Book Journeys – Roanoke

d87db-the2blady2band2bthe2blionheartI loved getting to return to my home state in Joanne Bischof’s beautiful novel, The Lady and The Lionheart. In Bischof’s excellent story of romance and redemption, the characters remain in the small city of Roanoke, Virginia for most of the book.

Roanoke is a beautiful little city located in the Roanoke Valley in the southwestern part of the state. In fact, a lot of people I’ve met from the northern part of Virginia think that Virginia ends at Roanoke 😉 (but thankfully Virginia Tech has put us a little more southerly on the map)

First named Big Lick (seriously) in 1852 for a large outcropping of salt marshes near the Roanoke River, the name was changed to Roanoke in 1882 (whew…)

The name Roanoke comes from the Algonquian word for ‘shell’ which was used as currency – and the native Americans called the large river nearby, Roanoke, so the town took on the name.

Smith Mountain Lake, VA (prints available here:

As railroads became more common, Roanoke became an important hub for people to get from the more metropolitan northeast to the growing west.

Roanoke is a valley framed in by mountains. It’s actually a beautiful place to behold from the Blue Ridge Parkway that gives spectacular vistas of the city. The Appalachian Trail runs through the northern part of Roanoke and the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake is to the southeast (My dad LOVES Smith Mountain Lake!! Great catfish up there).

Visit one of these unbelievably odd yet fun museums to get a different take on Virginia’s history.

Although small, because of its unique location it’s become an eclectic arts and sciences community. Center in the Square brings this theory to view with a seven-story cultural center in the middle of downtown. The city also has some wonderful museums for history, science, music, and many other things. Oh, and for those with more ‘unique’ interests, there is even the Roanoke Pinball Museum.

For nature lovers, there is opportunity to go below or above. Dixie and Luray Caverns take you on a below-ground tour, but then you can drive to new heights on the lovely Blue Ridge Parkway.

Roanoke Mountain, off the Blue Ridge Parkway...I dream about talking long walks down roads like this...talking to Jesus as I walk!

One of my favorite places to visit near Roanoke is Explore Park. There’s SOOOOO much to do there, but I love the historical aspect of the Park. In fact, I have an entire scene devoted to Explore Park in a future book 😊

There are too many things to list to do in this beautiful part of the world, but Clifton Forge (also mentioned in The Lady and the Lionheart) isn’t too far away either. It’s part of the Alleghany Highlands and would have been a much more rural town when Charlie and Ella visited.

So there you have it. A little bit about Roanoke, Va. Subtract about a century, add a circus, and you could step into the world of the amazing novel, The Lady and the Lionheart.

Have you ever been to Roanoke? Would you like to go?

Read my review for The Lady and the Lionheart HERE.

Find The Lady and the Lionheart on….
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book
Google Books

About the Author

A Carol Award and two-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.



Book Journeys – Reality TV Style   

I just finished fellow Alleycat and dear friend, Krista Phillips’s upcoming novel The Engagement Plot and people…

It was SO MUCH FUN!!!


I’ll let you read the blurb HERE – but today on Book Journeys we’re going to travel to various places that the characters visit in the book.

If you do not know, it’s a story about two reality TV stars whose onscreen relationship took a pretty nasty turn and now they’re both trying to pick up the pieces of their very public explosion.  I don’t want to give too much of it away, but you need to know three things:

  1. Krista might deny it, but she writes some super duper kisses
  2. The coffee scene. I mean, seriously. You’ll know it when you get there. LOVED IT!
  3. Will has toes of steel.

Our first stop on this book journey is Embarrass, Minnesota

Embarrass, Minnesota - 15 Most Unfortunate Town Names (funny town names, funny city names, weird town names, strange town names, bizarre town names) - ODDEE

Embarrass, known lovingly as The Cold Spot, got it’s name from the river’s notorious ability to confound/confuse explorers/travelers who were trying to navigate their way through its waters. Early explorers were French, and since the French word for confound/confuse/complicate is similar to ‘embarrass’, the name stuck.

Finnish Dovetail House circa 1900 Embarrass, Minnesota

A small mining town, Embarrass is known for its Finnish-American Homestead Tours, Ice Candle festivities, small town aura, and…ice fishing (which you read about in the book 😊) Our heroine, Hanna, grew up and lives here.

Which is VERY different than the two homes of hero William Preston.

Downtown Nashville TN [OC] [5660x3773]

William works as a high-class CEO in Nashville. Now we’ve looked a little at old Nashville last time with Tamara Alexander’s book, but today we’re going to see a few pics of downtown Nashville. “Music City U.S.A” is the largest city in Tennessee and features various ‘parts’ of the city for various tastes 😊

Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee (aka Music City) I can't wait till October and I get to see and experience this!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so exited.

The Central business district, where our hero Will works, is on the northern side of the city and features Tennessee Bicentennial Mall. The cityscape really is pretty (as far as cities go 😉)

The Parthenon Centennial Park, West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 USA 615-862-8431

Because of its musical history, Nashville is home to some of the top recording studios in the nation. It also boasts from great history, from Belle Meade Mansion to the Parthenon, there’s PLENTY to see and experience. And DO NOT forget Music Row!!! (such a colorful place)

21074264_10214025730218015_1511006592_n.jpgKrista’s characters also spend time in the NY/NJ area where Will’s parents live. I LOVED meeting them and I’m sure Krista has a much better picture of their house in mind. But isn’t it just BEAUTIFUL!!!

As November draws closer, I’ll have my review for The Engagement Plot featured, but for now, I just want to introduce you to Krista’s story world AND…of course, introduce her swoony hero on Saturday.

Krista Philips.jpgTo learn more about Krista, check out her new website at

And learn more about The Engagement Plot HERE (or pre-order…because you’ll want to read it 😉)


Book Journeys – Belmont Mansion

Nashville's 10 Hidden Gems - Nashville Lifestyles
Belmont Mansion – Pinterest

Known for its musical history, Nashville is a city with, not only a song or two, but a rich story. Home of our nation’s 7th president, Andrew Johnson, as well as the reputed ‘birthplace of country music’, Nashville offers a wide range of opportunities for a journey.


But since we’re celebrating Tamera Alexander’s newest release, A Song Yet Unsung, our feature place for our book journey is Belmont Mansion and…I’m also tempted to take you guys on a little jaunt to the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

The Peri, statue at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN
Belmont – Pinterest

The Civil War was particularly hard on the South, and Nashville was no exception. With the battle raging both within and without the city walls, the world Rebekah Carrington steps back into is nothing like the city she left 10 years before. In A Note Yet Unsung, our heroine, Rebekah, garners employment with (and finds an ally in) the formidable Adelicia Acklen – a woman of fantastic wealth and influence. In the novel, she holds sway for both Rebekah and Tate (the hero), and Tamera does a fantastic job of incorporating this real-life heroine as a secondary character into her story.


Adelicia Acklen  | History of American Women
Adelicia Acklen – Pinterest

In all honesty, Adelicia could have been the heroine of her own story. Her early life with riddled with grief. Her fiancé died just before their marriage, her second husband died after seven years of marriage, and all four of their children died before they reached the age of eleven. She would marry again and lose two of her six children before her second husband died after 14 years of marriage. Her second husband, Joseph Acklen, was an excellent businessman and increased Adelicia’s original wealth substantially. Together they built Belmont Mansion – an antebellum, Italian-style home seated on the highest hill of a 177 acre ‘plantation’.


Belmont Plantation located in Nashville, Tennessee
Belmont Mansion – Pinterest

Construction began in 1853 and the house and grounds included an art gallery, aviary, bear house, and even a zoo. The Acklens opened the grounds to the locals so they could experience the opportunity of seeing the variety Belmont had to offer, and in so doing, had Nashville’s first public park. The 36 room mansion houses artwork from all over the world and oozes elegance and style. The Acklens also gave an annual ball at their home. Despite Belmont being a Union headquarters during the Civil War and caught in the middle of the Battle of Franklin, the sprawling and impression mansion survived – beautifully intact.


Belmont Mansion stairs - is it possible to fall in love with a staircase?..  (Meridian Manor)
Inside Belmont – Pinterest

I can’t imagine what Adelicia’s losses forged within her but from all accounts she was a force to be reckoned with, although she was an exceedingly generous person. Beautiful, smart, and highly influential, she’s been compared to Scarlet O’Hara in being able to work the crowd to get what she wanted. Read more here.


NoteYetUnsung_cover-4color-SIM.inddTo read more about Adelicia Acklen in fictional form, don’t miss Tamera Alexander’s book, A Note Yet Unsung. You can read my review here. And stop by Saturday for our Swoony Saturday post featuring Tate, the hero in this novel.

And…if you read the book, you’ll get a taste of my Appalachian culture. Just for kicks, here are a few pics from eastern Tennessee where my family lived for 8 years.

I regret, at times, that we did not move to the Smokey Mt. area of Tennessee, we gave it serious thought!  Maybe it is not out of the running for a later time!  LOVE this place!
East Tennessee Mountains
Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee
Mount Le Conte  Smoky Mountain National Park Eastern Tennessee

Book Journeys – Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield Title

There are some places that just Need to be in a book!

This gothic revival manor house is one that has found its way into many books as a model for its fictional counterpart. One of the authors whose book I’ve read most recently that used this beautiful estate as a muse is Carrie Turansky. In her novel, A Refuge at Highland Hall, Tyntesfield IS Highland Hall. (It is also featured in the previous two books, The Daughter of Highland Hall and the Governess of Highland Hall).

Continue reading “Book Journeys – Tyntesfield”