  Keep in mind there is not as much detail involved because these are…SHORT stories…and they wrap up quickly.  If you don’t enjoy down to business reads, skip this one (but you’re crazy).
If you enjoy the nitty gritty, get right to the point, don’t drag it on mystery, pick this book up ASAP!  I will admit, I’m not huge into certain genres, like scifi, but it’s OK.  There’s a smorgasbord of fun still to be had!  This would be a great book to read with a friend and just enjoy the quick tales.  I honestly read this as I was reading multiple other books at once.  It was a great filler for me because of the super quick reads.  Sometimes short stories are well…long…these are not, finally…TRUE short stories!  Enough blabber from me…here’s more about the book!

Book Blurb
Who knew death could be so eclectic? Relish this mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up of short stories.
Murder and mystery have been the staple of literature and films for years. This anthology of short stories will thrill and entertain you. Some will also make you laugh out loud. Others will stop and make you think. Think of this murder mystery short story anthology as a book version of appetizers or starters, hors d’oeuvre, meze, or antipasti. It can be read as fillers between books or, as is the case in some countries, as a bookish meze- in its own right.
There’s murder mystery styles and locations to suit all tastes: detective fiction, serial killers, scifi, histfic, England, Los Angeles, San Francisco, The Great Lakes, Las Vegas, the Nevada desert, Mexico and more in an exquisite exposition of the art of short story telling.
These stories come from an international cast of authors; some with bestselling books, others are emerging or new talents. Their roots, cultures, and life experiences are as diverse as their writing styles. But one thing binds them together: they know how to tell a story. The ten authors (each linked to their own twitter pages) who have contributed to the anthology are:

Stephen Bentley

Stephen Bentley is a f ormer UK Detective Sergeant, barrister, and author of a bestselling undercover cop memoir. He also writes crime fiction.

Greg Alldredge

Greg Alldredge grew up in the United States reading all the excellent Science Fiction and Fantasy of the past decades. He hopes to add his voice, in a small way, to the giants of the genres. He wants to write stories he himself would want to read and hopes to be successful as a storyteller first.

Kelly Artieri

Kelly Artieri is a professional illustrator and award-winning author of a personal memoir ‘A Spot in My Heart.’ Living in the Buffalo, New York area, Kelly is a passionate storyteller about real life. Now she is using her creative voice at story telling murder mystery style.

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie, short for Roberta, Cheadle is a South African author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children. She has also authored the Silly Willy series and a fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II.
Michael Spinelli

Michael Spinelli is married with two children, a transplant from New York to Florida.
Mike enjoys family time, reading, watching movies and of course, writing things that increase your heart rate.

L. Lee Kane

L. Lee Kane, M.A., known as Linda, is the author of several adult fiction books, and children’s books. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and seven horses in the Central Valley of California.
Kay Castaneda

Kay Castaneda is retired from a career as a college writing instructor and special education tutor. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in English at Indiana University. Her publications include poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction in literary journals plus articles about education for scholarly reference books.
Aly Locatelli

Aly Locatelli is a 25-year-old book blogger and reviewer from the UK. She has been doing that for over five years and now started freelancing as a beta-reader, editor and proof-reader. Aly also aspires to be a writer. This is the first time any of her work has been published.

Justin Bauer

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Justin Bauer studied English Literature at the Ohio State University, graduating in 2016. He is the author of three books.
Posthumously by ‘G’

‘G’ or Gerry died in 2017. He used the name ‘G’ when writing short stories. This is how he described himself not long before his untimely death: G is a 69 yo Hippie, world traveler, straight talker/writer, with no regrets. He’s been writing since he found a sharp crayon and empty wall space.

The stories include the 2019 SIA Award-Winning Murder Mystery Short Story & The Rose Slayer by Stephen Bentley.
Each author introduces his or her stories and the theme that lays behind them. By the time you finish the book, you will agree the result is a mesmerising murder mystery mash-up.

The audiobook of the anthology will be available some time very soon.

A link to the retail sample on Soundcloud which is here http://bit.ly/2W7mFgI

Blog Tour & GIVEAWAY: Forget The Stars @kelswritestuff #Romance #Band #BookWorm #Bibliophile #Love #Giveaway #Contest

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I would like to give a HUGE shout out to Kelsey Kingsley for the opportunity to read Forget The Stars before its release and then allowing me a spot on the blog tour!!  I am ECSTATIC to share this amazing book I devoured in a day with you all!  WELCOME!

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This book features the story of guitarist Chad (Chaddington Bear) Wilcox, member of Devin O’Leary’s band (see also Daisies & Devin and Book Review: Tell Me Goodnight).  Don’t worry, this is a standalone book!  It just features a character that has been written about in the two forementioned books, but this is all his story.  If you haven’t read any of Kelsey’s other books you won’t be lost (but you’ll want to read them all after this one)!

He ends up back at home with his parents (I love a modest rock star) during a touring break and happens to be reacquainted with his best friend, Molly.  He has been dating a woman for years who won’t commit and no one really cares for her.  Chad happens to discover in this book that he has been living with Ulcerative colitis and it’s Molly who ends up being there for him…

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What I loved most about this story is we see Chad really come in to his own.  I laughed at him, cursed at him, and cried for him.  Gah, all the emotions!  Molly also comes in to her own and instead of just floating through life one bad roommate after the other, we see her do what is she is passionate about.  All while Chad and Molly’s mothers are conspiring behind the scenes for them to get together.

This is a sweet love story that I couldn’t put down.  I knew better than to start it when I was in bed because I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish the story.  Just when I think I can’t love 2 characters more, Kelsey hits it out of the park and I fall madly in love with 2 more.  If you love a swooning, slow burning romance, this book is for you.

It’s a 4.5 star knock out for me (rounded up to 5 on rating sites).  I love a book that I can get lost in and become obsessed with and forget the world around me for a few hours and this book delivers just that.  Sometimes I just want to focus on a swoony story while I laugh and shed a tear and this delivered just that.  I highly recommend you grab this book as soon as possible, you won’t regret that you do!

 

From August 26 to September 26, 2019, 10% of all proceeds will be donated to the
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation! Buy it here on Amazon!

 

GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28af441c4/

 

Book Playlist:  https://spoti.fi/2ZiBGvN

Author Bio:

Kelsey Kingsley is an author of eight, almost nine, novels. She lives in New York with her family and a cat named Ethel. She loves tattoos, music, makeup, and Frasier reruns. Kelsey is a Slytherin. She curses a lot, and she f***ing hates cheese.

Where to find Kelsey…

Website: http://www.kelseykingsley.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kelswritesstuff

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/kelswritesstuff

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kelswritesstuff

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/kelseykingsley

BookBub: http://www.bookbub.com/profile/kelsey-kingsley 

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c3K409

 

Blog Tour: The Escape Room #EscapeRoomBook @megangoldin @StMartinsPress @Netgalley

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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy of the book AND the opportunity to participate in the blog tour!!  I have been given an advanced copy of this book to read and give you my honest opinion on.  I am so lucky to have had this opportunity!

This is one of the most unique books I have read in awhile.  We alternate between 2 settings.  One setting takes place in an elevator where 4 co-workers are drawn together to participate in a team building exercise.  They are called to take part in an escape room and end up in an elevator with clues, trying to decipher them to escape.  The other setting is essentially the adult life of Sara Hall; a woman who used to work with the other 4.  It seems absolutely bizarre at first with each alternating chapter, but it works and throws you around in a loop!

This was filled with such great writing.  I will admit, toward the end I saw where the book was going, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every second of this book.  I read it so fast because I wanted to know what was going on!  Goldin did a SUPERB job at giving you just enough with each chapter that it made you want to keep going because you had to fill in the pieces to the puzzle!  It almost became a game of, well, let me figure out this escape room puzzle and wait, I want to know more about Sara!  Needless to say I had 2 sleepless nights with this book trying to get it all in!

I really can’t say more about this book without giving too much away.  It’s a unique psychological thriller that will be a chart-topping hit.  This is a must read.  You guys know how obsessive I am over endings and THANK YOU, it’s what I hoped and wanted.  Well, I wouldn’t have mind if, ah, you know I can’t say, but just know it made me smile.  Please, get your hands on this book as soon as possible!  Watch your back in the process…you just don’t know who you can trust!  (St. Martin’s Press has decided to be super kind and has given me access to share with you a preview of the book…scroll down to go around and get a peek at the prologue, don’t forget to get a copy of this ASAP!)

 

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MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. THE ESCAPE ROOM is her debut novel.

Buy-book link:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250219671

TheEscapeRoom

PROLOGUE


It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning. The young security guard spoke in an unsteady voice, fear disguised by cocky nonchalance.

Miguel had been an aspiring bodybuilder until he injured his back lifting boxes in a warehouse job and had to take night- shift work guarding a luxury office tower in the final stages of construction. He had a muscular physique, dark hair, and a cleft in his chin.

He was conducting a cursory inspection when a scream rang out. At first, he didn’t hear a thing. Hip- hop music blasted through the oversize headphones he wore as he swept his flashlight across the dark recesses of the lobby.

The beam flicked across the classical faces of reproduction Greek busts cast in metal and inset into niches in the walls. They evoked an eerie otherworldliness, which gave the place the aura of a mausoleum.

Miguel paused his music to search for a fresh play list of songs. It was then that he heard the tail end of a muffled scream.

The sound was so unexpected that he instinctively froze. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard strange noises at night, whether it was the screech of tomcats brawling or the whine of construction cranes buffeted by wind. Silence followed. Miguel chided himself for his childish reaction.

He pressed PLAY to listen to a new song and was immediately assaulted by the explosive beat of a tune doing the rounds at the dance clubs where he hung out with friends.

Still, something in the screech he’d heard a moment before rattled him enough for him to be extra diligent.

He bent down to check the lock of the revolving lobby door. It was bolted shut. He swept the flashlight across a pair of still escalators and then, above his head, across the glass- walled mezzanine floor that overlooked the lobby.

He checked behind the long reception desk of blond oak slats and noticed that a black chair was at an odd angle, as if someone had left in a hurry.

A stepladder was propped against a wall where the lobby café was being set up alongside a water fountain that was not yet functional. Plastic- wrapped café tables and chairs were piled up alongside it.

In the far corner, he shone his flashlight in the direction of an elaborate model of the building complex shown to prospective tenants by Realtors rushing to achieve occupancy targets in time for the building’s opening the following month.

The model detailed an ambitious master plan to turn an abandoned ware house district that had been a magnet for homeless people and addicts into a high- end financial and shopping precinct. The first tower was almost finished. A second was halfway through construction.

When Miguel turned around to face the elevator lobby, he was struck by something so incongruent that he pushed his headphones off his head and onto his shoulders.

The backlit green fluorescent light of an elevator switch flickered in the dark. It suggested that an elevator was in use. That was impossible, because he was the only person there.

In the sobriety of the silent echo that followed, he convinced himself once again that his vague sense of unease was the hallucination of a fatigued mind. There was nobody in the elevator for the simple reason that the only people on- site on weekends were the security
guards. Two per shift. Except to night, Miguel was the only one on duty.

When Stu had been a no- show for his shift, Miguel figured he’d manage alone. The construction site was fenced off with towering barbed- wire fences and a heavy- duty electric gate. Nobody came in or out until the shift ended.

In the four months he’d worked there, the only intruders he’d encountered were feral cats and rats scampering across construction equipment in the middle of the night. Nothing ever happened during the night shift.

That was what he liked about the job. He was able to study and sleep and still get paid. Sometimes he’d sleep for a couple of hours on the soft leather lobby sofa, which he found preferable to the lumpy stretcher in the portable office where the guards took turns resting between patrols. The CCTV cameras hadn’t been hooked up yet, so he could still get away with it.

From the main access road, the complex looked completed. It had a driveway entry lined with young maples in planter boxes. The lobby had been fitted out and furnished to impress prospective tenants who came to view office space.

The second tower, facing the East River, looked unmistakably like a construction site. It was wrapped with scaffolding. Shipping containers storing building materials were arranged like colorful Lego blocks in a muddy field alongside idle bulldozers and a crane.

Miguel removed keys from his belt to open the side entrance to let himself out, when he heard a loud crack. It whipped through the lobby with an intensity that made his ears ring.

Two more cracks followed. They were unmistakably the sound of gunshots. He hit the ground and called 911. He was terrified the shooter was making his way to the lobby but cocky enough to cover his fear with bravado when he spoke.

“Something bad’s going down here.” He gave the 911 dispatcher the address. “You should get cops over here.”

Miguel figured from the skepticism in the dispatcher’s cool voice that his call was being given priority right below the doughnut run.

His heart thumped like a drum as he waited for the cops to arrive. You chicken shit, he berated himself as he took cover behind a sofa. He exhaled into his shirt to muffle the sound of his rapid breathing. He was afraid he would give away his position to the shooter.

A wave of relief washed over him when the lobby finally lit up with a hazy blue strobe as a police car pulled in at the taxi stand. Miguel went outside to meet the cops.

“What’s going on?” An older cop with a thick gut hanging over his belted pants emerged from the front passenger seat.

“Beats me,” said Miguel. “I heard a scream. Inside the building. Then I heard what I’m pretty sure were gunshots.”

“How many shots?” A younger cop came around the car to meet him, snapping a wad of gum in his mouth.

“Two, maybe three shots. Then nothing.”

“Is anyone else around?” The older cop’s expression was hidden under a thick gray mustache.

“They clear out the site on Friday night. No construction workers. No nobody. Except me. I’m the night guard.”

“Then what makes you think there’s a shooter?”

“I heard a loud crack. Sure sounded like a gunshot. Then two more. Came from somewhere up in the tower.”

“Maybe construction equipment fell? That possible?”

A faint thread of red suffused Miguel’s face as he contemplated the possibility that he’d panicked over nothing. They moved into the lobby to check things out, but he was feeling less confident than when he’d called 911. “I’m pretty sure they—” He stopped speaking as they all heard the unmistakable sound of a descending elevator.

“I thought you said there was nobody here,” said the older cop.

“There isn’t.”

“Could have fooled me,” said the second cop. They moved through to the elevator lobby. A light above the elevator doors was flashing to indicate an elevator’s imminent arrival. “Someone’s here.”

“The building opens for business in a few weeks,” said Miguel. “Nobody’s supposed to be here.”

The cops drew their guns from their holsters and stood in front of the elevator doors in a shooting stance— slightly crouched, legs apart. One of the cops gestured furiously for Miguel to move out of the way. Miguel stepped back. He hovered near an abstract metal sculpture set into the wall at the dead end of the elevator lobby.

A bell chimed. The elevator heaved as it arrived.

The doors parted with a slow hiss. Miguel swallowed hard as the gap widened. He strained to see what was going on. The cops were blocking his line of sight and he was at too sharp an angle to see much.

“Police,” shouted both cops in unison. “Put your weapon down.”

Miguel instinctively pressed himself against the wall. He flinched as the first round of bullets was fired. There were too many shots to count. His ears rang so badly, it took him a moment to realize the police had stopped firing. They’d lowered their weapons and were shouting something. He didn’t know what. He couldn’t hear a thing over the ringing in his ears.

Miguel saw the younger cop talk into his radio. The cop’s mouth opened and closed. Miguel couldn’t make out the words. Gradually, his hearing returned and he heard the tail end of a stream of NYPD jargon.

He couldn’t understand most of what was said. Something about “nonresponsive” and needing “a bus,” which he assumed meant an ambulance. Miguel watched a trickle of blood run along the marble floor until it formed a puddle. He edged closer. He glimpsed blood splatter on the wall of the elevator. He took one more step. Finally, he could see inside the elevator. He immediately regretted it. He’d never seen so much blood in all his life.

 

 

Blog Tour: The Scent Keeper

ScentKeeper

 

What an interesting read.  The first thing I want to say is that if you are part of a book club, this is a MUST READ.  I promise you there is SO much to talk about throughout the book.  My thoughts?  I am very conflicted…

I could not get into this book until Part 2.  The entire first part of this book talks about scented paper and living on a deserted, desolate island where this little girl and her father forage for food.  Mermaids leave surprises in boxes every so often for supplies, but it all centered around a machine that made scents.  They left the paper in bottles and eventually the smells started to fade and it sent the father into a nose dive depression.   I just could not get into this book about scents.  I ended up speed reading most of this book as I really was having a hard time grasping the concept of it.  Toward the end of part 2 and for all of part 3 I did slow the pace of my reading down and really try to understand it.

We get past the scents and eventually the daughter, Emmeline (pronounced like on-the-line…don’t do what myself or her school teacher do and call her Emmelene haha), makes it to civilization and learns a whole new world (complete with a love interest).  Here is where my interest peaked and where she started to learn who she was and sought to seek out where she came from (remember, she was only raised by Dad and had no idea what her last name was or who her mother was).

I also enjoyed how the book ended.  I usually am only a fan of concrete endings, however, I know where Emmeline is going to end up and I really like how she leaves things off…the author did a good job.  For this book, it was the perfect ending.

People may wonder why I even bothered to continue to read this book if I was not enjoying it at first.  Here’s the thing.  Just because I personally do not like something, does not mean that someone else out there won’t.  Despite the fact that I was not into it, the author did a fantastic job at describing the surroundings and I was able to imagine such beautiful scenery.  The writing in this book was top notch, I just didn’t care for the content (at the beginning).  I also feel like this book needed that content at the beginning to create the book that it is.  Bauermeister is very talented, that is very obvious within her writing.

For this reason, I am not rating this book.  What I will do when I most my review to Goodreads and Netgalley, I’m not too sure, but I will figure something out.  This is a stop on The Scent Keeper blog tour and below please find more information about the author and the book.  Included is a sample of the first chapter so you can judge for yourself.  Again, this book turned in to an amazing read and I am happy I read it.  There is SO much to discuss about this book.  If you’ve read it, let’s chat!!

This book is released TOMORROW, May 21, 2019, so look for it at the links below or at your local bookstore!

Scent Keeper - Author Image_credit to Susan Doupé

About the Author:
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
About the Book:
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives. 
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them.  As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Chapter One Excerpt…

THE BEGINNING

Back before there was time, I lived with my father on an island, tucked away in an endless archipelago that reached up out of the cold salt water, hungry for air. Growing up in the midst of the rain and moss and ancient thick-barked trees, it was easy to forget that the vast majority of our island was underwater—descending down two, three, five hundred bone-chilling feet. Forever really, for you could never hold your breath long enough to get to the bottom.

Those islands were a place to run away, although I didn’t understand that at the time. I had nothing to run from and every reason to stay. My father was everything. I’ve heard people say that someone is their “whole world,” their eyes filled with stars. But my father was my world, in a way so literal it can still grab my thoughts, pick them up, and toss them around like driftwood in a storm.

Our cabin was set in a clearing at the center of the island. We were not the first to live there—those islands have a long history of runaways. Almost a century ago there were French fur trappers, with accents that lilted and danced. Loggers with mountainous shoulders, and fishermen who chased silver-backed salmon. Later came the draft dodgers, hiding from war. Hippies, dodging rules. The islands took them all in—the storms and the long, dark winters spat most out again. The beauty there was raw; it could kill as easily as it could astonish.

Our cabin had been built by the truest of runaways. He set up in a place where no one could find him and built his home from trees he felled himself. He spent forty years on the island, clearing space for a garden and planting an orchard. One autumn, however, he simply disappeared. Drowned, it was said. After that the cabin was empty for years until we arrived and found the apple trees, opened the door. Raised the population of the island to two.

I don’t remember arriving on the island myself; I was too young. I only remember living there. I remember the paths that wandered through those watchful trees, the odor of the dirt beneath our feet, as dark and complicated as fairy tales. I remember our one-room cabin, the big chair by the woodstove, and our collection of stories and science books. I remember the smell of wood smoke and pine pitch in my father’s beard as he read to me at night, and the ghostly aroma of the runaway’s pipe tobacco, an olfactory reminder that had sunk into the walls and never quite disappeared. I remember the way the rain seemed to talk to the roof as I fell asleep, and how the fire would snap and tell it to be quiet.

Most of all, I remember the drawers.

My father had begun building them when we moved into the cabin, and when he was done they lined our walls from floor to ceiling. The drawers were small things, their polished wooden fronts no bigger than my child-sized hands. They surrounded us like the forest and islands outside our door.

Each drawer contained a single small bottle, and inside each bottle was a piece of paper, rolled around itself like a secret. The glass stoppers of the bottles were sealed with different colored waxes—red in the top rows, green for those below. My father almost never opened the bottles.

“We need to keep them safe,” he said.

But I could hear the papers whispering inside the drawers.

Come find me.

“Please?” I’d ask, again and again.

Finally, he agreed. He took out a leather book filled with numbers and carefully added one to the list. Then he turned to the wall of drawers, pondering his choice.

“Up there,” I said, pointing up high to where the red-wax bottles lived. Stories always begin at the top of a page.

My father had built a ladder that slid along the wall, and I watched him climb it almost to the ceiling, reaching into a drawer and drawing out its bottle. When he was back on the ground, he carefully broke the seal. I could hear glass scritching against glass as he pulled out the stopper, then the rustle of the paper as he unrolled it into a plain, white square. He leaned in close, inhaling, then wrote another number in the book.

I meant to stay still, but I leaned forward, too. My father looked up and smiled, holding out the paper.

“Here,” he said. “Breathe in, but not too much. Let the smell introduce itself.”

I did as he said. I kept my chest tight and my breath shallow. I could feel the tendrils of a fragrance tickling the inside of my nose, slipping into the curls of my black hair. I could smell campfires made from a wood I didn’t recognize; dirt more parched than any I had ever known; moisture, ready to burst from clouds in a sky I’d never seen. It smelled like waiting.

“Now, breathe in deeply,” my father said.

I inhaled, and fell into the fragrance like Alice down the rabbit hole.

 

– – –

 

Later, after the bottle had been stoppered and sealed and put back in its drawer, I turned to my father. I could still smell the last of the fragrance lingering in the air.

“Tell me its story,” I asked him. “Please.”

“All right, little lark,” he said. He sat in the big chair and I nestled in next to him. The fire crackled in the woodstove; the world outside was still.

“Once upon a time, Emmeline . . .” he began, and his voice rolled around the rhyme of it as if the words were made of chocolate.

Once upon a time, Emmeline, there was a beautiful queen who was trapped in a great white castle. None of the big, bold knights could save her. “Bring me a smell that will break the walls,” she asked a brave young boy named Jack . . .

I listened, while the scents found their hiding places in the cracks in the floorboards, and the words of the story, and the rest of my life.