Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Rakehell of Roth by Amalie Howard (TLC Book Review)


Are you looking for a fun new Regency Romance?  The Rakehell of Roth is the notorious Marquess of Roth.  He owns a scandalous club in London.  He enters a marriage of convenience to help the sister-in-law of a friend.  Lady Isobel Vance is happy to be married to such a handsome and attractive man as Winter.  Unfortunately, after their wedding night, Winter leaves Isobel at the estate of his father and doesn’t return.  Three years pass by and Isobel keeps reading about Roth’s misadventures in the gossip papers.  Little does he know that Isobel is the author of the infamous Lady Darcy advice column.  Once Isobel arrives in London, will the two of them end back up together?  Why did Winter leave Isobel?

 This novel has many different tropes:  Enemies to lovers, marriage of convenience, mistaken identity, and I’m sure more.  I thought it was very fun novel.  I especially loved that Isobel had her lady friends including Clarissa who knows a lot about the facts of life from her brothers.  She uses this information to write her column.  I thought her column was quite hilarious and loved the tidbits at the start of each chapter.  This novel was a low burn that led up to a very racy conclusion.  I also loved that Isobel dressed up as a groom and Winter was able to talk to talk to her more freely than he would have otherwise.  The one negative of this book was the premise to me.  It didn’t really make sense to me that Winter was so angry at his father that he refused to be with his own wife, even though he was highly attracted to her.  I loved the characters and story, but this premise fell flat.

 The Rakehell of Roth is the second book in the Regency Rogues series with The Beast of Beswick as the first book.  The Rakehell of Roth is a standalone novel and worked as one, but I’m interested in reading the first book.

 Favorite Quote:

“In matters of seduction, Dearest Friend, the easiest way to catch a gentleman’s eye is with confidence.  Subtlety is for spinsters.”

 Overall, The Rakehell of Roth is a fun regency romance.

 Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  For more stops on this tour, check out this link.

From the Publisher:

As owner of the most scandalous club in London, the last thing the notorious Marquess of Roth wants is a wife. Keeping up his false reputation as a rake brings in the clients with the deepest pockets?money he needs to fund a noble cause. Even though everything inside tells him not to leave his beautiful, innocent wife behind at his country estate…he must.

But three years later, tired of her scoundrel of a husband headlining the gossip rags, Lady Isobel Vance decides enough is enough. She is no longer a fragile kitten, but as the anonymous author of a women’s sexual advice column, she’s now a roaring tigress…and she can use her claws.

Isobel decides to go to him in London, channeling her powers of seduction to make him beg to take her back. But she didn’t expect her marauding marquess to be equally hard to resist. Now the game is on to see who will give in to the other first, with both sides determined like hell to win.

Each book in the Regency Rogues series is STANDALONE:
* The Beast of Beswick
* The Rakehell of Roth

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Entangled Publishing

Connect with Amalie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Amalie Howard’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, February 8th: The Lit Bitch – excerpt

Tuesday, February 9th: What is That Book About – excerpt

Tuesday, February 9th: @a_bookish_dream

Tuesday, February 9th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, February 10th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 11th: @bookscallmyheart

Thursday, February 11th: The Romance Dish – excerpt

Friday, February 12th: @angelareadsbooks

Saturday, February 13th: @zerisse

Monday, February 15th: The Book Disciple and @thebookdisciple

Monday, February 15th: @laceybooklovers

Tuesday, February 16th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Wednesday, February 17th: @barr_bookworm

Thursday, February 18th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt

Friday, February 19th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, February 22nd: @aparanormalromance

Tuesday, February 23rd: The Romance Dish

Wednesday, February 24th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews and @bluntscissorsbookreviews

Thursday, February 25th: @lowkey.bookish

Friday, February 26th: Hallie Reads

Monday, March 1st: Reading Girl Reviews – excerpt

Monday, March 1st: @readinggirlreviews and Reading Girl Reviews

Wednesday, March 3rd: Laura’s Reviews and @laurasreviews_1

Friday, March 5th: Shelf-rated and @shelfrated

Monday, March 8th: @ksquaredreads and K-Squared Reads

Wednesday, March 10th: Books Cooks Looks

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bridgerton: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Bridgerton fever has hit America.  I am a lover of Regency romance, but I somehow missed this series when it was first published.  I watched the new Netflix series and I loved it.  I was excited to be able to read and review the first book in the Bridgerton series, The Duke and I.  The first season of the new show is based on this book.

 Daphne Bridgerton is the fourth of eight children and has been unable to find a husband after nearly two seasons in London. Everyone considers her their friend rather than wife material.  After a run in with Simon Basset the Duke of Hastings, her eldest brother’s friend, the two decide to feign a relationship in order to gain suitors for Daphne and fend off ambitious mothers from Simon.  Will the two fall in love?  Why does Simon never want to marry and have children?

 I love the fake relationship turned real trope.  Quinn’s writing made this a fun escapism novel to read.  I loved the banter between Daphne and Simon. I really enjoyed Lady Whistledown’s statements at the start of each chapter.  She is my favorite and I enjoy the mystery of who she is.    

 Comparing the novel to the show, I thought the show did an excellent job bringing the story to screen. There were some slight differences with the book, particularly towards the end of the novel.  The series really developed many of the secondary characters that we don’t get to see to much of in the novel.  I look forward to both watching season 2 and reading more of this series.

 I also enjoyed the second epilogue in the book which is set twenty years in the future.  It may be spoiled future books for me, but I really enjoyed seeing how things were going down the road for our main characters.

 SPOILER ALERT:  I’ve read a lot of outrage over a particular scene in the novel.  I think it’s interesting that the outrage has focused on consent for Simon but leaves out of the conversation that Simon has been pulling the wool over Daphne’s eyes during their entire marriage as well.  They are both in the wrong and I thought that was part of what the story was about.  I thought it sparks a good conversation on consent. SPOILER END.

 Overall, Bridgerton:  The Duke and I is a fun escapism regency romance.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

 I kept seeing The Kindest Lie on Instagram and saw that it was about an African American female engineer.  Readers of this blog know that I am always looking for books about engineers.  It’s hard enough to find engineers as the protagonist, let alone a female African American engineer!

 Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down.  The story was very engaging.  Ruth Tuttle is at a high in life.  She has graduated from Yale and is a successful chemical engineer working in downtown Chicago.  She has married Xavier, a man that she loves and who is successful in his own right.  It is 2008 and Barack Obama has just won the presidency.  It seems that anything is possible for them.  Xavier wants to start a family, but all Ruth can think about is the secret she has been keeping from him.  She had a baby when she was 17 and gave it up for adoption.  She decides now is the time to finally return to the Indiana industrial town, Ganton, to confront her past.  What happened to the baby she gave up for adoption?  What will happen to Ruth and Xavier’s relationship?

 The story is told is alternating chapters.  The other main point of view is an eleven-year-old boy nick named “Midnight.”  Midnight is an eleven-year-old boy that is growing up in Ganton.  His mother died giving birth to his sister and his father is struggling after the main factory that employed most of the town has closed down.  Midnight is shuffled between his grandma and father and feels wanted nowhere.  He hangs out with kids of color and gets his nickname from those saying he wants to be black – and because he is pasty white.  Will Midnight be sent away by his Grandma?  Will he find his place in the world?

 This story was riveting.  I really liked how both Ruth and Midnight were searching for their own identities and their place in the world.  I enjoyed that Ruth was a professional woman engineer and the exploration of the pitfalls that come with it.  Ruth’s voyage and her struggle to make it out of Ganton and to a professional career were heart rending.  The setting, a midwestern town struggling with unemployment and racial identity was both familiar and intriguing.  I grew up in a small Michigan town that also struggled with unemployment but was more rather a whitewashed town. I know what’s it’s like to struggle and be the first person in your family to go to college.  I don’t know what it’s like to be an African American in America trying to make that same struggle.  There are many more hurdles in the way.    This novel was thought provoking and covered so many hard topics such as race, poverty and social class, losing your sense of self when you lose your job, motherhood, being a woman in a male dominated field, grandparents raising grandchildren, etc.  I greatly enjoyed it.

 Favorite Quotes:

“No one talked about what happened in the summer of 1997 in the house where Ruth Tuttle had grown up.”  - What a great first line!

 “If the titles of doctor and lawyer had signaled success back in the day, then engineer had to be the 2.0 symbol that you made it.”  - I might be biased as an engineer, but I like this.

 “Still, all that old school planning had served Ruth well in chemical engineering, where being a woman was almost as much an anomaly as her Blackness.”

 “No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t forgive her.  To him death was just another way people broke their promises.  A way for them to leave and have the last word.”

 “One thing I learned a long time ago is that you can’t live your life looking back.”

 “There was no fairness scale that could right the wrongs from childhood.”

 “Sometimes leaving is the best way.  The only way.”

 Overall, The Kindest Lie is one of the best books I’ve read for a while.  I look forward to continuing to read new works from debut author Nancy Johnson.  Johnson has the gift to put together a riveting story with real characters that cover a lot of truths of life.

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

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage by Nancy Ohlin (Rebel Girls)

 Penelope and I have been enjoying the Rebel Girls series of chapter books about strong women who made a difference in the world.

 I had never heard of Alicia Alonso before reading this book and I enjoyed learning her story.  Alonso was a famous ballerina originally from Cuba.  As an adult she lost her sight, but she kept working towards her dream and became a world-famous ballerina.  Her story was very inspiring.  Penelope and I liked the illustrations and how the story started with Alicia as a child and followed her through adulthood.  We even found movies of her on YouTube to watch her dance.  We loved that she also taught others how to dance and kept on dancing into her old age at a professional level.

 Overall, Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage is a motivational story of a sight impaired woman who followed her dreams to become a famous ballerina.

 Book Source:  Purchased from

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Ida B. the Queen by Michelle Duster

 Title:  Ida B. the Queen:  The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Author: Michelle Duster

Read by:  Michelle Duster 

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 3 hours and 43 minutes 

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

Do you have an icon in history that you admire?

I somehow had not heard of Ida B. Wells growing up, or if she was mentioned in history books, it was a fleeting reference.  I didn’t learn about her as an adult until I listened to a History Chicks podcast about her last year after she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. I was amazed by her life story and was confused on why I didn’t know more about this amazing woman.  When I had the opportunity to review this audiobook about Ida B. Wells that was written by her great granddaughter, Michelle Duster, I snapped at the chance.

Ida B. the Queen is not a standard biography or memoir.  Michelle Duster tells snippets of Ida’s life and how it impacted her as well as how Ida’s story fits in with contemporary news and black history overall.

Halfway through the book Duster gives a great timeline of Ida’s life and Civil Rights.  It was wonderful to see how it fit together.  She also gave Ida’s early history in this section.  At age 16, Ida’s parents lost her parents to yellow fever and she was in charge of taking care of her siblings.  She took a teaching job mile outside of town to earn money to keep her family together.  What an amazing sister.  

Throughout her life, when Ida B. Wells saw an injustice, she said and did something about it.  Two moments that really struck me from the book was when Ida B. Wells saw that a family friend and successful store owner was unfairly lynched in Memphis, she was rightly outraged.  She made it her mission to research lynching in America and to write about it.  She gave talks around the world about it.  She didn’t sugar coat it.  Lynching was used as a tool to ensure that African Americans didn’t succeed and were kept “in their place.”  Ida was also kicked out of the first class car of a train and she sued the railroad to try to gain equality.

Ida B. Wells was a suffragette but found that the movement was distancing itself from women of color.  Instead of being pushed to the back of the parade, she inserted herself in her states group right up front where she belonged as a major member of the group.

One quote in the book really struck me - history is never far away.  Even though Ida B. Wells was doing her work a century ago, sadly many of the things she was working for continue to happen today.  Her quotes about the East St. Louis riots are just are relevant today.  Sadly, lynching is still not outlawed on the federal level.  This book gave me a lot to think about.

I loved that Ida B. Wells great granddaughter, Michelle Duster, not only wrote this book, but she was the narrator.  It gave it a personal touch.

Overall, Ida B. the Queen is a great introduction into the life of Ida B. Wells and how it fits into black history and contemporary times.  

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson


Title:  The Yellow Wife

Author: Sadeqa Johnson

Read by:  Robin Miles

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 9 hours and 31 minutes

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

The Yellow Wife is a historical fiction novel that swept me away into the story.  The main character, Pheby Delores Brown is an admirable strong woman fictional heroine.

Pheby has grown up relatively sheltered on a plantation. Born in 1832 to a mulatto mother and the planation owner, she was taught to read and play the piano by Miss Sally, her father’s sister.  After his marriage and Miss Sally’s death, things take a turn for the worse for Pheby and her mother.  Her mistress hates her and tries to make her life difficult.  Things come to a head when her mistress sells her after her father is involved in a carriage accident.

Pheby finds herself at the notorious Devil’s Half Acre, a jail for African American slaves in Richmond, Virginia.  Slaves are brought to this jail to be punished and to be sold.  It’s an area of great suffering.  Pheby is selected by the cruel owner of the jail to become his “yellow wife.”  How will Pheby survive?

Pheby’s story was engrossing and terrifying.  I have been reading a lot of World War II fiction the last few years and her story reminded me of concentration camp survivors.  Terrible choices had to be made to survive.  People were treated as they never should be treated.  The immorality and cruelty of slavery was on full display in this novel.  I can’t imagine a world where a man lives with his wife but sleeps with his slaves and has children with them as well.  This man owns his own children.  A man that owns his “yellow wife” and loves her but can treat her with great cruelty.  It was a strange world that still has consequences today.

The story is told from Pheby’s point of view and she is a great character. I loved Pheby’s love for her children.  I loved that she was survivor and trying to figure out how to not only make it herself, but for her children to have the best life possible.

Pheby also had a tragic romance story.  She grew up with and loved Essex Henry.  She became pregnant with his child right before she was sold.  He had to run north for his own horrific reasons.  They are reunited in the future, and Pheby has to make a hard choice that is the best for all she holds dear.  It makes me sad just thinking about it and all of the people who were unable to stay together with their loved ones.

Sadeqa Johnson had a great note at the end which gave the details of the real history of the Devil’s Half Acre and of the real woman who Pheby is based upon.  It was riveting history that I had never heard about.

Robin Miles was a great narrator of this audiobook and was Pheby Delores Brown to me.

Overall, The Yellow Wife is an engrossing historical fiction novel that shows the hard choices that were made to survive the world of slavery.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Surrender by Brenda Joyce


Do you ever participate in a white elephant gift exchange? Our book club does a white elephant exchange of books at Christmas.  This year with not meeting in person, my friend Wendy sent us all a romance she had picked up in a garage sale.  Each of us is reading our romance novel for the February book club pick and are going to give a summary.  We also have to read the most outrageous quote or love scene.

 I know I was supposed to be laughing at my book . . . but I found that I was enthralled with mine and loved the plot.  Evelyn D’Orsay is a young widow.  Her much older husband, herself, and daughter had to flee France during the French Revolution.  They were helped by Jack Greystone, a notorious smugger.  Evelyn and her family settle in Cornwall.  Four years later, her husband has passed, and she discovers their finances are in awry.  Right before his death, he told Evelyn of gold he had buried on their estate that could set Evelyn and their daughter Aimee up for the rest of their lives.  Evelyn is not sure how to retrieve the gold in war torn France.  She remembers the smuggler who helped her to escape France in the first place and she sets out to find him.  Will Evelyn find Jack and the treasure?

 Surrender is another case of don’t judge the book by the cover.  The cover makes you believe that you are going to read a very steamy romance.  The book actually is much more of a clean romance.  The hero and heroine did have sex, but it is behind closed doors and not described in the book.  To be honest, that is the type of romance that I prefer.  My only problem is that I now don’t have any outrageous quotes or love scenes to share with my book club!

 I enjoy historical romances and I in particular love this time period (1790’s) during the French Revolution.  The book was also mostly set in Cornwall and also included a great deal of smuggling.  I love the books Poldark by Winston Graham and Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier which also cover this topic. This book was in the same vein.  Evelyn is a strong heroine and Jack is a dashing hero.  They are both beautiful people and described as such, but also are smart and caring.  They have great chemistry.  The novel had a great plot that really engaged me.  I liked the intrigue with spies between France and England. 

I learned this is the third book in The Spymaster’s Men series.  I read this as a stand alone and it was good. I didn’t feel like I was missing any pieces.

 My only negative on this novel is that I thought the ending was rushed.

 Overall, Surrender is an engaging historical romance with a great plot. 

 Book Source:  Gift from a White Elephant Exchange



Saturday, February 13, 2021

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Title:  A Promised Land

Author: Barack Obama

Read by:  Barack Obama

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio

Length: Approximately 29 hours and 10 minutes

Source: Overdrive through the Kewaunee Public Library.  Also, a hard cover copy of the book from my Mom for Christmas.  Thank-you! 

 I have loved reading biographies about First Ladies and Presidents since I was a kid.  Even better are being able to read autobiographies from the First Ladies and Presidents themselves.  I have found the autobiographies vary in quality, but A Promised Land was a top-notch presidential autobiography.  Barack Obama is a great writer and while this book had a lot of facts, he made it very interesting and personal.

 It was fascinating to listen to Obama’s perspective on modern history that I lived through. His presidency started during the worst financial crisis the nation had faced since the Great Depression.  It was interesting to learn how he entered the presidency and learned what was going on and how he worked to turn things around.  I liked to ponder what I was doing at the time and how it impacted my work.  I am an engineer and was working on “shovel ready” projects that received funding from the federal government.  It was interesting to find out how the process worked from the top down for this funding.  I’m in the environmental field and loved his discussion on the environment and especially the Deep-Water Horizon incident. The most thought-provoking section in this book was his description of the mission to take down Osama Bin Laden.  The book ended at this time period.  I’m looking forward to reading his next book about his second term in office.

 I was also intrigued that Obama discussed frankly how he couldn’t live up to the idea of himself.  People had very high expectations for him and thought that all racism would be solved with him in office.  After a couple of years in office, the shine was off, and people were not as enthused about him as they used to be.  This makes it difficult as he starts his reelection campaign.

 I also enjoyed that Obama included personal information.  He was very relatable.  I loved the moments of humor in the book as well as the other moments where he questions whether his work is getting in the way of spending time with his family.  I have had those moments myself. I loved his love for Michelle and their girls.  I also loved his love for his Grandma Toot and talk about how his Grandma and Mother inspired him in what he set out to do in life. 

 I both listened to the audiobook version of A Promised Land and followed along in my hard back copy of the book.  I loved that Barack Obama read A Promised Land himself on audio.  I found his voice to be very soothing and enjoyed listening to it.  I love the pictures that are included in the hardcover copy of the book.

 Favorite Quotes:

“Enthusiasm makes up for a host of deficiencies.”

 “There are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important. “Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people. “So,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye. “Which kind of person do you want to be?”

 “But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you. Either you seize what may turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you’re willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by.”

Overall, A Promised Land was a fascinating personal look into the presidency of Barack Obama.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Death Stalks Door County by Patricia Skalka

Death Stalks Door County was the February pick for the Page Turner’s Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  We had our meeting today at lunch to discuss this book.  We live in Kewaunee County, which is the county south of Door County Wisconsin, where this book takes place.  This is the first book in a series of mysteries featuring detective Dave Cubiak.

Dave Cubiak’s life has fallen apart.  After the death of his wife and daughter, he needs change and a new direction.  He takes a job as an assistant director at Peninsula State Park in Door County.  After a series of murders takes place, Dave is racing against time to find the murderer.  Who has murdered six seemingly random people in and around Peninsula State Park and why?

 I enjoyed reading about the places I’m familiar with in this story.  Cubiak himself was not a very likeable character, but after a while, he started to thaw, and I started to enjoy reading about him more.  I was engaged with the story and wanted to know who the murderer was, but I found the plot to be rather convoluted and unrealistic.  There were a lot of characters in this novel and most were not well developed.  I also was annoyed as the implication in this novel is that you need to have some big city experience to really know what’s going on.  The local sheriff is bumbling and has to be saved by Dave Cubiak the former Chicago detective. The local coroner goes out of his way to make sure Cubiak knows he once lived in the big city but came back to Door County.   Living in an area where we do get a lot of tourists from the big city, I know this is how some people from the city feel, that we are all bumbling hicks, but it was annoying to have that bias so prominent in the book.  Also having grown up in Michigan, the fact that author tries to say Wisconsin is a mitten shape at the start of the book bothered me.  It’s not!

 Favorite Quotes:

“Dutch showed me pictures of them as kids.  Two beautiful little girls on an old tire swing.  Then to end up like that.  How sad the underpinnings of people’s lives.”

 “Cubiak was beginning to realize that beneath the peninsula’s picturesque veneer, streams of animosity rippled fast and deep.”

 Overall, Death Stalks Door County had an interesting setting, but the story fell flat with too many one-dimensional characters and a convoluted plot.

 Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!