Thursday, October 6, 2022

Will by Will Smith

 


Title: Will

Author:  Will Smith

Narrated by:  Will Smith

Publisher: Books on Tape

Length: Approximately 16 hours and 27 minutes

Source: Checked out from the Kewaunee Public Library through Overdrive.  Thank-you!


 What celebrity from your youth would you like to learn more about?

 I was already curious about this book, but after the infamous slap at the Oscars, I decided I wanted to listen to the audiobook.  I had seen great reviews of it.

 Will is a very enjoyable audiobook experience.  Will Smith is an expert narrator.  He is expressive and fascinating to listen to.  I also loved the use of music and sound effects throughout the audiobook. 

 This audiobook starts out hard with abuse that Will watched as a child that his dad inflicted on his mom.  Will felt ashamed that he didn’t stick up for his mom.  He had a complicated relationship with his dad.  He both inspired and terrified him.

 This book is a great look into fame and family and how it all shaped Will Smith’s life. 

 

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor by Patricia Crisafulli (TLC Book Tours)

 


What types of books do you like to read in the fall?

One type of book I love to read in the fall is a good cozy mystery.  The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor by Patricia Crisafulli fit the bill.   I was riveted by the story as soon as I started reading this one.  It is one of the best cozy mysteries that I have read.

Gabriela Domenici returned to her home town of Ohnita Harbor after her divorce to help care for her mother’s failing health.  She is a single mother who left her dream job working at the New York City Public Library to now work at the Ohnita Harbor Public Library.  It is in a beautiful historic building, but it desperately needs funding.  As the library crew puts together a rummage sale to earn funds, they come across a strange cross.  As they look more into the cross, they realize it may be linked to a medieval saint and very valuable.  As one of the library workers starts to experience stigmata, is there more to this cross then it seems?  A library patron also mysteriously dies right after the cross is found.  Is the murder linked with the cross? 

I loved the characters in this book.  Gabriela was very relatable. She’s a busy mother trying to do her best with work, raising her child, taking care of her elderly mother, trying to have a social life of some sort, and also solving a mystery on the side.  I loved her.  I also enjoyed everyone she knows in her small town and wanted to get to know them more.  I hope that this series continues.  I loved the setting in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Ontario.  I also love libraries and enjoyed the details and politics of trying to get the library going.  The storyline and mystery were very engaging.  I did not guess the ending on this one!

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a new cozy mystery.

Review Copy from author Patricia Crisafulli as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Friday, September 30, 2022

In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore (Austenprose PR Book Tour)

 



What is your favorite book cover?

I love the book cover for In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore.  I think it goes perfect with the title.  When your mother is Queen Victoria, how do you step out of the shadow to be your own person?

Louise is the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria.  Her life comes to a sudden change when her father, Prince Albert, dies when he is only 42.  Louise’s teenage years are spent alone in mourning.  Her family stays out of the limelight, and she is unable to meet others her own age. As she grows older, she discovers her great love of creating sculptures.  She is the first woman from the royal family to attend the art academy. When it comes time to marry, she is able to chose from the British peerage rather than a foreign prince.  When everyone is trying to help you make a match though, it does tend to dampen the romance.  Will she find the love of her life?

I enjoyed this book and learning about Louise.  I came in with no prior knowledge of her and I learned a lot.  This book goes from Louise’s childhood through her early marriage.  I loved the romance with her husband.  There were also difficulties with marrying within the British peerage that I had no idea about.  It was interesting.  I loved the parade of suitors and Louise having to deicide with too much help from her family the royal household.  It was also interesting that with Queen Victoria’s large family marrying into so many royal houses that they were often in conflict or even war with each other.  That would make conversation interesting!

I loved that Louise did emerge from the shadow of the queen and forged her own path in life.  I love how she had her artistic creative side making her sculptures, her marriage to the man she loved, and her political causes.  There was an interesting author’s note at the end, and it goes through each chapter to tell the real history.  I loved it!

This is a clean read with hints of romance, but all romance is closed door.

Review Copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: In the Shadow of a Queen

·       Author: Heather B. Moore

·       Genre: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: ‎Shadow Mountain Publishing (October 4, 2022)

·       Length: (384) pages

·       Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-1639930500

·       Tour Dates: September 26 – October 9, 2022

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Based on the True Story of the Free-Spirited Daughter of Queen Victoria.

Princess Louise’s life is upended after her father’s untimely death. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother―the same position each of her sisters held until they were married.

Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit.

In the Shadow of a Queen is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Peek into the House of Hanover and view the strength of two women: Queen Victoria and her daughter Princess Louise. This story weaves compassion and conflict into breathtaking and gripping historical detail.”— Julie Wright, author of A Captain for Caroline Gray
 
"Moore crafts an intriguing portrait of the independently minded Princess Louise and her tensions with the English royal family. Moore sets the stage with meticulous research, and she expertly combines fact with fiction, with psychological insights on Victoria's mercurial moods and the impact of her controlling nature. It adds up to a worthy portrait of a woman divided by duty and self-determination."— Publishers Weekly
 
5 STARS – “I always enjoy Heather Moore’s historical novels. This one did not disappoint! She is impeccable with her research and always does an excellent job of bringing people from the past to life.”— Julia Daines, bestselling author of Haven Cross, and Whitney Award Finalist


PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

 

AUTHOR BIO

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications, including The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended school abroad at the Cairo American Collage in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

 


 

Title:  Girl, Forgotten (Pieces of Her #2)

Author:  Karin Slaughter

Narrated by:  Kathleen Early

Publisher: Dreamscape Media

Length:  15 hours and 45 Minutes

Source: Blackstone Publishing  & Netgalley.  Thank-you!

 What author do you turn to when you are looking for a great suspense or thriller novel?  Over the past few years, Karin Slaughter has been just such an author for me.  I am always carried away by her books and I can’t stop reading them.

 If you enjoyed Pieces of Her, you will be excited by Girl, Forgotten.  This time Andrea is the main character.  She is now a U.S. Marshall.  She is working at Longhill Beach on her first assignment to protect a judge that has been receiving death threats.  The judge’s daughter, Emily, was murdered in 1982, and this murder has never been solved.   Who fathered Emily’s child?  Who murdered Emily?  What does any of this have to do with the current death threats?

 I loved this audiobook and I couldn’t stop listening to it.  The story was very engaging – especially Emily’s story.  The book alternated chapters been 1982 and present day.  There is a scary cult in the modern times story that kept me enjoyed.  I really wanted to know how it would all end.   I didn’t put all of the pieces together until just before it was solved on the page.  I was still surprised by many elements.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Elizabeth and Monty by Charles Casillo

 


Title: Elizabeth and Monty

Author:  Charles Casillo

Narrated by:  Paul Heitsch

Publisher: Highbridge, a division of Recorded Books

Length: Approximately 11 hours and 47 minutes

Source: Checked out from the Kewaunee Public Library through Overdrive.  Thank-you!

 Do you have a lifelong best friend?

 Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were unlikely best friends on the surface; they seemed more destined to be Hollywood lovers.  Elizabeth was a beautiful teenager on the verge of stardom and Montgomery Clift was a young rising star when they first starred together in A Place in the Sun.  Elizabeth fell madly in love with Montgomery, but he had a secret, he was gay.  The two had chemistry, but it was just as friends.  They loved bawdy humor and could commiserate on their stage mothers.  They remained friends through all of their trials through the end of Clift’s life and beyond.  Taylor’s work with HIV patients was partially inspired by Clift.

 I had just listened to the History Chicks podcast on Elizabeth Taylor and I wanted to learn more.  I was intrigued by this audiobook.  It told the story of the two stars lives and how their paths crossed.  Nothings was as shocking as the crash that changed Clift’s life forever.  Taylor saved his life that day, but Montgomery had a sad, slow decline until the end of his life at the age of 44.  I felt so sad for him and horrified.

 The only thing I didn’t like about this book was when it went into gossip about Clift’s genitalia.  The guy is dead . . . you can leave those details alone.

 I just rewatched The Heiress with Montgomery Clift and it has made me really want to rewatch A Place in the Sun to see the start of this great friendship. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Cora’s Kitchen by Kimberly Garrett Brown (TLC Book Tour)

 


Are flowers still blooming in your area?  Blooms are fading in Northeast Wisconsin, but I was able to find some points of color this weekend around town.

In 1928, Cora James is a black librarian working in Harlem when she meets author Langston Hughes.  He inspires her to return to her dream of writing and to enter a writing contest.  Cora’s cousin Agnes is involved in a domestic dispute and is unable to work.  Cora takes a leave from her own job at the library to help Agnes hold her job working as a cook for a wealthy white family.  Cora discovers while working as a cook that she is able to get quiet time to work on her stories and also a sympathetic employer in Eleanor.  Eleanor shares her favorite novel with her, The Awakening, and also encourages her to write.  Will Cora be able to make her writing dreams come true?

I read through this book quickly and had a hard time putting the book down.  I found the story to be quite engaging and the character of Cora to be fascinating.  I really liked the unique format where we get Cora’s journal, a letter to Langston Hughes, a letter back from Langston Hughes, and the different short stories that Cora was writing.  There was a bit of a thriller to the end of the book, but I overall liked how Cora had to really realize what she wanted in life.  Should her dreams be denied?  Should she be open with her husband about her dreams?  How does your family and regular life fit into your dreams? 

Review Copy from Inanna Publications as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a
complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini

 


What person from history would you love to learn more about?

I don’t know much about the Grant family and was happy to read Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini for the September Page-turners Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  I had read an interview with one of Grant’s descendants a few months ago and I was intrigued about his discussion on how Grant’s memory was tarnished as Lee’s memory was lifted up.  If one is a saint, the other must be a villain.   

 I like lists so I’m going to list what I liked and didn’t like about this book.

What I liked:

  •  Ulysses S. Grant and Julia had a great love story that spanned through the decades.  I enjoyed it.
  •  Life was complicated for them with Julia being from a family that owned slaves and Ulysses was from a family of abolitionists.  I can’t imagine what those family discussions would have been like!
  •  The book did discuss the rumors that were spread during the war about Grant to tarnish him by his enemies and how they weren’t true. The main rumor was that Grant was a drunk.
  • Ulysses had some moments with Julia that were great learning moments.  Julia didn’t like how he tried to kick all Jews out of the military, and said he couldn’t categorize people by race.  He said, isn’t that what you do with black people and slavery?
  • I liked that we got to see life in the Grant presidency.
  • My mother has told me that Galena, Illinois where the Grants lived before the Civil War is beautiful and historical.  I loved reading about it in this book.  I need to visit.

What I didn’t like:

  • Jule was not as main of a character as Julia.  The focus really was on Julia and Ulysses.  I understood when I got to the end of the book that it was because while Jule is referred to in a few historical references, there just isn’t any more information about her.  I wanted her and Julia to get together in the end.  I kept waiting and it never happened.
  • The book was good but was more of a slow read.

Book Source:  Borrowed from the Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie

 


Would you travel to a destination unknown if given the opportunity?

Destination Unknown was the August selection for the #ReachChristie2022 Challenge.  I read it back in August and was intrigued.  This is more of a spy thriller than a standard Christie mystery.

Tom Betterton is a top US nuclear scientist in the 1950s who has relocated to England and remarried.  He goes a trip to Paris and disappears.  What has become of him?  Hillary Craven has decided to end her own life when she is interrupted by a British government agent who asks a woman who does not fear death to help out her government. Where will Hillary’s new duties as a spy take her and will she find Tom Betterton?  Why other scientists disappearing from Western countries during the midst of the cold war?

I really want to see this as a Hitchcock film.  I thought it was a very interesting story.  I liked how the top scientists were recruited and were living together in a secret community. It was also interesting that Christie chose to have Betterton work on atomic science with enough truth to the matter to make it sound plausible, but it was really a McGuffin like in a Hitchcock movie.  I liked Hillary Craven’s character and seeing the journey unfold through her eyes.  I did think the action slowed down as the book progressed.  It had a satisfying ending.

Book Source:  Purchased from Amazon.com

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch (Austenprose PR Book Tour)




Who is your favorite crime solving duo in books, films, or TV?   I always had a soft spot for the Dana Girls series by Carolyn Keene when I was growing up.

Lady Juliette Thorndike and Bow Street runner Daniel Swann are back solving mysteries together in Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch.  They both arrive just in time for a mysterious explosion at Hammersmith Mill which kills Juliette’s good friend Agatha’s father, Mr. Montgomery.  Or so they think at first, but they soon discover he has been murdered.  On the case, they discover there is more than one person who has a reason to want Mr. Montgomery dead.  Who killed him and why?  And will they find out before the murderer strikes again?

I read and loved The Debutante’s Code, which is the first book in the Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery Series.  Millstone of Doubt is the second book in the series.  You can definitely read it on its own, but the first book helps a lot with the character development.

I LOVED this regency mystery.  The characters are great, and Juliette and Daniel had great chemistry.  It’s a clean romance, but the sparks were definitely flying off the page.  The mystery was riveting and kept me reading far too long into the night.  As an engineer and the wife of a structural engineer, I was especially excited that a structural engineer was brought to the mill to assess it for damage after the explosion.  I loved the scientist who came in and figured out how the explosion happened.  I geeked out over these details.  The mystery is good and has a satisfying conclusion.

I can’t wait to see what happens next for Lady Juliette and Daniel!

Review Copy from Kregel Publications as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: Millstone of Doubt: Thorndyke and Swann Regency Mysteries (Book 2)

·       Series: Thorndyke and Swann Regency Mysteries

·       Author: Erica Vetsch

·       Genre: Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: ‎Kregel Publications (September 20, 2022)

·       Length: (304) pages

·       Format: Trade paperback & eBook 

·       ISBN: 978-0825447143

·       Tour Dates: September 19 – October 3, 2022

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A Bow Street Runner and a debutante in London Society use their skills to find the killer of a wealthy businessman, but the killer’s secrets aren’t the only ones they will uncover.

 

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill's owner dead of an apparent gunshot--but no sign of the killer.


Even though the owner's daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, she may be the only one. It seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can't take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage--and his job as a runner--comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him.
Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha's bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. But when her trusted instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation, Lady Juliette obeys. That is, until circumstances intervene, and she drops right into the middle of the deadly pursuit.


When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case--and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

  • “An artfully told story that will have you wondering at the outcome until the final pages are read.” —Ruth Logan Herne, USA Today best-selling author
  • “…a fully satisfying mystery. I can’t wait to read the next one!” —Jocelyn Green, Christy Award–winning author of Drawn by the Current
  • “I am sure fans of the first book in this series will revel in the deepening relationship between Daniel Swann and Juliette Thorndike.” —Alissa Baxter, author of The Viscount’s Lady Novelist
  • Millstone of Doubt captivated me from the first sentence and kept me guessing the entire novel…Erica Vetsch is the master of all things Regency.” —Lorri Dudley, author of The Duke’s Refuge
  • “5 Stars. Millstone of Doubt is a compelling Regency mystery with plenty of romance. Michelle Griep fans (or any Regency fan in general) will love this novel.”— Jennifer Purcell, ChristianBooks.com

 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

 

AUTHOR BIO

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota.

 

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | INSTAGRAM GOODREADS |  NEWSLETTER


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken

 

Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @eccobooks for the review copy of The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken.

Who is your personal hero?  I have a lot of family members that have meant a lot to me through the years.  My grandparents and great-grandparents have been my heroes and my Great-Aunt Delores was a hero.  I’ve learned from them all and have hopefully become a better person.

Elizabeth McCracken’s hero was her mother.  Their relationship was fraught at times, but she played an important role in her life.  Some of her life lessons were not realized until she was gone. In The Hero of This Book, McCracken’s memoir explores a trip that she took to London after her mother’s death.  As she travels around town, it brings back memories of a previous trip she had made with her mother to London.  McCracken works through her grief as she remembers both the good and the bad about her mother.

I found the memories and vignettes to be interesting and touching.  The revelations of the strength that her mother had in order to live with a disability were revealed little by little as the story progressed.  The format of the book was interesting as well as the author puzzles about the writing process and what make up a memoir.  Is it respectful to write about someone that is gone if they never wanted to be written about?

Look for this book on its publishing date of October 4th.

Favorite Quotes:

“Bereaved.  That I’d own up to.  Bereaved suggests the shadow of a missing one, while grief insists, you’re all alone.  In London I was bereaved and haunted.”

“We all have our memories, and a memoir is one person’s.  What’s the difference between a novel and memoir?  I couldn’t tell you.  Permission to lie; permission to cast aside worries about plausibility.”

“’You’re a good kid.  You must have a wonderful mother.’  That wasn’t the last thing she said to me, but it was close.”

Review Copy from Harper Collins as part of the Bibliolifestyle Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.