Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cover Reveal: The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Historical Romance

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland—a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the Duke's clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

  An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

 Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her—and her heart—in more danger than ever?

Available for Pre-Order: 

Amazon | Apple | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

 For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog.

You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review: Explorers: Amazing Tales of the World's Greatest Adventures by Nellie Huang

From the first people to leave Africa to the first to leave the planet, the urge to explore the unknown has driven human progress.

DK's Explorers tells the story of humanity's explorations, taking the reader into the lives of some of the most intrepid people ever known. Focusing on 50 of the world's greatest explorers, with shorter entries on 60 of their helpers and companions, the book is filled with first-person accounts in the explorers' own words, rare maps, specially commissioned photographs, and artworks re-create history's greatest expeditions. From trade and the search for lands to colonize, to scientific curiosity and missionary zeal, Explorers introduces history's most famous trail blazers-people whose courage opened frontiers, turned voids into maps, forged nations, connected cultures, and added to humankind's knowledge of the world by leaps and bounds.

Kindle, 144 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd, 2019
by DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley)

"Curiosity and thirst for knowledge motivated some early explorers”

For a book coming in at only 144 pages, it packs a lot of punch.  Divided into 3 sections, by sea, land, and air with colorful pictures, maps and illustrations its the perfect introduction to exploration.

Each explorer is given 2 pages with a little bio and their achievements along with maps outlining routes plus extras like - tools, the dark side of exploration and even pictures of boats that show the various parts and functions along with storage and living quarters. Giving the reader a sense of living conditions.

There are famous explorers - James Cook, Lief Erickson, Marco Polo and Lewis & Clark and the not so famous - Zheng He and many more.

This book doesn't just go back in time to the discovery of new lands but talks about contemporary explorers - Jacques Cousteau, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and even the Journey to the Moon, some that have passed and others still exploring this vast world.

This is a great book for the curious, adventurous and those wanting to know more about this great planet.  Geared towards the Middle-Grade age, this adult found it very interesting and feels it would best be read in print form.

 My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy - best viewed using the Kindle app to enjoy the illustrations. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Review: Ollie Oxley and the Ghost: The Search for Lost Gold by Lisa Schmid

Twelve-year-old Ollie Oxley is moving — again. His mom is starting another new job, this time at the Bingham Theater in Granite City, California. Moving all the time means Ollie has struggled in the making friends department, but he quickly connects with a boy named Teddy. To Ollie's surprise, though, his first friend in town is a little more... unique than those he's made in the past. Teddy is a ghost.

 Befriending someone who lived during the famous California Gold Rush sure does make things interesting for Ollie. But when the school bully, Aubrey, targets Ollie, and it looks like the Bingham Theater might close, the stakes couldn't be higher. Can Teddy and Ollie work together to take down Aubrey, save his mom's job, and solve a mystery years in the making?

Kindle, 184 pages
 Expected publication: June 18th, 2019
by North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press

Ollie Oxley and the Ghost was a fun read, the target audience is middle grade but I enjoyed myself. This is some humor while dealing with serious subjects such as loneliness, bullying and that search for belonging and purpose, especially when your past is filled with moving from one place to another. Never really settling down and making true friends.

Ollie is a likable character and one that I couldn’t help rooting for. The story isn’t always from his viewpoint, which roundabout the story nicely. The story while enjoyable was somewhat predictable, but it was well written, creative and one I think will appeal to the younger readers.

My thanks to the publisher for an advanced copy (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Audio Review: Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

From the author of Wildflower Hill, this breathtaking novel travels more than a century between two love stories set in the Australian seaside town of Lighthouse Bay.

 In 1901, a ship sinks off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The only survivor is Isabella Winterbourne, who clutches a priceless gift meant for the Australian Parliament. This gift could be her ticket to a new life, free from the bonds of her husband and his overbearing family. But whom can she trust in Lighthouse Bay?

 Fast-forward to 2011: after losing her lover, Libby Slater leaves her life in Paris to return to her hometown of Lighthouse Bay, hoping to gain some perspective and grieve her recent loss. Libby also attempts to reconcile with her sister, Juliet, to whom she hasn’t spoken in twenty years. Libby did something so unforgivable, Juliet is unsure if she can ever trust her sister again.

 In these two adventurous love stories, both Isabella and Libby must learn that letting go of the past is the only way to move into the future. The answers they seek lie in Lighthouse Bay.

Audible Audio - Length: 16 hrs and 15 mins
Published January 1st 2017
by Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd (first published 2012)

Lighthouse Bay was original published in 2012 and follows two storylines set over 100 years apart. Dual time periods are a trademark of Kimberley Freeman that I love, usually, with a common factor she weaves together interesting tales of secrets, mysteries, and intrigue.

Lighthouse Bay has all the aspects that make a great read, an abandoned lighthouse, old photos, diaries with missing pages that adds to the mysterious factor.  Libby and Isabella have much in common, each having to navigate through changes and confront the past before they can move into the future.  Through different circumstances, Lighthouse Bay is a story of searching, relationships and discovering oneself.

Kimberley Freeman is a go-to for me (yes I have a lot of go-to authors). Though I have the print copy I did go the audio route here. The print copy had a number of pages of interview type questions which gave insight to motivation and writing process. While it isn’t one of my favorite Freeman books it is one I recommend.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge

click on cover to see my thoughts

Monday, June 3, 2019

Audio Review: The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth

A retelling of The Beauty and The Beast set in Nazi Germany 

 The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark' in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Springing Lark,' the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from the sun, the moon, and the four winds. Eventually, she battles an evil enchantress and saves her husband, breaking the enchantment and turning him back into a man.

 Kate Forsyth retells this German fairy tale as a historical novel set in Germany during the Nazi regime. A young woman marries a Nazi officer in order to save her father, but hates and fears her new husband. Gradually she comes to realize that he is a good man at heart, and part of an underground resistance movement in Berlin called the Red Orchestra. However, her realization comes too late. She has unwittingly betrayed him and must find some way to rescue him and smuggle him out of the country before he is killed.

 The Red Orchestra was a real-life organization in Berlin, made up of artists, writers, diplomats, and journalists, who passed on intelligence to the American embassy, distributed leaflets encouraging opposition to Hitler, and helped people in danger from the Nazis to escape the country. They were betrayed in 1942, and many of their numbers were executed.

 The Beast's Garden is a compelling and beautiful love story, filled with drama and intrigue and heartbreak, taking place between 1938 and 1943, in Berlin, Germany.

 Paperback, 512 pages
Audio, 16 hours, 21 minutes
 Published August 3rd, 2015
 by Random House Australia

 Kate Forsyth is one of my go to’s for fairy tale retellings based on historical events. This is also my second in as many months taking place inside Germany during the war.

 Beginning as Stormtroopers terrorized Germany on a night known as Night of Broken Glass (1938), life for the Jewish community changed forever.  Hilter's word cannot be trusted as treaties/promises are broken and turns against Germans he deems unfit. All told from inside the borders and through the eyes of a young woman struggling to make sense of the changes taking place. Especially when a Jewish family is like her own.

 This is my 3rd Forsyth book and again I was not disappointed, I went the audio route. Jennifer Vutetic is the reader - always a pleasure listening to her. Playing out with vivid detail and getting a real sense of what life was like for those in Germany during those terrible years Kate Forsyth has done her homework, drawing on real historical events and characters.  Vividly describing the horror and feeling the fear kept me attached to this audio.  While I didn't always feel the emotional connection between some of the players that did not take away from my enjoyment (though that does seem weird to say considering the subject matter).  But on the other hand, there were those at the mercy of the Nazis that just did what they could to survive - it was a horrible time, to say the least.

This is definitely a book I recommend, especially lovers of WW2 HF, also an author who brings stories to life.

click on covers to see what I thought of these two beauties