29 July, 2019

The Undertaker's Assistant by Amanda Skenandore Blog Tour and Giveaway! #TheUndertakersAssistant #AmandaSkenandore #HFVBTBlogTours @ARShenandoah @hfvbt @KensingtonBooks

The Undertaker's Assistant by Amanda Skenandore

Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Kensington Publishing Corp.
eBook & Paperback; 304 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set during Reconstruction-era New Orleans, and with an extraordinary and unforgettable heroine at its heart, The Undertaker's Assistant is a powerful story of human resilience--and of the unlikely bonds that hold fast even in our darkest moments. "The dead can't hurt you. Only the living can." Effie Jones, a former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child, knows the truth of her words. Taken in by an army surgeon and his wife during the War, she learned to read and write, to tolerate the sight of blood and broken bodies--and to forget what is too painful to bear. Now a young freedwoman, she has returned south to New Orleans and earns her living as an embalmer, her steady hand and skillful incisions compensating for her white employer's shortcomings. Tall and serious, Effie keeps her distance from the other girls in her boarding house, holding tight to the satisfaction she finds in her work. But despite her reticence, two encounters--with a charismatic state legislator named Samson Greene, and a beautiful young Creole, Adeline--introduce her to new worlds of protests and activism, of soirees and social ambition. Effie decides to seek out the past she has blocked from her memory and try to trace her kin. As her hopes are tested by betrayal, and New Orleans grapples with violence and growing racial turmoil, Effie faces loss and heartache, but also a chance to finally find her place . . .

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Praise for Amanda Skenandore and Between Earth and Sky

“Gripping and beautifully written, Between Earth and Sky tugs at the heart with its dynamic heroine and unique cast of characters. Though this novel brings alive two historical American eras and settings, the story is achingly modern, universal and important.” --Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The It Girls

 “Intensely emotional. . . . Skenandore’s deeply introspective and moving novel will appeal to readers of American history, particularly those interested in the dynamics behind the misguided efforts of white people to better the lives Native American by forcing them to adopt white cultural mores.” --Publishers Weekly

 “A masterfully written novel about the heart-wrenching clash of two American cultures . . . a fresh and astonishing debut.” --V.S. Alexander, author of The Magdalen Girls and The Taster “By describing its costs in human terms, the author shapes tension between whites and Native Americans into a touching story. The title of Skenandore’s debut could refer to reality and dreams, or to love and betrayal; all are present in this highly original novel.” --Booklist

 “A heartbreaking story about the destructive legacy of the forced assimilation of Native American children. Historical fiction readers and book discussion groups will find much to ponder here.” --Library Journal “At its heart, this luminous book tells a Romeo and Juliet story. But Skenandore’s book is so much more than a simple romance. This novel examines the complex relationship between love and loss, culture and conquest, annihilation and assimilation.” --Historical Novel Society

About the Author

Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Between Earth and Sky was her first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at www.amandaskenandore.com.

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My Review
Effie Jones is a young black freedwoman whose primary goal is to find her family and the past she has forgotten, and survive in a time of turmoil. Her memories before her rescue by an Army surgeon and his wife are pretty scarce. She takes the place of their daughter who died and the surgeon gives her a good education, including being an embalmer. So she searches for a family that may be nonexistent. 

She is employed by a white undertaker in New Orleans which to some people is an oddity. But someone has to do it and as she has the skills, it is what she does as she feels that she doesn't know anything else, even though she is highly educated for a black woman in the South.

She lives in a boarding house for young women but keeps pretty much to herself. Until that is when she meets state legislator named Samson Greene where she enters a world of politics, protests, activism, soirees and where racism is the norm. She also forms a female friendship with Adeline, a young Creole who has no clue about poverty. The more she listens to Samson talk the more she falls in love with him. Effie finds that she is interested in the politics of the time, but more interested in Samson. But fate is not in her favor as she is betrayed by those she loves, which leads to tragedy and bloodbath.

This story takes place post Civil War where even though the slaves were freed, racism abounds, so are they really free? What I found interesting was not only the fact that there were women embalmers/undertaker assistants and that there were quite a few black officeholders in government. The author did such a great job with describing New Orleans This novel was very entertaining and informative. I rarely give a book 5 stars but this one is right up there. I highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of the book for review purposes only.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 23
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, July 24
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Reading the Past
Interview at Jathan & Heather
Review at Suzy Approved Book Reviews
Thursday, July 25
Review at Jennifer Tar Heel Reader
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Friday, July 26
Review at Orange County Readers
Saturday, July 27
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog
Monday, July 29
Review at Macsbooks
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, July 30
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Melissa Reads
Wednesday, July 31
Review at McCombs on Main
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
Thursday, August 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Clarissa Reads it All
Friday, August 2
Review at Based on a True Story
Saturday, August 3
Feature at Mama’s Reading Corner
Monday, August 5
Review at Bibliophile Reviews
Tuesday, August 6
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at LadyJ’s Bookish Nook
Wednesday, August 7
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, August 8
Review at Comet Readings
Saturday, August 10
Feature at What Is That Book About
Monday, August 12
Review at Cover To Cover Cafe
Tuesday, August 13
Review at Reader then Blogger
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, August 14
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Thursday, August 15
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two signed copies of The Undertaker's Assistant by Amanda Skenandore! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. 


  1. Thanks for the great review, Kathleen! We appreciate you hosting the tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours



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