Monday, October 19, 2015

Death on the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst - #review #giveaway


Chloe Ellefson and her sister, Kari, have long dreamed of visiting each historic site dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. When Chloe takes custody of a quilt once owned by the beloved author, the sisters set out on the trip of a lifetime, hoping to prove that Wilder stitched it herself.

But death strikes as the journey begins, and trouble stalks their fellow travelers. Among the “Little House” devotees are academic critics, greedy collectors, and obsessive fans. Kari is distracted by family problems, and unexpected news from Chloe’s boyfriend jeopardizes her own future. As the sisters travel deeper into Wilder territory, Chloe races to discover the truth about a precious artifact—and her own heart—before a killer can strike again.



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MY REVIEW

"The trouble was, Chloe really wanted her site to acquire the quilt.  She wanted to be able to look at it whenever she wished.  Maybe even touch it with a non-gloved finger from time to time.  If she was having a bad day"  - (page 5)

Who quotes from the first few pages of a book?  I do, dang it!  Because I can totally understand the feelings engendered in someone (Chloe) who works for a historical society in Wisconsin, even the hint of a possibility of someday touching something belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder!

What's kind of sad is that until well after the television show, I had no idea that Laura was a real person!  I might have heard of the books, but probably thought it was coincidence or conspiracy that the tv show featured a girl of the same name. 

That's why I love, love, LOVE it when historical fiction like Death on the Prairie comes along.  And Ms. Ernst gives us a double historical whammy.  The book is set in 1983 (good gravy, I was already in my 20s by then), and reflects back 100 years further to what I will dub the "Laura Years".  You know writers are going to conduct thorough research to get the facts straight, and the ethical ones will let you know when they have taken liberties with the facts in order to flesh out the story.  It is obvious that the author is both careful and ethical in her historical facts.

Aside from the historical significance and enjoyment, there is a 'dark side' to the world of artefacts.  Greed is at the root of it - whether we're talking money or bragging rights or obsession.  The buying and selling of artefacts can be a cut-throat business, ditto for the collection or over-the-top fans, so that the course of the tour does not go smooth is not a surprise.

So, I am a huge fan of historical fiction, thanks in part to reading challenges and my 'discovery' of virtual book tours.  I love visiting places and ages which due to distance, physics or the space-time continuum (oh, dear, time for more coffee) would otherwise be out of bounds to me.

This is the first book of Ernst's that I have read, and the first historical fiction series that I have encountered that features a different time, place or focus person in each instalment.  And I give her props for featuring the history of her home state.  This is what historical fiction should be like.

Luckily, Ms. Ernst has 5 other Chloe books I can read before I have to start asking those annoying questions like, "So, where do we go next?" 

~~~oOo~~~

MEET THE AUTHOR



Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history!  In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s 33 titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

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GIVEAWAY!!!

To get an entry in the giveaway for a print copy of this book, comment with when in the world you would most like to visit and why!  Winner to be chosen one week from today (Oct. 26)

~~~oOo~~~
 

http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/books-currently-on-tour/death-on-the-prairie-by-kathleen-ernst/

Click on the banner to go to the tour site, where you will find more reviews, as well as interiews, guest posts and giveaways!  You can also find out how to apply to become a tour host yourself!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

49 comments:

  1. Would love to visit Ireland! The ancient architecture, scenic beauty, classic surroundings, gorgeous accents... Thanks for reviewing, LuAnn, and the giveaway opp :) Would luv to read this, prairie girl that I am :)

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    1. Scotland is my #1 travel wish, Sharon, but Ireland is definitely up there as well. I used to have a unappreciative view of the prairies, but after reading this book, it's clear that there's a lot more going on there than I thought! :O)

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    1. Neuschwanstein is probably the most famous, but I like the Hohenzollern and Heidelberg castles as well! Thanks for stopping by Johnna!

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  3. There are so many historical places in the USA I haven't visited. First on my list is D.C.

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    1. There is certainly a lot to see in DC, Connie! Set aside a good chunk of time (at least a day) for the Smithsonian museums! :O)

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  4. I would love to visit England! I love the Victorian age, so everything in that time period I would enjoy seeing, as well as the castles etc. Other parts of the UK would be great too~

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    1. My mother's brother used to live outside London, and we went to visit them in 1971. We got to see Hatfield House (where Elizabeth I was 'imprisoned' by her sister Queen Mary back in the day). I am still an ardent Anglophile, so England would be high up on my list, too, Cindy!

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  5. Thanks for hosting, LuAnn, and for the kind words!

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    1. Holy prairie dust, Kathleen, by the time I'm finished answering comments, this will be my most visited post EVER! :O)

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  6. I'd like to take a time machine back to 1888 on the N Dakota prairie homestead where my Norwegian great great grandfather, Anders Pederson, lay on his deathbed, believing that his hard-proven claim on his land had been denied because of a legal technicality.That was on top of his wife having been killed by lightning only two weeks after they arrived in the U.S., leaving him with four small children. I would ask him whether he wished he had never left Norway, and I would reassure him that I'm so glad he did.

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    1. That tugs at my heartstrings, WiN! I never considered time travel. That could really add a whole new dimension to the question, eh?

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  7. I love all the Chloe books and each one adds another entry to my list of places to visit. I'd really like to go to Vesterheim in Decorah and Mill City Museum in Minneapolis. Someday, I'd also like to visit the Netherlands.

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    1. I bet that makes Kathleen's day to 'hear' you 'say' that, Carol! I don't think my relatives ever went that far north in Europe, but you never know!

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    1. I do love the pictures I've seen of Norway, lnlars! Some of those fjords are breathtaking!

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  9. I am enjoying learning about some of the history in my new home state of WI. To that end I want to visit Old World Wisconsin and also view some of the mansions of Lake Geneva, both still doable now before the snow begins to fly! Farther from home, I would love to tour parts of Alaska and historical New England. Crossing the ocean, Ireland is on my bucket list for the deep sense of history (I spent 3 1/2 weeks in England more than 40 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the "deeply-rooted" sense of history. If not for the political unrest, I would love to visit the Holy Land, now we're talking ancient history! So many places, I can't narrow it down to just one!!

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    1. You and me both, Cheryl. I'm going to have to live for an awfully long time to visit everyplace I would like to see! :O)

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  10. There are a few countries I would like to visit. But I have been an avid fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder for 40 years. I have read her books more times then I can remember and am thrilled they finally printed Pioneer Girl. I would really love to be able to visit all of her historical landmarks and museums as well as Almonzo's!

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    1. I have to *ahem* - not want to, you see - admit, Kelly, that I have only read one book by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but now I suppose that is going to change!

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  11. I would like to visit the Virginia and D.C. area with all the wonderful historical sites and museums.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    1. Hey Sue, there is SO much to see in that area, I don't think even those that LIVE there can make a dent in it...but it is fun to try! :O) Thanks so much for leaving me a way to contact you for the giveaway!

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  12. I would love to visit the Grand Canyon. I would also love to visit Wisconsin and all of Chloe's historic sites, including, of course, Pepin.

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    1. The Grand Canyon is a site to behold, Merry! I remember going there with my family years ago. The rimside cabins were like $30-$35 night, which seemed HORRIBLY expensive at the time (that tells you how long ago it was, too). Pepin's website has some beautiful photos - I think it would be grand to go there during the LIW festival in September!

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  13. The Lost Colony of Roanoke - what a mystery! I'd love to know what actually happened.

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    1. Very mysterious, Elizabeth! You need to get together with Winorsk (a commenter above) who would also be wanting to time travel for her destination! :O)

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  14. My wish would be to visit Italy someday

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    1. I was an au pair in Switzerland for half a year many moons ago and was so hoping to be able to hop over the border to Italy during that time, but was unable to. So, Italy remains near the top of my list as well, J!

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  15. This last early summer we went to the coast of Maine. I would love to go back again! I love that coast and the islands and the ocean! Such a pretty color! I also went to Romania this fall. I would love to go back there again, especially to the farmhouse in the country that we were at. It was so quiet and pretty there! And the people are so friendly and nice!

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    1. My brother spoke quite highly of Maine, Elaine, but it has been few years since he was able to go. I've never been farther east in Europe than Davos (Switzerland). All of sudden I'm quite jealous of travel writers! :O)

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    1. You'll get no argument from me on that score, Caryn!

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  17. Canada - to take the train across the continent. See Prince Edward Island, the graves at Hallifax, beautiful Montreal, the prairie, and British Columbia.

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    1. I had to read up on the graves at Halifax, Debbie, but yes, that would be interesting to see. I had a vacation in western Canada (BC & Alberta mostly) and it was gorgeous!

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  18. I would love to go to Australia. It is so different from the U.S. and I just love to visit other countries. I'd also do the Fiji and New Zealand while I was there. It's a long trip and I'd want to take full advantage of everything while I was there.
    thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book.

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    1. I agree, Mary. For those of us who would travel so many thousands of miles to get there anyway, might as well see all we can see while we are there!

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  19. I would love to go to Ireland but would also love to tour the New England states for the history and beautiful scenery of that area.

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    1. So many places, Nancy, so little time. I know my own travel wish list has grown by leaps and bounds just reading everyone's answers here!

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  20. I think it would have to be Germany....my ancestors are from there and my sons really want to explore that country

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    1. My maternal grandmother's father was from Germany, but most of that branch of the family is from Switzerland. I'd like to see both places again, Colo!

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  21. I'd like to go back to PA and visit where all my relatives came from.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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    1. Really, Karen? Where in PA? (I was born in Monaca, approximately 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. I believe Kathleen was born there as well (in PA).

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  22. I've always wanted to visit Ireland and Scotland (I'm Scotch/Irish), but highest on my bucket list would be to spend time in Amish country. I so love the simplicity of their lifestyle, the beauty of their crafts and their strong familial ties.
    Drawing on their way of life over the years has been a guide for me. I've taught myself to cook, sew and quilt, can foods, knit and crochet plus I've moved off grid since moving to Alaska over 18 months ago to be nearer part of my family. I'll never give up electric power completely (I use a generator 2 hrs. a day to charge my phone and kindle) nor will I give up my truck, but being able to simplify much of my life has been a true gift that I likely would never have been able to conceive if I hadn't had the opportunity to read about the Amish life. I really would love to spend time with their culture.

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    1. I hear you on that one, Kathy. Luckily, in our part of Kentucky, there is quite a large Amish community. There are a few Amish grocery and bakery stores that we love to visit and most of our meat comes from an Amish butcher. We were able a couple of years back to purchase my husband's paternal grandparents' home after his Mamaw passed, and I was so happy to be able to keep it in the family. We're (well, at least I'm) hoping to move more towards a homesteading kind of thing where we produce most of what we consume.

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  23. Hope I'm not too late. I would love to see Ireland but my home state, Kentucky, is full of beautiful and historic places, so I am content to visit them!

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  24. I have always been fascinated with the mid to late 1800's here in the USA. I think right here in my hometown would be an AWESOME place to be. Maybe see what St. Louis would be like!

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  25. I'd love to visit Hawaii. I've seen pictures and my parents visited there, many years ago. I heard so much about it from my Dad. Looking forward to reading Death on the Prairie.

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