*UPDATE*

I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!


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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

star-shape-decorations-on-christmas-tree

I wanted to let you all know that I am taking a week hiatus from The Maiden’s Court to celebrate Christmas and New Year with my family.  New content will be back in the new year.  I’m wishing you and yours the best of this holiday season. 

 

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, December 23, 2016

Audiobook Discussions: Why Do You Listen?

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I have been doing a lot of audiobook listening lately and I attended a recent blogger webinar about audiobook reviewing which got me thinking more and more about audiobooks.  So I wanted to know more of what you think about them!  From there, Audiobook Discussions has been born!

After the last discussion about how you listen to audiobooks, it leads me directly into why do you choose to listen to audiobooks?  Is it based on certain activity?  Does reading print books bother your eyes or give you headaches?  Do you simply prefer the activity of passive listening?

For me it is primarily a time crunch thing.  I started listening to audiobooks back when I had over an hour commute to and from work.  It helped kill the monotony of all that highway driving.  Now I have a much shorter commute (and many days work from home) so my listening habits have changed.  Now I choose titles that I simply can’t fit into my packed reading/reviewing schedule.  While I do review some audiobooks, more often these are books I have picked off my personal preference shelf that I have just not had the chance to get to yet.  Sometimes, when it is a quiet day at work or if I’m working from home I will listen while working to keep it interesting.

So, tell me why you listen!  Or, hop back to the last discussion and tell us how you listen.

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Audiobook Review: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

the german girl

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
Unabridged, 10 hr. 48 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Joy Osmanski (Narrator)
October 18, 2016
★★★★ ½☆
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received audiobook download for review from publisher

A stunningly ambitious and beautiful debut novel, perfect for fans of Sarah’s Key and All the Light We Cannot See, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion.

In 1939 before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Eleven-year-old Hannah was often taken by her mother for an afternoon treat at the tea room of the beautiful Adlon Hotel, both dressed in their finest clothes. She spent her afternoons at the park with her best friend Leo Martin.

But, in an instant, that sunlit world vanished. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together.

As Hannah and Leo’s families desperately begin to search for a means of escape, a glimmer of hope appears when they discover the Saint Louis, a transatlantic liner that can give Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night.

As the passengers gain renewed hope for a bright future ahead, love between Hannah and Leo blossoms. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence.

After four days anchored at bay, only a handful of passengers are allowed to disembark onto Cuban soil, and Hannah and Leo must face the grim reality that they could be torn apart. Their future is unknown, and their only choice will have an impact in generations to come.

Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost.

Like many historical fiction readers I have enjoyed my fair share of novels set during WWII; there are so many on the market that it is difficult to not run into one. What I loved about the premise of The German Girl is it takes the reader somewhere new and explores an oft overlooked event during the early days of the war. This is not a novel that will feel familiar or a rehash of events that you have read before, but it will pull at your heartstrings.

The story is told through a dual narrative – sort of. There are two distinct timelines: that beginning in 1939 and following Hannah Rosenthal and also that of Anna Rosen in 2014. These two timelines do come together in 2014, and it is early on when Anna meets her great-aunt Hannah, and then we get the story from 1939 forward as Hannah tells Anna and her mother the story of how she fled Germany in the early days of the war. I was certainly more committed to the 1939 story line. This was the fascinating and new part for me. I had never heard of the Saint Louis and the plight of the passengers who had fled Nazi Germany aboard it only to find extreme difficulty upon arriving in Havana, Cuba. The 2014 storyline and references to events during Anna’s life during the 2000s really held no interest for me. Because of this, I found the earliest chapters a little bit of a slog because I didn’t really care about Anna, her mother, or how her father died. I think that the novel could have held its own just fine being told only from the historical storyline without the distractions of the present. That being said, I do understand why the author chose to include the present-day narrative: it allowed him to draw character parallels between Anna now who is learning what happened to her family and Hannah then at the time the events were transpiring as she was the same age as Anna is now. And that worked just fine.

The historical narrative can be divided into three distinct segments: Berlin, the trans-Atlantic crossing aboard the Saint Louis, and then Cuba. The part set in Berlin gives the reader a perspective of what life had been like before the Nazi regime took over as Hannah describes the life her glamorous mother had led. You also witness events like Kristallnacht through the eyes of a young girl who doesn’t understand at all what is going on. I don’t believe she ever uttered the word “Nazi” and instead calls them “the ogres” when describing what was happening. All of this escalating terror and destruction is juxtaposed against childhood fancies and games, such as hiding outside a man’s window to listen to the radio and running around with her friend, Leo. It gave it all a sort of surreal perspective. The same can be said about the experience aboard the Saint Louis. The passengers viewed it as a successful escape from the clutches of the Nazi and both children and the adults thoroughly enjoyed their voyage, until they reached Cuba to find out very, very few of them would actually be disembarking the ship – among them Hannah and her mother. Cuba takes a decidedly depressing turn as the family struggles to figure out what has happened to their family and friends and decide what to do in this country that doesn’t want them and in which they do not want to be. We also witness Cuba later in the throws of its revolution and Hannah draws uncomfortable parallels between it and what they lived through it Germany.

This was a fantastically written novel. Even with my misgivings about the present storyline being a little superfluous I would enthusiastically recommend this book to any historical fiction or WWII fan. You will love the characters and the passion for the subject shines through the writing. It will open your eyes to niche experiences beyond the typical stories of WWII. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that I think that this could certainly be a novel read by young adults; it is something I would have read if it was available when I was 12-15. The two girls through much of the narrative are young teens that many could relate to. The material is heavy at points, so as a parent you might want to decide for yourself if it is something your child should read, but there are no violent scenes, romance/sex, or foul language (there might be one scene where someone is beat up during the Berlin portion, but I can’t remember if it was onscreen or off, and there is a scene during the rebellion in Cuba, but either way it isn’t graphic).

audiobookimpressions

★★★★☆

One of the things that I always note is how well the narrator pronounces phrases when there is foreign language used throughout a novel. As one might expect, there is German in this novel, but also Spanish as they spend extensive time in Cuba, as well as French. While I know very little German and am far from fluent in Spanish or French, I feel that the narrator handled these segments well. They sounded good to my ear and enhanced my enjoyment of listening to a book and made it feel more accurate (because let’s face it, if I was reading the print version I would have butchered those parts in my head). Ultimately I think I would have appreciated having 2 narrators, one for Anna and another for Hannah, just to make it easier to differentiate the two in case you do not stop at a chapter header. The pace of the reading was very even, however it sometimes bordered on being too slow and I felt the need for the pace to be picked up. The narration overall, however, is strong.

You can get a feel for this audiobook by checking out this excerpt from the production.

 

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Find Armando Lucas Correa:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Excerpt of A Carol Plays by Kari Trumbo

I have the last excerpt for this Cutter’s Creek Christmas tour!  This last excerpt is from A Carol Plays by Kari Trumbo, which I also have not had the chance to read yet. Take a look at what Ms. Trumbo brings to the spirit of the season!


It’s a Christmas sugarplum celebration! Christmas in Cutter’s Creek means a Christmas social; sugarplum contest, dancing, a dash of mayhem and a heaping helping of romance.

First off is Kit Morgan’s Recipe for Christmas. This novella is set in 1866 and is the very first Cutter’s Creek Christmas social, and so much mischief happens, it’s a wonder they had another!

Lucius Judrow from Love is Blind has a brother and he’s on his way to Cutter’s Creek. Come see who Eldon meets in this hilarious and sweet romance!

The next is Vivi Holt’s Seasons of Love. It takes place in 1872. The social has changed just a bit. You’d think they’d learned with all the trouble, but no, the social is more fun than trouble. Margaret is a lonely school teacher from the East looking for a little love and adventure. She finds just that and a whole lot more in this sweet Christmas romance!

Third Christmas novella is just a few years later and the social has changed yet again, to a cider competition! The contestants get a little rowdy and words are said that might ruin Christmas! Felicity will need special help to solve this mess. Find out more in Annie Boone’s Christmas Spirit.

The fourth and final Christmas novella takes place in 1892 and rumors of Christmas social’s past dominate the festivities. Carol needs to find a husband and the new doctor in town provides a great opportunity. A snowball fight leads to romance in Kari Trumbo’s A Carol Plays.

Recipe for Christmas ǀ Season of Love ǀ Christmas Spirit ǀ A Carol Plays

Find the Cutter’s Creek authors on Facebook!

1

His back was so broad and his movements so sure. She scooped a handful of thick heavy snow into her hand, forming it into a ball. As he grabbed for his mitts she launched her snowball at his wide back, hitting him between the shoulder blades. She turned and rushed on her way.

A snow clod landed at her feet exploding between her shoes. She danced away from the flying bits and turned, grinning at him. “You missed!” She laughed then shrieked as another ball hit her in the shoulder.

The snow was deep enough she didn’t have to lean far for another scoop of snow. She formed it in her hands calculating her next toss.

Dr. Gentry held up his hands. “White flag!” He smiled.

She lobbed it at his stomach. “I didn’t see a flag with all this snow.”

He slid to the side avoiding the snow bomb. His intense eyes took her in as he walked slowly for her, forgetting the shovel. He stopped right in front of her. The passion in his gaze stopped her and she backed a step away. He gazed down into her eyes then down to her lips. She gasped and glanced away.

“We should get you to the chapel.” His voice rumbled between them and he touched her elbow.

Her heart tripped over itself as she backed another step from him. “I’m sure I can get there.” She turned and his grip grew tighter. She couldn’t leave, but part of her didn’t want to. Part of her wished they weren’t standing out in the street in front of everyone.

“I know you can get there, but let me be the gentleman I’m expected to be and take you there.”

a carol plays

A Carol Plays by Kari Trumbo
Book 13 in the Cutter’s Creek series
e-Book, 70 pages
October 27, 2016
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Find Kari Trumbo: Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 
Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 19, 2016

Wish List 5: Historical Romances–1st In A Series

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Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme. I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  I started to become interested in the historical romance genre this year, so I have been adding a bunch to my wish list.  Instead of dividing up this list into different countries (that might come later once I get a little more variety to the list), I decided I would look at those that are the first in their series – so we can jump into these together.

Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms) by Julia London

wild wicked scotWicked intrigue unfolds in New York Times bestselling author Julia London's latest historical gem as an unlikely marriage leads to a path of risky desire in the lush, emerald Highlands.

WILD WICKED SCOT has earned three STARRED reviews! See below for the review clippings!

Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn't belong in a Scottish chieftain's devil-may-care world. Two years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn't looked back--except to steal memories of moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie's embrace. But as their respective powerful kingdoms unite and political upheaval rings around them, she's forced to return to her husband in order to interrupt his secret plans to invade her country.

Red-haired, green-eyed Margot is a beautiful threat. The bride Arran lost has haunted him for ages. As the Highlands tremble with whispers of her people's plot to seize McKenzie territory, he must outmaneuver her in games of espionage...and seduction. Yet as their secrets entwine and their lands fall prey to a political war, there's nothing to prevent love from capturing them both and leading them straight to danger.

Kirkus STARRED review: "An absorbing read from a novelist at the top of her game. "

Publishers Weekly STARRED review: “Expert storytelling and believable characters make the romance between Arran and Margot come alive in this compelling novel packed with characters whom readers will be sad to leave behind.”

Booklist STARRED review: “With well-developed characters who experience genuine growth, London is at the top of her game in this thrilling tale of political intrigue and second chances. This absorbing and passionate romance bodes well for future Highland Grooms titles.”

The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior) by Lily Blackwood

beast of clan kincaidA Highland warrior battles to reclaim his birthright in the first of a new series filled with seduction, revenge, and soul-stirring passion…

They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…

Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

The Forbidden Duke (The Untouchables) by Darcy Burke

forbidden dukeSpinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart is suddenly homeless and employment is her only option. Ruined after succumbing to a scoundrel’s excessive charm nearly a decade ago, she’s lucky to obtain a position as a paid companion and committed to behaving with the utmost propriety. She definitely shouldn’t be in the arms of a man capable of utterly destroying what little remains of her reputation...

Titus St. John, Duke of Kendal, is known as the Forbidden Duke, a mysterious, intimidating figure who enters Society just once each year at his stepmother’s ball. A decade ago, he was a devil-may-care rake until his idle roguery brought about the ruin of Eleanor Lockhart—and his resulting self-imposed isolation. Now she’s back, and she needs his help. But by “saving” her, he may just ruin her life all over again.

In Search of Scandal (London Explorers) by Susanne Lord

in search of scandalA DARING EXPLORER
All of London is abuzz with the tale of Will Repton. The lone survivor of a massacre in Tibet has returned to England a hero, but the traumatized explorer has no time for glory. Another dangerous expedition awaits. Nothing will deter him from his quest, and no one will unearth his secret—until Will meets Charlotte Baker.

IS NO MATCH FOR AN ADVENTUROUS HEART
Vivacious Charlotte Baker also has a mission—to find a man whose bold spirit matches her own. When she meets Will Repton, she immediately recognizes him as her soul mate, and she’s naively willing to turn her back on the rules of propriety to ensnare him. Will is torn between his fascination with Charlotte and his vow to finish his quest. He knows what it is to risk life and limb—but what if his most perilous adventure doesn’t lie across an ocean, but within his own lost heart?

One Scandalous Kiss (Accidental Heirs) by Christy Carlyle

one scandalous kissWhen a scheming marquess' daughter offers her one hundred pounds to publicly kiss a nobleman, a desperate Jessamin Wright agrees. She believes the money will save her failing bookstore and finally free her from her father's debts. But when Jess bursts into an aristocratic party and shocks the entire ton, she never expects to enjoy the outrageous embrace she shares with a grim viscount.

Lucius Crawford, Viscount Grimsby, has never met, or kissed, anyone like the beautiful suffragette who unsettles him with a single touch. He has always strived for control and avoided passion at all costs. Lucius is determined to protect his title and restore the estate he's unexpectedly inherited, but Jess' appearance in his life poses a threat to his plans and his heart. After a country house party brings them together once more, neither can resist temptation, and both find that one scandalous kiss just isn't enough.

 

Looking for some  other books I have read that are first in other historical romance series?

IMG_20161218_170400_890000

   To Kiss a Thief     Only An Earl Will Do    My Brown Eyed Earl
★★★★☆                  ★★★★☆                   ★★★½☆☆

Here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (I will update as they go live)

keep calm and support book bloggers

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, December 16, 2016

Excerpt of Recipe for Christmas by Kit Morgan

I have another treat for you today on this Cutter’s Creek Christmas tour!  I have an excerpt for you from one of the books from this tour that I haven’t yet had the chance to read, Recipe for Christmas by Kit Morgan. Take a look at what Ms. Morgan brings to the spirit of the season!


It’s a Christmas sugarplum celebration! Christmas in Cutter’s Creek means a Christmas social; sugarplum contest, dancing, a dash of mayhem and a heaping helping of romance.

First off is Kit Morgan’s Recipe for Christmas. This novella is set in 1866 and is the very first Cutter’s Creek Christmas social, and so much mischief happens, it’s a wonder they had another!

Lucius Judrow from Love is Blind has a brother and he’s on his way to Cutter’s Creek. Come see who Eldon meets in this hilarious and sweet romance!

The next is Vivi Holt’s Seasons of Love. It takes place in 1872. The social has changed just a bit. You’d think they’d learned with all the trouble, but no, the social is more fun than trouble. Margaret is a lonely school teacher from the East looking for a little love and adventure. She finds just that and a whole lot more in this sweet Christmas romance!

Third Christmas novella is just a few years later and the social has changed yet again, to a cider competition! The contestants get a little rowdy and words are said that might ruin Christmas! Felicity will need special help to solve this mess. Find out more in Annie Boone’s Christmas Spirit.

The fourth and final Christmas novella takes place in 1892 and rumors of Christmas social’s past dominate the festivities. Carol needs to find a husband and the new doctor in town provides a great opportunity. A snowball fight leads to romance in Kari Trumbo’s A Carol Plays.

Recipe for Christmas ǀ Season of Love ǀ Christmas Spirit ǀ A Carol Plays

Find the Cutter’s Creek authors on Facebook!

2

Eldon had changed, a lot. He’d cut his long hair and now kept his face clean-shaven. He’d sported a long bushy beard and mustache for years and didn’t care much about his appearance. He was too busy. Besides, a bounty hunter didn’t need to look nice, he just needed to be good at his job.

Eldon was quick to learn folks treated him different when the beard, long hair, and raggedy clothes came off. It also helped to smell nicer too.

But the biggest change that got folks attention was the size of his bank account. Yes, they’d congratulated him on striking it rich, and a lucky strike it was, but they’d also treated him differently, some, grotesquely so. He half-expected a few old acquaintances to fall begging at his feet. Others acted as if they might rob him, given half the chance. Then came the ones that humbly congratulated him on his good fortune and went on their way. How, he wondered, would Lucius act?

He spied the town up ahead and stopped his horse, suddenly nervous. He and Lucius hadn’t seen each other since they’d fought in the Chattanooga Campaign three years ago. Someone told Eldon that Lucius was taken down by some Yankee gone loco. There were other ridiculous reports, all of them false. All Eldon knew was his brother had gone missing. Whether he was alive or dead, he didn’t know, but thank the Lord he knew now.

Once in town, he dismounted and tied his horse to a hitching post in front of the sheriff’s office. He then took off his hat, ran a hand through his hair and stepped onto the boardwalk. After he took a deep breath, he entered the small building.

The office was empty.

“Now doesn’t this just figure?” he muttered, hands on hips. “I travel all this way, little brother, and you’re not here.”

“Howdy,” a voice called from the other side of a half-open door.

Eldon stepped to the door and gave it a shove. Two cells occupied the back room, one of them empty. The other held a short, pudgy man with a few days growth of whiskers. Eldon sighed. “Hello. You wouldn’t happen to know where the sheriff has got to?”

“Nope. ‘Fraid not.”

“Do you know when he’ll be back?”

The man’s brow puckered in thought. “Ahhhh, er … well … sorry. Don’t know that either.”

Eldon studied him a moment. “What are you in for?”

The man smiled. “Sheriff says it’s for disturbin’ the peace. I say it’s for havin’ me a good time.”

Eldon smiled at that. “What about the deputy?”

“Lucius? He ought to be along any minute with my lunch.”

Eldon’s heart skipped a beat. “Fine. I’ll wait.”

“Here? Ya know ya ain’t supposed to be back here. Lucius is gonna bust a gut if he catches ya.”

“Good. Let him catch me.”

The prisoner eyed him suspiciously. “What’s yer name, mister?”

“Judrow. What’s yours?”

The man stared at him. “Albert Dunst.” He stared at him some more. “Hey, you got the same last name as …” he peered through the bars at him. “Slap me silly! Ya even look like him!”

Eldon smiled again. “So I’ve been told. I’ll wait up front.”

He’d no sooner turned around when the door in the main office opened, and in walked Lucius. “I got ya a ham sandwich, Albert and some apple pie. If we got time we can have a game of check …,” he stopped up short, almost dropping the plate in his hand, and stared at Eldon.

“Hello little brother.”

Lucius’s jaw dropped like a brick. “Eldon?!” he squeaked.
“Lucius …”

Before he could say anything more, Lucius launched at him and almost knocked Eldon over in the process. A wail from Albert mixed with the sounds of the brothers talking at once filled the room.

“Where have you been? How did you find me?” Lucius asked then stopped and looked down. The plate he’d been holding was now smashed between them, Albert’s sandwich and apple pie plastered to his vest. He took a step back. The plate hit the wood floor and shattered as the sandwich and pie stuck for a second or two before landing amongst the shards with a plop. Lucius glanced between the mess, Eldon, and his prisoner. “Sorry, Albert.”

“Not as sorry as I am,” Albert huffed and sat on the cot behind him. He glanced at the two brothers, still frozen in place. “Ah go ahead and say your hello’s. But I want another sandwich when you’re done!”

Lucius laughed. “Sure.” He took another step back and studied Eldon. “Where did you come from?”

“Maybe you’d better fetch your prisoner another sandwich, then I’ll tell you. But first I want to hear about this wife of yours.”

Lucius smiled. “Ya heard about that, eh?” He then looked him up and down, even reached out and touched the sleeve of Eldon’s jacket. “That’s a right fine coat ya got there brother. Life must be treatin’ ya good.”

“Yes, I’ve done all right. Now about that sandwich? I wouldn’t mind one myself.”

“Of course, follow me. The café’s just down the street.” He turned, brushing crumbs from his shirt and vest. Eldon followed. They’d worry about the mess when they got back.

“And don’t forget the pie!” Albert called after them.

recipe for christmas

Recipe for Christmas by Kit Morgan
Book 10 in the Cutter’s Creek series
e-Book, 110 pages
October 27, 2016
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Find Kit Morgan: Website | Facebook | Twitter 

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

gilded years

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
Unabridged, 11 hr, 51 min
Simon & Schuster Audio
Janina Edwards (narrator)
June 7, 2016
★★★★ ½☆
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.

By the time I sat down to start listening to this title I had ENTIRELY forgotten what the book was about, so I was refreshingly surprised as I continued through the book. Tanabe tackled a subject that I had not encountered in historical fiction before, that of the act of an African American choosing to “pass” as white. Of course I had heard of this happening in history classes, but few historical novels tackle the African American experience, especially during this time period. Anita and her brother, Frederick, are able to “pass” as white for the most part, and Anita uses that to enable her to attend the school that she dreamed of attending since she was a young girl, Vassar College. Tanabe explored many avenues of this subject from how different family members and friends looked upon the subject, the views of white society on African Americans, and if it was right or wrong to engaged in the act of “passing”. I thought that she handled the subject well and that I came away with a solid idea of what mental toll doing so might have taken on those who chose to “pass”.

Tanabe was able to strike the proper balance between keeping the plot continuously moving forward and engaging with the reader while weaving in the necessary historical information about “passing”. There were many times that Anita sat an thought about if what she was doing was right, and if not handled well this could feel more like a lecture, but here it was always well integrated into the narrative and didn’t feel out of place. I was enthralled with the life that Anita was leading at Vassar and the glittering society that she was able to access because of her “passing”. Lottie Taylor, a friend and sometimes foe of Anita, was a whirlwind that you never knew where she was going to go next, and you were never quite sure if you could trust her or what she said. There is a thread of budding romance that Anita explores and I felt so much for her and the sacrifices that she had to make in her life. This is certainly a novel that can pull at the heartstrings.

I did have one complaint with the novel at that is that it lost momentum for me about the three-quarters mark. At this point (no spoilers) Anita is done with her time at Vassar and has returned home. She must make decisions about what to now do with her life. Then we jump forward many years and are introduced to her daughter and the life that she now leads and how those earlier decisions affected Anita. I know that the author was trying to show the legacy of Anita’s actions and how times may change but in other ways can stay the same, but I just lost interest. The passion and drama that had characterized the first part of the book was not there in the end and it would have been a better book for me if it ended just a little bit sooner.

audiobookimpressions
★★★½☆☆

Overall, I felt that the narration of the novel was very well done. The pacing was easy to follow and listen to without feeling rushed or dragging. I had a couple issues with there sometimes being too much emphasis on syllables or letters (especially at the end of words or sentences). And more noticeably to my ear as I live in the area, was when the narrator pronounced The Berkshires as Barkshires. I have never heard it pronounced that way before and it pulled me right out of the book.

You can get a feel for this audiobook by checking out this excerpt from the production.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Karin Tanabe:

the list
The List

the price of inheritance
The Price of Inheritance

Find Karin Tanabe: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

 

 
Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Excerpt from Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone

I have another treat for you today on this Cutter’s Creek Christmas tour!  I have an excerpt for you from the book that I reviewed last week, Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone.  Take a look at what Ms. Boone brings to the spirit of the season!


It’s a Christmas sugarplum celebration! Christmas in Cutter’s Creek means a Christmas social; sugarplum contest, dancing, a dash of mayhem and a heaping helping of romance.

First off is Kit Morgan’s Recipe for Christmas. This novella is set in 1866 and is the very first Cutter’s Creek Christmas social, and so much mischief happens, it’s a wonder they had another!

Lucius Judrow from Love is Blind has a brother and he’s on his way to Cutter’s Creek. Come see who Eldon meets in this hilarious and sweet romance!

The next is Vivi Holt’s Seasons of Love. It takes place in 1872. The social has changed just a bit. You’d think they’d learned with all the trouble, but no, the social is more fun than trouble. Margaret is a lonely school teacher from the East looking for a little love and adventure. She finds just that and a whole lot more in this sweet Christmas romance!

Third Christmas novella is just a few years later and the social has changed yet again, to a cider competition! The contestants get a little rowdy and words are said that might ruin Christmas! Felicity will need special help to solve this mess. Find out more in Annie Boone’s Christmas Spirit.

The fourth and final Christmas novella takes place in 1892 and rumors of Christmas social’s past dominate the festivities. Carol needs to find a husband and the new doctor in town provides a great opportunity. A snowball fight leads to romance in Kari Trumbo’s A Carol Plays.

Recipe for Christmas ǀ Season of Love ǀ Christmas Spirit ǀ A Carol Plays

Find the Cutter’s Creek authors on Facebook!


4

Felicity swallowed the curse that she wanted to fling at Lana. Her friend knew that she was a disaster in the kitchen. What kind of game was she up to?

As she glanced at Josh’s dark blues eyes, she could see they were full of expectation. Maybe he didn’t know about her lacking cooking skills. Could this festival be a chance for her to show him that maybe she could be the woman he needed? That she was indeed the woman to nurture his appetite and his heart.

“It’s everything she says,” Felicity mumbled.

A smile tugged at the corners of Josh’s mouth, making the dimples in his cheeks deepen just a bit. She glanced away, biting on her tongue. It was a crime for a man to be this handsome.

“What’s in it?” he asked.

She managed to hold back the groan that wanted to escape.

“Secrets from her grandmother,” Lana said, helpfully.

“Well, I can’t wait to try it,” he said with a grin.

Well she sure could certainly wait for him to try it. She didn’t have the first clue about cider except that it was made from fruit. It was, wasn’t it? Sugar plums that grew in the area, she thought. Oh, my. This was going to be a disaster.

christmas spirit

Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone
Book 12 in the Cutter’s Creek series
e-Book, 121 pages
October 27, 2015
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**My REVIEW of Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone**

Find Annie Boone: Website | Facebook

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, December 9, 2016

Audiobook Discussions: How Do You Listen?

IMG_20161207_184007_065000 (1)

I have been doing a lot of audiobook listening lately and I attended a recent blogger webinar about audiobook reviewing which got me thinking more and more about audiobooks.  So I wanted to know more of what you think about them!  From there, Audiobook Discussions has been born!

I figured a good place to start was with how do you listen?  What app do you listen to books with?  Do you listen on CD or digital download?  Do you borrow you books from the library or buy them?

For me it is a little of all of the above.  For personal listening choices I both purchase and borrow.  I have a 1 credit a month audiobook subscription through Audible.  I use this mostly to find books that I can’t get for free through the library or for books that I don’t want to wait on the waiting list for.  I also download books through my library.  I love listening on my Audible app over my ipod because of the syncing capability across devices (more about why I love the app in another discussion).  I still listen to CD books too.  Some are older ones that I have obtained but haven’t yet listened to, others are review copies that I receive from publishers.  These I can only listen to in my car because I don’t have the capability of listening to a CD in my house and I don’t want to rip all the tracks to my ipod.  When my commute was an hour each way, this was totally fine, as I had a lot of car listening time.  Now with my commute of about 20 minutes, this take A LOT longer to get through them that way. 

So tell me about your audio listening choices!

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cover Crush: A Death by Any Other Name

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

death by any other name

I have LOVED all of the covers for Tessa Arlen’s books!  They have a very different feel than most other covers that I see.  The colors are vivid and beautiful and there is a clarity that makes the image pop.  There is always a beautiful home featured as well.  Someone is doing an excellent job with these covers.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Bookaholic Swede, 2 Kids and Tired, Layered Pages  

keep calm and support book bloggers

 

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Review: Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone

I am participating in a blog tour for the Christmas novellas that are part of the Cutter’s Creek series and this week I will have a review of Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone, but I will also be sharing some other content as well.  I previously featured a review of Season of Love by Vivi Holt and an excerpt of that novella.  Don’t worry about if you have never read a book in this series before, you can still dive right in and enjoy the season with these novellas without prior knowledge.  So, first just an intro to the series and then my review of Christmas Spirit is below that.  Enjoy!


1

It’s a Christmas sugarplum celebration! Christmas in Cutter’s Creek means a Christmas social; sugarplum contest, dancing, a dash of mayhem and a heaping helping of romance.

First off is Kit Morgan’s Recipe for Christmas. This novella is set in 1866 and is the very first Cutter’s Creek Christmas social, and so much mischief happens, it’s a wonder they had another!
Lucius Judrow from Love is Blind has a brother and he’s on his way to Cutter’s Creek. Come see who Eldon meets in this hilarious and sweet romance!

The next is Vivi Holt’s Seasons of Love. It takes place in 1872. The social has changed just a bit. You’d think they’d learned with all the trouble, but no, the social is more fun than trouble. Margaret is a lonely school teacher from the East looking for a little love and adventure. She finds just that and a whole lot more in this sweet Christmas romance!

Third Christmas novella is just a few years later and the social has changed yet again, to a cider competition! The contestants get a little rowdy and words are said that might ruin Christmas! Felicity will need special help to solve this mess. Find out more in Annie Boone’s Christmas Spirit.

The fourth and final Christmas novella takes place in 1892 and rumors of Christmas social’s past dominate the festivities. Carol needs to find a husband and the new doctor in town provides a great opportunity. A snowball fight leads to romance in Kari Trumbo’s A Carol Plays.


Find the Cutter’s Creek authors on Facebook!



christmas spirit
Christmas Spirit by Annie Boone
Book 12 in the Cutter’s Creek series
ARC, e-Book, 121 pages
October 27, 2015
★★★★☆
goodreads button 

Heat Level:

Genre: Historical Romance, Western, Christmas

Source: Received from Author for Review
A handsome cowboy. A sweet young woman. A stranger from New York.
Felicity Lipscomb has loved Josh Garrett almost as long as she can remember. She thinks he’s nothing short of amazing. She doesn’t have the confidence to let him know, so she longs for him quietly, hoping one day he’ll notice her.
When she overhears a conversation just before Christmas, Felicity gets an idea she’s sure will help her finally snag her dream man. To make her plan work, she needs to learn to cook. The Christmas Festival Cider Competition is the perfect opportunity for her to prove her kitchen skills to the handsome cowboy.
Then the festivities begin. Secrets are revealed. Tempers flare. Nasty words are exchanged. All at a time when people should be joyful. In the blink of an eye Felicity’s happiness shatters. Can the stranger from New York make things better? Will his purpose for being there bring people together when they’ve been torn apart?
Pick up a copy to find out if renewed Christmas Spirit comes to the sweet little town of Cutter’s Creek just when they need it most.
Christmas Spirit is the first book I have read in the Cutter’s Creek series that is from a different author. Annie Boone brings us a sweet novel where the heroine is sort of having a conflict of identity. She has been in love with her best friend’s brother since she was a young girl, but didn’t realize he has any interest in her. Upon discovering that he is indeed interested, she struggles with the idea of remaking herself into the woman she thinks he wants. But does he really want that? At the same time, Josh is struggling to take over the responsibility of the ranch because his father has been quite ill and to be able to deal with the downturn that is befalling it. Can he potentially support a wife and family? These hardships make their relationship all the more real because I think that a lot of people today can identify with many of these ideas, even if they aren’t in the exact same manner.

There are some comedic moments in this novella as Felicity tries to learn how to cook, and boy does she make quite the mess of it! Also, the cider judging scene was more than I could have expected from it – dramatic it certainly was! I quickly got behind Felicity and Josh – I think many young girls have a secret crush on their best friend’s brother, and this story played on that very well. All the family members have to intervene in their little ways to push them forward toward each other.

Although this was a brief novella it offered a lot in the way of characterization and world building. I had a very clear idea of who the main characters were and some of the side characters as well. The Cutter’s Creek novellas have done a good job of integrating different ethnicities and cultures into the town. In Christmas Spirit, we learn a little something about the Chinese experience and cultural contributions.

Christmas Spirit embraces the true idea of the season: celebrating with friends and those you love, friendly competitions, food, and some religious elements (however this element is not used heavy handed).

While I haven’t read any of Annie Boone’s other contributions to the Cutter’s Creek series, I could immediately recognize that two of the side characters, Nick and Jemma, had to be from one of the other novels in the series. And I was right! They are the main characters in Becoming a Family and I look forward to reading their story as I found them interesting and I want to know more about their backstory. I also feel that there might be a subsequent novel about Josh’s sister on the horizon (but that is just a guess)!

Buy the Book: Amazon


Other Books in the Cutter’s Creek Series
The Cutter’s Creek series is a loosely interconnected series of novellas that all take place in Cutter’s Creek, Montana, each written by a different author.

the healing touch
The Healing Touch
by Kit Morgan (Book 1)

strong one
The Strong One
by Vivi Holt (Book 2)
[My Review]

new beginning
New Beginnings
by Annie Boone (Book 3)

a lily blooms
A Lily Blooms
by Kari Trumbo (Book 4)

a penny shines
A Penny Shines
by Kari Trumbo (Book 5)

becoming a family
Becoming a Family
by Annie Boone (Book 6)

betrothed
Betrothed
by Vivi Holt (Book 7)
[My Review]

love is blind
Love is Blind
by Kit Morgan (Book 8)

cherished
Cherished
by Vivi Holt (Book 9)
[My Review]

The Other Cutter’s Creek Christmas Novellas:

recipe for christmas
Recipe for Christmas
by Kit Morgan (Book 10)

season of love
Season of Love
by Vivi Holt (Book 11)
[My Review]

a carol plays
A Carol Plays
by Kari Trumbo (Book 13)


Find Annie Boone: Website | Facebook
 



Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court