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Reviews of The Ballad of Laurel Springs

"An intriguing multigenerational saga of a family steeped in the old-time songs and stories of southern Appalachia... tinged with regret and loss, informed by the timeless lyricism of the songs... This inspired story of Appalachian folklore will move readers."- Publishers Weekly

"Haunting and lyrical, this story immerses you in Appalachian folklore in a visceral way."- Buzzfeed

"When Grace first hears the old Appalachian folk tune 'Pretty Polly'– the haunting story of a young woman murdered by her lover – she has no inkling that she has stumbled onto an a family secret, an echo of tragedy that connects her with generations of women who lived on these violent mountains before her, keeping the darkness at bay through the songs they’ve passed down.”- Toronto Globe and Mail 

"The Ballad of Laurel Springs throws light on a dark heritage carried through history by many women, in myriad times and places. A compelling read."- Historical Novel Society

"Each chapter in Beard’s work of historical fiction focuses on the events of a single generation and shares a title with a famous ballad. Breathing life into these time-worn missals, the story each ballad tells is mirrored in the life of the character the chapter explores.”- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A distinctly Southern song that gets into the heads of readers and won’t let go." Chapter 16

"Beard pairs a respect for the Tennessee women and their preservation of the haunting music with a poignant sorrow for their struggles. Fans of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and Serena will feel sympathy for the women in this heartfelt story with deep roots in American folklore."- Shelf Awareness

"The Ballad of Laurel Springs is wonderfully unique and equally as heartbreaking."- Off the Shelf

"With a sense of traveling through time, readers will enjoy the murder mystery, combined with the descriptions of daily life in this little Appalachian town. Fans of... historical fiction with strong female characters will want to give this book a try."- Booklist

"The captivating writing will grab you from the start, and you'll spend your nights curled up with this page-turner in one hand and a cup of cider in the other."- Country Living 

"Many things are passed down from mother to daughter. Jewelry, wedding gowns, handmade quilts. In Columbus author Janet Beard’s stirring novel The Ballad of Laurel Springs it’s a song."- Akron Beacon Journal

“Beard’s writing brings the premise of each chapter to life, allowing the reader to become the protagonist of the moment, experiencing the situation in which she finds herself.”- New York Journal of Books

"Each woman shares her story --- some taking place in a year, some over many years --- in a first-person narrative. At times, it almost feels like they are speaking directly to us.”- Book Reporter

"The folk music lover who just happens to also enjoy novels will love The Ballad of Laurel Springs."- Meridian Star

Fall/Winter Reading List 2021-22- Deep South Magazine

Interviews with Janet Beard about The Ballad of Laurel Springs

The Columbus Dispatch

Fox 24 News Now Charleston

Blount County, TN Daily Times

Radio Bristol Book Club


Hope Magazine

Literary Lushes podcast

Deborah Kalb Books


Articles by Janet Beard

"Murder Ballads, the Original True Crime" CrimeReads

"The Perpetual Timeliness of Tess of the D'Urbervilles" LitHub

"The Women's History Hidden in America's Nuclear Past" Time


"She Wrote a Novel About Nuclear Terror- Could it Come True?" Daily Beast

"The Best Fiction About Women's Experiences of World War II"

"Homecoming Through Songs" Women Writers, Women's Books

"Ten Rules for a Writer to Survive the Long Haul in Traditional Publishing" daily (w)rite

Reviews of The Atomic City Girls

"Beard has taken a project of momentous impact and injected a human element into it... This is approachable, intelligent, and highly satisfying historical fiction."-  Booklist *starred review

"Fans of historical fiction will devour this complex and human look at the people involved in the creation of the atomic bomb."- Kirkus Reviews

"The Atomic City Girls explores love, war and patriotism, forcing the reader to consider the devastating effects of Hiroshima."- Associated Press

"In her fast-paced blend of fact and fiction, The Atomic City Girls, Janet Beard uses the viewpoints of a diffuse group of characters to create an impressively realized portrait of life in Oak Ridge, Tennessee."- Bookpage

"An illuminating work of historical fiction."- Denver Post Staff Pick 

"Beard's fascinating narrative brings to life four people with different outlooks and dreams whose fates memorably intertwine."- Publishers Weekly

"Readers who enjoyed Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls will appreciate this glimpse into the beliefs and attitudes that shaped America during World War II."- Library Journal

"Despite its historically accurate physical details, the realm of The Atomic City Girls remains clearly fictional: character-driven and imaginative."- Chapter 16

"An informative portrayal of a significant historical episode often reduced to footnote status.... Beard manages to imbue this well-researched novel with warmth and charm"- Fiction Writers Review

"Though history long ago informed us of the drastic results of the Manhattan Project, it is interesting to read what life was like for the residents and workers at Oak Ridge. And in this day of ubiquitous and ever-invasive communications, it would be difficult to understand how the Manhattan Project actually pulled off its humongous top-secret goal without the thorough research of author Janet Beard."- Bookreporter

"The characters and settings are incredibly well-written and well-researched, dropping the reader into the lives of ordinary people living during an extraordinary time."- Mattoon Journal Gazette & Times-Courier

"Each character’s story is compelling and believable, and the story as a whole — the tale of one of the places where the atom bomb was made — is enthralling."- Pamela Kramer

"Beard makes this lost community come alive in this well-researched novel, giving readers a glimpse of the types of people who lived and worked and loved there, and allowing them to walk in the shoes of her characters, driving home the truth of the place despite this being fiction."- GeekMom

"If you’ve ever wondered how the atomic bomb came to be then you must read The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard."- KRCU Public Radio

"Beard is skillful in blending the enormity of the consequences of the Manhattan Project and the depressing news of the war with the intimate details of class, race and gender and the complexities of young women living together." East Kootenay News Online Weekly

"Suspenseful and intriguing, The Atomic City Girls explores an aspect of the Manhattan Project long shrouded in secrecy, bringing to light an important chapter of World War II history."- Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker


"Both page-turning and illuminating, The Atomic City Girls brings to life an eerie piece of world history."- Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of The Song of Achilles


"The Atomic City Girls is a fascinating and compelling novel about a little known piece of WWII history."- Maggie Leffler, international bestselling author of The Secrets of Flight 

Interviews with Janet Beard about The Atomic City Girls

The Tennessean 

Book Talk with Kory French podcast 

The Columbus Dispatch

Blount County, TN Daily Times

(614) Magazine

Washington Independent Review of Books

The University of Tennessee Daily Beacon

The Historical Novel Society


Deborah Kalb Books


Literary Lushes podcast

Writing Fun Youtube Channel

The Livermore Independent

Articles about Janet Beard

The Livermore Independent

Presentations by Janet Beard

Reading for the Ohioana Book Festival 2022


Author talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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