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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.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Interview with J.B. Rivard

Hi Everyone!! I want to take the opportunity to welcome J.B. Rivard, author of Illusions of Magic, to The Maiden’s Court today.  I was intrigued by this book from the first time I saw the blurb, I mean, magic, an attempted assassination on a president, and a murder that turned a major city upside down! 

02_Illusions of Magic

Heather: Welcome to The Maiden’s Court! I’m glad you could drop by. Your novel, Illusions of Magic, introduces the reader to a character who was a vaudeville performer, which is not a common profession in novels.  Why choose this for your character’s identity?

J.B. Rivard: In my early teens, I was fascinated by conjuring. I read everything I could find about the great magicians, including Houdini and the Blackstones, as well as manuals describing card tricks, sleight-of-hand, and stage illusions. I purchased some magic paraphernalia, practiced endlessly, and actually performed a few times before local audiences.

In 2010, I abandoned the initial version of my Chicago novel, titled variously The Heedless Spring, or Chicago Story. Revisiting the manuscript in 2014, I realized a change of focus and a revised protagonist were required if the novel were to be improved and rewritten. Casting Nick Zetner as “The Amazing Mr. Z” appealed. It seemed both appropriate and interesting, plus it allowed me to use my earlier-acquired knowledge of magic and magicians in reworking the book.

H: I’m always fascinated by stories about the Presidents and I had never heard about an assassination attempt on Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Was this something you came across early on and knew you would build a novel around or was it an element that developed later on?

JBR: Sometime around the turn of the 21st century, I happened upon a description of the attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt by Giuseppe Zangara in early 1933. (Roosevelt had been elected president in November of 1932, but was not inaugurated until March 4, 1933.) This little-known attempt is seldom reported in histories of the 1930s, perhaps because Zangara missed his target with all five of his shots at Roosevelt.

One of the bullets, however, struck Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak. I realized that in Cermak’s life and death 19 days later lay a terrific real-life struggle that could provide a dramatic backdrop for a Chicago novel. I didn’t actually begin to write the novel, however, until 2006. It was then that I discovered another amazing and equally dramatic fact: that Chicago’s City Council faced a crisis caused by a lack of legal means for replacing the city’s mayor in the event of his death.

H: I can certainly see how that could cause a significant crisis and a drama for a novel! You include hand-drawn illustrations in your novel – why make the decision to include these in Illusions of Magic?

JBR: We would be surprised, I think, by an edition of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland that didn’t include the fabulous illustrations of John Tenniel. The 1940 Limited Edition Club edition of The Grapes of Wrath—a text noted for Steinbeck’s descriptive excellence—proves that its illustrations, lithographs by Thomas Hart Benton, enlarge and enhance our comprehension of the Joad family saga.

Rather than competing with literary expression, well-conceived artwork alongside texts complements authors’ written effects. In addition, illustration, as historical evidence shows, can make novels more attractive and inviting to an audience well-versed in visual images.

As you may know, my earlier career as an artist resulted in many exhibitions and numerous awards. So it was only natural, when Anya suggested illustrating Illusions of Magic, that I agreed to draw them, even though it was my first experience in book illustration.

H: I think that is a cool element and for it to include your personal talents! Have you had any struggles in the writing/publishing process?  How have you worked through these?  Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

JBR: My experience includes stints as a newspaper reporter and stringer for a national magazine. Also, as a staff member at a U.S. National Laboratory, I wrote or co-wrote many technical reports, papers, and monographs—some still listed on Google Scholar.

Since beginning writing novels in 1990, I estimate I’ve generated more than a million words of fiction. Although the published output is modest, and every new venture presents challenges, there are fewer struggles as long as I remember to write, revise and re-write. And then to repeat.

Struggles with publishing issues, however, are a continuing, and different matter.

Following the completion of the draft of the current novel, we sought to interest traditional publishers. In the current era of decline for agents and traditional publishers, they are forced at every turn to seek potential bestsellers. By and large, this means manuscripts that are ready-made to meet reader expectations. Because Illusions of Magic did not meet that requirement, the attempt came to naught.

Upon considering self-publishing, the plethora of options seemed endless. Each merited consideration, but much research was needed to achieve an adequate understanding. Thus we found the learning curve to be very, very steep.

By early 2016, however, we had decided that an inexpensive eBook was the mode best suited for this book. Then came issues of providing a fast-loading, professional-appearing website, producing an ARC to draw pre-publication reviews, producing a Collectors Print Edition for promotional efforts, writing description, author page and introduction, selecting categories, keywords, etc., pricing and uploading to KDP, planning and executing a marketing campaign, and on and on.

Although we didn’t initially recognize it, being one’s own publisher is more than a full-time endeavor. Aspiring authors should carefully consider this before deciding to go it alone.

H: I have heard many people who have had a similar experience. Navigating this self-publishing world comes with so many hidden elements you never would imagine! When you are not reading for research, what type of books or what authors do you enjoy reading?

JBR: When not writing or tending to publishing matters, I read extensively. However, I read so widely, it’s difficult to characterize. Recently, for example, I read William Randolph Hearst: Final Edition, 1911-1951 by Ben Procter; The Man Who…, by Richard Oulahan; “The Trip to Bountiful” screenplay by Horton Foote; and Sleepless in Hollywood by Lyda Obst.

H: That Hearst book sounds like it might be fascinating! I have to go look it up! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today, I am so excited to be able to introduce you and your novel to my readers.

03_J.B. Rivard

Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.

As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.

Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.

Find J.B. Rivard: Website

02_Illusions of Magic

goodreads button

Book Blurb:

The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Read an Excerpt of Illusions of Magic


Buy the Book: Amazon


Tour Wide Giveaway!

To win a paperback copy of Illusions of Magic by J.B. Rivard, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!  Please note that this giveaway is being hosted by the tour coordinator and any questions should be addressed to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours as I have no control over this giveaway.  Good luck!

Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Illusions of Magic

 

Follow the Tour!

04_Illusions of Magic_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

On HFVBT Website

On Twitter: #IllusionsofMagicBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #Giveaway

Monday, January 9
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 10
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, January 11
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, January 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 13
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Maiden’s CourtThat’s Me!
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, January 19
Review at Laura’s Interests

Friday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, January 23
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 24
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, January 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, January 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 27
Review & Interview at Quitterstrip

 

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, January 13, 2017

Audiobook Discussions: What Do You Listen To?

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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!

So this should be a simple question – what do you listen to?  Do you have a certain genre that you listen to exclusively on audio? 

For the most part i find that I listen to a lot more non-fiction, contemporary fiction, and romance titles on audiobook.  These are genres that I enjoy reading but don’t often review and because of that I can’t fit them into my schedule for print books – it’s all just too full!!  While I review some audiobooks, my schedule is much more open and I can enjoy books that I might not otherwise have time for.  I have been listening to the Outlander series mostly because those books are so long it would take me forever to get through a print version (I mean, the shortest audio is like 39 hours long!) 

I would love to hear what you listen to!  Or check out my other posts on Why and How you listen!

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cover Crush: The Wardrobe Mistress #2

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.

wardrobe mistress 2

You might be thinking, “Didn’t she feature a cover crush last week about The Wardrobe Mistress?”  Why, yes I did!  But this is a different book, by a different author, about a very different subject – just the same name.  And, they are both being published this year!  While I am indeed tired of the headless woman on book covers, I like how the emphasis is on the stunning dress – which makes sense if the main character is actually a mistress of the wardrobe of Marie Antoinette, which she appears to be in this novel.  I LOVE the color of the dress – one of my favorites so it calls out to me naturally.   And I like how the color is carried through to the titled and author lines. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

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

keep calm and support book bloggers

 

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Pairings: The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

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If you are anything like me, sometimes you get hooked on a subject while reading your current book and you can’t let it go upon closing the cover.  Sometimes you want to know more about the real subject involved, while other times you might just want to pick up another novel about the same thing.  Maybe you are even looking for other categories like film or music that might pick up on elements of something you read.  Here is where Book Pairings comes in.  Each installment of Book Pairings will have a theme that pairs up several books with something else that would compliment them beautifully (most often this will be other books).  I’m excited to explore where this will take me!


the beauty shop

I am currently reading The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson (which I will likely be reviewing next week, so stay tuned) which is set during WWII in England.  The “beauty shop” in the title is really a ward that cares for those who are burned and disfigured during warfare, many of these are airmen from the various air forces.  The doctor in charge of this ward is Dr. Archibald McIndoe who can work some magical wonders with plastic surgery.  Additionally, the female main character is a part of the WAAF.  All of these things I wanted to know more about.  Below are 5 non-fiction books that would perfectly expand on the subjects in this novel.

Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller

masters of the air

Book Blurb: Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler's doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, Donald Miller takes readers on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller's Air Force band, which toured U.S. air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943, an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty, twenty-five missions. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America -- white America, anyway. (African-Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity.) The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the "King of Hollywood," Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Strategic bombing did not win the war, but the war could not have been won without it. American airpower destroyed the rail facilities and oil refineries that supplied the German war machine. The bombing campaign was a shared enterprise: the British flew under the cover of night while American bombers attacked by day, a technique that British commanders thought was suicidal.

Masters of the Air is a story, as well, of life in wartime England and in the German prison camps, where tens of thousands of airmen spent part of the war. It ends with a vivid description of the grisly hunger marches captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn from recent interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, Masters of the Air is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world's first and only bomber war.

We All Wore Blue: Experiences in the WAAF by Muriel Gane Pushman

we all wore blue

Book Blurb: Muriel Gane was just eighteen when war was declared on. 3 September 1939: Keen to enlist and help the war effort, she was nonetheless young, nervous and leaving home for the first time. "We All Wore Blue" is the story of Muriel's subsequent experiences with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, her personal journey from the new recruit whose primary obsession was how well the blue of the uniform suited her, to a resolute and hard-working young woman with a wide social life and successful air-force career. Illustrated with family photographs, this book gives the reader a unique glimpse into the changing role of women and their experiences throughout the troubled years of the Second World War. It is the sequel to the moving "One Family's War", which relates the experiences of the Gane family during wartime.

The WAAF by Beryl E. Escott

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Book Blurb:  The story of the Women s Auxiliary Air Force is a journey of exploration. This intriguing history tells the story of the wartime WAAF at work and play. They were no decorative adjunct to the RAF, but an integral working force that eventually saved the RAF 150,000 men, whose places they admirably filled. Debarred from flying, they nevertheless could be found in posts ranging from cooks to aircraft fitters. In secrecy they worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park, in the Y Listening Service, as code and cypher officers in Churchill s War Cabinet, as air interpreters, and as SOE agents in occupied France. Many others were posted abroad to work. This book provides a fascinating view of their many roles.

The Reconstruction of Warriors: Archibald McIndoe, the Royal Air Force, and the Guinea Pig Club by E.R. Mayhew

the reconstruction of warriors

Book Blurb: The history of the Guinea Pig Club, the band of airmen who were seriously burned in airplane fires, is a truly inspiring, spine-tingling tale. Before World War II, plastic surgery was in its infancy. The most rudimentary techniques were only known to a few surgeons worldwide. The Allies were tremendously fortunate in having the maverick surgeon Archibald McIndoe - nicknamed 'the Boss' or 'the Maestro' - operating at a small hospital in East Grinstead in the south of England. McIndoe constructed a medical infrastructure from scratch. After arguing with his superiors, he set up a revolutionary new treatment regime. Uniquely concerned with the social environment, or 'holistic care', McIndoe also enlisted the help of the local civilian population. He rightly secured his group of patients - dubbed the Guinea Pig Club - an honored place in society as heroes of Britain's war. For the first time official records have been used to explain fully how and why this remarkable relationship developed between the Guinea Pig Club, the RAF and the Home Front. First-person recollections bring to life the heroism of the airmen with incredible clarity.

McIndoe’s Army: The Story of the Guinea Pig Club and Its Indomitable Members by Edward Bishop

mcindoes army

Book Blurb: A totally rewritten version of The Guinea Pig Club, published by Macmillan in 1963!In the Guinea Pig's Club's 60th Anniversary year, Edward Bishop revises and expands his perceptive account of these unique aviation heroes, who were under the care of acclaimed plastic surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe.

Author Bishop tells the stories of these fighting men, from McIndoe's earliest wartime patients, and marvels at the way their courage and heroism gave them the hope to carry on with their lives, while displaying a delicate balance between candor, sympathy, horror and humor.


Are there any titles that you know of that would fit with these recommendations?  I would love to hear them!

keep calm and support book bloggers

A couple of my friends are celebrating this book in January, and to make sure you don’t miss the wonderful content, I’m linking them here:

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review: Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

christmas bells

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini
ARC, e-book, 320 pages
Dutton
October 27, 2015
★★★★☆

goodreads button

Genre: Historical fiction, Christmas

Source: Received from the publisher for review via Netgalley

In 1860, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family celebrated Christmas at Craigie House, their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The publication of Longfellow’s classic Revolutionary War poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” was less than a month hence, and the country’s grave political unrest weighed heavily on his mind. Yet with his beloved wife, Fanny, and their five adored children at his side, the delights of the season prevailed.

In present-day Boston, a dedicated teacher in the Watertown public school system is stunned by somber holiday tidings. Sophia’s music program has been sacrificed to budget cuts, and she worries not only about her impending unemployment but also about the consequences to her underprivileged students. At the church where she volunteers as music director, Sophia tries to forget her cares as she leads the children’s choir in rehearsal for a Christmas Eve concert. Inspired to honor a local artist, Sophia has chosen a carol set to a poem by Longfellow, moved by the glorious words he penned one Christmas Day long ago, even as he suffered great loss.

Christmas Bells chronicles the events of 1863, when the peace and contentment of Longfellow’s family circle was suddenly, tragically broken, cutting even deeper than the privations of wartime. Through the pain of profound loss and hardship, Longfellow’s patriotism never failed, nor did the power of his language. “Christmas Bells,” the poem he wrote that holiday, lives on, spoken as verse and sung as a hymn.

Jennifer Chiaverini’s resonant and heartfelt novel for the season reminds us why we must continue to hear glad tidings, even as we are tested by strife. Reading Christmas Bells evokes the resplendent joy of a chorus of voices raised in reverent song.

Despite the name, Christmas Bells is a novel that while it fits more with the holiday/winter season, it can certainly be enjoyed throughout the rest of the year. The title relates directly to the poem, and later the Christmas carol, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the novel by Jennifer Chiaverini takes that poem at its heart and builds around it both a modern story as well as a historical story. Let’s explore that more.

The historical story is set during the years of the Civil War in the United States and follows the Longfellow family (yes, the Longfellow that wrote the titular poem) through all the trials and tribulations that led to the composition of said poem. I had not known anything about Longfellow, I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but I found his life fascinating, but so tragic. There was a lot of sadness during this time for him. While we learn a lot about the man himself we also see what some aspects of the War would have been like for those living in the North as well as on the battlefield as that touched close to home for Longfellow as well.

The modern story line ties in because it is based around a church children’s choir that is practicing to perform Christmas Bells for their Christmas service. While the historical narrative follows one man/one family, the modern narrative looks at several different people’s stories each filled with a lot of hardship and sadness around the holiday, just like Longfellow.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked both the historical and the modern for different reasons. The historical narrative evoked the time period very well and looked at the effects of the War on the people at home and how they dealt with their family member being at war. The modern story was one that kept you on the edge of your seat wondering how each person’s plight would resolve and if it would be happy or not. Both stories pulled at my heart strings and made me truly care about the characters. However, there were a couple issues as well.

My major issue was with the structure of the novel. The historical narrative is told from the limited perspective of Henry Longfellow whereas in the modern narrative each chapter is told by a different character – from children in the choir, to the choir directors, parents, and church people. It was weird for me to bounce around between characters in one narrative, but remain with one character in the other. However, this wasn’t my most significant issue with the structure. In the modern narrative there were some instances of repetition in storytelling between characters. This was particularly obvious with the chapters from the brother/sister and their mother. There were entire passages that I skimmed right past because I had already read that exact thing not a chapter before, which was a little frustrating. It felt almost like a copy/paste job. You can still have overlapping segments, but being from 2 perspectives there should be differences there. They were wasted words on me.

At its heart, Christmas Bells is the story of survival, moving on, and embracing what life throws at you, which can be appreciated at all times of the year.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

 

Also by Jennifer Chiaverini:

Jennifer Chiaverini has written many books in the Elm Creek Quilt series, that I am not going to list here for brevity. You can find the complete list on her website.

mrs grant madame jule
Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule

spymistress
The Spymistress

fates and traitors
Fates and Traitors

mrs lincolns rival
Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival

mrs lincolns dressmaker
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

Find Jennifer Chiaverini: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cover Crush: The Wardrobe Mistress

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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.

wardrobe mistress_thumb[2]

“This cover intrigues me.  When I first looked at it I though that she was looking out a very large window, such as in a palace, and she is supposed to be the titular character, a Mistress of the Wardrobe.  However, after reading the description, I am pretty sure that she might be looking out from the wings of a stage (since this is set in a theatre that makes more sense).  But can you see my confusion?  Regardless of its appropriateness, I still think the cover is striking.  I always think that red is a bold color choice and will draw the eye in.  I like that she appears as more of a shadow against the bright backdrop.  And I don’t even mind the words of the title obscuring the central figure. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

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

keep calm and support book bloggers_thumb[1]

 

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Audiobook Review: Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

amy snow

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees
Unabridged, 15 hr. 48 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Melody Grove (Narrator)
June 7, 2016
★★★☆☆

goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received audio download from publisher for review

Left to perish on a bank of snow as a baby, Amy has never known love, never known family.

Reluctantly given shelter at nearby Hatville Court, she is despised by the masters and servants alike.

The beautiful Hatville heiress, Aurelia Vennaway, is Amy's only advocate - she becomes the light of Amy's life, and the centre of her existence.

So when Aurelia dies young, Amy's world collapses. But Aurelia leaves Amy with one last gift.

A bundle of letters with a coded key. A treasure hunt that only Amy can unlock.

A life-changing secret awaits... if only she can reach it.

Amy Snow and I have had a difficult relationship. I was excited about the description of the book when I requested it from the publisher. I mean, it describes it as a treasure hunt to reveal major secrets of Amy’s life that could only be told to her through letters from a recently deceased friend. A cool concept – and one that was done well, but more on that later. Then apparently I promptly forgot what the book was about and my excitement for it as it lingered on my playlist for a good 6 months before someone on my Facebook reminded me of my excitement for the book.

Picking it up, I struggled to get through it from the very beginning – it’s saving grace was the audio production which was better than the actual story. The first third of the book was SLOW and boring. Amy is telling us about her past and it just wasn’t pulling me into the story at all. It was all tell and no show. But I stuck with it and once we got on the actual trail of the letters to find out the mystery her deceased friend had left her, it indeed picked up – for a little while. I got into the quest and how was she going to figure out the coded messages. She meets people that were important to her friend and she begins to have a sense of her own life, not that of a servant downstairs. You could watch her grow and evolve.

But then, when the story progresses from the town of Twickenham to the town of Bath it ground to a halt. No more growth for the character, she became mired down in this love triangle that didn’t interest me at all. One guy is supposed to be the good guy and the other the trickster, but that didn’t come through as clearly as I would have liked. I ended up feeling sorry for the trickster character, which I don’t think was the angle she was going for. Amy has a crisis of conscience as to whether she should continue the quest or move on with her own life, which really felt like a child throwing a tantrum and just not appealing. To make matters worse, Amy spent so much less time in Bath than Twickenham, but it felt so much longer (I’m not sure if that was just because I was bored or if it was actually longer).

And that whole mystery – it’s no surprise that I wasn’t surprised about it because neither was the main character! She had guessed it about halfway through, so I found her reaction to the news so contrived.

However, my biggest gripe is with the epilogue. The entire story is told from Amy’s perspective, or through the voice of her friend Aurelia in the letter’s Amy reads, but still from Amy’s perspective. However, the epilogue, that was 16 minutes of recording long, was told from the perspective of an entirely new narrator! This felt way out of place even if I understand why that character was used to reveal what she knew. It certainly could have still been conveyed differently. As soon as the epilogue came from a new character and this had never happened before, I was turned off.

Were there good parts of this story? Yes. I felt that a good portion of her quest was well structured to keep you wanting to find out more with Amy and watch her grow. But there should have been a greater payout for that time. It got bogged down with some ancillary storylines that had no real purpose from my perspective. I wanted a lot more from this novel.

audiobookimpressions

★★★☆☆

The audio production was fairly good in Amy Snow. At first, I didn’t really care for the sound of this narrator’s voice. I actually turned it off after a short listen the first go around. The second time it didn’t bother me as much, so maybe it was just a me-in-that-moment sort of thing. The production did help make the story more bearable for me as I might have put it down in print and not picked it back up. It was well paced reading. While there weren’t markedly different voices for each character you did get a different feel for each character so that you knew who you were listening to, which I appreciated.

Check out this short excerpt for a sample of the narration!

 

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Also by Tracy Rees:

florence grace
Florence Grace


Find Tracy Rees:
Twitter

 

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court