Tuesday, February 19, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Narrated by: James Warwick
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
Published 2019 by Alison Larkin Presents


This powerful new recording of Wilde’s famous novel tells the unforgettable story of a hedonistic young man who makes a sinister deal to preserve his youth. When his wish is granted, Dorian Gray slips into a life of sensuality, debauchery, and murder.

In this uncensored version, TV star James Warwick’s inspired, nuanced narration is followed by a fascinating conversation. The actor talks candidly with Alison Larkin about Oscar Wilde and Warwick's own challenges as a gay man living in London at a time when homosexuality was illegal. 

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish poet and playwright who is celebrated still for his sharp wit, flamboyant style, and sparkling conversation. 

James Warwick is most famous for his starring role playing Tommy in Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series on PBS for Masterpiece Theater. He has also played many leading roles on Broadway and London's West End, originating the role of Brad in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and playing King Arthur in Camelot. His last starring role in an Oscar Wilde play was in Peter Hall’s production of The Ideal Husband on Broadway. His narration of Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, also for Alison Larkin Presents, also received rave reviews worldwide.

Public Domain (P)2019 Alison Larkin Presents

My Thoughts

I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in my twenties. It has a lot of great themes in it such as good vs. evil, mortality, sexual identity, etc., but I don't remember feeling any particular strong feelings about the book. I've been attempting to reread books (mostly classics) that I've felt that way toward in the past, partly wondering if maturity and understanding would change the way I viewed them. The opportunity to reread The Picture of Dorain Gray fell into my inbox as an audiobook review request. And, of course, I accepted.

The audiobook is narrated by James Warwick who does a lot of work in London's West End. His voice suited this production perfectly. He portrayed the characters as I believe Wilde had intended. He really made this book come to life for me. I particularly liked the interview at the end of the audiobook Warwick had with Alison Larkin. He expressed some of the troubles he had with Dorian's character while how as a gay man he related to not being able to live as your authentic self. 

Some books are better as audiobooks, and this is one of them. At least for me. While I still don't love the book, I definitely have a better understanding and an appreciation for it.

Monday, February 11, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath

Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom: A Story
by Sylvia Plath
Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy 
Length: 43 mins
Published January 15th 2019 by HarperAudio


This newly discovered story by literary legend Sylvia Plath stands on its own and is remarkable for its symbolic, allegorical approach to a young woman's rebellion against convention and forceful taking control of her own life.

Written while Sylvia Plath was a student at Smith College in 1952, Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom tells the story of a young woman's fateful train journey.

Lips the color of blood, the sun an unprecedented orange, train wheels that sound like "guilt, and guilt, and guilt" these are just some of the things Mary Ventura begins to notice on her journey to the ninth kingdom.

"But what is the ninth kingdom?" she asks a kind-seeming lady in her carriage. "It is the kingdom of the frozen will," comes the reply. "There is no going back."

Sylvia Plath's strange, dark tale of female agency and independence, written not long after she herself left home, grapples with mortality in motion. 

My Thoughts

If you're looking for a book to read on your commute, why not try Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath. 

Sylvia Plath and I go way back. I've been reading about her life for over a decade, as well as read a multitude of her writings. I was pretty eager to read this short story that she wrote while a student at Smith College in 1952. She submitted it to a magazine, but, sadly, it was rejected. 

It tells an extraordinary story that is still as relevant today as it was in 1952. The main character, Mary, boards a train to The Ninth Kingdom where she meets an older lady that seems to have some inner knowledge of the workings of the train. Mary starts to struggle internally as the train moves closer to its destination. 

This short story is captivating from the first sentence that is uttered. Maybe this story was too dark in 1952, but it's perfect for today's audiences. Mary struggles with many things readers will relate to. 

I listened to this book as an audiobook. It's narrated by Orlagh Cassidy, who did a wonderful job. She conveyed the emotions of a confused and scared Mary perfectly. Do yourself a favor, and listen to this book.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. by Lili Anolik

Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A.
by Lili Anolik
Narrated by Jayme Mattler
Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins
Published January 8th 2019 by Simon & Schuster Audio


Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s was the pop culture capital of the world—a movie factory, a music factory, a dream factory. Eve Babitz was the ultimate factory girl, a pure product of LA.

The goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky and a graduate of Hollywood High, Babitz posed in 1963, at age twenty, playing chess with the French artist Marcel Duchamp. She was naked; he was not. The photograph, cheesecake with a Dadaist twist, made her an instant icon of art and sex. Babitz spent the rest of the decade rocking and rolling on the Sunset Strip, honing her notoriety. There were the album covers she designed: for Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds, to name but a few. There were the men she seduced: Jim Morrison, Ed Ruscha, Harrison Ford, to name but a very few.

Then, at nearly thirty, her It girl days numbered, Babitz was discovered—as a writer—by Joan Didion. She would go on to produce seven books, usually billed as novels or short story collections, always autobiographies and confessionals. Under-known and under-read during her career, she’s since experienced a breakthrough. Now in her mid-seventies, she’s on the cusp of literary stardom and recognition as an essential—as the essential—LA writer. Her prose achieves that American ideal: art that stays loose, maintains its cool, and is so sheerly enjoyable as to be mistaken for simple entertainment.

For Babitz, life was slow days, fast company until a freak fire in the 90s turned her into a recluse, living in a condo in West Hollywood, where Lili Anolik tracked her down in 2012. Anolik’s elegant and provocative new book is equal parts biography and detective story. It is also on dangerously intimate terms with its subject: artist, writer, muse, and one-woman zeitgeist, Eve Babitz. 

My Thoughts

I had absolutely no idea who Eve Babitz was when I started reading this book. Several years ago, there was a Vanity Fair article written by the author of this book that had a lot of people talking about Eve. I wasn't one of them. For whatever reason and whatever was going on in my life, it passed me by. I came across this book a few months ago and read the summary and knew I needed to learn all about Eve. 

Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. is written by Lili Anolik as part biography, part love letter to Eve. Anolik recounts Eve's sometimes glamorous and sometimes shocking life among Hollywood's elite: from the picture that made her famous to her life now. The biography is often interrupted by Anolik's thoughts and opinions of the situations she's writing about. I wasn't sure how I felt about that aspect of this book, but by the end I decided I quite liked it. 

Eve Babitz is a rare jewel who lives life on her own terms. She's an artist, a writer, and a badass. 
As the summary states, Eve was in the hub of Pop Culture in the 60s and 70s. I didn't realize how similar Babitz's and Anolik's writing styles were until I listened to a clip of Hollywood's Eve by Eve Babitz in which she recounts her life in the 60s and 70s. That's probably one of the many reasons Anolik feels so akin to Babitz.

I listened to this book as an audiobook. I don't tend to listen to biographies much on audio, because they tend to be a bit dull in my opinion. (Please note that I don't mean biographies are dull. I love nonfiction books out the wazoo; I just don't like them as audiobooks.) But something told me that I should try this one, and I loved it. It's narrated by Jayme Mattler. She seemed to capture the mood of the biography perfectly. It's seemed as if Jayme came over to tell me a story about a woman named Eve. 

After I finished this book, I added several of Babitz's books to my wishlist. She has a no-holds-barred attitude that is intriguing, and after listening to a clip of her book, I know I'm going to enjoy reading them. And if there isn't already, there should be a movie in the works about the brazen author. 

*I received a copy of this audiobook courtesy of Simon & Schuster Audio. This in no way influenced my opinion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

0 Tan France To Host The Audie Awards And Celebrate Achievements In Audiobooks

Audies Award Finalists

The Audies have announced their 2019 host: Tan France.
This year, the award show is getting a makeover of sorts: a new high-profile host in Queer Eye star and to-be Audiobook narrator of his own upcoming memoir, Tan France and a panel of industry personalities to serve as judges for the Audiobook of the Year category. And with major names associated with this year’s event (nominees include Sally Field, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Leslie Odom, Jr., Emma Thompson and former Vice President Joe Biden,) it's no surprise that the show will be one to remember. 
The Audie Awards recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment and are sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA). 2019 is the 24th year of annual Audie Awards. Finalists are announced in 24 categories. 
Congratulations to all the nominees! Tan France will be an amazing host. 
See the Press Release (pdf) of the 2019 Finalists—released February 4, here. Winners will be announced at the Audies Gala, March 4.

Monday, February 4, 2019

0 Review: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style from the Copy Chief of Random House by Benjamin Dreyer
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Random House


As authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited, including works by Elizabeth Strout, E. L. Doctorow, and Frank Rich, into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best foot forward in writing prose. Dreyer offers lessons on the ins and outs of punctuation and grammar, including how to navigate the words he calls "the confusables," like tricky homophones; the myriad ways to use (and misuse) a comma; and how to recognize--though not necessarily do away with--the passive voice. (Hint: If you can plausibly add "by zombies" to the end of a sentence, it's passive.) People are sharing their writing more than ever--on blogs, on Twitter--and this book lays out, clearly and comprehensibly, everything writers can do to keep readers focused on the real reason writers write: to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Chock-full of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts on the rules (and nonrules) of the English language, this book will prove invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people's prose, and--perhaps best of all--an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language. 

My Thoughts

As a copy editor, I keep reference books within arm's reach of my desk: The Chicago Manual of StyleThe Merriam-Webster Dictionary, The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, etc. It wasn't long after I began reading Dreyer's English that I knew not only would I be adding this book to that list, I'll also be recommending it to friends, clients, and colleagues. 

Who is this Dreyer, and why should you read this book? Benjamin Dreyer is the copy chief of Random House. He's been a copy editor for thirty years and knows his business. Dreyer recognizes that we're all writers in some way or anotherwhether it be emails or books. And for the most part, we all want to do it well. Dreyer shares some of his skills and tricks to make that happen.

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style covers a variety of topics such as easily confused words, tidying up your prose, punctuation, frequently misspelled words, and rules and nonrules. Please note that this is not a textbook. It's written in a causal style that readers will enjoy. Dreyer's explanations are filled with humor, not overcomplicated jargon.

If you're looking for a good book to strengthen you're writing skills, look no further. This is the book you need. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

1 Some Amazing Things I Uncovered on Ancestry.Com By Thelma Adams

Some Amazing Things I Uncovered on Ancestry.Com By Thelma Adams

When I began to research Bittersweet Brooklyn, originally entitled Kosher Nostra, my genealogical research into my late grandmother, Thelma Schwartz nee Lorber, led me to Ancestry.com. I got a subscription and, in the years that followed, I've never let it lapse. It became a key tool for my historical research as I plotted births, deaths and marriages. Not only that, but I discovered that it held my attention like the Sunday crosswords. I could sit down to check out one fact, or add in a family detail my mother had revealed to me, and look up three hours later.

Sometimes I feel that I could do an ad for Ancestry!

The family tree that grew on the site provided the roots of the novel, which is about a liberated woman before her time – and the fraught immigrant world that she grew up in. Her older brother Abie became a criminal who occasionally made it into the papers – in small print and at the bottom of the page. Her other brother, Louis, enlisted in the army at 21 and became a WW1 hero and lifelong soldier.

Early on in my research I discovered a document on Ancestry.com that became central to my understanding of Abie, the family dynamics and what might have led him to stray from the straight and narrow.

It was a commitment document for the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records for Abraham Lorber dated August 14, 1905. That in itself was startling. The boy was nearly 11 and his younger brother, Louis, was 9. Both were committed by their mother, Rebecca Lorber and dispatched to the Hebrew Benevolent and Orphan Asylum way uptown on Amsterdam Avenue.

Application for Admission #435 is dense with information. It gave Rebecca's birthplace, which I didn't have previously. She was from Drohobych, Galicia in Austro-Hungary. That allowed me to look further into whom she was and opened the door to a vein of research into what it was like to live in that area and what the conditions were like for Jews under the Empire. She wasn't a faceless Eastern European immigrant – she had a hometown, she was grounded, knowable.

It also revealed that she was 36 and worked as a washerwoman while living on Manhattan's 106th Street with a family named Junger.

And then there was this scrawled at the bottom in answer to the printed line 'Special Circumstances of the Case:' "Father died two years ago. Mother supported them until now. Claims to be sickly. Has received assistance from UHC [United Hebrew Charities]."

This seemed so dramatic to me – a mother willing to place her two sons in care. Who was she? What happened between Drohobych and New York? What had the boys done, if anything? And how did this experience shape who Abie and Louis became, one good with a knife, and the other fond of guns. And how did it impact their little sister, Thelma, who was three when her brothers were taken from their lodgings on 106th Street.

Although I later learned that it was not uncommon for a widow to surrender her children, I knew I had to understand the crisis that overcame the family in 1905. As a historical fiction writer, the conflict had huge dramatic potential. I used this horrible separation as a watershed moment that would reverberate until the last pages of the book. It is hard enough to be an orphan – but what does it feel like to be an orphan with a living mother who rejects you, or a child on the sidelines forever concerned that she would be committed if she misbehaved?

I am attaching the document itself – what do you see there? How would you interpret the evidence? Where would it lead you?  

 In turn-of-the century New York, a mobster rises—and his favorite sister struggles between loyalty and life itself. How far will she go when he commits murder?

After midnight, Thelma Lorber enters her brother Abie’s hangout under the Williamsburg Bridge, finding Jewish mobster Louis “Pretty” Amberg in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor. She could flee. Instead, in the dark hours of that October 1935 night before the dawn of Murder, Inc., she remains beside the fierce, funny brother who has nurtured and protected her since childhood. There are many kinds of love a woman can feel for a man, but few compare to that of the baby sister for her older brother. For Thelma, a wild widow tethered to a young son, Abie is the center of her world. But that love is about to undo everything she holds dear…

Flipping the familiar script of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Godfather, Bittersweet Brooklyn explores the shattering impact of mob violence on the women expected to mop up the mess. Winding its way over decades, this haunting family saga plunges readers into a dangerous past—revealed through the perspective of a forgotten yet vibrant woman.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 28
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, January 29

Wednesday, January 30
Guest Post at To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, January 31
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, February 1

Saturday, February 2
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Sunday, February 3
Feature at Queen of Random

Tuesday, February 5
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, February 6

Thursday, February 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Excerpt at Old Timey Books
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Friday, February 8
Review at The Lit Bitch

Sunday, February 10

Monday, February 11
Review at Macsbooks

Tuesday, February 12
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, February 13

Thursday, February 14
Review at Coffee and Ink

Friday, February 15
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies and one Audio Book! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

0 BITTERSWEET BROOKLYN by Thelma Adams Blog Tour and Giveaway #BittersweetBrooklyn #ThelmaAdams #HFVBTPartner @thelmadams @hfvbt @LUAuthors

Bittersweet Brooklyn by Thelma Adams

Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Lake Union Publishing
Paperback, eBook & Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

In turn-of-the century New York, a mobster rises—and his favorite sister struggles between loyalty and life itself. How far will she go when he commits murder?

After midnight, Thelma Lorber enters her brother Abie’s hangout under the Williamsburg Bridge, finding Jewish mobster Louis “Pretty” Amberg in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor. She could flee. Instead, in the dark hours of that October 1935 night before the dawn of Murder, Inc., she remains beside the fierce, funny brother who has nurtured and protected her since childhood. There are many kinds of love a woman can feel for a man, but few compare to that of the baby sister for her older brother. For Thelma, a wild widow tethered to a young son, Abie is the center of her world. But that love is about to undo everything she holds dear…

Flipping the familiar script of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Godfather, Bittersweet Brooklyn explores the shattering impact of mob violence on the women expected to mop up the mess. Winding its way over decades, this haunting family saga plunges readers into a dangerous past—revealed through the perspective of a forgotten yet vibrant woman.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Praise for Bittersweet Brooklyn

“Thelma Adams is our new Dickens in her effervescently vivid tale of Jewish hardscrabble living, gangsters, torn-apart families, and a young woman desperate for love, family, and a stable future. Set in a 1920s and 30s Brooklyn so rich, raw, and bristling with life that you can taste the brine on the deli pickles and see the flasks of whiskey hidden in a garter, this is the kind of novel that’s lived, rather than read.” — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Smart and complex, Bittersweet Brooklyn is a riveting journey into a glamorous and deadly underworld. Fascinating characters and a backdrop of New York in the 1920’s kept me churning through pages. Add in twist after twist to an already vibrant plot, and you’ve got the makings of a perfect read! No one writes women in history better than Thelma Adams. I loved this book!” —Heather Burch, bestselling author of In the Light of the Garden

“Bookies! Bubbes! Bossy big-mouths! Thelma Adams’ Bittersweet Brooklyn takes you back to an early twentieth-century Williamsburg teeming not with too-cool-for-school millennials, but with rough-and-tumble Jewish and Italian immigrants. You’ll race through this raucous historical saga, admiring its gritty detail and street-smart dialogue. Inspired by real events, Thelma Adams brings to life an unforgettable family ruled by filial love divided by biting dysfunction.” —Sally Koslow, author of Another Side of Paradise

“Thelma Adams has found her niche as a wonderfully vivid historical chronicler of the female spirit. Her tale of a Jewish girl making her way amid gangster-studded NYC is a marvelous must-read.” —Michael Musto, columnist

“Bittersweet Brooklyn is gripping from page one. An intimate look at the dynamics of a broken family in gangster-riddled New York, it will have you rooting for protagonist and antagonist alike as wounds are open, healed, scarred, and exposed. With some of the finest dialogue I've ever come across, this is one I will not soon forget.” —Camille Di Maio, bestselling author of The Memory of Us

“Set in the savage underbelly of a Mafia-linked social club and amusement park, Bittersweet Brooklyn tells the sizzling and unforgettable family saga of a brother and sister who must pit survival against loyalty, desire, and compassion.” —Susan Henderson, author of The Flicker of Old Dreams

“Terrific! A great story, suspense, a vibrant heroine, complex and colorful supporting characters and amazing period details: I couldn’t put it down.” —Caryn James, cultural critic and author of Glorie and What Caroline Knew

“A searing, layered portrait of a Brooklyn family divided against itself, this novel brims with heartbreak, history, empathy and grace.” —Greer Macallister, bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie and Girl in Disguise

“A fresh, fierce retelling of the crime family saga from the female point of view.” —Paula Froelich, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury in Retrograde

“A gorgeously written and gritty American immigrant tale about broken homes and broken hearts, and how the sins within a family can reverberate across generations. Riveting!” —Jane Healey, bestselling author of The Saturday Evening Girls Club

“A noir coming-of-age story with a feisty and unforgettable heroine.” —Meryl Gordon, New York Times bestselling author of the biography of Bunny Mellon

About the Author 

Thelma Adams is the author of the best selling historical novel The Last Woman Standing and Playdate, which Oprah magazine described as "a witty debut novel." In addition to her fiction work, Adams is a prominent American film critic and an outspoken voice in the Hollywood community. She has been the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and The New York Post, and has written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for Yahoo! Movies,The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. Adams studied history at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was valedictorian, and received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives in upstate New York with her family.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 28
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, January 29

Wednesday, January 30

Thursday, January 31
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, February 1

Saturday, February 2

Sunday, February 3
Feature at Queen of Random

Tuesday, February 5

Wednesday, February 6

Thursday, February 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Excerpt at Old Timey Books
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Friday, February 8
Review at The Lit Bitch

Sunday, February 10

Monday, February 11
Review at Macsbooks

Tuesday, February 12
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, February 13

Thursday, February 14
Review at Coffee and Ink

Friday, February 15
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies and one Audio Book! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Bittersweet Brooklyn

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

0 The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway: Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway! #HFVBTPartner @AustenMarriage @hfvbt

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

Publication Date: August 8, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 332 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1535444958

Jane Austen Lived a Quiet, Single Life-Or Did She?

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a proper, contemplative, unmarried life. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she-and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen resolves the biggest mystery of Austen's life-the "lost years" of her twenties-of which historians know virtually nothing.

• Why the enduring rumors of a lost love or tragic affair?

• Why, afterward, did the vivacious Austen prematurely put on "the cap of middle age" and close off any thoughts of finding love?

• Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters and journals?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy answers these questions through a riveting love affair based on the history of the times and the details of Austen's own life.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

My Thoughts

I read The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume I in December of 2018. I absolutely adored it. Hemingway could have stopped with just that one volume. Volume One ended well. It ended as Austen novels usually do, with a happily ever after sort of feeling. So why go further? I guess he knew that his readers would want more. Because there's always more to the story. Life doesn't stop after the wedding. That's where life becomes interesting and complicated. I'm so glad Hemingway decided to take his readers on this journey. 

Volume Two picks up after Jane and Ashton's honeymoon. Jane is blissfully happy as the new Mrs. Dennis. However, she has a little trouble navigating the waters as the new mistress of the house. Her mother-in-law still isn't happy about being usurped in Ashton's life, and isn't very helpful to Jane. Jane will not be kept down and rises to every challenge. Jane and Ashton also face challenges dealing with many of the social issues of the day. And if all that is not enough, Jane is expecting a baby. I think the biggest conflict Jane faces is within her self. She struggles with wanting to write as well as wanting to be everything Ashton needs. 

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume Two is a wonderful sequel to the first novel. It goes beyond the happily ever after into the struggles of newlywed life. Jane is often faced with many advercities that many women face not only in Austen's time, but also today. I so want Jane to live happily ever after, but sadly I know how her story ends. Still, I highly anticipate as well as dread Volume Three. I feel Hemingway will break my heart. Nevertheless, I will read it. 

This is a great series that Austen fans will love. Hemingway has written a compelling novel in three volumes that will suck the reader in from the first few pages. And, like me, you will have a hard time letting go until you've read the last page. 

Alternate History or Plausible Reconstruction of Austen’s Life?


Stepping back 200 years, what we see in Jane Austen’s personal life are tantalizing hints of relationships but primarily obfuscation about any possible romances from 1802, when she was 26, until her retirement to Chawton Cottage with the other Austen women in 1809.

Jane had one boyfriend, Tom Lefroy (1795), who was either sent off in disgrace for leading her on—or merely left to study law in London. She shooed away two potential suitors, the clergymen Samuel Blackall (1798) and Edward Bridges (1805).

She had a mysterious beach suitor (1801) who evidently died, though her sister Cassandra spread more confusion than information about that circumstance. Jane also had one “official” engagement to Harris Bigg-Wither, when (the story is) she accepted a proposal from the young man, recanted it overnight, and fled back to her parents in Bath. That event, however, is not recorded until nearly 70 years later by a niece who was not even alive when it supposedly occurred in 1802! And whose mother’s diaries made no mention of this scandalous action. …

Why the smokescreens originating with her family but all pointing to the same idea: a lost love or tragic affair? Why did her beloved sister Cass destroy almost all of the letters from this period, leaving huge gaps in the timeline? Why did the vivacious Jane prematurely “put on the garb of middle age,” as her niece described it, and retire to her writing desk? There at Chawton, she wrote or heavily revised the six mature novels that made her reputation.

By the time Austen’s family responded to her growing fame, they were now in the middle of the repressed Victorian era in which Britannia and propriety ruled the waves. Her nieces and nephews were happy to bury any suggestion that Austen would have ever done anything untoward such as write to make a living or—fall in love. In contrast, Virginia Woolf, writing a generation later, says that “Persuasion” proves that Austen had loved intensely and by 1817 no longer cared who knew.
One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to envision the possibility that there may have been a very serious relationship overlooked or even hidden by her prim and proper descendants.

This possibility has led me on a ten-year research project and more than four years of hard writing, culminating in the three volumes of historical fiction, “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.”
What if Jane Austen had married? What if this intelligent woman of character and passion (read her surviving letters) had met someone very much her equal but also the sort of man a Victorian might want to lose in the mists of time? What kind of man might that be?

How would their relationship have begun? (Might bits and pieces of the recounted history be true?) How would it have developed? How would it have ended? How, as a married woman, might she have fit into the large and turbulent world of the Regency? Perhaps most important, how would the archetypal woman of the period have handled all that marriage meant for a woman of that day?

These are the questions I sought to answer. Though this project began as plausible speculation, the biographical pieces fit into the puzzle much more tightly than I would have imagined. Every time I needed there to be a blank in her history to describe a possible action—there was a blank. Every time there was a documented personal or historical incident—it fell exactly where it needed to in my narrative to continue the story. The more this happened, the more I wondered what was real and what was imagined.

Envision the coolest aviation event in Bath history on exactly the date needed to launch the series (and set up the quasi-mythic proposal a few months later). Envision the most important political issue of the day falling directly into the marriage years, propelling the story onward. Envision the tragic family events of October 1808, when Jane’s sister-in-law Elizabeth dies shortly after childbirth, fitting to the day into the most significant geopolitical actions of that same year. Though I was writing fiction, at times I felt as though I were filling in a few personal details in an already documented history of England.

In addition to “inventing a good story and telling it well”—Fielding’s dictum for a novelist—I wanted to be true to Austen herself: her intelligence, compassion, and humor. I wanted to see her directly engaged in serious issues and to see how she herself might have directly written about serious issues if women writers of the day had been able to. In her novels, she had to treat the most serious issues discreetly, in the background or on the periphery.

This led to the creation of a trilogy spanning these seven years of 1802-1809: Volume I, a non-Austenian courtship novel told with what the author hopes is Austenian charm; Volume II, a deep psychological portrait of a woman’s first year of marriage; finally, the soon-to-be-released Volume III, in which Austen must face the most difficult moral decisions that any person can face.

My hope is that readers will come away satisfied with a tale of a meaningful relationship built upon the “understanding” she often writes about. And why Austen herself wrote at the very end of this period, 27 December 1808: “I consider everybody as having a right to marry once in their Lives for Love.”

Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Series

"A skillful portrayal of an early nineteenth-century literary icon takes this historical romance on an imaginative journey of the soul. … The adventure of a true romantic partnership and all the excitement that the nineteenth century had to offer. … [The] novel invites you to linger, to savor, and to enjoy. … Makes for wonderful reading. … A Jane that lives and breathes on the page."—Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews, 4 stars

"Hemingway captures the energy of the times, while also writing with the irony and sly humor of Austen herself. … A strikingly real Jane Austen fully engaged in the turbulent times. … She is a living, breathing presence. … [He] displays a notable ability to recreate time and place. … A lively, compelling read, [a] sobering but moving conclusion." —Blueink Starred Review

"An enjoyable novel in an imaginative, well-researched series. … A well-researched work of historical fiction … [with] sweet moments and intriguing historical insights. … An incredibly moving portrait of a woman facing loss and love." —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people's lives and everything that makes tThe hem complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world's thought leaders on 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 coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.

Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway's website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 14
Review at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, January 16
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, January 17

Friday, January 18

Monday, January 21
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Tuesday, January 22
Excerpt at T's Stuff
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, January 23
Review & Guest Post at To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, January 25

Monday, January 28

Tuesday, January 29

Wednesday, January 30

Friday, February 1

Saturday, February 2

Sunday, February 3
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Monday, February 4

Tuesday, February 5

Wednesday, February 6
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, February 7

Friday, February 8

Saturday, February 9


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

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol II

Monday, January 21, 2019

0 Book to Movie Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. She's also surprised to learn that Nick's family is extremely wealthy and he's considered one of the country's most eligible bachelors. 

Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim, and Kevin Kwan
Stars: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh 

I had wanted to watch Crazy Rich Asians ever since I first heard it was being made into a movie. Unfortunately, I never made it to the theaters. I did, however, add it to my Netflix queue and waited impatiently until the disk was in my mailbox. At this point you're probably wondering "Who still rents discs from Netflix?" Me. I do. I feel no shame. I'm grateful that I do because Crazy Rich Asians is not yet available on Netflix streaming or Amazon Prime. You can pay to rent it, though.

I've had the movie in my possession for about two weeks, and I've watched it multiple times already. I'm not much for buying movies, but I think I will buy this one. Crazy Rich Asians is a pretty good adaptation of the book. I like that the book goes into more detail about the characters. You learn so much more than you can in the movie. The movie does a good job of giving you enough information in the limited amount of time available. There are still quite a few differences between the book and movie. Again, I understand why they had to do that for the time constraints, and some of the changes I was okay with. Without giving too much away, I liked the changes made to Astrid's story line in the movie.

The director did a great job of bringing this opulent world that Kwan created to the big screen. You
could feel the poshness oozing out of the screen. The actors that play Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding) are spot on. My favorite character from the movie is Peik Lin Goh played by Awkwafina. She is hilarious and stole every scene she was in. The whole cast was simply outstanding in bringing Keven Kwan's delightful novel about people who have more money than God. This is a fantastic Cinderella-like, feel good movie. It's a movie that I'll watch again and again.

If you love romance, if you love comedy, then you will love this movie. I can't wait until the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, comes to theaters.  Maybe next year?

0 Audiobook Review: Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen
(Six Tudor Queens #3)
by Alison Weir
Narrator/s: Rosalyn Landor
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.
ISBN: #9781501906145
Length: 19.75 hours


Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s most cherished bride and mother of his only male heir.

Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and, as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—who is also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a painful incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.

But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures his new queen—altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son or will she meet a fate similar to the women who came before her?

Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renown court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it. 

My Thoughts

*I received a copy of the audiobook thanks to Recorded Books in exchange for an honest review. 
"Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."

"Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived." I learned this mnemonic device some time ago to keep the fates of Henry VIII wives straight. I feel sorry for the lot of them. Did they deserve their fates, or were they just trying to play the game?

I love the Tudor and Elizabethan period. So much drama, intrigue, and WTFery. It reads better than most fiction. I have read a few of Weir's books, both fiction and nonfiction, in the past and know her to be an excellent writer and storyteller. When the opportunity arose to review this audiobook, I didn't say no. 

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen is the third book in Alison Weir's fictional series of the Six Tudor Queens. It seems a lot is known about his first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but wives 3-6 are often glossed over. I'm glad Weir wrote this series, so readers could get to know all of Henry's wives a little bit better. 

The audiobook is narrated by Rosalyn Landor. She's narrated a few other books I've listened to including the Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn. Being familiar with her work, I knew she'd do a great job with Jane Seymour as well. Landor has a way of drawing you into the story with her excellent pacing and characterization. She handles the plethora of characters with ease. 

Jane served in both households of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. She saw the fall of both queens. History is uncertain whether Jane was meek, or if she was as cunning and politically ambitious as Anne. I believe Weir melds these two versions of Jane together to bring readers a more realistic portrayal of this historic queen. While Anne holds the nomination for the most scandalous queen, Jane seems to be the opposite. However, you can see how they both influenced the king in their own way. Though Jane has learned to tread carefully after what befell his first two wives.

The book begins in 1518 before Jane goes to court and ends with her death in 1537. It covers Jane's life before court, during, and finally, when she becomes Queen. Weir address the struggles and uncertainty of the time period and the volatile king. Jane is torn between her beliefs and her country. And what it meant to be married to Henry VIII. 

When I wasn't listening to this audiobook, I was thinking about when I could listen to this audiobook. I absolutely loved it. Landor narrates the whole series so far, and I pray she continues to do so. I may go back to the beginning and listen to the first two book on audio as well. The next book in the series, Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait, won't be released until May, so there's still time.


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