Friday, 23 November 2012

Welcome To My Stop On The Blog Tour For The Burning of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel

Contemporary New Adult
Author: Jen McConnell
Publication Date: October 1st 2012
Source: e-copy provided by RABT for the purpose of this tour

"When Lou travels to Scotland, she’s a mess.  She’s twenty-six, unemployed, and unsure of herself.  It doesn’t help that she’s traveling with Tammy, her best friend, who is everything Lou is not.
At first, the trip pushes Lou towards the brink of depression, but then she meets Brian, a handsome local tour guide.  When Brian tells the tourists about the countless witches burned in Scotland, Lou starts to listen.  And when she discovers information about Isobel Key, one of the victims of the seventeenth century, Lou finds renewed purpose.
Lou has begun exploring the Neo Pagan faith, a dramatic shift from her wealthy Catholic upbringing.  Despite her fears of being too “hocus pocusy”, Lou turns to her new faith as she struggles to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of Isobel Key.  But faith or not, Lou must face her demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past."

As the flames rose, Isobel stopped cursing and instead started to make a shrill, screaming whine, much like the sound of the sap boiling in the logs at her feet.  It was so eerie, so utterly un-human that even the executioner, a man long seasoned to the sounds of death, wanted to cover his ears and sob into the skirt of the nearest woman. 
     The sound carried from the village green, through the streets and wynds, penetrating the windows and doors shut tight against the execution.  It was as if not attending could erase the sin of allowing it to happen in the first place.  No one who heard that sound could reconcile it with the once melodious voice of the burning woman.  The evil thing at the stake was not a woman they remembered or recognized.
     Their memories were as short as the day, from the morning after her terrible deeds were revealed and the witch was brought into town bound in the back of a pony cart.  It was suddenly as if none of the villagers knew the poor creature at all.  None could recall seeking her help, and none would avow that she had always been kind and ready to bake breads for town feasts or to watch the little ones play while their parents danced together.  Kindness lingers less than murder, for it was obvious to all that the woman had murdered at least three souls, if not countless others.  Justice was being served, and her blood would not stain the god fearing hands in St. Andrews.  She was not their responsibility, and they wanted to take no claim for her evil.

My Review: 

When I first got the tour invite for this book from RABT, I looked at the cover and blurb and thought it sounded like a really interesting read. Little did I know just how much I would LOVE it. I have been to Inverness in Scotland; which is where I believe character Brian is from, so I can picture the beautiful scenery - but can also picture just how wet it can be there too. On a sunny day, it is picturesque and on a rainy day, God help you if your umbrella doesn't turn inside out and you end up soaked to the bone.
But whether it's hot or cold, it really is a beautiful place to visit; I just wouldn't want to live there full time, I have my hair to think about after all ;)

Lou's friend Tammy has to go to Scotland on a business trip so she convinces Lou to tag along and make a mini-holiday out of it. Once there, Tammy has a few meetings to attend so Lou wonders what to do with herself. The girls go on a guided tour; that's where they meet Brian, the handsome tour guide.
Lou finds herself more and more attracted to him the more they see him, but Tammy flirts with him and Lou thinks he'd rather someone like Tammy than her. Little does she know how untrue that is.

Thanks to Brian's tours, Lou finds herself drawn to finding out about the burning of witches that happened back in the 1600's. He tells her that they can go through records in the archives if she really wants information. She takes him up on the offer and the three of them go to the archives and start trawling through files and folders.
Whilst there, Lou finds herself inexplicably drawn to a record with barely any information to go on. It's about the burning of a witch called Isobel Key. But with such little to go on, how will she find out anything more?
When Brian has a meeting with a Professor and he asks Lou if she wants to tag along. She agrees initially because it means she can spend more time with the handsome Scotsman. But what she thinks will be a boring meeting with some stuffy old Professor turns out to be the most helpful, fun, fact finding mission so far;
for the Professor tells her more about the infamous Isobel Key. 

With more information to go on, Lou really feels like there's something she should do. She can't put her finger on it, but this particular case has stuck with her for some reason and she really needs to see it through. She feels like Isobel wasn't a witch and though she doesn't yet know how, she wants to prove it.

As the story goes on, we find out more about the infamous Isobel thanks to the interludes that Jen has written in. We see and hear things about her that in the end prove one way or the other whether she really was a witch or just an innocent woman, falsely charged for crimes she did not commit.

I absolutely adored this book. From the very first word I was sucked in and I wanted to help prove Isobel's innocence just as much as Lou did. This was a fast-paced, 'keep the pages turning' kind of book. I finished in only 2 sittings and was very sad when it came to and end. The only one bad thing to note about this book was that it eventually had to end. I wanted so much more. 
The actual ending itself had me in tears, just like some points throughout the book that I won't name. I guess I'm a bit soppy, I keep crying at things that other people don't. I wonder whether any of the other bloggers on this tour will say they cried too?

In my opinion, Jen McConnel is a brilliant author. She managed to keep me sat in my seat reading even when I probably should have been doing other things. She kept my interest with the twists and turns and the fact that those little interludes gave us an insight into Isobel and her life. This story wasn't just about Lou and Tammy, this was the story of Isobel and how she was cruelly strangled then burned at the stake. 

This has to be one of my favourite books of this year! I really hope that some of you will go and grab a copy to see what kept me intrigued and turning those pages. 
I'm now sat here wondering if Jen sells signed copies, as I would love nothing more than to have this in my signed books box. 

Author Bio:
Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).
She is also an active reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.
A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time
Contact Links:
Twitter @ProDeaWriter 

Purchase Links

A Day in My Writing Life...

I consider myself a full-time writer, even though I teach part-time at the local community college.  I also teach online for a different institution, but writing is my real work.  That being said, this is my “writing day” schedule: if I’m lucky, my classes are scheduled so that I have at least two full days a week that look like this.  Welcome to my mad, mad world!

6:00 Mumble a sleepy goodbye to Hubby, roll over and go back to sleep.

Between 8:00-9:00 Stagger into the kitchen for coffee or tea, wander to the computer and play around online

9:00 (or later if I got distracted) Breakfast (usually eaten in front of the computer, with a cat crawling all over me).

10:30 Shower and get “ready”.  When I first started writing full-time, I stayed in my pajamas all day, but I’ve learned that I feel mentally prepared for a day of work if I treat it like a day of work.

11:00 Draft whatever project I’m working on.  I try to write in thousand word chunks.

12:00 Break for lunch.  More time is wasted online, and the cat climbs over me some more.

1:00 Dig through the kitchen looking for chocolate.  Give up.  Sit back down at the computer.

1:15 Find great YouTube videos to watch

1:30 Sigh and start drafting again.

3:00 Break for revisions.  While I follow Anne Lamott’s theory of the first draft, I usually have more than one project going at a time, so this is the part of the day where I set aside the first draft and do some tweaking on a different idea.

4:00 Back online, playing around

4:30 Try to cram in twenty minutes of yoga before Hubby gets home
And there you have it!  I know I waste a lot of time, but I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy that work must be offset with breaks.  Maybe my breaks are longer than is absolutely necessary, but this schedule seems to work for me.  Most days, I am proud to meet my writing goals, and when I don’t, I remember Scarlet O’Hara’s immortal catch phrase: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Thank you Jen for that insight into your working day. I only wish I were as organised as you. I write when I can fit it around reading, reviewing, blogging and my addiction to Twitter ;)

Thank you to everyone who came by today and if you want to grab a Kindle copy of The Burning of Isobel Key, you can do so for FREE; today only. Happy Black Friday! 

If you want to follow the rest of the tour, here are the dates:

November 24 - Disincentive Reviews - Givewaway/Excerpt/PROMO
November 25 - Hooked in a Book - Review/Excerpt
November 25 - Winged Reviews - Guest Post/Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
November 25 - For the Love of Film and Novels - Giveaway/Guest Post/Excerpt/PROMO
November 26 - Book Addict - Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 26 - Beth Art From the Heart - Review/Excerpt
November 27 - The Readioactive Book Blog - Review/Interview/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 28 - Rowan's Mom - Review/Giveaway
November 29 - My Seryniti - Review/Interview/Excerpt
November 30 - Lovely Reads - Interview/Giveaway/Guest Post/PROMO
November 30 - Reviewing Shelf - Review/Giveaway
December 1 - Books For Me - Review
December 2 -  Bless Their Hearts Mom - Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
December 3 -  Marie Loves Books - Review/Giveaway
December 4 -  My Escape - Review/Giveaway/Interview
December 5 -  YA Novel Reader - Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
December 6 -  Bea's Book Nook - Review/Giveaway
December 7 -  Forget the Hosework, I'm Reading - Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
December 8 -  Bookishly Devoted - Review/Giveaway
December 9 -   Wonderland Reviews - Review/Interview
December 10 -  Cozie Corner - Review/Giveaway
December 11 -  Kimmie's Bookshelf - Guest Post/Excerpt/Giveaway/PROMO
December 12 -  Genuine Jen - Review/Giveaway
December 13 -  Books Books, The Magical Fruit - Giveaway/Excerpt/Interview/PROMO
December 14 -   What's Beyond Forks - Review/Interview/Giveaway/Excerpt
December 15 -  Pink Fluffy Hearts - Review/Giveaway/Guest Post/Excerpt
December 16 -  Paulette's Papers-  Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
December 17 - My Miscellaneous Bookshelf - Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
December 17 -  Reader Girls - Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
December 18 -  A Soul Unsung - Review/Giveaway/Guest Post/Excerpt
December 19 -  A Bibliophiles Thoughts - Review/Giveawy/Excerpt
December 20 -  Celtic Lady Book Reviews - Review/Excerpt
December 21 -  Book-A-Holic - Review/Giveaway
December 22 -  Booklovin Mamas - Giveaway/Guest Post/Excerpt/PROMO
December 23 -  Andi's YA Books - Review/Giveaway/Guest Post/Excerpt


  1. Thank you so much for having me today, Keren! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the book, and I'll be starting to offer signed bookplates soon: let me know if you're interested! :)

  2. Gorgeous cover, and I LOVE your review, darling! I'm definitely adding this to my TBR. Thanks for the wonderful post :D


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