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, where you can download a free copy of her novella, Wide Open.


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Monday, April 25, 2022

Death in Cornwall by G.M. Malliet

 Title:  Death in Cornwall

Author:  G.M. Malliet

Narrated by:  Lorna Bennett

Publisher: Dreamscape Media

Length: Approximately 11 hours and 03 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Netgalley.  Thank-you!

 Happy Mystery Monday!  I have been in the mood for mysteries a lot recently.  I was happy to review Death in Cornwall on audiobook from Netgalley.  I found out once I started listening that this is book four of the St. Just Mystery series.  It was fine to read as a stand-alone book, but I do want to now read the rest of the series!

 DCI Arthur St. Just and Portia De’Ath decide to celebrate their engagement by visiting the small town of Maidsfell in Cornwall. The world has just opened up after being shut down for COVID.  The people in the small town of Maidsfell are up in arms with each other as local fishermen want to build a spillway to help their business, but others are afraid it will ruin the view for tourists which also support the local economy.  After a local aristocrat, Lord Bodwally is found murdered, St. Just and Portia are on the case to find the murderer.   Did someone take the local political disagreement too far?  Was it someone from Lord Bodwally’s past? 

 I enjoyed this audiobook.  I love British mysteries and relished Lorna Bennett’s narration of the audiobook with her British accent.  The book is set in beautiful Cornwall, which I’ve always wanted to visit.  I related to the people of Maidsfell as I also live in a small community that has tourists in the summer.  It’s a love / hate relationship with tourists and trying to make your local economy and community work.  I also really liked how they kept referring to the “plague times.”  I at first thought, why are they talking about the black death?  Then I realized they were talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.  The story had interesting twists using the pandemic as businesses try to reestablish themselves and go back to normal.

 This was a traditional British mystery with some sly bits of humor thrown in.  I laughed out loud as St. Just mused before the murder about how all of his vacations are always ruined because murder seems to follow him in his wake.  The same thing used to always happen to poor Hercule Poirot.  St. Just and Portia methodically work through the possible witnesses and killers as they unravel the mystery.  I did not guess the ending and I greatly enjoyed the process of getting there.  I also really loved all of the characters in the village and St. Just and Portia themselves.  I especially love Portia’s last name of De’Ath.  Ha!  I will be looking up more mysteries by author G.M. Malliet.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey


Do you have a special wedding veil in your family?  My Mom bought me mine and I have it sealed up for my daughter to use if she would like to in the future.

I’ve read and enjoyed Kristy Woodson Harvey’s romance novels and I was thrilled to be able to read her first historical fiction / contemporary novel.  The Wedding Veil is the intermingled stories of four different women through time.  In 1879, Edith Dresser dreams of the day she will wear her family’s historic wedding veil.  She grows up and marries George Vanderbilt in a beautiful wedding.  George has built the Biltmore estate in Ashville North Carolina.  After his untimely death, Edith tries to hold everything together for her daughter Cornelia to inherit.  Cornelia has the dream wedding of her own, but she wonders, is their more out there in life for her?

In present day, Julia Baxter is ready to be married using her family’s historic wedding veil.  After receiving a video, the day of her wedding showing her fiancé cheating on her, she knows she needs to change the direction of her life.  Luckily her Grandma Babs is there to support her.  After becoming a widow late in life, Babs wonders, can she move forward and have the life she wants while she still can?

I loved this novel.  The four women and two dueling timelines was intriguing and kept me vested in the story.  I enjoyed both timelines equally.  In contemporary times, I wanted Julia and Babs to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives and to solve the mystery of their family veil.  In the past timeline, I learned about Biltmore and the Vanderbilt women.  I had not read about them before, and I found their story to be fascinating.  I have always wanted to visit the Biltmore estate and Ashville ever since I watched Last of the Mohicans (filmed on location there) as a teenager.  This novel made me want to visit even more!  I also just love to read about weddings, historic clothing, beautiful estates, and this book had it all.  It also had very interesting characters and conflict as well.  I love that they all had to find their inner strength and forge their own paths.  It was an uplifting novel.

I enjoyed the author’s note at the end and hope that the author writes more historical fiction novels.   I think if you enjoyed The Gown by Jennifer Robson or The Last Dance of the Debutante by Julia Kelly, or any of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s previous novels, you will love this book.

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

Friday, April 22, 2022

Into the Forest: The Secret Language of Trees by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (TLC Book Tours)


Happy Earth Day!

What are your favorite memories involving trees?  I grew up next to a pine woods and loved spending my time in the woods climbing trees.  I also had a favorite old tree in my yard that I loved to sit in and read books well into my teenage years.  Sadly my tree grew into electric wires and was chopped down.  My love for trees and the outdoors became my profession as I became an environmental engineer.

Into the Forest is a beautiful coffee table book that focuses on trees, how they function, and how they are important for humanity.  As one would expect for a National Geographic book, the photography in this book is gorgeous.  I love looking at the pictures.  The foreword to the book is by Suzanne Simard, a Professor Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia.  She gives a good discussion of why forests are important for humanity.  The following chapters were in the book, and they were very informative and interesting:

Chapter 1 – Tree: To understand the forest, let us first get to know the tree

Chapter 2 – Earth:  Trees emerge from the soil underneath, intertwining with the life it cradles.

Chapter 3 – Water: Rain falls, sap rises:  Trees play a part in the grand water cycle.

Chapter 4 – Air:  Trees breath in, breathe out, enhancing the air with subtle fragrance.

Chapter 5 – Fire:  Forest fires rage and destroy; new life rises phenix-like from the ashes.

Chapter 6 – Forest:  Come into the forest:  refreshed, enriched, at peace with the world that surrounds you

I thought this book was fascinating.  I wish I would have had it when I was teaching environmental science to be able to share the beautiful photos and the interesting vignettes with my students.  Each chapter was filled with interesting essays about different aspects of trees. I loved Chapter 6 as it has some really interesting information about forests in the cities and old forests.  I would love to visit a really old forest and I think trying to get more green space in cities is a good thing.

Book Source:  A Review Copy 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.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Pup Culture by Victoria Lily Shaffer


Title:  Pup Culture:  Stories, Tips, and the Importance of Adopting a Dog

Author:  Victoria Lily Shaffer

Narrated by:  Victoria Lily Shaffer

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 4 hours and 01 minutes

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

Pup Culture is an ode to dogs and all those who love dogs.  I’ve got two dogs myself, one is a full blood Beagle (Daisy) and the other is a muttly adopted dog of indeterminate origin (Spot).  I love the stories in this book about the adoption process, tips for taking care of your dog, and stories from a variety of people including David Letterman, Dan Levy, etc. on the adoption of their dog. 

 Author Victoria Lily Shaffer is the daughter of Paul Schaffer from the Letterman show.  I enjoyed that she was the narrator of the audiobook.  She has a true passion for helping out dogs and I loved her personal stories. 

 I found this book to be inspiring and uplifting.  It both made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes.  This was the perfect audiobook to listen to when I had some stressful times at work. 

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones


The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones is the April selection for the Rogue (aka FLICKS) Book Club.  I have been in the mood for a thriller, and was excited to pick this book up.

Rachel is traveling to Portugal with her husband Jack, and best friends Paige and Noah for a weekend wedding.  They are also bringing along the bride, Ali, who is marrying Jack’s brother Will.  Jack seems preoccupied and not pleased about the wedding even though he introduced the bride and groom.  Is there more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye?

This thriller opens up an entire can of worms of how the dynamics between these friends have worked through the years. This novel is for fans of domestic drama, and I would call it more of a domestic thriller of who is sleeping with who.  I figured out pretty quickly one aspect of the story, but I didn’t quite get the final answer.   I couldn’t put the book down as I tried to fit all of the pieces together.  Things went very south at the end of this novel and the ending is more action packed than the rest of the novel.

Rachel is the narrator of the story and it’s filled with her suspicions as she tries to piece everything together.  She annoyed me at times with her naiveté.  I wanted her to just leave and take a plane home.  I did like how the novel played with people’s preconceived notions about people.

The setting at the seaside villa in Portugal was beautiful.  I’m ready to go there for vacation now…although I am not going surfing (too soon?).

Overall,  The Guilt Trip is an entertaining domestic thriller.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

What Happened on Box Hill by Elizabeth Gilliland (Review, Interview, and Giveaway)


Isabella Thorpe has fallen to her death on initiation night at Austen University.  Her roommate Caty Morland is convinced that her death was not an accident, but murder. Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse and Caty organize a dinner party and invite the most likely suspects.  The evening won’t end until the murderer has been uncovered.

This cozy mystery novel brings together favorite Austen characters from all of her novels in a modern day setting at a college.  It was a fun, light-hearted read, but I think that if I didn’t know about the original novels, I would have missed some of the humor.  Having Caty Morland as a freshman true crime enthusiast made me laugh out loud.  It was a perfect modernization of the original heroine.  I enjoyed Caty as the investigator.   The plot switched back and forth in time to give the reader the events of what lead up to the murder. I enjoyed putting the pieces together.

Favorite Quote:

“The best mysteries are the democratic ones, where everyone gets to have the same information as the detective, so they can all draw their own conclusions.”

Overall, What Happened on Box Hill was a fun Austen inspired cozy mystery and I look forward to seeing what happens next in this series.

Book Source:  Purchased for my Kindle on

I am excited that author Elizabeth Gilliland agreed to do an author interview on this novel.  Thank-you!

We can always read the back cover description of a book, but it's always interesting to hear the author describe their book in their own words. Will you introduce us to your novel, What Happened on Box Hill? What Happened on Box Hill is a novel that probably sounds pretty complex/high concept, but is actually quite simple and straightforward. The simplest version is that Caty Morland is a college freshman who is obsessed with true crime, and who believes her roommate, Isabella, has been murdered after an unfortunate fall during a sorority party. Channeling her inner Hercule Poirot, Caty decides to try to solve the crime by hosting a dinner party for everyone she believes could be a suspect. The more complicated part is that the novel is a retelling of several classic Jane Austen novels, combining all of her characters into a modern-day university setting and adding in some crime. I've been assured by readers that you don't need to know Austen to enjoy the book, though a love of Austen will hopefully make the experience richer.

How did you come up with the premise for What Happened on Box Hill? Growing up, my reading was pretty evenly split between classic literature, like Jane Austen, and mystery novels, like Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. (Today my taste is a bit more varied, though I still love novels in both these categories.) I think that odd combination of mystery and classic lit must have been percolating in my mind for many years; then I started writing about Jane Austen adaptations for my dissertation, and I couldn't help but think, what would be MY ideal adaptation? What developed was this weird genre mishmash, but I've had so much fun writing it.

What are your true crime inspirations for the novel? I used to be much more of a true crime junkie--I've watched many, many documentaries, docuseries, and listened to even more true-crime podcasts. I think having a kid turned me into a bit more of a softie, so now I'm more particular about the kinds of things I can listen to, but on long road trips my husband and I still like to pass the time by settling in with a good, Serial-style mystery.

How do you modernize Jane Austen's characters while remaining true to the originals? This was the most fun thing about writing the books, and also the most challenging. I wanted to remain true to the characters readers might expect, but I also had to take into account how the different times/settings/social expectations might change some of them. I don't think anyone is too radically different from how Austen wrote them, but the choices that people make and their attitudes toward certain things might be different. For example, Austen's Tilney has read all the Gothic novels but teases Catherine about her obsession and eventually helps her realize she's let her imagination get the best of her. This fits the role that a hero like Tilney would have needed to play in the time; but I wanted to explore a Tilney who wasn't so bogged down by societal expectations and could just let himself enjoy non-traditionally masculine things, like genre fiction (and in this version of the story, true crime!).

The cover of What Happened on Box Hill is cute. Did you have any input on the cover design? Thank you! Yes, I worked with an awesome artist at 99Design named Vector Artist. I actually put out a call with some ideas about the type of thing I was looking for and was pretty overwhelmed by the incredible talent and variety of options. I ultimately chose this cover because I liked the mix of simplicity and complexity--the design is pretty simple overall, but the details, like the title being shaped like a hill, really appealed to me--and I also like how it conveys a combination of whimsy and menace. I will definitely be working with Vector Artist again!

It looks like this is the first book in a new series. Are you working on the next novel, if so, can you share any details?
Yes, well-spotted! What Happened on Box Hill is the first in the Austen University Mysteries series. I just finished the first draft of the second book yesterday (!) and will be throwing myself into edits soon. I can tell you that the second book is called The Portraits of Pemberley and will feature plot points from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, with some unexpected twists. You can read a preview of the first chapter at the end of the first book. Fingers crossed, it will be coming out in Spring 2023.

When did you first read Jane Austen
? My first exposure to Jane Austen was through the fantastic '90s PBS series, Wishbone, about the dog who loves to read and imagines himself as the hero of his favorite novels. I remember being very confused by the Pride and Prejudice episode and feeling embarrassed for the actress who had to dance opposite a Jack Russell Terrier. The name of the novel stuck with me, though, and when I was eleven, I was visiting my grandmother and trying to choose something to read from her many books. I came across Pride and Prejudice and decided to give it a try, and I fell in love.

What is your favorite Jane Austen novel and why? I think because it was my first Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice holds a very dear place in my heart. I have come to love all the other books over the years, and each one has meant something unique to me at a different point in my life. I've had times where I've read, say, Mansfield Park, and didn't love it; and then re-read it a few years later and realized I'd entered into a Mansfield Park season of my life. But overall, Pride and Prejudice is the one I return to most. Beyond just being my comfort novel, it's so tightly crafted--there is nothing extraneous or wasted in the book. It is a pleasure to read every single time.

Author Bio

Elizabeth Gilliland is a fan of all things Austen, as well as a scholar specializing in 19th-century British literature and adaptations. She is of the firm belief that adaptations enhance our experience with the original texts and give us more time to enjoy the worlds and characters that we love; there’s room for everyone at the table. She has lived in Arizona, Utah, New York, London, Louisiana, and currently lives with her husband and son in Alabama.







Buy links:

Read the prologue and first chapter here:


Author Elizabeth Gilliland is giving away one copy of the ebook of this novel. If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday April 29th!

Please make sure to check the week of May 1st to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery


The Vineyard at Painted Moon was the April selection for the Page-turners Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library. 

Mackenzie has the job that she loves working at her husband’s family vineyard.  She blends delicious wines that attract a lot of customers.  Her world comes crashing down when her husband wants a divorce.  What should she do?  Stay and keep working for the vineyard or strike out on her own?

I usually love Mallery’s novels, but while I read through this one quickly, I didn’t love it.  I enjoyed Mackenzie’s journey and her gumption to strike out on her own.  I liked the story of the various family members.  I overall though just felt sad for the destruction of the marriage.  The novel started out happy with Mackenzie’s mother-in-law Barbara’s engagement, and then Barbara turned into a one-dimensional villain.  It was too drastic of a change to me.  Mackenzie’s new romance was not very well developed and felt tacked on at the end.  I did enjoy all of the details of wine making and thought that was fascinating.

Overall, The Vineyard at Painted Moon was a so-so novel for me.

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander

 Title:  Carolina Built

Author:  Kianna Alexander

Narrated by:  Shayna Small and Leon Nixon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 10 hours and 07 minutes

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

 Josephine N. Leary was a real estate magnet in North Carolina after the Civil War.  Author Kianna Alexander brings her story to life in the novel Carolina Built.

 Josephine was owned by her own father.  She was emancipated after the Civil War and buys her first property after her marriage in 1873. She studies other real estate magnates and keeps working on building her portfolio.  She is a trained barber and runs the barbershop with her husband, Sweety.  They have two beautiful daughters and life seems to be going well for them until her business ambitions challenge Sweety’s manhood.  Will they be able to resolve their differences?

 The audiobook was narrated by Shayna Small and Leon Nixon as Josephine and Sweety telling their point of view in alternating chapters.  I was intrigued to learn about a new (to me) person in history.  I was a bit disappointed by the story though.  I was hoping for more on Josephine’s accomplishments and less on her domestic strife.  I was sad that Josephine and Sweety’s very happy marriage had such a break down. It seemed strange to me as Sweety knew she was an independent woman when they married.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll (Book Tour)


What two favorite stories would you like to see blended together?

An Affectionate Heart is a perfect blend of two of my favorite novels, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.  Elizabeth Bennet is one of two unmarried daughters left to Mrs. Bennet.  Eldest daughter Jane married at 15 and is a happy wife with four sons.  After Mr. Bennet’s untimely death of a heart ailment, Mr. Collins arrived and married the third daughter, Mary, while Elizabeth was in London with Jane.  As Elizabeth is shuffled between Jane and Mary’s household, she is constantly put down for being the spinster sister at twenty-one.  After she discovers that she has a heart ailment and will not live through the summer, she decides to take matters into her own hands by proposing to Mr. Darcy. The aloof gentleman lives with his sister at Longbourn Lodge.  As rumors swirl through the neighborhood, Elizabeth decides that being an independent married woman who can take care of the sick Miss Darcy would be better than ending her days as the spinster sister with no independence.  Will this marriage of convenience end in love?

The blending of Pride and Prejudice and The Blue Castle is an inspired choice by author Heather Moll.  I greatly enjoyed this Pride and Prejudice variation.  The characters were true to the original Jane Austen novel, but the plot had enough change to go in a different direction and keep me glued to the page to the end of the story.  I love marriage of convenience and slow burn romance tropes, and this was perfect for me.  Reading the story of Elizabeth and Darcy as they fall in love was heartwarming.  I also wondered how the “train” scene from The Blue Castle would work in the regency time and author Heather Moll did not disappoint in bringing about an exciting climax to the story.  I also enjoyed that Darcy finally really understood Mrs. Bennet and gave Mr. and Mrs. Collins the ending that they deserved.

As this is a slow burn romance, it is a clean read until the end where there is mature content.

Overall, An Affectionate Heart is a Pride and Prejudice variation that is not to be missed.  I could not stop reading this story when I started, and it is going on my list of favorite Pride & Prejudice variations.

Book Source:  A Review Copy from Excessively Diverted Press and author Heather Moll as part of the Book Tour.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I apologize for my late book tour posting.  I ended up getting sick right when I needed to be posting this!  My daughter and I are feeling better this week.

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Last Dance of the Debutante by Julia Kelly

Title:  The Last Dance of the Debutante

Author:  Julia Kelly

Narrated by:  Marisa Calin

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 10 hours and 03 minutes

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

 What would it be like to be part of the last year of debutantes presented at the British Court in 1958?  Lily Nichols about to find out.  Lily agrees to be a part of the debutantes to appease her Grandmother Nichols who provides support for her and her widowed mother.   As Lily prepares for her debut, she wonders about her mysterious half-sister that she has never met.  While being presented to the queen, Lily meets Leana Hartford who is vying to be THE debutante of the season.  Lily’s mother is vehemently opposed to their friendship.  What is her mother hiding?  As the season progresses, Lily must decide what she wants.  Does she want to be the perfect debutante who finds a rich husband?  Does she want to go back to school to get a degree in English? 

 I greatly enjoyed this audiobook and a dive into 1950’s England.  I was ready to do the jitterbug with Lily and attend one of the dances full of debutantes.  I loved the descriptions of how everything worked for a debutante season, and I loved Lily’s yearning for more in her life and for truth in her life.  I also thought it was wonderful that she stayed true to herself and didn’t get completely swept away by Leana.  I found her friend Katherine Norman with a family who made money through trade to be a breath of fresh air.  I liked her honest way of speaking and her supportive friendship.  Besides the life and friendships of the debutante, I enjoyed the mystery to the novel as well.

 Marisa Calin was a great narrator and made this a very enjoyable audiobook experience.  Author Julia Kelly has been on my radar, but this is the first book I’ve read by her.  I am going to be reading more of her historical fiction.

 I loved the cover of this book, it is so beautiful.

 Overall, The Last Dance of the Debutante is a great way to experience 1950s England and be swept away to another time and place.