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.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Another Woman's Husband

Another Woman's Husband: A Novel
by Gill Paul 
Narrated by: Laura Aikman
Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
Published August 21st 2018 by HarperAudio


As the world mourns the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales, one young woman uncovers a forgotten story of passion, betrayal, and a scandal surrounding the British crown in this unforgettable novel by the bestselling author of The Secret Wife. 

Two women who challenged the Crown.

Divided by time. Bound by a secret...

1911: When fifteen-year-old Mary Kirk meets Wallis Warfield at summer camp, she’s immediately captivated by her fearless, brazen, and self-assured personality. And Wallis has a way with the boys who are drawn to her like moths to a flame. Though Mary’s family isn’t crazy about her new best friend, she steadfastly stands by her side—even years later when they’re adults and rumors swirl about Wallis and her reckless behavior with none other than the Prince of Wales. But when Mary’s loyalty to Wallis comes into question, their friendship will be put to the ultimate test.

1997: After a romantic proposal in Paris, Rachel and her fiancé Alex are in a cab when suddenly the car ahead crashes. They’re stunned to learn Princess Diana is in the car. By the wreckage, Alex finds a heart pendant with an engraved letter “J” and Roman numerals XVII and gives it to Rachel to hold. Haunted by the crash and Diana’s subsequent death, Rachel is intrigued when she discovers that Di had visited the last home of Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the accident. Eventually, the revelation of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world...

My Thoughts

I listened to Another Woman's Husband as an audiobook and I loved it! Laura Aikman did a fantastic job giving each character a unique voice and dealing flawlessly with the duel narrative of Gill Paul's exciting novel. If you're going to read this novel, I highly recommend the audiobook!

Another Woman's Husband switches back and forth between two time periods and two stories that are entwined. The first story line begins in 1911 with Mary Kirk and Wallis Warfield. They're both teenage girls at a private school. This book tells their story from their first meeting into adulthood, where their friendship is tested. The second story takes place in 1997, just after the death of Princess Diana. Newly engaged, Rachel and Alex witness the crash that killed Diana. Rachel is haunted by the accident, while Alex becomes obsessed. 

I remember the night that Diana died. I was coming home from a concert. The news shook us, like it did the rest of the world. It was surreal to read a historical novel involving her death. I had mixed feelings about it. I didn't like the story in this timeline like I did with Mary and Wallis's story. For starters, Rachel's too good for Alex. He is a jerk, and she could do better! But it's not a bad story, I just like delving a little further into the past.

I enjoyed learning about Wallis Simpson through the fictional eyes of her best friend, Mary. Their story kept me captivated and engaged. I think Wallis was an acquired taste that not many people liked. As a whole, this book is really good and well worth the listen. Gill Paul has written a fascinating look into the life of  the notorious Wallis Simpson full of intrigue and more. Reading this book was a absolute pleasure!

*My thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Audio for a review copy of this book. While I'm grateful for the opportunity to review this novel, it in no way influenced my opinion.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

0 Review: Prisoner of Night

Prisoner of Night (Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5)
by J.R. Ward
Published January 7th 2019 by Gallery Books
ISBN13: 9781501195174)


From #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward comes an unforgettable story of passion and vengeance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

When Ahmare’s brother is abducted, there is nothing she won’t do to get him back safely. She is unprepared, however, for the lengths she will have to go to save his life. Paired with a dangerous but enticing prisoner, she embarks on an odyssey into another world.

Duran, betrayed by his father, imprisoned in a dungeon for decades, has survived only because of his thirst for vengeance. He has been biding his time to escape and is shocked to find an unlikely and temporary freedom in the form of a determined young female.

Battling against deadly forces and facing unforeseen peril, the pair are in a race to save Ahmare’s brother. As time runs out, and the unthinkable looms, even true love may not be enough to carry them through.

My Thoughts

There was a time where I devoured urban fantasy books on a daily basis. J.R. Ward was one of my go-to authors for said genre. I loved the BDB books. Not all of them, but a good many. But many moons have passed since I picked up a book in this genre. I recently had the opportunity to revisit the world that Ward has so carefully cultivated, and I couldn't say no. 

Prisoner of Night fits between The Thief and The Savior in the series. Because this is a .5 book, it is still in the BDB world, but it doesn't really deal with the main characters of the series. Prisoner of Night's two main characters are Ahmare and Duran. Ahmare's brother has been abducted and to free him, she is sent on a task with a prisoner, who may be her undoing. Duran has been in a dungeon for two decades, and Ahmare might be his only chance of escape. Together, they have to overcome major obstacles, or lose everything they hold dear. 

Ward always gives her characters interesting backstories and characteristics. Her characters are flawed, yet you can't help but cheer for them. Ahmare and Duran complement each other with their strengths and weaknesses. The story line was fast paced and exciting. I didn't love this book like I love some of the earlier books in this series, but I was entertained nonetheless. 

It was nice to go back and revisit this world. Looking at the series list on Goodreads, I see I have some catching up to do though. New readers will be able to jump into this series with little trouble. Urban fantasy readers will enjoy Prisoner of Night.

*I received a copy of this book via NetGalley. This in no way influenced my opinion. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Narrated by Lynn Chen
Audible Audio, Unabridged, 13h 53m
Published June 11th 2013 by Random House Audio


Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

My Thoughts

Crazy Rich Asians was one of my favorite books of 2018, even though it was published in 2013. I had heard buzz that it was fantastic and so I bought it through audible and there it sat in my queue waiting to be listened to. Then, the news that it was being made into a movie came about, and I decided to wait until the movie was released before I read the book. Except things never go as planned because life. Despite my disappointment of not seeing the movie in theaters, I decided to go ahead and listen to the audiobook, which, in my opinion, was pretty fantastic. 

The audiobook is narrated by Lynn Chen. Lynn Chen is an actress on stage and on film. I was unfamiliar with her work before starting this audiobook, but it didn't take me long to discover she was the perfect choice. She voices a multitude of characters and accents and does so with gusto. My only complaint is that I didn't love her Australian accent. It needed a little work. Other than that, she's great. Though the audiobook is almost fourteen hours in length, it didn't feel that long.

The story line to Crazy Rich Asians is fantastic. It covers the complexities of families, class distinctions, society, and expectations. At the heart of the story is Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young. Two young lovers, who want nothing more than to be together. However, Nicholas has been keeping Rachel in the dark about his background. He is crazy rich. The kind of rich you can't even relate to because nothing in your life can compare. The kind of rich where people judge you on the designer you are wearing rather than the kind of person you are. The kind of rich where even if you are rich, whether you are old money or new money matters.

The opulence of wealth in this novel is crazy. But you fall in love with the characters nevertheless. Nicholas brings Rachel home to meet his family without preparing her at all for what she's about to do. Thus, I was angry at Nicholas for some time during the first half of this book. I mean, he should have told her. Anyway, his family views her as a gold digger and strives to tear them apart. Rachel has to decide whether or not Nicholas is worth all the trouble.

This book is a roller coaster of emotion. From laugh out loud to tears, it doesn't disappoint. I adored this novel. Kevin Kwan is a brilliant writer. His characters have layers upon layers. It was so easy to fall in love with this story and its characters. I plan to listen to the rest of the trilogy as audiobooks as well. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

0 Review: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume I by Collins Hemingway

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume I
by Collins Hemingway
 200 pages
Published June 20th 2015 by AuthorHouse


Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a prim and proper life as a single woman. 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 is a trilogy that resolves the biggest mysteries of Austen’s life, the “lost years” of her twenties—a period of which historians know virtually nothing.

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

- Why, afterward, did the vivacious Jane Austen prematurely put on “the cap of middle age” and shut herself away to write her books? 

- Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters, journals, and diaries from this period?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy presents an original love story, based on actual history, to put forth a believable, compelling, and plausible answer to Austen’s lost years.

*I received a digital copy of this book in preparation for an upcoming book tour. I wasn't asked specifically to review this book, but since I liked it so much, I decided to. Receiving a free copy of this book has in no way influenced my opinion of it. 

My Thoughts

I adore Jane Austen. I've read and re-read her novels many times. I've even ventured into Jane Austen genre of 'what if'' novels because I too wanted more. These authors satiated my need for more Austen for a while. However, I don't think I've come across a 'what if'' novel that was inspired by Jane herself. My interest was immediately piqued.

Collins Hemingway has written a fictional account of Jane Austen during the time period where little is known about the famous author. The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is separated into three different volumes. This is a review of the first volume.

As far as the public is concerned, Jane Austen has never been married. She had a brief tryst with Tom Lefoy and a marriage proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither. Yet, this single lady has written some of the best-loved, romantic, hilarious, and poignant characters that have graced the page. After Jane died, her sister Cassandra burned many of her letters. After all, Jane was a private person. But this has left so much of Jane's life to speculation. Could there have been more to Jane's story than we could ever know? This is where Collins Hemingway steps in.

The Marriage of Jane Austen opens up in August of 1802, at a ball no less. Hemingway drops the readers in the middle of the scene as if you were a fly on the wall. You get a sense that he is well acquainted with the beloved author and her works. The conversation is fun and witty. The scene is delightful. It's at this point you should cancel any plans you may have. Tell your family they must fend for themselves, because for the next few hours you will be glued to the pages until you finish the book.

Hemingway uses Jane's actual letters and historical facts to bring forth a plausible yet fictitious case of Jane being in love. I was enraptured with the story from cover to cover. Jane's road to love is rocky, but the author makes it worthwhile. And this is only Volume One. What will the next two books have in store for us readers? Can we expect a happily ever after? I'm fearful of the answer, yet I long to know. 

Well, Dear Readers, you'll have to wait until the end of January to read my review of Volume Two. Until then, have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2 My Year In Books

2018 was a good reading year. I set my Goodreads goal to read 52 books, but I ended up reading more than I anticipated.  I read 20,239 pages across 62 books.

The first book I read in 2018 was The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It was a fantastic way to start the year. 

The last book I read was The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

I started and finished the year listening to audiobooks. I think 2018 was the year of audio for me. I believe I listened to more audiobooks than ever before.

The longest book I read was Gothic Tales by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The shortest book was Cocky Author in support of #cockygate

It's hard to pick my favorite book of 2018, so I picked my top 5. And these are in no particular order. 

Crazy Rick Asians by Kevin Kwan. 

The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

What was your favorite book of 2018?


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