BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blog Tour Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway - Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb
Publisher: Abingdon
Series: Ballad Books
Format Read: print ARC
Source: PR firm in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

When someone buys the old Honeycutt house, Nora Bonesteel is glad to see some life brought back to the old mansion, even if it is by summer people. But when they decide to stay through Christmas, they find more than old memories in the walls. On Christmas Eve, Sheriff Spencer Arrowwood and Deputy Joe LeDonne find themselves on an unwelcome call to arrest an elderly man for a minor offense. As they attempt to do their duty, while doing the right thing for a neighbor, it begins to look like they may all spend Christmas away from home. In a story of spirits, memories, and angels unaware, Sharyn McCrumb revisits her most loved characters who know there is more to this world than the eye can see, especially at Christmastime.

Bea's Thoughts:

I'm behind on the Ballad books but that was not a problem reading these two stories. There are two unrelated stories, that are tied together by being set at Christmas. McCrumb's descriptions are vivid and she brilliantly recalls both older days and current happenings. 
In the main story, Nora Bonesteel has been asked by a neighbor and acquaintance to help determine who or what is haunting their house. The neighbors are summer people, not locals, but this year they decided to stay for Christmas. Nora has been helping the woman with her garden but is hesitant to see what she and her husband have done to this house that she has known since she was a child. The past, the present and the future come together in this poignant story about dreams, culture conflicts, and remembrance.

The second story involves Sheriff Arrowood and deputy LeDonne trying to arrest, on Christmas day, a man for hit-and-run. Neither of them want to be there but LeDonne just wants to get the job done while Spencer wishes they could do it another day, instead of on Christmas. What results is a chain of humorous events that neatly showcase both LeDonne and Arrowood while also spotlighting Christmas love and charity and mountain cleverness.

If you're new to the Ballad series, this is a good entry point. If you're a fan of the series already, you'll enjoy these vignettes.

Check out the book trailer -

Check out chapter 1 here.

Between the pages of the novels we adore, we meet characters we love and some we love to hate. We recognize their kindness, compassion, stubbornness, and tenacity. We love that they have the courage we don’t, the patience we lack, the humor we desperately want. For better or worse, we relate—or want to relate. And when that last page turns, we miss them. They stick with us, and yet they have been silenced. Until now. What if we can revisit with these characters that have captivated our minds and stolen our hearts? What if we could hear more from…
Joe LeDonne


Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past

Spencer Arrowood is a good sheriff. He ought to be—he’s had umpteen years to practice it. By and large, he’s nice to everybody, which is probably why he keeps getting elected every four years, but with some people I think he has to work at it. In the past few years, we’ve had a major migration of summer people coming into the county. Most of them are all right, but every now and then you get one who could get a rise out of the Dalai Lama. Mrs. Walter Dorman was one of those. (There was no chance of anybody ever calling her by her first name, because nobody ever found out what it was. Walter Dorman had been dead for decades, but Mrs. Walter went right on calling herself that.)

She moved into the gated community and proceeded to immerse herself in the local cultural activities popular with the retired newcomers. A few months later, it had been determined that she couldn’t carry a tune—not vocally and not on a dulcimer. Besides that, she couldn’t draw a straight line; and quilting aggravated her arthritic fingers. So she reached the same decision that most of the talent-deficient elderly newcomers came to sooner or later: she decided to become an author. Any fool can make words appear on a computer screen, she said, and self-publishing workshops teach people how to get into print without needing anybody’s good opinion of their work, so she was raring to go.

She made up her mind to write a murder mystery about a killing on the Appalachian Trail, and before long she had cooked up a tale full of moonshiners, Cherokee princesses, grizzled old hermits in cabins without electricity, and just about every other cliché any fool had ever dreamed up out of equal parts ignorance and malice. Then Mrs. Dorman decided that a rural Tennessee sheriff would be an excellent choice for the hero of her story. Her idea of doing research was to waylay Sheriff Arrowood in the diner while he was trying to eat lunch, and to start peppering him with questions about how we would go about dealing with this case. He was cooperative about answering her first two dozen questions, because like most Southerners Spencer Arrowood will be polite to you until he is ready to kill you, but I could tell he was getting restive. I was sitting there at the counter next to him, concentrating on my cheeseburger, hoping that Mrs. Dorman wouldn’t decide to add a deputy to the plot, and trying not to listen too closely. I was afraid if I laughed, the milkshake would go up my nose.

I think it was her remark about the snake handler married to his sister that finally made the sheriff snap, considering his answer to the lady’s next question, which had to do with

“Now this murder takes on the Appalachian Trail,” she told him.


“And when that is the case, sheriff, what do you do? Would you handle the investigation yourself, or would you call in the Tennessee State Police to get the benefit of all their technology, or would you call in the FBI to handle things on account of the Appalachian Trail
being federal land?”

Spencer put down his hamburger, and took a deep fortifying breath. “What would I do, Mrs. Dorman? Well, I’ll tell you what: I believe I would dump that dead body in the trunk of the patrol car, drive it down to Hamblen County and let Sheriff Esco Jarnagin worry about it.”

She wrote all that down. I wondered if I ought to call Sheriff Jarnagin and warn him to beware of little old ladies with notepads headed his way.


About Sharyn ~  

Sharyn McCrumb is the New York Times bestselling author of The Rosewood Casket, The Ballad of Tom Dooley, and many other acclaimed novels. Her much-loved Ballad novels weave together the legends, natural wonders and contemporary issues of Appalachia, also home to McCrumb’s own family legacy. Readers have come to love the characters, mountains, and mystery brought to life by the award-winning Southern writer. McCrumb tributes her gift of storytelling to her great-grandfathers who were
circuit preachers in the Smoky Mountains 100 years ago, riding horseback over the ridges to preach in different communities each week. Her novels, studied in universities throughout the world, have been translated into 11 languages. She has lectured at Oxford University, the University of Bonn-Germany, and at the Smithsonian Institution; taught a writers workshop in Paris, and served as writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee and at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.

A short list of her numerous honors include:

• NYT Bestseller list appearances for four titles
• 2014 Mary Hobson Literary Prize for Southern Literature
• 2014 Woman of History Award – Daughters of the American Revolution
• 2010 Perry F. Kendig Award – Roanoke, VA – Writer of the Year
• 2008 “Virginia Woman of History” for Achievement in Literature
• 2006 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award
• 2006 Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award
• 2003 Wilma Dykeman Award for Historical Writing – East Tennessee Historical Society!
She lives and writes in the Virginia Blue Ridge, less than 100 miles from where her family settled in
1790 in the Smoky Mountains that divide North Carolina and Tennessee.

Book Website:  
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  1. This sounds like a great book!! Thanks for the chance

  2. This book sounds captivating and intriguing. What wonderful characters, great storyline and Sharon is so talented and creative. I enjoy the author's novels which are unique and memorable. many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Thanks for the giveaway. I enjoy reading all books having anything to do with Christmas. I am new to the Ballad series . These two stories sound enjoyable to read.

  4. I've seen this book around on the internet a couple of times lately. I haven't read any of this author's work previously but it sounds really good. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  5. I think I'm a couple of books behind as well and I completely agree with you! I really loved this book too. Such a great entry into the series. Definitely makes me want to go catch up on the books I've missed!


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