Two for My Ears!

I’ve been very remiss in posting about audiobooks lately, so I wanted to highlight two recent ones that I’ve listened to during my commute: The Huntress by Kate Quinn and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

I loved Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network so I was excited to get The Huntress on audiobook via Audible. Here’s the overview of the story:

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today best-selling novel The Alice Network comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted….

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, 17-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes home with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past – only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family…secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth. 

So – I loved this story and found it really intriguing and I really enjoyed the narrator (Saskia Maarleveld) who is awesome with accents; however, this is looooong. Over 19 hours long. Apparently the book is over 550 pages. It was great, but I listened to it over weeks in the car and I got confused due to the changes in time that were happening in the narrative, as well as the number of characters. The story was well-written and engaging, but next time, I would choose to read it and not try to listen to it over weeks while I’m driving.

Another lengthy listen that I enjoyed, though it was disturbing, was Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, a sequel to A Handmaid’s Tale, which I read when it first published many years ago. This dystopian novel follows the first one, but can be read as a stand alone.

Here’s the overview:

Number one New York Timesbest seller

Winner of the Booker Prize

The Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be enjoyed on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale.

More than 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

This was over 13 hours long, and at times depressing and disturbing, but it was true Margaret Atwood: well-written and makes you think. It had multiple narrators, with Ms. Atwood being one of them. Even if you haven’t read Handmaid’s Tale or watched it on Hulu, I would recommend this story.

My audiobooks today were purchased using my Audible monthly credits from my subscription.

Blog Tour for: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

I love the Katie Gayle “Epiphany Bloom Mysteries”, so I was so excited when my friends at Bookouture wrote about a new series that Ms. Gayle (or should I say Ms. Gayles?) is writing, featuring a, what I’ll call, “middle aged”, recently divorced woman (Julia Bird) who ends up solving mysteries in a small English town (why do we not have quaint villages full of mysteries here in the US like the British do??). I loved this story, which read like a modern day Agatha Christie. Well-plotted and well-paced, I didn’t want to put it down. If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll love this one!

Here’s the scoop:

Book Description:

Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswolds village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village – from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity, until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect… drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia – newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper – despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wide, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?

This totally addictive page-turning cozy mystery is perfect for fans of M.C. Beaton, Faith Martin and Betty Rowlands.

Author Bio:

Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats.

https://www.facebook.com/KatieGayleWriter

Sign up to be the first to hear about new releases from Katie Gayle here: https://www.bookouture.com/katie-gayle

Buy Link: (NOT affiliated with BBNB)

Amazon: https://geni.us/B09SQ8CD7Jsocial

Audio Links:

UK: zpr.io/6WBwQ4rZUzdE
US: zpr.io/6PaCiZHfPWqL

Listen to a sample here:

You can sign up for all the best Bookouture deals you’ll love at: http://ow.ly/Fkiz30lnzdo

THANK YOU for my copy and for making me part of the tour!!

Spotlight on DARLING GIRL by Liz Michalski

My friends over at Wunderkind PR sent me some info on this intriguing new novel, based on the Peter pan story, but set in modern day. It just published this week! I see that it is available on Audible as well.

Synopsis:

In this beautiful, grounded, and darkly magical modern-day reimagining of J. M. Barrie’s classic, to save her daughter’s life one woman must take on the infamous Peter Pan—who is not the innocent adventurer the fairy tales make him out to be . . .

Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy—yes, that Wendy. She’s running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she’s been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.

Eden’s disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly—ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up—which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to—her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it’s too late… or she may lose both her children.

Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.

*** 

Author bio: 

Liz Michalski is the author of Evenfall and a contributor to Writer Unboxed, dubbed a “best of the best” website for writers by Writer’s Digest. DARLING GIRL is her second novel. Liz also contributed to Author in Progress, a manual for aspiring writers. A former reporter and editor, Liz now crafts articles on human interest, living, and health as a freelance writer. She lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she loves reading fairy tales and sometimes, writing them.

Visit Liz on her website and socials! 

Website: lizmichalski.com | Twitter: @MichalskiLiz | Instagram: @lizmichalskiauthor | Facebook: @author.LizMichalski

Here’s some praise from notables!

Advance Praise for DARLING GIRL

“A fascinating contemporary drama which dives deeply into themes of aging, generational trauma, and the things parents are willing to do for—or to—their children…This dark, magical tale is sure to win fans.”Publishers Weekly“A compelling and richly imagined twist on an old story, Liz Michalski’s   Darling Girl captured me on page one and hasn’t released me yet. An emotionally gripping demonstration that a mother’s love, when tested, can become a force of nature. I will never look at Neverland and its inhabitants the same way again.” 
—Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader

“A dark and elegant look at a story we all know well. Liz Michalski takes Peter Pan where all the old stories go, where magic is never without a cost, and pixie dust might be more powerful than you imagine. Fantastic!” 
—Barbara O’Neal, When We Believed in Mermaids

“A captivating question quivers at the center of the engrossing novel,   Darling Girl: What if   Peter Pan isn’t   just a story? While meeting the Peter Pan you never knew, reading   Darling Girl is like falling under the enchanting spell of Liz Michalski prose. As with all true magic, there must be both the seductive darkness and the illuminating light: Michalski masterfully gives us both.   Darling Girl introduces us to the Darling family decades away from Wendy and Peter, descendants who are grappling with secrets that protect a family mythology and a boy who will never grow up. With a young girl and her fiercely protective mother at the center of a spellbinding story,   Darling Girl is powerful and captivating. Neverland and the reader will never be the same again.”  
— Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author

“A dark and dazzling tale. Liz Michalski has used her own magic wand to shed light on the lengths we go to in order to preserve the myth of beauty, the myth of youth, and even the myth of fairytales themselves.” 
—   Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author

“Darling Girl is a richly written story of what it means to live in the wake of a fairy tale, and the strength and courage it takes to step out of that shadow and find your own story. Full of heartache, sacrifice, and bravery, this is a book that will linger in a reader’s thoughts.” 
—   Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians

The Unquiet Dead by Stacie Murphy

My friends at Pegasus Books sent me an Edelweiss copy of this great historical mystery. I loved it! I always like reading supernatural stories and this one had a mystery added in. This is the second in a series, but it can be a stand-alone title. Though, I have to say, that after reading it, I want to go back and read the first novel!

Thank you for my review copy!

Here’s the scoop:

The new Gilded Age mystery featuring the uniquely talented Amelia Matthew—who has the ability to communicate with the dead—as she uses her special talents to solve the murder of a young girl whose death has scandalized New York City.

Three months after her harrowing experience on Blackwell’s Island, Amelia is settling back into her work at the nightclub and doing her best to come to terms with her new ability to commune with the spirit world. The last thing she wants to do is hunt another killer through the streets of Gilded Age New York. But when she and her brother Jonas discover the body—and spirit—of a young girl whose recent kidnapping electrified the city, Amelia’s resolve wavers. It breaks entirely when a fifteen-year-old boy—the son of one of the club’s Black waiters and his Irish immigrant wife—is accused of the crime. 

Amelia and Jonas have to find the real murderer, and they have to do it quickly: in five days, the boy will be transferred to the brutal Sing Sing prison to await trial. For such a notorious suspect, it’s as good as a death sentence. With the city in an uproar and an ambitious reporter watching their every move, they race to uncover the truth. But as the evidence increasingly points to the boy’s guilt, Amelia and Jonas are forced to wonder: are they saving an innocent, or working to free a killer?

SPOTLIGHT: Q&A for Lisa Papademetriou’s new book: HEARTS AND CRAFTS

My friends at BookMark Communications sent me some info on this new title by popular middle grade author, Lisa Papademetriou. Below is some info on this new series and a Q&A with the author.

Hearts and Crafts

Latest from Bestselling Author, Lisa Papademetriou

(Confectionately Yours, Middle School: Big, Fat Liar) 

Mackenzie Miller loves a project. In addition to making candle holders and friendship bracelets, there’s the Mom Project (finding her a boyfriend — even if she says she’s not interested), the Friend Project (win back the BFFs who dumped her and make a new friend), and the Band Project (so what if she’s never planned a fundraiser? How hard can it be?).

But life doesn’t come with a set of instructions. The harder Mackenzie works to craft the perfect school year, the more she feels like she’s failing. She can do it all…can’t she? 

This fast, funny novel is the Ted Lasso of kids’ books: full of nice people trying their best and not always living up to their own expectations. Comes with craft directions for making one of Mackenzie’s signature bracelets!

Lisa Papademetriou (Papa-Dim-Meet-Ree-Yoo) is the author of numerous novels for tween and teen readers, including the new series Hearts and Crafts; A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic (a South Asia Book Award Highly Commended Title); the New York Times-bestselling novel Middle School: Big, Fat Liar and Homeroom Diaries (both with James Patterson), and the Confectionately Yours series (almost 1,000,000 books in print). Her books have appeared on many prestigious lists, including Bank Street Best Books of the Year, the NYPL Books for the Teen Age, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List and have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, and Japanese. A former editor at Scholastic, Disney Press, and HarperCollins, Lisa is also the founder of Bookflow.pub, the premier creativity and productivity tool for writers. 

What inspired this book? Especially–“interweaving” crafts/making into the story?
The past few years have been really rough ones for me, personally, and for a lot of people I knew. My daughter is in middle school, and I saw how tough it is to manage all of her shifting friendships. I felt like I wanted to write a feel-good book—a story that was full of nice people and funny situations. I felt like we all needed a laugh; I knew I did. 
I’ve always loved crafting, and so does my daughter. It’s the perfect thing to do when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed—just make something pretty. So I thought that would be perfect for the character of Mackenzie. 

How has your daughter affected your story telling? Or this story?
Watching my daughter grow up is a good reminder of how hard it is to be a tween. Grown-ups often tell kids that they don’t have “real” problems. But figuring out how to deal with other people—including friends, parents/caregivers, siblings, and teachers—and your own emotions is tough work. And those problems are very real when you’re going through them. Breaking up with a friend as a tween can feel as hard as breaking up with a spouse as an adult. It’s intense. It’s emotional. In my work, I always try to honor these everyday sorts of problems. 

Are you a maker? (crafty one?) If yes, what are your favorite materials to work with?
I love crafting! My favorite craft is quilting, but it’s a bit cumbersome, so I tend to work with yarn more often. I knit a bit and love to crochet. My daughter is terrific with painting and hand-lettering. Calligraphy is one thing I’d love to learn. I also love to make fun, simple crafts. I even have a monthly author newsletter, where I send readers a new, easy craft each month along with a creative writing idea! https://mailchi.mp/lisapapa.com/lisa-papa-author-sign-up

Sisters of Night and Fog by Erika Robuck

If you follow me, you know I love Erika Robuck’s novels, which usually have a strong, historical, female protagonist. This book was exciting because it had two strong, female protagonists, from WWII.

Here’s the scoop:

Description

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Buzzfeed · Bookbub · BookTrib · and more!

Two women, two countries. Nothing in common but a call to fight.

A heart-stopping new novel based on the extraordinary true stories of an American socialite and a British secret agent whose stunning acts of courage collide in the darkest hours of World War II.

1940. In a world newly burning with war, and in spite of her American family’s wishes, Virginia d’Albert-Lake decides to stay in occupied France with her French husband. She’s sure that if they keep their heads down, they’ll survive. But is surviving enough?

Nineteen-year-old Violette Szabo has seen the Nazis’ evil up close and is desperate to fight them. But when she meets the man who’ll change her life only for tragedy to strike, Violette’s adrift. Until she enters the radar of Britain’s secret war organization—the Special Operations Executive—and a new fire is lit in her as she decides just how much she’s willing to risk to enlist.

As Virginia and Violette navigate resistance, their clandestine deeds come to a staggering halt when they are brought together at Ravensbrück concentration camp.

The decisions they make will change their lives, and the world, forever.

It was so crazy as I read this to think that these were true-life people. This story is suspenseful and heart-breaking. In a word: unforgettable. While I love all of Erika’s works, this is my favorite as it’s so beautifully written. You felt like you truly knew what it was like to be in that person’s mind and heart. Often, her novels have told the story of a women through the eyes of a third part (sort of a “Gatsby” feel in the retelling) but I found this story so powerful as each woman told her own. And I learned of two new heroines that I had not heard of before.

If you like WWII genre and female spies, don’t miss it!

Thank you so much for my review e-copy through Net Galley!

Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles

I always love reading the Molly Murphy mysteries, so I was excited to see a new one out. I believe Ms. Bowen is sharing the writing of the series now with her daughter, Clare.

This installment finds Molly married to Daniel and with a little one and still trying to stay our of trouble. Of course trouble seems to find her and she works to solve a mystery involving an Irish immigrant who looks like her and a with a connection to Ellis Island.

I enjoyed it! And I always enjoy this series, and Ms. Bowen’s Royal Spyness series, too.

Thank you for my copy!

Description

New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen, now writing in partnership with her daughter, Clare Broyles, transports and enthralls readers through the incomparable Molly Murphy Sullivan. Wild Irish Rose is the next novel in this beloved mystery series, a cause for celebration for readers and critics alike.

New York, 1907: Now that she’s no longer a private detective—at least not officially—Molly Murphy Sullivan is looking forward to a time of settled tranquility with friends and family. Back in New York, where her own story began, Molly decides to accompany some friends to Ellis Island to help distribute clothing to those in need. This journey quickly stirs up memories for Molly. When you’re far from home and see people from your country, every face looks like a family member.

That evening Molly’s policeman husband, Daniel, is late returning home. He comes with a tale to tell: there was a murder on Ellis Island that day, and the main suspect is the spitting image of Molly. The circumstances are eerily similar to when Molly herself arrived on Ellis Island, and she can’t help but feel a sense of fate. Molly was meant to be there that day so that she can clear this woman’s name.

Harper-Collins Historical Fiction Blog Tour for MRS.ENGLAND by Stacey Halls

I’m taking part today in a wonderfully gothic and evocative read: Mrs. England by Stacey Halls. I have to say that I found it hard to believe that this book was written in 2022 as it feels so much like a novel from the early 1900’s (or even 1800’s). I loved this story of Ruby May, a nanny with a secretive past who finds her niche with the England family and their four children. There is an undercurrent of tension running throughout this book, as well as an air of mystery, and I just couldn’t put it down! Loved it!

Thanks for my copy and for making me part of the tour!

Mrs. England

Author: Stacey Halls

ISBN: 9780778386315

Publication Date: April 12, 2022

Publisher: MIRA

Buy Links: Not affiliated with BBNB

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @stacey_halls 

Instagram:@staceyhallsauthor

Goodreads

Author Bio: 

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Both of her first two novels, The Familiars and The Lost Orphan, were Sunday Times bestsellers, Mrs England is her third novel.

Book Summary:

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs. England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, an enthralling tale of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception.

West Yorkshire, 1904. When recently graduated Ruby May takes a nanny position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear something is not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband and is far from the angel of the house Ruby was expecting.

As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracized by the servants and increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family—she should know.

This captivating new feminist novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls is her third work of fiction and proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our time.

Sunday Times bestseller!

Spotlight on: UNTIL WE MEET by Camille Di Maio

Today I’m throwing the spotlight onto a great sounding new book about a group of friends in WWII: Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio

A poignant and page-turning story of three women whose lives are forever changed by war.…

New York City, 1943

Can one small act change the course of a life?Margaret’s job at the Navy Yard brings her freedoms she never dared imagine, but she wants to do something more personal to help the war effort. Knitting socks for soldiers is a way to occupy her quiet nights and provide comfort to the boys abroad. But when a note she tucks inside one of her socks sparks a relationship with a long-distance pen pal, she finds herself drawn to a man she’s never even met.

Can a woman hold on to her independence if she gives away her heart? Gladys has been waiting her whole life for the kinds of opportunities available to her now that so many men are fighting overseas. She’s not going to waste a single one. And she’s not going to let her two best friends waste them either. Then she meets someone who values her opinions as much as she likes giving them, and suddenly she is questioning everything she once held dear.

Can an unwed mother survive on her own?Dottie is in a dire situation—she’s pregnant, her fiancé is off fighting the war, and if her parents find out about the baby, they’ll send her away and make her give up her child. Knitting helps take her mind off her uncertain future—until the worst happens and she must lean on her friends like never before.

With their worlds changing in unimaginable ways, Margaret, Gladys, and Dottie will learn that the unbreakable bond of friendship between them is what matters most of all.

I haven’t read it yet, but I thank my friends at Books Forward for drawing it to my attention!

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford

I loved this novel (by the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) and found I could not stop thinking about it after I finished. Dorothy was such an interesting character, and I just loved her and her little girl. The premise in this book is so intriguing and the writing is so beautiful that I just couldn’t put it down.

A big thank you for my friends at Simon and Schuster for reaching out with this one for me!

Description

The New York Times bestselling author of the “mesmerizing and evocative” (Sara Gruen, author of Water for ElephantsHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet returns with a powerful exploration of the love that binds one family across the generations.

Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.

As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.

Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.

As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.