Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Some Thoughts and Some Suggestions: Audiobooks

I have been listening to Audiobooks lately. They are not new to me but during the last few weeks I’ve become quite addicted to them. I tend to like the male narrators much better than the females. That said, Julia Whelan is just astonishing, she is the author and narrator (performer) of the book My Oxford Year. It is truly a terrific book and performance. I have had discussions with audio-listener friends who really love the good female narrators like Rosalyn Landor and Kate Reading but for me they just can’t perform the male voices to my liking.

Now when it comes to the male narrators (performers), Alex Wyndham is the one who gets A+ for his narration of the Lucinda Brandt and Stella Riley books. I also give high marks to Tim Campbell narrating Christi Caldwell books and Nicholas Boulton narrating Laura Kinsale’s Flowers From the Storm. They all do justice to the female voices and can do different voices for all the book’s characters, it is like listening to a play or movie without the visual, of course.

Becoming a member of Audible online is not cheap. It costs $14.95/month and for that you get one free? book and some shorter “Audible Originals”. I have been picking up books at reduced rates by watching for deals bundled with a Kindle book purchase. If you keep your eyes out you can score an audiobook for as little as $1.99, but more often $7.49. That is much less expensive than the $20-$25 cost of many audiobooks.

I recently took advantage of an Audible offer that gives me a 3 month membership for $6.95/month with the option to cancel any time. I’m taking advantage by getting some of my pricey-ist books during this member period.

Here are some of the Historical Romance (and one Contemporary) audiobooks that rate 5-stars with me:

 

 

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Filed under Audio books, Book review, Books Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Deet's Life, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Kindle

Release Day Review- Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River

Title: Once Upon a River
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gothic/Fantasy
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria,Simon and Schuster Digital, Dec. 4, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 480
Rating: 5
Sexy Rating: 5
Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
**
Infused with the lyrical prose of Diane Setterfield, this mysterious, magical book kept me turning page after page, after page, after page (yes, 480 pages to be exact). I did think the book could have been shorter without losing any of the pacing or characterization, but that is my only complaint. It is a true rendering of the late Victorian era along the Thames River. Much research went into this book which gives the reader the feeling of living alongside the river and the many characters. The river is the main character which runs through the lives of each secondary character; kind and determined Robert Armstrong, the hopeful Vaughans, psychologically and physically damaged Lily White, the well adjusted Inn keepers Joe and Margot and son Jonathan and Rita the nurse who stands in as the village doctor, plus a villain steeped in evil. All play intricate rolls in the mystery that is the lost and found four year old girl.
I have looked forward to reading another book by this author since I read her wonderful novel THE THIRTEENTH TALE; ONCE UPON A RIVER did not disappoint. It is moody, frightening, uplifting, engrossing, perfectly nuanced and superbly constructed. I highly recommend this book.

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Filed under Authors, Book review, Books, Fantasy, Gothic, Historical Fiction, Review

Recent Release Review- A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry

A Christmas Revelation

Title: A Christmas Revelation: A Novel
Genre: Historical Mystery/ Victorian
Author: Anne Perry
Publisher: Ballentine, November 6, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 177
Rating: 4
Sexy Rating: 0
Violence Rating: 5
Christmasy feeling: 4
Description from Amazon.com:
Formerly a river urchin living on the banks of the Thames, nine-year-old Worm has never experienced a family Christmas. But thanks to a job at Hester Monk’s clinic in Portpool Lane, he’s found a makeshift family in kindly volunteer Miss Claudine Burroughs and curmudgeonly old bookkeeper Squeaky Robinson.

When Worm witnesses the abduction of a beautiful woman by a pair of ruffians just days before Christmas, he frantically turns to Squeaky for help. A one-time brothel owner, Squeaky knows the perils of interfering in nasty business, but he can’t bear to disappoint Worm—or leave the boy to attempt a rescue on his own. What neither of the would-be saviors expects, however, is that the damsel in distress already has her dilemma well in hand . . . and is taking steps to bring her captors to justice for crimes far worse than kidnapping. But the rogues, as cunning as they are deadly, are not to be underestimated. The aid of cynical old Squeaky and hopeful young Worm just might make the difference between a merry triumph over evil and a terrible yuletide tragedy.
**
This is a short novel, more a novella. The mystery is a bit thin but the story is heartwarming and at times heart-pounding. Ms. Perry brings to life the Victorian seedy side of London and those decent people as well as ruffians who reside there. I was won over by sweet, nine-year-old Worm and not quite sweet, 60-year-old Squeaky as they do there best to save the beautiful lady (Eloise). Christmas comes into the story as the two also are bringing Christmas décor and festivities to the clinic where they live.

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Filed under Book review, Books, Historical Fiction, Holiday, Mystery

Book and Movie Review- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Source: purchase
Publisher: The Dial Press, 2008
Pages: 322
Rating: 5
Sexy rating: 3
Violence rating: 5
Description from Amazon:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
**
THE BOOK: I have been meaning to read this book for years. It has been sleeping on my TBR pile always being moved lower in favor of some newer romance. Well Netflix made a movie of it and I decided that before I watched the movie I would read the book. And what a truly wonderful experience, yes, it is an experience to read this book. It is heartwarming, romantic, chilling, sorrowful, joyful and I guarantee you will place this book on your shelf to take down and reread over and over again.

It is written in the form of letters between all the characters and Juliet. Each letter moves the story along and gives more insight into the lives of people on the island of Guernsey during the Nazi occupation. It is a story of hardship, resilience, cooperation and love but it is also the story of Juliet and the members of the Society after the war.

If you read no other book this year please take some time and read this one.  Don’t let it languish for years on your To-Be-Read pile.

THE MOVIE (currently on Netflix): Not the same as the book, only the characters are recognizable and well cast.  I can’t really compare it to the book since so many features and scenes were changed. However, if I hadn’t read the book I am sure I would thoroughly enjoy the movie. Lily James (Downton Abbey’s Rose and Disney’s Cinderella)was perfect in the role of Juliet. The photography was beautiful and the whole movie felt like the 1940’s should have felt. Perhaps you should watch the movie first, then read the book. I think I would have enjoyed the movie more if I had done that.

P.S.- I was not a subscriber to Netflix until I heard that this movie and The Great British Baking Show was to be on this month. Now they have me with a free month but I suspect my subscription will continue….sigh…

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Filed under Book review, Books Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

Recent Release Review-House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

house-of-silence

Title: House of Silence

Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller/Suspense (romantic elements)

Author: Sarah Barthel

Publisher: Kensington, Dec. 27, 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 300

Rating: 2.5

Sexy Rating: 2

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin’s future—like that of every young woman—hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle’s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiancé commit a horrific crime—and no one believes her.   Gregory denies all, and Isabelle’s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband’s assassination.   In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.

***

Was this a good read? Well…it was just okay.  I kept reading to find out what would happen.  The plot was interesting.  But it didn’t flow and it left unanswered questions. Why was Gregory living a lie? Why was Isabelle’s mother not willing to give Isabelle the benefit of a doubt, when Isabelle never had told a lie? Another big question was, why is Mary Todd Lincoln in this book at all?  It added nothing to the story.

The book definitely was short on character development.  Side characters, like Isabelle’s friend Lucy, seemed to do things that made no sense.  Such as Lucy’s trip to Montana and back again without even telling her fiancé that she was leaving.  A sanitarium in the late 1800’s would not be a social spa like it is characterized here.  If you read this just for the story then it is just okay but be prepared to find fault with much of the action and characterization.

(This is the kind of book that drives people to say “I think I will write a book.  I can certainly improve on something like this.”)

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Filed under Book review, Historical Fiction, Recent Release, Romance, Suspense

Review not by Deet( You’re gonna love this one)

I haven’t read this book.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, but what follows the blurb is one of the funniest reviews I have ever read on Amazon.  Tell me, would you read this book after reading that review? Read the blurb first.  ( I love this cover!! That gown is to die for!)

a-reliable-wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Book Blurb:

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick’s intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

**

A 2-star Amazon review

By Alyssa Donati on March 20, 2012

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

as he flung her onto the crimson horsehair settee and ravaged her like a wild dingo. He bathed in her flesh, he scooped it up like rich creamy yogurt until her swarthy lover burst in and brandished a large shotgun. “Release that venomous tart!” He bellowed. “Never! I must have her! I shall devour her completely until only one dazzling amber eyeball remains!”

No, this is not a quote from Goolrick or A Reliable Wife, HOWEVER it could have been.

A reliable Wife is not terrible. There are some beautifully written passages and it does commence with an intriguing plot but unfortunately midway through the book begins to morph into a dime store bodice ripper. Goolrick’s protagonist is a miserable aging man who craves sex so much you begin to worry he’s going to go completely nuts one day and mount the portly old housekeeper when she’s taking out the trash. He winds up advertising for a wife and when she arrives he turns into Charlie Sheen (the new one with the Tiger Blood and porn Goddesses…) From then on the book’s plot becomes so preposterous and the sexual encounters so salacious and repetitive it’s truly hard to maintain interest. In addition to the bacchanalian sex, the sprawled limbs, the moist loins, the heaving bosoms etc…every character in this novel basically wants to drop dead (that is, if they’re not in the middle of intercourse.) Truly, I have never seen so many homicidal, suicidal, morose, pissed off, seething, wretched individuals crammed into one book. So, in summation, if you like watching irate vengeful people savagely engage in coitus and then drop dead, you might like this book.

(Deet says: I came across this book because it was on one of those Buy this for $1.99 deals I get in my e-mail so often.) 

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Filed under Book review, Books, Historical Fiction, History, Humor, Laughs, sexy, Suspense

Deet’s Glorious Adventure (the Finale)

No events were planned until 1pm so I got to sleep-in. Yeah, right. I was on east coast time the entire week so on this final day I awoke at 5am just like the other days. I was being really lazy in the morning, uploading photos to my computer, reading a bit on my Kindle. At 1pm I made my way to the Grand Pennington Ballroom where the Book Fair and signing was held. Here we have the two Sabrinas, York and Jeffries. At the last table is Karen Hawkens and Lorraine Heath. The bottom photo is fuzzy but I wanted you to see the entire signing room.

booksigning

There was about 3hours between the book signing and the Grand Ball.  I was invited to go to dinner with the fab Victoria Vane and Julie Johnstone and Collette Cameron.

We were so caught up in conversation and laughter that time got away from us and we hurried back to the hotel to get ready for the Grand Ball. The food was Hor D’Oeuvres and Dessert.

But the gowns were the big attraction as well as the beautiful women wearing them. Yes there were a few men attending and dancing. It was a fairytale setting. first u[ our hostess Delilah Marvelle, then our other hostess Renee Bernard, next a view of the back of the gowns. Next (can I ever take a decent photo? Guess not, but wanted to show you.) Victoria Vane and the ladies wearing the gowns she sewed for them. Victoria also made her gown. Then comes Erin Knightly just beautiful! Next we have Elizabeth Essex, Tessa Dare and Victoria Vane (this one taken at an earlier event). Next is terrific blogger Ki Pha. Last and certainly not least Lovely Wendy Loverage,book reviewer, all the way from England.

hrr-delilah-at-ballhrr-renee-at-the-balldelilahs-dressvickis-dresseserin-knightlyhrr-eliz-essex-tessa-victoriaki-phawendy-loverage

The next morning there was a continental breakfast gathering before we all bid our farewells.  Oh, and here is the Dowager Duchess of La Deetda Reads:

hrr-dot-ball

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Filed under Authors, Books, Books Historical Romance, Deet's Life, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, History, Romance

Review- Flowers From The Storm by Laura Kinsale

                             Print (e-book)         &            Audio

Title: Flowers From The Storm

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Laura Kinsale

Narrator: Nicholas Boulton

Publisher: E-Book: Harper Collins, 2009

                    Audio: Hedgehog, 2013

Source: Purchase, $1.99 e-book & $3.99 Audio

Pages: 565 (listening hours 18+)

Rating: 5+

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon.com:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the ′D of J′ in scandal sheets, where he and his various exploits featured with frequency. But sometimes the most womanizing rake can be irresistible, and even his most casual attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms, quiet daughter of a simple mathematician.

He’s the Duke of Jervaulx…powerful, rich, and intelligent and locked in a lunatic asylum.

**

Christian Langland, The Duke of Jervaulx, is a brilliant mathematician and so is the father of Maddy Timms.  Mr. Timms and Christian collaborate on a paper to be presented to an austere assemblage.  At first Maddy thinks him an egomaniac and rude human, as she sees his interactions with her father her opinion softens but she is totally shocked when she and her father go to stay with her uncle at his insane asylum and find the Duke a patient. The young Duke has had a stroke (Apoplexy) and appears to be wild.  Maddie makes it her mission to help him overcome his affliction. This is the story of her efforts and the Duke’s progress.

This book is revered by many as the quintessential Historical Romance and for good reason. Originally published in 1992, it is brilliantly realized by the author’s use of prose and her ability to evoke the emotions surrounding the duke’s affliction. The romance is slow to bloom and passionate.  There are terrible trials and much suspense about the outcome of both the duke’s life and the romance. Christian is certainly one of the most tortured heroes in romantic novels, perhaps he is at the top of the list.  That he may or may not recover is always a possibility throughout the book.

Currently this book is only $1.99 for Kindle and $3.99 on Audible when you buy the Kindle book.  I chose to listen to this book mainly as I was challenged to do so by a friend who said that Nicholas Boulton, the narrator, was one of the best. I shall forever defer to this friend’s judgement for Mr. Boulton’s narration was absolute perfection. That makes the book 5-stars and the narration 5-stars.

If you are hungering for a wonderful romance, here it is.

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Filed under Audio books, Award Winners, Book review, Books Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

$1.99 on Kindle- The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

the-rose-garden

Deet’s Note: I gave this book 5-stars and would have given it more if I could. This is a truly lovely book.  You can get it for $1.99 today on Kindle which is a bargain since it is usually $9.99.

Eva returns to the only place that has ever felt like home, but she quickly discovers she is not alone in the old house on the Cornwall coast. The past reaches out to touch the present in this beautiful love story and haunting mystery.

“Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”

Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the coast of Cornwall, England, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers.

There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.

But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs. A modern gothic historical fiction with elements of time travel, reincarnation, and romance from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley.

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Filed under Book review, Books, Books Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Time Travel Novel

Regency Era Transportation

(Once again I’m giving you a glimpse of an older post. but haven’t you wondered what all those carriages looked like?)

Regency Era Transportation

I read quite a few Regency Era romance novels.  There is always a mention of a horse drawn coach or carriage in every book, since these were the typical mode of transportation for the gentry and aristocracy.  The poor folks had to rely on walking.  Instead of wondering about what these vehicles looked like, I did a little research and thought perhaps you would like to see what they looked like also.  I got these pictures from Google Images and Bing Images, any errors I’m dumping at their feet.:-)

Phaeton– This one was very popular with the rakish fellas because it was so high, a ladder was often needed to get onto the seat,  and it got them noticed.  It also was dangerous, it could easily tip over, that made it attractive to the daredevils.  There was no side protection so mud splatters were to be expected. carriage phaeton

Curricle– Another fashionable carriage for the gentleman.  It was light weight and speedy.carriage curricle

Barouche– A popular summer carriage for the wealthy. It had a hood over one of the seats.carriage barouche

Landau– This one came in at the end of the Regency Era.  It was expensive and very showy, perfect for being seen in the park. (although to my mind not as elegant as the Barouche)Carriage CLassicLandau1

 

Town Coach– Similar to a Landau but with a hard roof.  It was also called a ‘Closed Carriage”.  The nobility often put their coat of arms on the door.carriage Town coach

Mail Coach– this needs little explanation.  It traveled the roads delivering the mail across England and those who wished to travel  from one place to another could purchase a seat.carriage mail coach

 Dog Cart– It was not a cart pulled by dogs.  It was a carriage used on estates that could hold the hunting dogs being transported to a hunt.carriage dog cart

 

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