Friday, January 17, 2020

1 The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol. III by Collins Hemingway: Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway @austenmarriage @hfvbt

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol. III by Collins Hemingway

Publication Date: November 4, 2017
eBook & Paperback; 338 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen's Saga

In the moving conclusion to "The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen," Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Jane rushed into the drawing room more than twenty minutes after she had planned. Cassandra was already there, diligent at her needlework. Jane noticed that her sister’s dress was faded; the dullness of repeated washings did not present well against the shimmering blue-green wallpaper, the golden wood panels, and the lush rose-colored rug. Jane absorbed this image without judgment but rather as a woman who would wish—if it were possible without awkwardness—to gift her sister with fabric that might breathe more comfortably among the finer things at Hants.
The nurse soon brought George. Before Jane settled in for the afternoon feeding, Cassy held the little boy, who greeted his aunt with an energetic display of movements and noises and smiles. “And how is my young nephew?” she said.
“He is good—finally past all the colds and coughs. I had begun to believe that colic was a permanent condition.”
Cass sewed and Jane fussed over George for some little while.
“You must have run all the way,” Cassandra observed. “When you came down. Your face is still a little flushed.”
Jane’s face came all the redder for the comment.
“I hurried as fast as I could. I lost track of the time. Ashton enjoys a midday nap but professes not to be able to rest unless I join him.”
“I am certain you provide him all measure of comfort.” Cass’s face underwent subtle changes during the exchange—a raised eyebrow, a smile—but she did not look up from her needlework. “Everyone in the family will be reassured that the two of you have reclaimed your footing.”
“I have no idea what you mean.”
“There was a strain between you in Southampton. Love, affection—as before. Yet there was also limitation. As if the honeymoon had come to a rather precipitous end.”
“A sick child will do that. And it took us longer to readjust—after George—than either of us expected. We are just now—finding our way.”
And so they were. Her mind jumped back to those still-fresh moments with Ashton in the half-light of the curtained bedroom.
“I am reassured by your smile,” Cassy said. “But if you insist upon smiling to yourself, you must let me in on your secret.”
Jane did not know how to respond. Her private life was the only aspect of her marriage she had never shared with her sister. This was the first time Cass had pressed the point.
“I do not wish to flaunt my happiness in your face.” Jane halted, seeing where her words might lead her. “Especially about the particulars … of husband and wife.”
“You think it cruel to regale me with tales of marital happiness because I am single and always likely to be?”
It was impossible to think of Cassandra and her continually contracting prospects without feeling anxiety about the gulf between them. Her sister was not only a spinster, but she was three years older than Jane, herself now one and thirty. She had no one to share a life with, not even Jane anymore. Cass would have, Jane believed, warmly returned the physical affections of Tom Fowle, but she otherwise lacked a native sensuality. Her intelligence and honesty could still charm any man she might wish to charm, but with Tom’s death she had lost the demonstrable spark that would draw a man’s attention and alert him to those qualities. This is what Jane felt but could never say to her beloved sibling.
“I do not ask you to share the details. Well, I would love to hear the details!—but I am really interested in how that aspect has changed you. What it means. How it affects your view of life, the world.” Cassandra looked away for a few moments. Jane saw in her face an older, more somber, version of her own. “I am happy, Jane. You must believe that. It would make me miserable to my core if you withheld one ounce of your feelings for Ashton out of concern for me.”
“I seem to recall a wise father, and wiser sister, who cautioned a young woman about getting carried away.”
“I have come to believe that the world would be a better place if more people were carried away in the manner of you and Ashton. I bask in your love for each other. It warms me to know that you are happy. And Ashton too. I am also a practical mercenary. Your happiness will provide for me and Mother if worse should ever come to worst!”
Cass worked, Jane gave small attentions to George he nursed, and the sisters discussed elements of her private history. No particulars of any moment, but the way her intimate life with Ashton informed the rest, and the way the interplay between the emotional and physical reinforced one with the other.
Soon after, Ashton came by on his way out from the library to the field. He still moved with that mixture of sloth and concentration that implied overindulgence of a particular sort with his wife. He bowed and said to the ladies: “I shall be gone for the rest of the day. Is there anything I can do for you before I go?”
“No, you have done quite enough for today,” Jane said.
“Enough for us both, I should hazard,” Cassandra said, low enough that only Jane could hear. 

My Thoughts

It's impossible to review The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol. III by Collins Hemingway without spoilers from Volume I and II. So if you've not had the opportunity to read the first two volumes yet, I would direct you to check out my review of Volume I and Volume II first to avoid spoilers.

Authors like Austen and Bronte are often commented on writing so poignantly about love without having much experience in this area of their lives. What if she did, though. What if she had an earth-shattering love. How might that have affected her life and writing. Collins Hemingway explores that in his series The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen

Volume III begins after the birth of Jane and Ashton's son George. The couple is still trying to find their way back to one another as couples do after the birth of a child. Their world is consumed by their precious boy and a meddling mother-in-law. The couple does their best to reconnect but their world is plagued by trials and tribulations. 

I read this book with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because I have enjoyed reading the first two volumes of this series, and I couldn't wait to see how Hemingway ended this series. Trepidation because I'm familiar with Austen's life, and I wondered how close the author would stick to her biography. Without spoiling the ending, Hemingway gave this series the ending that was most fitting to the storyline. 

Looking back at the series as a whole, Hemingway did an excellent job of portraying a 'what if' scenario about Jane Austen's life. He blends fact into fiction so smoothly that you want it to be real. The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen series will having you falling in love with Jane all over again. It will break your heart, but also leave you wanting more. 

Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Series

Hemingway again displays his notable ability to recreate time and place, moving on from the heady days of Jane Austen's early love to a marriage beset by difficulties and a country at war. Hemingway ... vividly and authentically portrays the times. ... [T]his is a lively, compelling read, [a] sobering but moving finale to Hemingway's successful trilogy. —BlueInk Review

Immensely satisfying ... Marriage is lively, compelling, and fun. ... [Her] relationship with her husband Ashton still sparkles. Marriage is a lovely ode to their connection. ... Hemingway has combined Austen's humanity with her fiction and created a Jane that lives and breathes on the page. Audiences will want her to be real... It offers a wonderful, imagined alternate life for the well-loved author. —Claire Foster, Foreword Review

‘Enjoyable … an imaginative, well-researched series.’ —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Collins' passion for literature, history, and science enable him to create complete, sharply drawn fictional characters fully engaged in their complex and often dangerous worlds. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding respect for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Collins has investigated topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he co-authored with Bill Gates, he tackles challenging topics with clarity and insight, writing for the intelligent but nontechnical reader.

Born and raised in Arkansas, Collins has lived most of his adult life in the American Northwest, with a career that has spanned writing, high tech, and aviation. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Arkansas, Phi Beta Kappa; a master's degree in English literature from the University of Oregon; and numerous technical certifications in computer technology.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 16

Tuesday, December 17

Wednesday, December 18
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, December 19
Excerpt at Jathan & Heather
Guest Post at Library of Clean Reads

Saturday, December 21
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, December 27
Review at Pencils & Pages

Saturday, December 28

Wednesday, January 1
Review at Older & Smarter

Thursday, January 2

Friday, January 3

Monday, January 6
Review at @ya.its.lit

Thursday, January 9

Friday, January 10
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Monday, January 13

Tuesday, January 14

Thursday, January 16

Friday, January 17
Review & Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol III

Friday, December 13, 2019

2 Release Day Blast & Cover Reveal for The Ghost of Madison Avenue by Nancy Bilyeau

The Ghost of Madison Avenue by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: December 13, 2019
eBook, 108 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery

Christmas Ghost Story in Old New York

In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to New York City’s Morgan Library in December 1912, when two very different people haunted by lost love come together in an unexpected way.

Helen O’Neill, part of a tight-knit Irish-American family in the Bronx, is only too happy to report to work at the spectacular private library built on Madison Avenue by millionaire financier J. P. Morgan. The head librarian, the brilliant and beautiful Belle da Costa Greene, had hired Helen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after she witnessed Helen’s unusual talent with handling artifacts.

Helen soon discovers the Morgan Library is a place like no other, with its secret staircases, magical manuscripts, and mysterious murals. But that’s nothing compared to a person who Helen alone can see: a young woman standing on Madison Avenue, looking as if she were keeping watch. In learning the woman’s true link to the Morgan, Helen must face the pain of her own past. And as she struggles to discover the truth behind these appearances, she finds herself with a second chance at happiness for herself on Christmas Eve—if she has the courage.

From the author of The Blue, the Joanna Stafford trilogy, and the soon-to-be published Dreamland, set in 1911 Coney Island, comes The Ghost of Madison Avenue, a novella both thrilling and moving.

Available on Amazon

Praise for Nancy Bilyeau

‘Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books' – Alison Weir

On Dreamland

'Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Dreamland is a rollicking ride.' - Fiona Davis, author of The Chelsea Girls

'A marvelous book!' - Ellen Marie Wiseman, author of What she Left Behind

On The Blue

'Definitely a winner!' - Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

On the Joanna Stafford Trilogy

‘All the ingredients of the best historical fiction … will satisfy even the most ardent mystery fans.’ - Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches

About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau is a historical novelist and magazine editor based in New York. She wrote the Joanna Stafford trilogy, a trio of thrillers set in Henry VIII’s England, for Simon & Schuster. Her fourth novel is The Blue, an 18th-century thriller revolving around the art and porcelain world. Her next novel is Dreamland, set in Coney Island of 1911, to be published by Endeavour Quill on January 16, 2020. A former staff editor at Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and InStyle, Nancy is currently the deputy editor at the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College and contributes to Town & Country, CrimeReads, and Mystery Scene magazine.

To learn more, go to You can follow Nancy on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, and Goodreads.

Release Day Blast Hosts

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

0 An Encyclopedia of Tolkien by David Day

An Encyclopedia of Tolkien
by David Day
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Canterbury Classics

A comprehensive, illustrated guide to the history, lands, and inhabitants of Middle-earth.

The fantasy world of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth contains a rich assortment of people, cities, and creatures—as well as a deep, intertwined history that spans thousands of years. In this beautifully illustrated, leather-bound volume, best-selling author and Tolkien scholar David Day presents four decades of research and writing on the lands and inhabitants Middle-earth. Sections of this A-to-Z dictionary are devoted to discussion of the battles, history, beasts, and heroes of Tolkien’s stories, and are accompanied by black-and-white illustrations. This comprehensive volume on Tolkien’s world also includes an appendix of three primary legends that served as sources for Tolkien’s creations—the Volsunga saga, the Nibelungenlied, and Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle—and more than 200 black-and-white illustrations

*I received this book free of charge in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. 

My Thoughts

First, let me describe the beauty of this book, for the picture does not do it justice. An Encyclopedia of Tolkien is bound in soft, brown leather embossed with gold letters and branded with a beautiful Tolkien image. The gilded book edges are in gold with a lovely green ribbon bookmark peeking out from the pages. This hardcover would make any book lover swoon. And we haven't even discussed the content yet.

An Encyclopedia of Tolkien: The History and Mythology That Inspired Tolkien's World by David Day is a well-researched fountain of information that even Orcs would enjoy. It's everything the title mentions and more. The book begins with a fascinating introduction by the author before continuing on with a dictionary of sources. From A to Z this book covers everything you could think of, including some of the most awesome images I have ever seen. There are charts as well as maps of battles. But my absolute favorite part is the mythology behind the ring. Day gives us a closer look into the stories that inspired Tolkien to create his epic series. 

This book is a treasure. Everything you want to know and more about Tolkien's world is in this book. It's a lovely book that would make a great gift, or you can treat yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

1 Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift @swiftstory @hfvbt

Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 12, 2019
Hachette Book Group
eBook. Paperback, Audiobook; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

London 1666

Elizabeth 'Bird' Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.

When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.

But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward - for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind.

Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.

The third in Deborah Swift's atmospheric trilogy, bringing to life the women in Pepys' Diary. Each novel features a different character and can be read as a stand-alone book.

'A remarkably beguiling read. It transported me to the glitter and filth of seventeenth century London' - Martine Bailey, author of The Almanack

'The fusion of historical facts and fiction is so flawless that it is hard to know where reality ends and fiction begins' - Readers Favourite Review

Amazon | Book Depository

Praise for the Pepys Trilogy

'Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines' - The Visitor

'A novel that transports readers with astonishing and engrossing detail' - Readers Favorite 5*

'Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life… Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined' -Lancashire Evening Post

About the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 21
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, November 22
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, November 25
Review & Excerpt at Book Reviews from Canada

Tuesday, November 26
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, November 27
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Thursday, November 28

Friday, November 29

Monday, December 2

Tuesday, December 3
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 6
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, December 9

Tuesday, December 10
Excerpt at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 11

Thursday, December 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of Entertaining Mr. Pepys! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Entertaining Mr. Pepys

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

0 Distant Signs by Anne Richter Excerpt and Giveaway

Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Publication Date: November 7, 2019
Neem Tree Press
Hardcover; 240 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Saga

Distant Signs is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall. In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor's daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in Thuringia. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families' hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why do families repeat destructive patterns of behaviour across generations? Should the personal take precedence over the political? Can we rise above our histories and political identities to forge a new understanding of the past and to welcome change?

Available on Amazon


1. Margret – 1965 – Communist Cow (pp.12-13): meeting Hans

After work, I was now in the habit of taking an evening stroll through the surrounding area. My eyes quickly grew accustomed to the faint light, so that each time I recognised the contours of the land better, easily discerned the paths, trees, meadows and fences. Shrouded in my coat and woollen scarf I was at one with the winter air, the dormant plants, the sleeping animals, on some days with the snow, luminous against the dark.
One evening, at the edge of a meadow I spotted a man’s silhouette, static and slightly stooped, hands clasped behind his back. He turned to me as I approached.
“The evening air here,” he said by way of greeting, “reminds me of home.”
I recognised the young man’s face; he too worked on the farm.
“Where are you from?” I asked, and he named a village near my boarding school. I told him where I had gone to school and how fondly I remembered my time there. He mumbled in surprise that no one else here knew his village.
We were silent for a moment; then he said, “I learned some of the work when I was a child: harvesting crops and milking goats.”
I nodded, and was surprised to think that he had also noticed me on the farm.
“I’m here to deepen my knowledge before I start my studies,” he continued, and proceeded to tell me that while it was still light on his early autumn walks he had picked plants at the field perimeters and set up a herbarium. “I don’t mind the winter,” he said.
I rubbed my hands together, formed two small hollows and breathed into them. We were not far from the farmyard when he offered me his gloves. I hesitated. Then my hands slipped into the already warm wool.
In the meagre light of the murky farmyard lantern, I noticed he had a slight squint in his left eye and blushed under my gaze. Although he did not come across as very athletic and looked poorly suited to hard farm work, I felt at ease in his presence, precisely because there was nothing boisterous or uncouth about the way he talked and behaved. As we said goodnight he asked me my name.
“Margret,” I told him.
And he told me his – Hans – before adding, “The women in my village don’t have as nice-sounding names as yours.”

About the Author

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Douglas Irving is Scottish. He studied German and Spanish at Aberdeen University. In 2014 he completed a Masters in Translation at Glasgow University. His first translation, Crossing: A Love Story by Anna Seghers was published in 2016 in the US to positive reviews. His translation of Anna Seghers’ last work published in her lifetime, Three Women from Haiti, is set to follow.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 7
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings

Friday, November 8
Review at A Book Geek

Sunday, November 10
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, November 12

Wednesday, November 13

Thursday, November 14

Friday, November 15

Monday, November 18

Tuesday, November 19

Wednesday, November 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, November 21
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, November 22

Saturday, November 23

Monday, November 25

Tuesday, November 26

Wednesday, November 27

Friday, November 29
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of A Distant Signs by Anne Richter! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

- Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
- Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
- Only one entry per household.
- All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
- The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Distant Signs

Friday, November 1, 2019

0 Review: Marley by Jon Clinch

Marley by Jon Clinch
Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
Published October 8th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio

Young Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley are very different in temperament when they meet in the gloomy confines of Professor Drabb’s Academy for Boys, but they form a bond that will endure for the rest of their lives.

My Thoughts

Marley by Jon Clinch is a prequel to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Readers are not entirely sure what exactly Jacob Marley did in his life, but we know it's bad. We know that because when Scrooge is visited by Marley, he is weighed down by heavy chains of his own making. Chains he forged in life. Without knowing exactly who he is and what he's done, we can deduce from Scrooge's life that Marley wasn't a good character. However, there is a redemptive quality to Marley. After all, he does come to Scrooge to warn him that if he doesn't change his ways, he'll end up the same way.
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

We know what happens to Scrooge, but what we don't know is how Scrooge got to be Scrooge in the first place, and we don't know exactly what part Marley played in it. Now thanks to Jon Clinch, we do. Clinch mastered the backstory of two classic but complex characters. This story is dark but compelling. Every step that Scrooge takes during this book, you can see him coming closer and closer to the miserly character he is at the beginning of Charles Dickens classic tale. I don't think I'll be able to read A Christmas Carol again without thinking of Marley.

We meet Scrooge and Marley as young lads. From early in their relationship, Marley has a hold over Scrooge. Scrooge is the man who's good with numbers, while Marley is the big picture man. Together they make a good team. If only they used their powers for good. They deal in slave trade and have shady business practices that would make your stomach churn. So many times I wanted to shout at the characters. Scrooge and Marley had a complicated relationship, sometimes friends, sometimes frienemies.

Marley by Jon Clinch is a fantastic prequel. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, which I enthusiastically recommend. Whether you listen to this book on audio or read the hardback, it's definitely one you'll want to add to your tbr. 

*I received a digital copy of this audiobook for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my opinion.

Friday, October 25, 2019

0 5 nonfiction audiobooks for your consideration

How to Connect: Stories on the Power of Human Connection
by Brian Grazer
Narrated by: Brian Grazer - introduction, Steven Weber
Published September 17, 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio 
Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins

"New York Times bestselling author and iconic Hollywood producer Brian Grazer reveals a new secret to forge a happier and more successful life. Through his own personal stories, discover how eye contact—a power available to nearly everyone—can change your life too."

Are you ready for the secret? Let me save you 4 hours and 42 minutes. Make eye contact. Yep, that's it. I didn't think this was a secret, per se. After all, any communications class will tell you how important it is. But it's also no secret that today's society tend to be looking at their phones more than each other, so maybe we need this reminder. Brian Grazer goes on to illustrate his points about eye contact by telling stories (heavy on the name dropping) about his life and how this concept served him well. While the intentions were good, the execution not so much. 

What Set Me Free A True Story of Wrongful Conviction, a Dream Deferred, and a Man Redeemed
by Brian Banks
Narrated by Brian Banks
Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
Published July 2nd 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio

"Discover the unforgettable and inspiring true story of Brian Banks—a young man who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager and imprisoned for more than five years, only to emerge with his spirit unbroken and determined to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL."

What Set Me Free is an eye-opening memoir about a young man who was failed by the US judicial system. I went through an array of emotions while listening this audiobook, beginning with infuriated and incredulous to inspired and hopeful. Stories like Brian's need to stay in the media to keep issues like this in the forefront of our minds. Our country needs many things, but prison reform needs to be at the top. Too many people are being wrongfully convicted or serving outrageous sentences for minor crimes. I am so sorry that Brian Banks had to go through this, but I am grateful for him to tell his story so that others may not have to suffer as he did. 

Sweat the Technique: The Elements of Writing—Anything
by Rakim
Narrated by: Rakim
Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
Published 09-24-19 by  HarperAudio

"Filled with valuable lessons for every writer, Sweat the Technique reveals the heart and mind of an artist and his love for great storytelling, and always, the words."

I am fascinated by artists' creative process, and that fascination led me to this book. I have to be completely honest, I didn't know who Rakim was or what his contribution to hip hop was before I began this book. I liked that Sweat the Technique wasn't a typical 'how to' guide. Instead it's part memoir/part writing guide. One thing that struck me while listening was Rakim's absolute confidence he had in himself to see his vision of who he wanted to be and what he wanted to accomplish to fruition. He didn't compromise himself, and that's truly inspiring. I think this book has a little something for everyone, no matter your industry.

And a little bonus. Try not to dance. I dare you.

The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience
by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton
Narrated by: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton
Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
Published 10-01-19 by  Simon Schuster Audio

"Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them—women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done."

The Book of Gutsy Women seemed to be like a conversation between Hillary and Chelsea that the audience is privileged to sit in on. This book highlights powerful, gutsy women both past and present. I love books like this one. Books that highlight the accomplishments of so many women who didn't make the pages of history, of were given but a single sentence about their contributions. I also love that the book included women of today, who should be highlighted for their achievements in making this world a better place.

Inside Out
by Demi Moore 
Narrated by Demi Moore
Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
Published: 09-24-19 by HarperAudio

"Famed American actress Demi Moore at last tells her own story in a surprisingly intimate and emotionally charged memoir."

Inside Out felt like a rebuttal to an argument I wasn't privy to. It felt defensive. It felt a little chaotic at times. I grew up watching Demi on the big screen--Ghost and St. Elmo's Fire among my favorites. I knew very little about her private life before listening to Inside Out. And I kinda wish I could go back to my previous ignorant state.
Demi begins with her childhood. It was terrible. Her parents were terrible. She moved around a lot, she had/has body image issues, and then the book goes on to talk about her feelings of not belonging, her drug and alcohol abuse, her career, her marriages, the roles she took on, and her public image. It seemed if she were trying to justify all her actions. But justify them to whom exactly?
 I don't know.
A lot of what she went through is not uncommon. The impostor syndrome thing is real. So maybe she's trying to say, "I'm just like you." I don't know. But taking responsibility for your choices, owning your choices, good and bad, and not blaming everyone else for your decisions is part of being an adult. I don't think she quite there yet. But hey, we're all learning and growing every day. One thing I thought was really brave was her sharing about her rape at 15. This is a travesty and a situation where 100% blame lay entirely elsewhere. This might be a trigger for some readers, so be warned.

*I received some of these book from publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

0 The Stranger from the Sea and The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham.

The Stranger from the Sea (The Poldark Saga #8)
by Winston Graham

I struggled with reading The Stranger from the Sea now as opposed to after the final season of Poldark aired. But temptation got the better of me. I couldn't wait to read what life after Elizabeth would entail. But to my surprise, this book picks up ten years after The Angry Tide. And while the main characters of the first seven books are still around, it's their children that are brought to the forefront. Jeremy and Clowance are now of age, as is Valentine Warleggan and John Conan Whitworth. It took a minute to get used to this idea, as I love Ross and Demelza, Dwight and Carolyn. However, Graham doesn't disappoint with his epic storytelling. In The Stranger from the Sea, Stephen Carrington makes his way to Nampara where he brings danger and love and temptation to the Poldark estate. This book was not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I especially love that Verity and Jud are very much still in the mix. Graham found a way to keep this epic series alive by exploring the next generation, and I look forward to it.

The Miller's Dancy (The Poldark Saga #9) by Winston Graham

It feels impossible that I have finished nine books in the Poldark saga. The Stranger from the Sea introduced readers to the Ross and Demelza's adult children embarking on the adventure of life. The Miller's Dance continues with their story. Jeremy and Clowance each nurse a broken heart, while Ross and Demelza have some surprising news. Valentine Warleggan wishes to become better acquainted with the Poldarks, but he's up to something. George finally remarries after all this time. And so much more happens. Three more books to go before I finish this series. I long for it and dread it at the same time. I hope Winston Graham is kind to his characters.

Monday, September 23, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: A Keeper by Graham Norton

A Keeper: A Novel
by Graham Norton
Published August 13th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins


When Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland after her mother’s death, she’s focused only on saying goodbye to that dark and dismal part of her life. Her childhood home is packed solid with useless junk, her mother’s presence already fading. But within this mess, she discovers a small stash of letters—and ultimately, the truth.

Forty years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet except for the constant wind that encircles her as she hurries deeper into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.

My Thoughts

Graham Norton emerged onto the literary scene a few years ago with his first mystery novel Holding, which I enjoyed immensely. I too listened to it on audio. Norton has a pleasant voice full of personality that makes for a wonderful narrator for his novels. After I finished Holding, I eagerly waited for his second novel A Keeper.

Once again, Norton explores another small town in Ireland that holds its secrets dear. The chapters are broken up into "Now" and "Before." Before: chronicling Elizabeth Keane as she returns to Ireland after her mother's death to sort her affairs. While looking through memorabilia, Elizabeth discovers letters revealing a part of her mother's past that lay hidden her whole life. Elizabeth embarks on a journey to discover the secrets of her mother's dark past. Then: chronicles a young women's journey to find love and the terror that follows.

Graham Norton knows how to write a novel with unexpected twists and turns. His characters are as complex as his story. He once again delivers a fascinating story about the ins and outs of families and the length they'll go to to protect the ones they love. A Keeper is a thrilling story that will keep you glued to the pages or, in my case, earbuds.

*I received this audiobook from the publisher for review purposes. It in no way influenced my opinions.

Monday, September 9, 2019

0 Audiobook Roundup

This brand-new audio collection from the iconic Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winning author is a listener’s delight. The two dozen short stories presented here have never been published on audio; these new recordings of classic stories will remind listeners of Ernest Hemingway’s incomparable mastery of the short story form.

John Beford Lloyd was the perfect choice to narrate this short story collection. Fans of Heminway will love it!

Discover the unforgettable and inspiring true story of Brian Banks—a young man who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager and imprisoned for more than five years, only to emerge with his spirit unbroken and determined to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.

This is a powerful memoir about a man who was failed by the judicial system--from his lawyers to the broken prison system system. Everybody needs to listen to/read this book. It will change the way you look at the world.

From the author of The Other Boleyn Girl—a book about the devastating consequences of the slave trade in 19th century England.

I really like Gegory's Tudor novels, but I just couldn't get into A Respectable Trade. The narration was good. I have no complaints there. I just couldn't get into this story. I had a hard time connecting to the characters. Still, fans of Gregory might want to give this a go. Hopefully, they'll have a different experience than I did.

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