Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review and Giveaway: "The Murderer's Maid" by Erika Mailman

Synopsis: The Murderer’s Maid interweaves the stories of two women: one, the servant of infamous Lizzie Borden, and the other a modern-day barista fleeing from an attempt on her life.

Trapped by servitude and afraid for her own safety, Irish maid Bridget finds herself an unwilling witness to the tensions in the volatile Borden household. As Lizzie seethes with resentment, Bridget tries to perform her duties and keep her mouth shut.

Unknowingly connected to the legendary crime of a century ago, Brooke, the illegitimate daughter of an immigrant maid, struggles to conceal her identity and stay a jump ahead of the men who want to kill her. When she unexpectedly falls in love with Anthony, a local attorney, she has to decide whether to stop running and begin her life anew.

With historical detail and taut, modern storytelling, Erika Mailman writes a captivating novel about identity, choices, freedom, and murder. She offers readers a fresh perspective on the notorious crime and explores the trials of immigrants seeking a better life while facing down fear and oppression, today and throughout history. Intelligent and detailed, The Murderer’s Maid is a gripping read from beginning to bloody conclusion.

My Thoughts: Lizzie Borden is such a fascinating figure that I couldn't resist reading this book. I found this story to be completely riveting.  The story also was kind of creepy.  I don't think anyone can not be weirded out by the Borden story but the descriptions of Lizzie were especially creepy.  This made it the perfect read for this time of year.

The story was told from several different perspectives which made for a really interesting look at what was happening in both the past and present.  The events occurring in the Borden house were seen mostly through the eyes of the family maid, Bridget.  I really loved Bridget.  I admired her strength and willingness to stay working with the family despite their oddities.  She had an interesting background and her perspective on the events kept me flipping pages as fast as I could.  I also really liked Brooke's story in the present.  Brooke was an amazing character and she really made the story.  I think the author did an excellent job of mixing the past and present stories together and creating a really cohesive tale.

I always love a good author's note at the end of a book and I really appreciated the extra details as well as the author's opinion on the murders. I've been in a reading funk for a while and it was nice to read something so engrossing.  This was a really great read and I hope to see more from Ms. Mailman in the future. 4 stars.

About the Author:
 Erika Mailman is the author of The Witch’s Trinity, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book and Bram Stoker Award finalist, and Woman of Ill Fame, a Pushcart Press Editor’s Book Award nominee. She’s a Yaddo fellow and lives in Northern California with her family.

For more information, please visit Erika Mailman’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

I received this book from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mailbox Monday (79)

It's Monday again and I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday today.

It's a very busy Monday for me as it's time for university students to start enrolling.  My job is to help them pick the right classes so things will be hectic for the next few weeks.

My reading is slow.  I'm slogging through a review book right and I'm hoping I can just get it done this week and move on.  I hate not finishing books so I'm trying to put in the effort to get through it.

I got a few fun books from the library this week.  I can't wait to dive in.

This is the only book of his I haven't read yet and I'm really looking forward to it.

This song irritates me so much but I really enjoy this author's books so I thought I would check this one out.
Her Christmas books are the best!
This is a new to me author but I'm in love with the house on the cover!

What books did you get this week?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

September 2017 Wrap Up

I know I'm late to the party with my September wrap up but I wanted to post it anyway.  

September was a better reading month for me and we took a bookish family trip!  My family and I met my mom in Mansfield, Missouri and went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and Wilder Days event.  It was so neat!  

We got to tour the farm house at Rocky Ridge farm, the Rock House that Laura's daughter Rose had built and the museum.  There was a lot to see and I was so glad we went.  I wouldn't mind going back when it's less busy so I can get a better look at some things.  I absolutely loved the Rock House!  It's about a mile and half from the farm house and museum and the view is spectacular.  It was so peaceful and beautiful; I would have happily lived there.

I read more books than I have in the past couple months.  I got through seven books!  I know that's not much but I have barely been able to get six books read in a month lately.  I am really behind on my reading goal for the year and I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to make it to 100 this year and I'm kind of sad about it.  I have read 61 books and I don't think I can fit 39 more books into the next three months.  So boo.  It's been kind of a crazy year so I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself about it. 

I read the following books in September:

4.) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
6.) By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
7.) The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My September reading stats:

-7 books read
   - 0 non-fiction
   - 5 historical fiction
   - 4 review books
   - 3 library books
   - 0 books I own
   - 7 ebooks

I'm hoping October will be even better!  How was your September?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mini Reviews (22)

This is one of my favorite books of the year.  Pevear and Volokhonsky (the best Russian translators!) have created a wonderful translation of Ms. Alexievich's amazing oral history.  The author interviewed Soviet women who fought in World War II and recorded their stories.  These stories were beautiful and heart-breaking and such an eye-opening look at the Soviet experience in World War II.  The translators did such a good job and making it seem as thought the book was written in English; it wasn't choppy or weird, it flowed exactly as it should.  I would highly encourage anyone interested in this part of history to read this book.  I will definitely be buying a copy for my home library.  5 stars.

I have such a love/hate relationship with this author but I can't turn down a book on the Grey sisters.  I find them to be so fascinating!  That being said, the whole section on Lady Jane Grey was rough.  Jane was completely insufferable and I just did not like her at all.  The rest of the story that focused on Katherine and Mary was pretty good.  I can't help but feel sympathy for those two because their lives could not have been easy and I enjoyed Ms. Gregory's portrayal of them.  Overall, this was an okay read if you can get past the sections on Jane. 3 stars.

I love this author and I love this series.  The Library of Light and Shadow is a wonderful addition to the Daughters of La Lune series.  Delphine Duplessi is the main focus of this novel and I think she is my favorite so far.  Her gift is so unique and I really liked reading about her regular art as well as her shadow art.  In addition to Delphine's art, the story surrounding the search for Flamel's book kept me reading as fast as I could.  This was a delightfully magical mystery and I highly recommend this series. 4 stars

I received all of the above books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mailbox Monday (78)

 Happy Sunday everybody!  September is over and I can hardly believe it.  It seems as though the month has flown by.  Now I'm excited for fall and all of the upcoming holidays.  October is the start of my favorite time of year and I'm hoping there will be plenty of room for reading in between all of the upcoming events.

I requested some new holiday books from the library and had no idea all of my holds would come in at once so I need to get moving on these.  I'm really excited to dig into some sweet, fluffy reads and these will do just the trick.

From the Library:

This is the fourth book in a series that I really enjoyed so I'm eager to get started on it.

I was so intrigued by the cover on this one that I had to pick it up.

For Review (from NetGalley):

 I really need to stay away from review books for a while but I can't say no to anything about Anastasia.
I hope y'all have a great week!

I Was Anastasia

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review & Giveaway: "Last Christmas in Paris" by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Synopsis:   August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.
But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

My Thoughts:  Last Christmas in Paris is a beautiful story of friendship and love during World War I.  It is so well-written and so seamless that you would never know there were two authors.

The story is told mostly through letters.  Evie is left at home in England while her brother, his good friend and her best friend all go to Europe to serve in the war.  The authors did a wonderful job of connecting the letters into a cohesive story.  I really enjoyed this format and felt like I got to know the characters more by reading their letters.

The portrayal of the war and the effects that it had on the soldiers and others participating in the war were heart wrenching.  It hurt my heart reading about the constant death, the PTSD and shell shock and all the illness in the trenches.  These aspects of the book seemed to be very well-researched and were integrated nicely in to the story.

The romance that grew between Evie and Tom was so sweet.  It was made even better by the short sections set in the 1960s that followed Tom on his last trip to Paris.  The story ended during this time and oh, did it make me cry.

Last Christmas in Paris was a captivating tale and I would highly recommend it.  I hope to see more from each of these author's in the future. 4 stars.

About the Authors:

HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews. RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Up and coming, Last Christmas in Paris, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release October 3, 2017, and The Phantom’s Apprentice, a re-imagining of the Gothic classic Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daae’s point of view releases February 6, 2018. To date, her novels have sold in ten countries. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017.
Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

I received this book from HFBVT in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mini Reviews (21)

I love Gudenkauf's books!  Not a Sound was an excellent mystery made even more compelling by the fact that the main character is deaf.  I did figure out who the killer was before the end but I thought the story as a whole was so good that I didn't mind.  It was as much a mystery story as it was a story of the main character dealing with being deaf and growing from that experience.  Excellent read! 4 stars.

Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favorite musicals so when I saw this book, I had to read it.  I've always wondered what happened after the movie ended and this book tried to do that.  After Anatevka tells the story of Hodel as she traveled to, and lived in, Siberia while her husband was in prison.  I thought the story was pretty slow and at times I honestly had no idea what was going on.  The ending was really rushed and overall, I just wasn't a fan of the story. 2 stars.

This was a very different WWII story than some I've read before.  I really enjoyed the community of characters the author created and the individual acts of resistance they participated in.  The book was well-written and his descriptions of the Normandy area were beautiful.  However, it was hard to feel like the story had any real direction.  That's not a bad thing, I just couldn't always tell where the story was going and what the end goal was.  3 stars.

I received a Not a Sound and After Anatevka from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I won The Baker's Secret from Goodreads.

Imagination Designs