Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden (Blog Tour)

The Dread Penny Society is a secret society in Victorian London that helps people that are trapped in the underworld of society.  This includes poor children who are used as thieves and are not able to have a decent upbringing.  Many of the members are also authors of “penny dreadfuls.”  Penny dreadfuls were cheap serialized sensational stories that were sold for a penny during Victorian times.  They were entertainment for the masses but were generally looked down upon by the upper crust.

 The “Gentleman” of this story is Hollis Darby.  His grandfather lost their family fortune by gambling and he and his brother are trying to use their respectable name to put the family back on solid footing again.  Hollis makes money by writing penny dreadfuls secretly at night.  He meets and falls in love with Ana Newport.  Ana is a music teacher at a school for girls.  Her family lost their fortune when her father’s business partner stole from their company.  She also has a secret.  At night she is the “phantom fox” and steals the items back that were stolen from her family.  As Hollis and Ana get to know one another, they start to investigate the strange activities at her neighbor’s home.  Why are there gentleman visiting the home at all times of day and night?  Why has her old neighbor suddenly moved away?  Who is behind all of the robberies that are taken place across London?

 I loved The Gentleman and the Thief.  The plot was very exciting and suspenseful.  I really liked the mysteries and trying to determine what was going on.  I also really liked that the overall goal of the characters was to help out those in trouble.  I enjoyed the characters, especially the main characters of Hollis and Ana.  I especially liked that interspersed throughout the novel were chapters from penny dreadfuls.  One was the story of a school for ghosts and the other was the story of a gentleman that keeps finding items missing from his him.  He enlists the help of his childhood friend, the steward’s daughter, and together they tackle the mystery.  I especially loved this second story. 

 The Gentleman and the Thief is the second novel in the Dread Penny Society books.  I read this as a standalone and it worked.  I would love to read the first book in the series, The Lady and the Highwayman.  I’m adding it to my “to read” list.  I also enjoyed that this story was a clean romance.

 Overall, The Gentleman and the Thief is a riveting story of love and danger in Victorian London.  I highly recommend it!

 Book Source:  Review Copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing for being a part of the Blog Tour. Thank-you!



·       Title: The Gentleman and the Thief: Proper Romance Victorian

·       Author: Sarah M. Eden

·       Series: Book 2 in The Dread Penny Society

·       Genre: Historical Mystery/Suspense, Victorian Romance, Inspirational Fiction

  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (November 3, 2020)
  • Length: (368) pages
  • Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1629727905
  • eBook ASIN: B08KFLFV6S
  • Audiobook ASIN: B0872F3399
  • Tour Dates: November 2 – 29, 2020



A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he's smitten. Even though he's from a wealthy, established family and she isn't, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father's successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the "Phantom Fox." She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis's brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?


·  ""The real joy in Eden's follow-up to The Lady and the Highwayman (2019) is the furthering of the overarching crime story and the work of the Dread Penny Society as Hollis and Ana pursue a chaste romance. Eden excels at exploring the realities of Victorian life and class differences. Once again, chapters of penny dreadfuls written by the characters are interspersed throughout, with Hollis' story about a school for ghosts offering particular delight. Fans of Eden's smart series will be thrilled and impatient for the next installment."— Booklist, starred review

·       “Every time I thought my racing heart just couldn’t take the suspense anymore, I'd turn the page and smile.”— Bookconfessions

·       “Eden writes it well, so thoroughly researched that you’re transported and in Victoria England. Great suspense and romance.”— Leslie, Books and Socks Rock

·       “Undeniably clever, suspenseful, well-researched, and deftly written…”— Katie Jackson,

·       "Charming, suggestive, and featuring rich historical details, The Gentleman and the Thief has the elements of a gritty, juicy penny dreadful."— Foreword Reviews


Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. 





Join the virtual online blog tour of THE GENTLEMAN AND THE THIEF, Sarah M. Eden’s highly acclaimed second novel in The Dread Penny Society Series, November 2 through November 29, 2020. Forty popular blogs specializing in historical mystery/suspense, historical romance, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with exclusive excerpts, spotlights, or reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.


Nov 02          Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

Nov 02          The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

Nov 03          Getting Your Read On (Review)

Nov 03          Literary Time Out (Review)

Nov 03          Storybook Reviews (Review)

Nov 04          Heidi Reads (Review)

Nov 04          Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Spotlight)

Nov 05          Library of Clean Reads (Review)

Nov 06          Relz Reviewz (Review)

Nov 07          Probably at the Library (Spotlight)

Nov 08          The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)

Nov 09          So Little Time… (Spotlight)

Nov 09          Captivated Reading (Review)

Nov 10          Among the Reads (Review)

Nov 10          Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Nov 11          For Where Your Treasure Is (Spotlight)

Nov 11          Christian Chick's Thoughts       (Review)

Nov 12          Books, Teacups & Reviews (Spotlight)

Nov 12          Fiction Aficionado (Review)

Nov 13          Randi Loves 2 Read (Spotlight)

Nov 14          The Book Diva's Reads (Spotlight)

Nov 15          My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)

Nov 16          Gwendalyn's Books (Review)

Nov 17          Book Bustle (Review)

Nov 18          Jorie Loves a Story (Review)

Nov 18          An Historian About Town (Review)

Nov 19          Lu's Reviews (Review)

Nov 20          Reading with Emily (Review)

Nov 20          Books and Socks Rock (Review)

Nov 21          Bringing Up Books (Review)

Nov 21          Bookish Rantings (Review)

Nov 22          The Bibliophile Files (Review)

Nov 23          Impressions in Ink (Review)

Nov 23          A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

Nov 24          Bookfoolery (Review)

Nov 24          Wishful Endings (Excerpt)

Nov 25          Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Review)

Nov 25          Joy of Reading (Review)

Nov 26          From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

Nov 27          Fire and Ice (Review)

Nov 27          Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Nov 28          Impressions in Ink (Review)

Nov 28          Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Nov 29          Laura's Reviews (Review)






Saturday, November 28, 2020

Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan


I love Jenny Colgan’s books.  She writes vivid characters and I greatly enjoy their stories.  Christmas at the Island Hotel is the fourth in this series set on Mure.  Mure is a tiny island halfway between Scotland and Norway.  Over the course of the four books, I’ve felt like I’ve gotten to know and love all of the characters on this small island.  It was like a Christmas gift to be able to take a glimpse into their lives again.

 Fintan’s beloved husband left him a beautiful hotel on the island to run, but Fintan is having a hard time working through his grief to get the hotel up and running.  Luckily his sister Flora is helping him out with it all but is also secretly worried as she has a brand-new baby but feels like she wants to keep working. Shouldn’t a new mother only want to spend time with her baby?  The pressure is also on at the hotel after it is listed online as one of the world’s worst hotels.  Dr. Saif is a Syrian refugee working on the island.  He is still searching for his lost wife and feeling guilty that he is thinking about moving on with another woman.  Isla has worked for Flora at her bakery in the past and is now working for the new French chef at the Island hotel.  She finds herself attracted to the new kitchen helper, Konstantin.  Little does she know that Konstantin is a Norwegian royal who has been kicked out by his father to learn how to actually work for a living.  Konstantin has lived a pampered life and realizes that he doesn’t have any skills for how to live.  Will Isla learn Konstantin’s true identity?  Will the hotel get a successful start?  Will the island finally have Christmas lights?

 I loved this book and finished it quickly.  You could probably read this as a standalone book, but I would recommend reading the first three books in the series first.  You would understand a lot more of the background of the cast of characters. I love that I know I will get a mostly happy ending with Colgan’s books, but that I will love the journey along the way.  The characters are also my favorite thing about the books – I just love them.  I really hope that Colgan writes a book a book five in this series.  I enjoyed that my old favorite characters were in this book, but that Isla and Konstantin were added in for new characters and storyline.  I enjoyed it!  I also love how Colgan is able to write a book that has both hetereosexual and homosexual characters with convincing love stories, and also include a Syrian refugee storyline.  The romance is fun, but clean.

 Favorite Quote:

“On the empty road, as the angel faded behind him, he had never felt lonelier in his entire life, like the only man in a world that had turned very, very cold toward him.”

 Overall, Christmas the Island Hotel is an enjoyable trip to Mure to visit favorite characters just in time for Christmas.  It was a great book!

 Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Answer Is . . . by Alex Trebek


Title:  The Answer Is:  Reflections on my Life

Author: Alex Trebek

Read by:  Alex Trebek and Ken Jennings

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 4 hours and 35 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio.  Thank-you!  I had some problems downloading the book and also purchased a copy from Audible.

 The Answer Is:  Reflections on my Life is a poignant memoir.  Alex Trebek, the legendary host of Jeopardy, contemplates his life and his end of life.  Trebek started this memoir after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.   It is filled with vignettes from his entire life. The book is timely as he reflects on the COVID crisis and also the bitter partisanship that the country has fallen into.  He ends the memoir thinking about how he would like to die peacefully in his favorite swing with his beloved wife by his side.  If this doesn’t make you tear up, I don’t know what would!

 Alex Trebek has been a mainstay of my life.  I remember being a child in the 1980’s in particular at my Great Grandparents house watching Jeopardy each night.  He was a classy and funny gameshow host that became an icon.  My kids mostly know of him through the various parodies such as Weird Al.  Trebek discusses the parodies, the making of the show, and some of his all-time favorite moments.  I was intrigued on how Trebek grew up in Canada in a dysfunctional family and how he first got into radio and then TV as the only bi-lingual host.  It was very interesting.  I also liked how he discussed that he was the right person at the right time, he was gifted at hosting television game shows and they were hot at that time.  Throughout his vignettes he came across as a very nice guy.  He discusses the love story with his wife as well.  It was also interesting as he discussed a wide range of topics including his iconic mustache, cars, and philanthropy.  I love how he frankly discussed cancer, and as an environmental engineer I enjoyed his thoughts on climate change as well. 

 I listened to this on audiobook and it was a very enjoyable experience.  Part of what I loved the most was the Trebek narrated chapters himself, such as the introduction, the last chapter, and other chapters that were meaningful such as the love story with his wife.  The other narrator was the “greatest” jeopardy player, Ken Jennings.  I loved the transitions that were included in the audiobook as they handed the narration back and forth.  I also loved how the chapter titles were in the form of a question.  This was not an in-depth study of Trebek, but I learned a lot about him and his philosophy on a lot of things.  It was a emotional look too as he contemplates his end of life.   He also was humorous as well and I had many laugh out loud moments listening to this audiobook.

 Favorite Quotes:

“I don't like to use the words batting or fighting when talking about cancer. It suggests that there are only two outcomes: winning and losing. If you don't get well, then you are a "loser." If you have decided to stop treatment, you are "giving up." That's nonsense.... It is not a fair fight. Not even close. It is simple biology. You get treatment and you get better. Or you don't. And neither outcome is an indication of your strength as a person.”

 “Even if you are learning facts that you are not going to be able to use in your daily life, it enriches you – the fact itself just enriches you as a human being and broadens your outlook on life and makes you a more understanding and better person.”

 Overall, The Answer Is:  Reflections on My Life is a timely, poignant audiobook filled with great vignettes on the life and thoughts of Alex Trebek.  I greatly enjoyed it.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman


Title:  Magic Lessons

Author: Alice Hoffman

Read by:  Sutton Foster

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 13 hours and 26 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio.  Thank-you!

 I have enjoyed Alice Hoffman’s novels for the last twenty years.  She writes a bit of magic into each of them.  Practical Magic was the first novel I read by her.  I enjoyed the prequel to Practical Magic, Rules of Magic, that came out a few years ago.  I was delighted to discover that this year she had published a prequel to both of those books about Maria Owens, the ancestor who is discussed in both of those novels.  Magic Lessons was a great historical fiction novel and if I’m honest, it’s my favorite of the Practical Magic trilogy.  It finally answers the questions, who was Maria Owens and what is the curse that has followed the family throughout time?

 Maria Owens was a foundling in England born with a gift in the 1600’s.  Luckily, Hannah, another woman with the gift of magic found her and raised her as her own.  After tragedy strikes, a young Maria sets sail for the new world.  While on an island in the Caribbean, she falls in love with a stranger.  After finding she is with child, she travels to Salem, Massachusetts to find him and tell him about their child.  What does she find that causes the curse to be cast?

 I enjoyed this entire story of Maria and her daughter Faith.  I loved the look into the 17th century and how women were called out as witches for being different or for basically being healers for the times.  Maria and Faith are actual witches who have a magical gift, but the women who were killed in both England and the United States were killed for being different or as scapegoats.  Maria is a strong woman who did what she wanted to do, which was frowned upon at this time.  Women were not supposed to question men or live on their own.  I also liked the overall theme that Maria often thinks about, “what you set out into the world came back to you threefold.”  Whenever you do something good or something bad, it will come back to you again threefold.  It’s a powerful motivator to make sure you are doing good in the world.  I also loved the overall love story in the novel. 

 I love Hoffman’s use of language in her novels and beautiful descriptions.  Sutton Foster was a great audiobook narrator and I enjoyed listening to this story.

 Favorite Quotes:

“When you fall in love like that, time doesn’t matter. This was the secret he told Maria, the last words he ever said. What belonged to you once, will always belong to you. Be grateful if you have walked through the world with another’s heart in your hand.”

 “Likely it was true that the flaws you saw in other women you didn't notice in yourself.”

 “No one knows where time goes, all the same it disappears.”

 “It was always best to step into the future while it was still waiting for you.”

 Overall, Magic Lessons is a magical look into the 17th century and the start of the Owens curse.