Monday, June 27, 2022

To Kiss a Wallflower by Jen Geigle Johnson, Heather B. Moore, and Anneka R. Walker (Austenprose PR Book Tour)


Title:  Timeless Regency Collection – To Kiss a Wallflower

Author:  Jen Geigle Johnson, Heather B. Moore, and Anneka R. Walker

Narrated by:  Shane East & Shakira Shute

Publisher: Mirror Press

Length: Approximately 8 hours and 31 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Mirror Press.  Thank-you!

 What would be the perk of being a wallflower?  I have never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I realized as I listened to this audiobook collection that all of the ladies have a reason why they like being a wallflower.

 To Kiss a Wallflower is a Timeless Regency Collection of three delightful novellas.  I had an enjoyable time listening to these stories and I was only sad that they had to end.  I just love the Timeless Regency Collections.  I have enjoyed every one I’ve read.  This is the first time I have listened to one as an audiobook experience, and it was wonderful.  There were two narrators, Shane East & Shakira Shute who alternated chapters depending on what perspective was narrating.  It was very entertaining.

  I will give my thoughts on each of the novellas below.

 “The Wallflower’s Dance,” by Jen Geigle Johnson

Lottie is tongue tied in social situations, but she always has her good friend Denny to help her out and have someone to dance with.  After she unexpectedly inherits a fortune, she finds herself suddenly no longer a wallflower and pursued by many eligible young men.  But what if the only man she wants has really been there all along?  This was a friends to lovers trope and I loved it.

“Letters to a Wallflower,” by Heather B. Moore

Ellen has been proclaimed a “diamond of the first water,” and her mother is pushing her into marrying a titled gentleman.  After betting with her cousin Dinah, Ellen dresses down and joins the wallflowers hoping for an evening of peace.  What she doesn’t know is that Lord Ravenshire’s mother has told him to dance with all of the wallflowers in his search for a wife.  Lord Ravenshire just wants to do the minimum to appease his mother so he can return to his estate.  When Ellen and Lord Ravinshire meet, they find they have a lot to talk about.    Will they be able to find common ground?  This had fake dating and I loved this story.

 “To Marry a Wallflower,” by Anneka R. Walker

Charlotte has been betrothed by her father to a man she has never met, Lord Templeton.  Charlotte would rather stay a wallflower, but she is curious about the man she is going to marry.  When she finds a man who knows Lord Templeton, she pretends to be her cousin to find out more information from Mr. Luke.  What she doesn’t realize is that Lord Templeton had the same idea.  This was a cute story of mistaken identity.

I didn’t have one favorite story, I enjoyed all three.  I loved that the ladies all embraced their own natures and their wallflower status.  I also liked that they all decided they were going to stand strong and forge their own path in the world.


·       Title: To Kiss a Wallflower

·       Series: Timeless Regency Collection (Book 19)

·       Authors: Jen Geigle Johnson, Heather B. Moore, & Anneka R. Walker

·       Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: Mirror Press (June 21, 2022)

·       Length: (305) pages

·       Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-1952611261

·       Tour Dates: June 20 – July 1, 2022



To Kiss a Wallflower is the nineteenth book in the Timeless Regency Collection, a bestselling anthology series from Mirror Press. The book features three novellas from acclaimed historical romance authors whose stories reveal that eventually, all wallflowers will have their chance at love . . . This is where it begins.

“The Wallflower’s Dance,” by Jen Geigle Johnson

Lottie Hughes likes people, as long as they aren't too close. Does it bother her that no one asks her to dance? Yes, but she's not sure how to drum up dance partners when she has almost no dowry, no title, and freezes up when anyone tries to talk to her. When she suddenly inherits a huge amount and is the new center of attention all over London, her secret dreams might come true but also her worst nightmares. Suddenly everyone wants to talk to her. Men ask her to dance. And she is inundated with interested suitors. She fights to stay close to the few friends she knows are true. One man saw her before her life changed forever. But does she want to accept his help when he, too, might be insincere?

“Letters to a Wallflower,” by Heather B. Moore

Ellen might be beautiful and considered a diamond of the first water by Society, but she is so very tired of the pressure to marry a titled gentleman so that her beauty won’t go to waste. When her cousin Dinah dares Ellen to attend a ball with no frills and to stand with the wallflowers, Ellen takes on the dare. What’s in the wager for her? The prize cuttings of her aunt’s extraordinary roses. But what Ellen isn’t expecting is Lord Ravenshire to engage her in the most interesting conversation. When she confesses to him of her opposition in marrying for a title, he confesses his distaste of the London scene. They strike a bargain together, one which will either push them apart or lead to a future sweeter than either of them could have imagined.

“To Marry a Wallflower,” by Anneka R. Walker

Charlotte Winters is destined to spinsterhood until she turns down an unwanted proposal and everything changes. With gossip rampant, her father attempts to salvage her reputation by betrothing her to another. Soon she is sent off to her aunt’s to meet Lord Templeton, her intended. Anxiety-ridden, Charlotte begs her aunt to let her observe Lord Templeton from afar before their introduction. She never planned to pretend to be her fictional cousin to learn more about him, or to fall in love with Lord Templeton’s friend in the process. Lord Templeton dreads returning to the empty halls of Newcliff Manor. When his father’s old friend, Mr. Winters reaches out for assistance, Lord Templeton finds himself returning home engaged to a woman he has never met. Desperate to learn more about Miss Winters, he befriends her cousin. He wouldn’t have spoken to her, or lied about his identity, if he’d known the quiet woman would sneak into his heart.


Since 2015, Mirror Press has been presenting the Timeless Regency Collection, a curated anthology of novellas and short stories featuring bestselling authors from the contemporary and historical romance genres. The collection has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.  


·       “5 STARS - I loved the unique twists that each author used in their stories and how they tied them into the theme.”— Julie Carpenter, Goodreads

·       “What a great set of stories! If you have read any of these three authors you know you are in for a treat. If you aren’t familiar with them, prepare to add their names to your list of favorites.”— Shauna Jones, Goodreads

·       “I thoroughly enjoyed all three of these novellas. They were lighthearted, fun, and took me away from my worries for a while.”— A Bookish Romantic, Goodreads




Jen Geigle Johnson

An award-winning author, including the GOLD in Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards and LDSPMA Praiseworthy's top award for Romance, Jen Geigle Johnson has more stories circulating in her brain than can possibly be told. She discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager. History is her main jam. Her literary heroes include the greats: Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. But she has modern sensibilities as well.

She loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure.



Heather B. Moore

 Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She's lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including Hawaii, and attended school abroad including the Cairo American College in Egypt, and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about anything in history and, as an author, is passionate about historical research.



Anneka R. Walker

Anneka Walker is an award-winning author raised by a librarian and an English teacher turned judge. After being fed a steady diet of books, she decided to learn about writing. The result was a bachelor's degree in English and history. When she isn't dreaming up a happy ending for a story, she is busy living her own with her husband and adorable children.


Friday, June 24, 2022

The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World by Jessica Nabongo (TLC Book Tour)


How many countries have you visited?

Unlike author Jessica Nabongo, I am a sad traveler that has only visited three countries, all in North America.  I hope to travel more in the future as the kids grow up.

The Catch Me If You Can is an intriguing memoir of Jessica Nabongo.  Nabongo was taking the corporate world by storm when she realized she wanted more out of life.  She moved to Japan to teach English and from then on, the trajectory of her life was changed.  She started a blog called The Catch Me If You Can that focused on her travels and her photography.  By 2017 she had a goal of visiting every country in the world and she did it.  She has visited 195 countries and 10 territories. 

I found this memoir to be fascinating.  I loved Nabongo’s beautiful pictures, but I also loved the narrative about her travels.  I like how she just went to countries and then organically found cool things to do.  I’ve always wanted to visit many of these countries and Nabongo made me feel like I could do it.  I loved her descriptions of the pyramids, “No matter how many pictures you’ve seen of the pyramids, nothing can prepare you for seeing them up close.”  I also like that she gave facts, history, and dimensions on them. For each country she had fascinating items to share about the country and its people.  I also enjoyed the bucket list at the end for the reader for cool things to visit in each country.

I was scared for Nabongo to visit North Korea, but she said she was never afraid of traveling there.   “What I found most fascinating about North Korea was just how normal it felt.”  I thought that was fascinating.  Overall, that is what Nabongo realized as she traveled around the world, that people are people.  They are “more similar than we are different,” and that “most people are good.”  I thought it was very inspirational and very positive.  I greatly enjoyed this book. 

Book Source:  A Review Copy from Hachette Book Group / National Geographic 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.

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly


Jane Austen, the Secret Radical was one of the May selections for the JASNA Northwoods Book Club.  Author Helena Kelly analyzes each of Austen’s novels for signs of the “secret radical” that she believes Austen was.

The introduction is an analysis of Jane Austen. Each chapter started with a narrative on Austen’s life and then followed by an analysis of each of her novels.  “”I would suggest that when dealing with someone like Jane Austen, we could add another, and more dangerous, class of knowledge; what might be termed the unknown knowns – things we don’t actually know but think we do.”

I thought the writing was engaging and not written like a dry academia book.  Sadly though, detailed notes were lacking in the book that could have explained why Kelly seemed to not agree with many items that seem to be established ideas from other scholars. 

I did like how the author brought out interesting thoughts and ideas about the characters and the novels.  In particular the Mansfield Park section had an interesting discussing about slavery.  I learned that Maria Edgeworth had to rewrite Belinda to remove a marriage between a white character and a black character after being ravaged by critics.  The links of Mansfield Park to slavery were detailed.

I was not happy about the analysis of Sense and Sensibility which heavily implied that both Edward Ferris and Colonel Brandon had strange sexual proclivities.  I was not amused and not feel like I can never look at these characters in the same way.  The analysis seemed to stretch way to far with these characters.

Favorite Quotes:

“She loves her family – truly, she does – but the days seem to slip through her fingers.  There is always some demand on her time:  someone needing to be nursed or entertained a letter of condolence to be written, paper boats to be sailed on the river, yet another new niece or nephew to sew caps for.”

“In a society where unmarried men and women were largely kept separate, and permitted to socialize only when properly chaperoned, how could a woman arrive at any sort of knowledge of a man’s character, and how could a man hope to understand the nature of the woman he married?”

Overall, Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, was an interesting read, but the analysis seemed off the rails at times.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Midnight’s Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller (Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY)


Do you consider yourself to be a “wallflower” or are you more the life of the party?

Midnight’s Budding Morrow is the second book in the Regency Wallflowers series.  I read and enjoyed the first book as well.  This book can be read as a standalone.

Sarah Drayton is invited by her friend Beatrice to visit her family estate, the run-down castle of Langley which is located by the sea.  Sarah hopes they do not run into Beatrice’s brother, James, who is a drunken rake that had forced a kiss on her at a dance.  Sarah finds things not happy at the castle as it fallen into disrepair and the servants don’t seem to be doing much work.  Beatrice is unhappy as she is in love with a man that her father does not approve.  Sarah soon finds herself in a marriage of convenience with the dreaded James.  Will Sarah be able to find happiness?

I enjoyed this novel.  I love marriage of convenience stories.  I really liked how this book delved into whether a person can really change or not.  James has what would now be PTSD from his service for the crown in the Napoleonic Wars.  He finds God and works through his demons while recovering and wants to start afresh with Sarah.  It’s hard to make true changes and start over with a spouse that you barely know. 

Sarah is an orphan and looking for family and a place to belong.  Old Mr. Langley enjoys her skills running a household, but neighbors look at Sarah more as a servant than the lady of the house.  Will she find her place in the household, neighborhood, and with her husband?

The novel has some slight Gothic elements.  Nothing scary, but it did have a treasure hunt, shut up rooms, a falling down castle, and the mysterious death of old Mrs. Langley years before.

Overall, Midnight’s Budding Morrow is an intriguing regency romance.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Kregel Publications as part of the Audra Jennings PR Book Tour.

About the series:

While most stories set in Regency England focus on the rich, the young, and the beautiful, award-winning author Carolyn Miller decided she wanted to give readers something different for a change. Her new Regency Wallflowers series follows the commoners, away from the hustle and bustle of 1810s London, out in the Lake District of England. She tells the stories of women who are slightly older and have few prospects for marriage, women who might be considered “wallflowers.”

Midnight’s Budding Morrow is the second book in the Regency Wallflowers series. The first book in the series is Dusk’s Darkest Shores.


About the book:

Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue?

Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend's rakish brother.

When James Langley returns to his family's estate, he can't be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father's stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love.

Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn't until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed?

When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and his plans. Will they be destroyed . . . or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?

 Click here to read an excerpt.


About the author:

Carolyn Miller is an inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English literature and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She enjoys music, films, gardens, art, travel, and food.

Miller’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.

Learn more about Carolyn at, or find her on Facebook (Carolyn Miller Author)Instagram (@CarolynMillerAuthor), and Twitter (@CarolynMAuthor)


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My Life: Growing up Asian in America


Title:  My Life: Growing up Asian in America

Author:  Melissa de la Cruz, Marie Lu, Aisha Sultan, Nathan Ramos-Park, etc.

Narrated by:  Jennifer Aquino, Ramón de Ocampo, Deepti Gupta, Kamran R. Khan, Marie Lu, etc.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 5 hours and 47 minutes

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

May was Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  I thought it was a great month to listen to My Life:  Growing Up Asian in America. This audiobook was 30 essays from varying perspectives about growing up Asian in America.  “There are 23 million people, representing more than twenty countries, each with unique languages, histories, and cultures, clumped under one banner: Asian American.”  Listening to these essays made me realize just how many different experiences there are as an “Asian American.”

The essays were heartfelt and interesting.  They were put together after the shootings in Atlanta and rise of anti-Asian crimes during the COVID epidemic.  They focused on microaggressions and racism that occurred to the authors while growing up.    They were told in different styles and with different narrators in the audiobook for each essay.  It made it a very interesting listening experience.  This was published by the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) and MTV books.  I thought that it was very thought-provoking.  I would be interested in listening to more audiobooks like this about different experiences growing up in America. 

Overall, My Life:  Growing up Asian in America is an important book to help understand different perspectives in America.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

 What do you miss from summers in your teen years?  What do you not miss?

Belly spends her summer at Cousin’s Beach each year with her mother, brother, mother’s best friend Susannah and Susannah’s two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah.  This novel goes back and forth through Belly’s life in the summer as she grows up into a teenager that is love with Conrad and sometimes Jeremiah.  Will Belly end the summer finally noticed by Conrad?

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a coming-of-age story and is a light read.  Belly is a teenager in this young adult novel, and as a teenager, she is sometimes annoying as she tries to figure out what she wants in life.  It made me remember teenage years.  Having more time to have fun in the summer was great, although I started working summers at the age of 12 so I didn’t have long summers on the beach like this.  It’s complicated being a teenager and trying to figure out the social scene.  Belly has problems when she invites her best friend, and also when she starts seeing a boy named Cam.  I like books set in the summer and coming of age novels.  I’m interested to see what happens next in this trilogy and I will be reading onward.  I’m also looking forward to the Amazon Prime series.  It looks like it came out while I was on vacation the past week and a half.  My daughter Penelope and I will be watching it!

Overall, The Summer I Turned Pretty is an entertaining coming of age novel.

Book Source:  Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the free copy for review.

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay


What is the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

I read Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay over Memorial Day weekend.  I couldn’t put this book down!

Six years ago, Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip over the weekend and his wife Brie disappeared.  As the husband, he is the prime suspect, but the police are never able to pin the crime on him.  Andrew changes his last name and attempts to start his life over.  Then a woman that appears to be Brie shows up with groceries at the site of their former home.  As sightings of the woman appear around town, Andrew wonders, has Brie returned?  Where has she been for six years?  How is he going to break the news to his current girlfriend?

Take Your Breath away is a fast-paced thriller and I greatly enjoyed the story and the characters.  I did not guess the ending of this one, there were many plausible well developed red herrings.  The book was well written building layer upon layer of the story in a fascinating way.  I loved the visual descriptions such as Brie leaving flour on the floor to look for mice but waking up to find a man shaped footprint in it right before the first scene goes black.  I really wanted to know what happened to Brie and I did get a resolution.

Overall, Take Your Breath Away is a riveting thriller.  I highly recommend it!

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

Monday, June 20, 2022

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols (TLC Book Tour)


I have been on vacation the past week and a half, and I have gotten very behind on book reviews, and I missed my Book Tour date for this novel.  I’m working on catching up again with everything!

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are is a short memoir by the author Ellen Nichols.  Nichols was the second of four daughters of a southern Methodist pastor.  As she would leave her house, her mother would tell her “remember whose little girl you are” to make her think about her behavior and how it would reflect back on her parents.  Nichols still manages to get into hijinks as she grows up in the 50’s and 60’s and also has many loves.  This is told through vignettes through Nichol’s life starting when she was young through her teenage years.

I enjoyed the short stories.  Nichols was a spirited girl and young woman, and she grew up in the deep south during the Civil Rights Movement.  She had opinions on the movement and found herself in trouble because of them.  Nichols moved a lot as the daughter of a pastor and found herself starting over constantly in a new place.  I thought it was a very interesting read and I liked the humor.

Overall, Remember Whose Little Girl you are by Ellen Nichols is an interesting and fun memoir.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Koehler Books as part of the TLC Book Tour.

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole


Title:  The Castle of Otranto

Author:  Horace Walpole

Narrated by:  Thomas Copeland


Length: Approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes

Source: Purchased from

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole was a May selection for the JASNA Northwoods Book Club.  The Castle of Otranto is considered to be the first Gothic romance novel.  This is the type of novel that Jane Austen mocks in Northanger Abbey. 

The Castle of Otranto is set up like it was a found manuscript from a medieval Italian castle.  Conrad, the heir to the house of Otranto, is mysteriously killed on the day of his wedding to the beautiful Isabella.  After his death, his father, Manfred, makes a series of bad decisions as he tries to continue his dynasty.  Will Manfred be stopped?

I found this novel to be very entertaining and over the top.  Unfortunately the audiobook itself was one of the worst audiobooks I have listened to.  The audio quality was poor, very “tinny,” and it hurt my ears at times.  There was a weird effect where some of the dialogue seemed to be said in an echoey room.  I wasn’t sure why, there was no rhyme or reason to it.  The narrator was monotone.  This fun novel deserves a better audiobook.

Reading this book did make me realize that this genre was rip for satire and I can see it in Northanger Abbey.  It made me wish again that someone would make another movie version of Northanger Abbey that would focus more on the satire in the novel.  We had a good discussion about this book in book club.  It has made me want to read more early gothic novels.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave


Title:  The Last Thing He Told Me

Author:  Laura Dave

Narrated by:  Rebecca Lowman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 8 hours and 49 minutes

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

 The Last Thing He Told Me was the May selection for the Page-turners Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  I enjoyed this book, but sadly missed the lunch time meeting due to work commitments.

 Hannah is happily married to Owen Michaels and loves being the stepmother to Owen’s daughter, Bailey.  Bailey has hit her teen years and parenting has gotten tricky.  After Owen’s firm gets embroiled into a scandal that will defraud investors, he disappears.  After the FBI shows up, Hannah discovers that Owen is not who he said he was. Where has Owen gone and what secrets now threaten the family?

 I enjoyed that the Michaels family is found living in a houseboat in Sausalito at the start of the novel.  This was a unique and fun setting.  I found this audiobook to be very engaging and I really wanted to know how this mystery would end.  I can’t say much more about this without ruining the story.  I did like the overall theme of family and love in this story.  What are you willing to do to protect those that you love?

 Rebecca Lowman was an excellent narrator.  I wanted to keep driving past my work to listen keep listening to this story.

 Favorite Quote:

“This is the thing about good and evil. They aren't so far apart - and they often start from the same valiant place of wanting something to be different.”

 Overall, The Last Thing He Told Me is an engaging suspense novel and an excellent audiobook.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins


Title:  American Dirt

Author: Jeanine Cummins

Narrated by:  Yareli Arizmendi

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Length: Approximately16 hours and 43 minutes

Source: Checked out from the Kewaunee Public Library through Overdrive 

 What is your favorite book about a journey?

 American Dirt is an audiobook that I could not stop listening too.  The story really wrapped me in and made me really care about the characters.  It was the March selection for the Rogue book club, but I listened to it in February.

 Lydia Quixano Perez lives in Acapulco and is happily married to her husband, a journalist, Sebastian.  The novel starts off with a tragedy as Lydia’s entire family is slaughtered at a quinceañera party.  Only Lydia and her young son, Luca, survive by hiding in the shower.  Lydia and Luca start a perilous journey north through Mexico to the United States.  The story also flashes back to tell the story leading up to the massacre. Lydia owned a book store and had a favorite patron, Javier, that she became friends with.  Little did she know that Javier was a crime lord.  What did Javier have to do with Lydia’s families death and why?  Will Lydia and Luca make it to the United States?

 I greatly enjoyed this story.  The Javier and Lydia connection was fascinating and I wanted to know more about it.  The story was very perilous and made me think about the journey of so many migrants to our southern border.  I liked to trace Lydia and Luca’s path on a map to see where they were.  The story had great hooks and keep me interested.  Yareli Arizmendi was a great narrator and I thought of her as the voice of Lydia.

 I had heard this book had a controversy about it and I had to look it up afterwards.  The controversy is the author Jeanine Cummins, is not from Mexico and is not a migrant.  While I do really like #ownvoices of people telling their own stories, I also respect that authors write fiction.  I read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck at the same time I listened to this audiobook.  John Steinbeck was not an Okie and did not have to flee westward and work on migrant farms, but he was able to shine a light on an important migration and story in our history.  I feel the same way about this book.  Cummins may not have experienced it, but she is shining a light on an important migration that is currently happening right now.  This will hopefully make one look for nonfiction perspectives on it.

 What do you think?

Friday, June 10, 2022

A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

 Title:  A Ballad of Love and Glory

Author:  Reyna Grande

Narrated by:  Yareli Arizmendi and Aidan Kelly

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 13 hours and 32 minutes 

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

What period of history would you like to learn more about?  I didn’t know much about the Mexican American War, and I was excited to review this audiobook.  It was the first historical fiction book I have read that was set during the Mexican American War.

After Texas became the 28th state, a dispute arises between Texas and Mexico over the strip of land by the Rio Grande River.  The Mexican American war starts between the United States and Mexico in 1846.  As United States Troops come to fight, disputes soon arise as roughly forty percent of the troops are comprised of immigrants.  Most of these immigrants are Irish Catholic immigrants.  As they find themselves fighting against the Catholic Mexicans who are defending themselves against an invading force, the Irish start to realize they may have more in common with the enemy.  

John Riley is an Irish Catholic immigrant fighting in the United States army.  His family is still in Ireland and he dreams of bringing his wife and son to America.   After facing brutal oppression, Riley joins the Mexican Army with the promise of a grant of land, the ability to practice his Catholic faith, and the ability to advance in the military.  He becomes the leader of the St. Patrick’s Battalion of fellow Irish immigrant deserters from the United States army. He meets the beautiful Ximena, a gifted Mexican healer and nurse.  Ximena’s beloved husband was killed by Texas Rangers and she decides to help the Mexican Army.  Will these two survive the war?

I was riveted by this audiobook.  I recently found out that one of my ancestors was a Mexican American War veteran.   I was at first put off by the brutal treatment of the Irish immigrants by the United States army officers.  I looked it up and discovered that this unfortunately all true and not exaggerated.  The Irish immigrants were treated better by the Mexican Army, but they found themselves poorly led and without rations.  I enjoyed that real life characters Zachary Taylor and Santa Anna.  I thought this was a well-researched story and was fascinating.  After this war, the United States gained a lot of territory from New Mexico to California.  The author states in an afterward that this is a war the United States has forgotten, but Mexico cannot forget.  I learned a lot from this book.  I admit, I wasn’t sure what to think about the love story at first because I am not a fan of love stories where someone is cheating on their spouse.  I ended up feeling their complicated love story.  

Yareli Arizmendi and Aidan Kelly both narrated this novel.  They did a great job.  The chapters alternated between John Riley and Ximena’s points of view and these two narrators took the parts.  I like when two narrators are used for dual narration.

Overall, A Ballad of Love and Glory is a fascinating and unique historical fiction novel.  I highly recommend it.