Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham (TLC Book Tour)

 


What would you do if the Nazis took over your country?  Rumi Orlstad lives in Bergen, Norway.  She recently lost her fiancé in a storm.  He was helping the Shetland Bus network ferry supplies into Norway as part of the resistance.  She lives with her widowed father, Peder, who is also a part of the network.  When two agents are dropped near their village during a snowstorm, Rumi helps to find them and lead them to safety.  One of the agents, Jens, is the nephew of her neighbor, Marjit that grew up in England.  As Jens and Rumi grow close, her childhood friend Anya is assaulted while on a date with a German soldier.  She is placed in a home for unwed mothers.  This home is Lebensborn, a secret Aryan maternity home where the master race of blonde haired, blue eyed people is produced and given up to proper German families for adoption.  Will Rumi and Jens be able to save Anya?

The Resistance Girl was an engaging story.  I learned a lot about Norway during World War II.  I didn’t realize that there were Aryan maternity homes in Norway and I am greatly disturbed.  I also loved learning more about the resistance movement.  I enjoyed all of the characters as well.  I really loved Rumi and Jens, but the side characters of Peder and Marjit were wonderful as well.  The story had the right amount of suspense to keep it moving.  So much went on in World War II that I feel like I am always learning more about it.  I love learning the stories of the people who were involved in the day to day struggles.

Overall, The Resistance Girl is a gripping account of World War II in Norway.

Book Source:  A Review Copy from Avon 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, May 23, 2022

100 Great American Parks by Stephanie Pearson (TLC Book Tours)

 


What is your favorite American Park?

I think my favorites so far have been the Grand Canyon National Park and Custer State Park. 

The new National Geographic book, 100 Great American Parks by Stephanie Pearson, has everything you’ve come to expect in a National Geographic book.  It has awe inspiring beautiful pictures of the parks.  There are 100 parks in this book including all 63 national parks.  The foreword is by Garth Brooks discussing his travels as a touring musician and is very inspiring.  The introduction is full of interesting facts including that Boston Common was the first park in the United States in 1634 put in place as a space to graze cows.  Until 1817, a tree was used in the center for public hanging.  It has seen a lot of change over time.  Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world.  The U.S. Park Service was established in 1916 to manage 420 units across 85 million acres.

The book is split into five parts.  It starts with “The West and the Pacific” and has a wonderful section about the Grand Canyon National Park describing it with both words and fantastic pictures.  The White Sands National Park pictures brought back some happy memories of a trip there in college. Part two is “Off the Mainland.”  The stunning pictures really made me want to visit Alaska and Hawaii even more.  Part three is “the East and mid-Atlantic.”  It gave me a new idea to try to look for the “Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park” while we are in Maryland next month.  It made me excited about some places already on our list for our trip such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Part four is “the south.  I found out that Arkansas had the first National River, the Buffalo National River.  It looks beautiful. Part five is “the Midwest & Plains.”  My only complaint is this section is very scant.  As a lifetime Midwesterner, there are a lot more beautiful parks here than represented.  The only park from Michigan was Isle Royale National Park and the only park from Wisconsin was the Apostle Island National Lakeshore.  Meanwhile western states like California had ten parks included. 

The last section of the book is a great list on how to protect our parks.

What new park would I like to visit are reading this book?  I would say the Katmai National Park and Reserve in Alaska.

Favorite Quote:

“We all need a space to feel free.”

Overall, 100 Great American Parks is a beautiful coffee table book to remember great places you’ve explored, plan ahead for new places to visit, or to “travel” from your own home through the wonderful pictures.

Book Source:  A Review Copy from Hachette Book Group 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.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

 


The Sea of Tranquility was a beautiful and unique book that I couldn’t put down.  My husband, Ben, and I are currently watching Station Eleven, but Sea of Tranquility was my first novel by Emily St. John Mandel.  It takes place during four different time frames and involves time travel.  I loved it.

The novel starts with the younger son from an aristocratic family being shipped to Canada in 1912 because he has “radical” opinions that embarrass the family.  He has a strange experience in the woods on Vancouver Island.   In 2020, a concert is taking place where footage is displayed that was taped in the same woods in 1994 and a strange event occurred.  In 2203, Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour on Earth.  She is a resident of the second moon colony.  While at an airport, she has a moment where she hears music, sees trees, and has a strange experience.  Is this a glitch?   In 2401, Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is a security guard at a hotel on the first moon colony.  His sister and old friend work for the Time Institute.  He gets a job there and is soon an operative traveling through time to try to solve the question of these strange disturbances.  What are these glitches?

The writing of this novel was beautiful.  It started somewhat slow with different pieces of the story that seemed unrelated.  Then the pieces finally started to come together.  I was fascinated.  There were some deep thoughts about life and reality.  It is a short book and I read it quickly.

Favorite Quotes:

“Illness frightens us because it’s chaotic.  There’s an awful randomness about it.”

“I’ve been thinking a great deal about time and motion lately, about being a still point in a ceaseless rush.”

Overall, Sea of Tranquility is a book I can’t stop thinking about.  It’s a beautiful novel with an intriguing story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Blue Butterfly by Leslie Johansen Nack

 


What is your favorite movie from the 1920s or 1930s?  Do you have a favorite classic Hollywood star?

Marion Davies was a chorus girl in New York City when she met the older, wealthy, and famous William Randolph Hearst.  Hearst was already a newspaper media tycoon and a married father of five.  He is struck by the teenage Davies and soon the two have started a relationship.  Marion Davies hopes that it will lead to marriage, but she soon finds that she will always be the mistress while Hearst keeps his family life.  With the help of Hearst, Davies embarks on a movie career and ends up in Hollywood.  As Hearst works on his famous castle, Davies befriends Hollywood royalty and becomes one of the top stars of the 1920s.  As times change, Davies and Hearst stick together through sickness and health, times of financial and social ruin. 

I didn’t know much about Marion Davies going into this novel besides the fact that she was William Randolph Hearst’s mistress and the role that I thought was her in Citizen Kane, Susan Alexander Kane.  I learned from this novel that Davies was actually a very talented actress that had to work through her childhood stutter to succeed.  Her career was helped by Hearst’s publicity but was also hindered by him controlling her parts. 

I am usually not a fan of books about cheating, but William Randolph Hearst’s affair with Marion Davies spanned most of her life until his death.  When his business was about to be ruined, she pulled together her money to help him out.  After he gave up on his political career, they lived openly together. 

I loved the look into old Hollywood and Davies being friends with so many big names in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  She also had a very passionate affair with Charlie Chaplin that I did not know about.  I have never watched a Marion Davies movie before, but now I really want to find one, especially some of her silent movies.

Favorite Quotes:

“Being with WR was like being on a ship far from land on a voyage to some imagined exotic destination that was our perfect life together, and no matter how awful the journey got, there was no way to get off the ship.  The ship was either in good weather or bad weather, it didn’t matter.  I took comfort in that I would always be on the ship with him.”

“Don’t take too much of the insults once they come.  Ignore them.  You and I know the truth of our lives.  Let’s embrace the truth and ignore the rest.”

Overall, The Blue Butterfly was a riveting historical fiction novel about Marion Davies.

Book Source:  A Review Copy from Spark Point Studio and She Writes Press.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner (Austenprose PR Book Tour)

 


Title: Bloomsbury Girls

Author:  Natalie Jenner

Narrated by:  Juliet Stevenson

Publisher: A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press.

Length: Approximately 12 hours and 29 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Netgalley for being a part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour.  Thank-you!

Do things always needs to stay the same because that is the way they’ve always been?  Three female employees of Bloomsbury Books in post-WWII London are starting to think that they could be the change for good to help sales at their store.  The store has been strictly run by men, tradition, and a dusty set of rules. Will Vivien, Grace, and Evie be able to change things up?

I had previously read and enjoyed The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner.  Bloomsbury Girls has Evie Stone as a main character who was previously in The Jane Austen Society.  It also had what I loved about that novel, great characters, story, and setting.  The setting was in a book shop and there was a lot of talk about books.  I loved it.  Even better is when really life author, Daphne Du Maurier gives an author talk at the store and becomes a character in the novel.  I LOVE Daphne Du Maurier and the talk of her works and of her as a living, breathing, authoress was thrilling. 

I loved all of the characters, but especially the main female characters of Vivien, Grace, and Evie.  Vivien is a beautiful woman with ambitions to move up at the bookstore and also to become an author.  She also lost her great love during WWII and has a love / hate relationship with another employee, Alec.  Her best friend at the shop is Grace.  Grace is a married mother of two and finds that her marriage has become untenable.  She has found a comradeship with Lord Baskin, the owner of Bloomsbury books.  As his married, employee from a different social class, what future can that hold?  Evie Stone has gone to Cambridge and has become employed at Bloomsbury Books as she is on the hunt for a rare historically significant book written by a female author.  As she gets settled in, she becomes friends with her co-worker Ash.  Will they become more than friends?  Will Evie find the rare book and if so, what will she do with it?

I enjoyed the story as the women have to decide what they want in life and how to move forward.  I also loved the discussion of women authors and rare books.  I loved that characters from The Jane Austen Society were woven throughout the text as well.  You can definitely read this as a stand alone novel, but it’s a fun treat for those that have read both books.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson.  Juliet Stevenson was Mrs. Elton in the 1996 version of Emma.  I enjoyed her portrayal as Mrs. Elton, and I have enjoyed her narration of audiobooks in the past.  She does another great job with Bloomsbury Girls giving a unique voice to the characters. 

Overall, Bloomsbury Girls is a gentle story with fascinating characters and setting in 1950s England.  I loved it.

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel

·       Author: Natalie Jenner

·       Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

·       Publisher: ‎St. Martin's Press (May 17, 2022)

·       Length: (368) pages

·       Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-1250276698

·       Tour Dates: May 2-29, 2022

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances--most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time--Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others--these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

BOOK TRAILER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOOXfMlNnjg

 

AUDIOBOOK

Narrated by esteemed stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, enjoy the full unabridged edition of Bloomsbury Girls. “Stevenson delivers the satisfying triumph at the end with perfect polish.” —AudioFile Magazine

AUDIOBOOK EXCERPT

https://soundcloud.com/macaudio-2/bloomsbury-girls-by-natalie-jenner-audiobook-introduction

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

"Jenner follows The Jane Austen Society (2020) with another top-notch reading experience, using the same deft hand at creating complex, emotionally engaging characters [against] a backdrop chock-full of factual historical information... Fans of Christina Baker Kline, Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff [will] appreciate this gem." —Booklist (starred review)

"An illuminating yarn... Fans of emotional historical fiction will be charmed." —Publishers Weekly

"Bloomsbury Girls
 is an immersive tale of three women determined to forge their own paths in 1950s London. Jenner has proven to be a master at spinning charming, earnest characters and paints a vivid picture of postwar England. I wanted to stay lost in her world forever!" —Stephanie Wrobel, internationally bestselling author of Darling Rose Gold

"Bloomsbury Girls
 is a book lover's dream, one of those rare reads that elicits a sense of book-ish wistfulness and nostalgia. Jenner has created a colorful cast of characters in a story about friendship, perseverance, and the ways that determined women can band together in a man's world. You're in for a treat." —Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

"In a London still reeling from the ravages of World War II and the changes war has brought to English society, three young women take their futures into their own hands. With Bloomsbury Girls, Natalie Jenner has penned a timely and beautiful ode to ambition, friendship, bookshops, and the written word." —Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library

“In post-war London, Bloomsbury Books survived The Blitz until Vivien Lowry, Grace Perkins, and Evie Stone set off their own bomb on the stuffy all-male management. What ensues is the most delightful, witty, and endearing story you will read this year. Natalie Jenner, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, proves that she was not a one hit wonder. Like Austen, her second book is even better than the first.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It 

 

PURCHASE LINKS

PRINT & DIGITAL BOOK

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

AUDIOBOOK

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

 

A MESSAGE FROM AUTHOR NATALIE JENNER

Dear readers, I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who left school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it. Warmest regards, Natalie

 

AUTHOR BIO

Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, The Jane Austen Society was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS



Sunday, May 8, 2022

After the Funeral by Agatha Christie

 


After the Funeral was the March selection for the #ReadChristie2022 challenge.  This book met the prompt, “book Agatha wrote abroad.” I seem to be running about a month behind on this challenge and read After the Funeral in April.  I just finish the April book, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?  at the start of May and will post a review soon.

Richard Abernethie has recently passed away and his large family has gathered for his funeral.  Where did he leave his fortune?  After his younger sister Cora states that she believe he had been murdered, she is abruptly murdered.  “’It’s all very odd, isn’t it?’ she said. ‘There was Cora, after the funeral, suddenly coming out with “He was murdered!” and then, the very next day, she goes and gets herself murdered?’” Richard Abernethie’s solicitor Mr. Entwhistle is on the case at first, but then brings in Hercule Poirot to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed this one.  There were a lot of different paths the story could have taken for the ultimate resolution.  I didn’t quite have it figured out as I suspected everyone.  I liked Mr. Entwhistle and thought he was making a fine detective.  Poirot didn’t enter the scene until well into the book.    I always find it interesting when a rich person in murdered and there are so many people in his family who could have committed the crime for one reason or another.  I liked the characters.

Favorite Quotes:

“On a foundation of Coral Cornplasters there had arisen this neo-Gothic palace, its acres of gardens, and the money that had paid out an income to seven sons and daughters and had allowed Richard Abernethie to die three days ago a very rich man.”

“The value of money is always relative,” said Mr. Entwhistle. “It is the need that counts.”

“What any woman saw in some particular man was beyond the comprehension of the average intelligent male. It just was so. A woman who could be intelligent about everything else in the world could be a complete fool when it came to some particular man.”

“Should murder make sense? Mr. Entwhistle wondered. Academically the answer was yes. But many pointless crimes were on record. It depended, Mr. Entwhistle reflected, on the mentality of the murderer.”

Overall, After the Funeral was another enjoyable Agatha Christie mystery.

Book Source:  Purchased as a Kindle book from Amazon.com.

Connecting with the Autism Spectrum by Casey “Remrov” Vormer

 


I read Connecting with the Autism Spectrum:  How to Talk, How to Listen, and Why You Shouldn’t Call it High-Functioning by Casey “Remrov” Vormer in April for Autism Awareness month.   In 2021, 1 in 44 children in the United States (1 in 27 boys, 1 in 116 girls) were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  Many older adults probably have autism, but diagnosis didn’t happen as much in years past.  You probably have a friend, family member, or a coworker with autism.

I enjoyed this book as Casey Vormer has autism and is an autism advocate.  He talks through his experiences with autism, but also makes note that autism is a wide spectrum, so his experiences are not the same as everyone else.  This book gives a brief introduction and explanation of autism spectrum disorder and gives tips for talking and listening to neurodiverse adults to “make your interactions more transparent, meaningful, and rewarding for all.”  

This book was short and written in an engaging format.  It had a lot of good tips in it, including things to never say to an autistic person.  It also describes how the autism diagnosis is personal for people and that they need to have the choice to “come out” as autistic to family and friends.

Some of my favorite quotes were at the end of this book:

“What I enjoy most is being with a friend who encourages me to be myself and who doesn’t criticize me.  I also really appreciate a friend who will offer some advice, help, or support every now and then.  When it comes to befriending an autistic person, keep an open mind and do not judge.  Be patient and take the time to get to know an autistic person.”

“To the reader, I just want to say that it means a lot to me and probably to many other autistic people, that you took the step to learn more about autism by reading this book. I hope it will help you as a teacher, an employer, a coworker, or as a friend of an autistic person. Every person on the spectrum is unique, so not everything in this book applies to every single one of us, but don’t be discouraged if you make a mistake.”

“Autistic or not, everybody has their own story.  We all want the same things in life:  to be happy, to feel appreciated and loved, and to take part in this roller coaster we call life.  Everybody deserves a chance, and the best way to make this happen is to cross out the word “normal” in your dictionary and to be open-minded.  Embrace difference.  Celebrate the strengths and skills everyone has been given.  That’s the key for everyone to succeed and to thrive.”

Overall, Connecting with the Autism Spectrum is a great book to learn about autism and steps you can take for better communication with someone on the spectrum.

Book Source: Purchased from Amazon.com.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Excerpt from The Murder of Mr. Wickham, by Claudia Gray (Austenprose PR Book Tour)

 




I read a fabulous new book in March, The Murder of Mr. Wickham, by Claudia Gray.  My review is at this link.  I am excited to be a part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour to celebrate the publication of this novel.  I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book, showcasing when Mr. Wickham arrives on the scene.

Excerpt from The Murder of Mr. Wickham, by Claudia Gray 

Chapter Two

Three times now, Fitzwilliam Darcy had believed himself permanently rid of the odious presence of George Wickham. Three times, he’d been wrong. The division eight months ago had seemed as though it had to be final, but no. Fate could be pernicious.

“Ah,” Wickham said, strolling forward. “I see my timing is inopportune. In the city, you see, the fashion is for later dinners.”

Knightley stood, pale and drawn. He looked as though he loathed Wickham as much as Darcy did. “You would not have been invited at any hour.”

Wickham’s smile widened. Somehow, in the heart of a confrontation, the man managed to seem even more at ease. “If I waited for an invitation to receive that which is mine in right of law—yes, Mr. Knightley, I imagine my wait would be very long.”

Knightley’s lips pressed together. Emma’s face had flushed with ill-repressed anger. Nor were they the only persons agitated at the table: Wentworth’s expression was dark, and his wife had tensed, as though she expected to have to fly from her chair to hold him back. Worst of all was dear Elizabeth, frozen like ice in her seat; her fingers were wrapped tightly around the hilt of her dinner knife. Jonathan’s distrust of his uncle clearly warred with his concern for his mother.

As for the Brandons, the Bertrams, and the young Miss Tilney: they each appeared deeply confused by the sudden, severe deviation from common civility. Therefore, none of them had ever met George Wickham before. Darcy envied them the privilege.

A loud clap of thunder rumbled through the air, the house, the ground itself. In the next instant, raindrops began to pelt the windows and ground, striking the windowpanes until they rattled.

Darcy could’ve cursed aloud. To judge by the hoofbeats he’d heard outside earlier, Wickham had arrived on horseback rather than by carriage, and not even the most odious company would be thrown out in such weather. Particularly in such hilly country as this corner of Surrey—to attempt to ride in a severe thunderstorm risked the health and nerves of one’s horse, and even one’s life.

Wickham raised an eyebrow, as aware as anyone of the etiquette that imprisoned his hosts. “It seems I shall be staying for a while.”

*

“I fear we cannot accommodate you at the table, Mr. Wickham.” Mrs. Knightley pushed her chair back as abruptly as an ill-mannered child. Jonathan would’ve been scolded for less, as a boy. She said, “Allow me to get you settled, and the servants will bring something up to you for dinner.” With that she strode out of the room. After a moment, Wickham inclined his head to the table—an ironical half bow—then followed her.

Had she done the right thing? The normal rules could not apply to such a situation as this. Jonathan would’ve resolved to ask his parents later had they not appeared so stricken. No, he would be left to interpret this for himself.

A silence followed, empty of words and yet suffocatingly heavy. Finally, Knightley cleared his throat. “My dear guests, I must beg your pardon. The gentleman who has arrived is . . . no friend to this household. Yet there are matters between us that must be resolved.”

“He seemed insolent in the extreme,” said Mrs. Brandon, astonishingly forthright. “What a disagreeable person.”

In any other circumstances, Jonathan might’ve found such a pronouncement rude; tonight, people seemed freed to speak their thoughts—and to the whole table, at that. Understandable, perhaps, but in his opinion it set a dangerous precedent.

“George Wickham is indeed disagreeable,” Knightley agreed, “however skilled he is at pretending otherwise.”

Brandon spoke for the first time at dinner. “Did you say—Mr. George Wickham?”

Knightley nodded. “A former army officer, who now fancies himself an arranger of investments. Bah! Investments that work to his own gain and everyone else’s loss.”

“Certainly to ours,” Wentworth said, his voice hollow.

Jonathan saw Mrs. Wentworth wince.

But she rallied swiftly, turning to Darcy and asking very civilly, “How are you acquainted with Mr. Wickham, sir?”

“We grew up together in Derbyshire,” Darcy said. Brandon’s fork clattered against the dinner plate. Jonathan wondered—How could anyone continue eating at such a time? “He was the son of my late father’s steward. As adults, our ways parted for many years.”

To his surprise, it was Mother who spoke next. “Then Mr. Wickham married my sister Lydia.”

And Lydia and George Wickham had had a daughter.

For a moment, Jonathan remembered Susannah so vividly that she might’ve been sitting at his side, giggling as she so often did, dark curls framing her round, smiling face. To him, she had been more sister than cousin. To his parents, Susannah had been more daughter than niece. He knew himself and his brothers to be dearly loved, but he knew also that for many years his mother and father had longed for a little girl that never came.

Then, eight years ago, Susannah had been born—the belated first and only child of his aunt and uncle. Neither Aunt Lydia nor Uncle George had possessed much interest in the daily tedium of child-rearing; as soon as Susannah had left her wet nurse, she had been packed off to Pemberley for lengthy visits. Indeed, Susannah had spent far more of her short life in his home than she ever had with her parents. This suited everyone: Mother and Father, who doted on the child; Jonathan and his brothers, who were old enough to find her odd little ways amusing rather than irritating; Aunt Lydia and Uncle George, who showed no evidence of ever missing their daughter; and Susannah herself, who wept piteously before each of her journeys home and always ran back into Pemberley as fast as her small legs would bear her.

She would never run through the doors again.

Excerpt courtesy of Vintage Books, A Division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Copyright © 2022 by Claudia Gray. All rights reserved. 

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: The Murder of Mr. Wickham

·       Author: Claudia Gray

·       Genre: Historical Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Austenesque

·       Publisher: ‎Vintage (May 3, 2022)

·       Length: (400) pages

·       Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-0593313817

·       Tour Dates: April 25-May 8, 2022

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen's Mr. Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang. 

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Had Jane Austen sat down to write a country house murder mystery, this is exactly the book she would have written. Devotees of Austen’s timeless novels will get the greatest possible pleasure from this wonderful book. Immense fun and beautifully observed. Delicious!” —Alexander McCall Smith

“What a splendid conceit! . . . Gray provides plenty of backstory and enough depth to her characters that even those who mix up their Pride and Prejudice with their Sense and Sensibility will delight in the Agatha Christie–style mystery. . . . There’s so much fun to be had in this reimagined Austen world—and the mystery is so strong—that one can only hope, dear reader, that more books will follow.” —Ilene Cooper, Booklist (starred review)

“[An] enchanting mystery. . . . Gray perfectly captures the personalities of Austen’s beloved characters. This is a real treat for Austenites.” —Publishers Weekly

“Who would NOT want to read a book in which one of literature’s most notorious rakes meets his final demise? . . . A delightful Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen romp.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

 

PURCHASE LINKS

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

 

AUTHOR BIO

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs. 

 WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

 

 




Friday, April 29, 2022

Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager

 


Do you enjoy memoirs?  What is your favorite memoir?

I love reading memoirs and autobiographies of first ladies and presidents.  I especially love reading about the first ladies and their families. I feel like you really get a different side of a president from their family.  I read and enjoyed Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush ten years ago or so.  I was happy to read her daughter Jenna’s memoir Everything Beautiful in its Time.  In particular, I found it interesting to read the perspective of a granddaughter and daughter of a president.

Everything Beautiful in Its Time is a love letter from Jenna Bush Hager to her grandparents.  She lost three of her four grandparents in a little over a year’s time.  This memoir is her reflections on the lives her grandparents and the end of their lives.  I found the book to be very relatable as Hager struggles to balance everything as a working mother and also work through her grief.  It also gave me an inner look at the Bush family.  In a time when politics has become very enflamed, it was nice to read about a family trying to do their best for each other and for their country.  This was a touching story of a family filled with humor and love.  Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down and read through it quickly.  I wanted more.  I need to check out Jenna Bush Hager’s other novels.

Favorite Quotes:

“Loving our neighbor should not be a controversial political stance.”

“It isn’t courageous to do the right things.”

Overall, Everything Beautiful in Its Time is a touching book that celebrates family and what is really important in life.

Book Source:  A Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp (Book Tour and GIVEAWAY

 

Annie and Sam were childhood sweethearts, but after Sam has returned from the Pacific Theatre of WWII, he is changed man.  As he tries to fit back in on the farm in the rural Arkansas mountains and get to know his young daughter, Rosie, he starts to see things on the farm that no one else does.  Who is visiting the farm or is it just the ghosts of his troubled mind?  As people begin to question his sanity, will Sam be able to save his family?  Annie came from a well to do family, but the wealth comes from her father’s illegal activities.  What happened to Annie’s mother?  Will Annie be able to reconnect with Sam?

I really liked the unique plot and setting of this novel.  I liked that it was set after WWII and covered PTSD in the returning soldiers.  In the author’s note at the end, Tromp states that she based it on talks with her grandparents.  I also haven’t read too many books set in Arkansas and I liked it.  I didn’t know that Hot Springs was a den of mob activity back in the day.  I thought it was all very fascinating.

The novel is told in alternating chapters between Annie and Sam’s viewpoints.  The story is a slow build as we get to know Sam, Annie, their family and friends, but the ending is very action packed.  I couldn’t put the book down once I reached a certain point!

Favorite Quote:

“One thing I know for certain is that memory’s a slippery thing.  It changes and morphs, solidifying only at the insistence of the most powerful things.”

Overall, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye is a fascinating historical suspense novel.

Book Source:  A Review Copy from Kregel Publishing as part of the I Read With Audra Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


About the book:

“Tromp weaves a complex historical tale incorporating love, suspense, hurt, and healing—all the elements that keep the pages turning.”

~ Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Perennials


Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

To read an excerpt of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, click here.


About the author 


Janyre Tromp (pronounced Jan-ear) is a historical suspense novelist who loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

 A firm believer in the power of an entertaining story, Tromp is also a book editor and published children’s book author. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, two kids, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.

 You can find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), Twitter (@JanyreTromp), and her website, www.JanyreTromp.com where you can download a free copy of her novella, Wide Open.

 



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