Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri Review and GIVEAWAY (TLC Book Tour)

Our nation has a particular fascination with the assassination of two presidents; Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.  But what about the other two presidents that were assassinated?  Garfield was a new president, but McKinley was a beloved and successful president in his second term when he was assassinated.  What led to his assassination and how did it happen?

Elspeth (El) Shaughnesshey has risen from her poor Irish American background to becoming a nurse for the prestigious Pan American Exposition that is being held in Buffalo in 1901.  She uses the money for her job to try to keep her family and their bar afloat after her father’s untimely death.  El has made a great friend in fellow nurse Harriet.  She dreams of catching the heart of young Dr. Kingdom as his wealth could pull her family out of poverty, but she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to an intern, Dr. Gunner.  El makes some extra money playing piano for some of the Expositions acts and meets various characters that are part of the event.  Healthcare items at the hospital seem routine in the care of people at the exposition until President McKinley is shot and El is on the front lines of his surgery and after care.  Who shot McKinley and why?  Will his treatment work (I know we know the answer, but I kept wondering what would happen!)?  Will El find love?  What happened to El’s friend Harriet? 

Courage Between Love and Death is told from the first-person point of view of El.  The story is very action packed and fast paced, I really wanted to know what was going to happen to all the characters.  I love learning new things in historical fiction and I thought this book had a lot of interesting information about the assassination of President McKinley including the medical procedures that were used at the time.  It also had a side sad story about abortion during that time frame. 

I really liked the character of Elspeth.  I admired her pluck.  I enjoyed that the story often had her go back to visit her Irish family to see the conditions they were living in and how she tried to help them out.  I also enjoyed her love story.

While I did enjoy the love story, the only weak spot of the novel to me was the love story.  El got infuriatingly stupid during the novel where she kept saying she was going to marry the total jerk Dr. Kingdom just for his money and would not go for Dr. Gunner as he wasn’t wealthy.  Wouldn’t marrying a doctor even if he wasn’t rich be a step up for her and her family?  I was annoyed.

Favorite Quotes:
“I can’t help but think as I watch him, he may be the chief of a conquered nation, but he’s showing more respect for our country than its citizens.” (about Geronimo)

“’Soon, these buildings will disappear.  This creation of art and beauty and industry will perish.  Only its influence will remain,’ McKinley roars his final words. ‘Who can predict how the future will change because of this exposition?’”
Overall, Courage Between Love and Death was a fascinating look into the McKinley assassination and the medical practices of the time.  It was a great story with interesting characters.  I highly recommend it for historical fiction fans.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!

For more stops on the TLC Book Tour check out this link.


One lucky winner has a chance to win a copy of Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri.  If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book. What is your favorite historical fiction book?  What do you know about President McKinley?

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday February 22nd!

Please make sure to check the week of February 25th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!


  1. McKinley and Garfield are both locals to me. I live about 5 minutes away from the log house where Garfield grew up (it's been rebuilt) and visit the cemetery where he and his wife and daughter are all laid to rest often. He is the only US president where you can see his casket on public display. I know less about McKinley but know that he was born less than and hour from here. I'd love to read this so please enter me in the giveaway. stacybooks@yahoo.com

  2. Fascinating historical which I would enjoy greatly. The characters and their lives come alive in your review. I know very little about this topic and would appreciate learning about them from the story. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. What a lovely review! I've a lot to learn about President McKinley. Thanks for hosting this giveaway, Laura. I'll add it to my blog's sidebar. :)

  4. Thanks for this interesting feature and giveaway. I enjoyed your review. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. I have really started getting into reading (and watching) things that talk about medical practices long ago (or even not so long ago). It's kind of amazing to see how far we've really come. Thanks for being on the tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  6. The way you describe how El infuriated you, I think that I'll pass on this book. It would probably bother me so much I wouldn't finish it, so I'd better not bother to start! Great review!