Blog Tour Review: The Woman Before Wallis

Title: The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal
Author: Bryn Turnbull
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This novel is the fictionalised story of the American divorcée who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.

Review:

In 1926, American divorcée, Thelma Morgan, married Lord Furness in England. Throughout their marriage, Thelma split her time between her husband and her sister Gloria Vanderbilt, who has her own struggles with the death of her husband and her custody battle over her daughter. After Lord Furness begins having an affair, Thelma sets her sights on another man, the Prince of Wales. When Thelma has to travel to help her sister, she leaves her friend Wallis Simpson to look after the Prince, which leads to a romance she never expected.

I love stories about British royalty. This one was about two important families in both America and England: the Vanderbilts and the Windsors. The Vanderbilts fought to have custody of Gloria’s daughter, Little Gloria. Gloria’s mother also fought alongside the Vanderbilts to get her granddaughter away from her own daughter. Meanwhile, Thelma had an affair with Prince Edward. Ironically, the title mentions Wallis by name, yet she doesn’t come into the story until halfway through. Since she is named in the title, it’s assumed that the reader will know that Wallis Simpson eventually marries Prince Edward, leading him to abdicate the throne. Though I knew who the Vanderbilts were, I wasn’t familiar with the custody case of Little Gloria, so I learned a lot in this story.

Motherhood was a major theme of the story. Gloria Vanderbilt’s custody case was one of the main plots. Gloria wasn’t considered a suitable mother because of her wild lifestyle. At the same time, her own mother fought against Gloria by trying to get custody of Little Gloria. Thelma had a child, but she often stayed away from him to live in London and stay with the Prince. Even though Gloria fought for her daughter and loved her, she faced the punishment of having her taken away, while Thelma and her mother weren’t punished when they didn’t support their children.

This was a fabulous debut novel!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul

The Queen’s Secret by Karen Harper

About the author:


Bryn Turnbull
is a writer of historical fiction with a penchant for fountain pens and antique furniture. Equipped with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, a Master of Professional Communication from Ryerson University, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding the stories of women found within the cracks of the historical record. When she’s not writing, Bryn can be found exploring new coffee shops, spending time with her family in cottage country, or traveling. She lives in Toronto, and can generally be found with a book in hand.

Have you read The Woman Before Wallis? What did you think of it?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Make Me Smile

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Books That Make Me Smile. Here’s my list:

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

3. The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly

4. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

5. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

6. The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

7. Fairest of All (Whatever After #1) by Sarah Mlynowski

8. Harley Quinn, Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe by Sam Humphries, John Timms

9. American Royals by Katharine McGee

10. YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright, William Shakespeare

(All book covers from Goodreads)

What’s your list of books on your Top Ten Tuesday?

Review: Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 6, 2012
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery.

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

Review:

Verity is an upperclass Scottish girl, who has been captured by Nazis during WWII. She has to write down all of the information she knows about the war in England. She was captured when she was in a plane crash with her best friend, who has the codename Kittyhawk. Verity has to document her time in captivity, while knowing there is only one way her story will end, and she won’t survive it.

The details about the espionage in this story were fascinating. Some of the details that caused the spies to be captured were based on real events. They were caught due to small details, such as looking the wrong way when crossing the road. These minor details made the story exciting.

The format of this story was confusing. Verity told her story using her information about England, while also documenting what was happening to her in the present. Sometimes it was confusing to flip back and forth between the present and the past. She also used codenames and alternate identities for people in her story, and spoke about herself in the third person. The second part of the story was much easier to follow because it was told linearly. The story was difficult to figure out due to this unconventional format.

This story was interesting, but a little confusing due to the format.

What to read next:

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

Have you read Code Name Verity? What did you think of it?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? – July 13

This blog meme is hosted by Book Date. It is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile!

What I just finished:

This weekend I finished The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull.

What I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading Mayhem by Estelle Laure.

What I’m reading next:

Next I will be reading Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu.

What are you guys reading this week? Have you read any of these books?

Blog Tour Review: Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army

Title: Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army
Author: V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this third volume in the all-original comic book adventure series sees the saga of the the story begun in The Steel Prince – perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy!

Once just a single ship, now the pirate fleet of the Rebel Army numbers in its thousands. Made up of traitors from each of the three empires, the fleet, who once made the open waters of the Blood Coast their home, have set their sights on establishing their own land based empire with London as their capital.

The Rebel Army is a battalion made up of traitors to each of the three empires, who’ve claimed the open waters of the Blood Coast as their territory. Led by a Faroan, a Veskan, and an Arnesian (Rowan, the Antari from the Night of Knives), the RA started as a rag-tag gang, a single ship, but in the last few months, they’ve gained momentum. Once content to claim the open water as their empire, they’ve grown in ambition, and scope, and now they’re claiming ports, creeping toward a full-on land assault. Their goal? London. But first, they’ll have to cross Verose, where Maxim, Isra, and the royal guard are waiting.

Review:

The Rebel Army is coming to Verose, where Prince Maxim will be waiting for them. The Rebel Army slowly grows as it picks up followers in the cities on the way to Verose. They have three leaders, including Maxim’s enemy Rowan. Maxim and his guard Isra have to prepare Verose for the imminent invasion of the Rebel Army.

This graphic novel was a great conclusion to this series. Maxim has to defend Verose one last time before returning to his father in London. Rather than backing down or being prepared to lose the battle against the Rebel Army like the other towns did, Maxim uses what he knows about the Army to defeat them.

The three graphic novels in this series have a clear story arc. Each graphic novel has a complete story, but they are also part of the larger story of Maxim spending time in Verose. Any of these stories could be read by itself, but you will get more out of it by reading them all together. I hope that the story will continue in future graphic novels.

This is a great conclusion to the Shades of Magic graphic novel series!

Thank you Titan Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab

Other books in the series:

Blog tour schedule:

Where to buy:

Have you read Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army? What did you think of it?

Jill’s Weekly Wrap-Up – July 12

Here are my reviews for the week with my ratings:

I did 9 weekly blogging memes:

How was your week? What did you guys read?

Sundays in Bed With… The Woman Before Wallis

The meme that dares to ask what book has been in your bed this morning? Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed, or which book you wish you had time to read today! This meme is hosted by Midnight Book Girl.

This Sunday I’m reading The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This novel is the fictionalised story of the American divorcée who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.

What book are you in bed with today?

Six for Sunday – Tropes I Hate

This meme is hosted by Steph at A little but a lot. The weekly prompts for 2019 can be found here.

This week’s prompt is Tropes I Hate. Here’s my list:

1. Token Diversity

2. Protagonist Can’t See Her Beauty

3. Starting a Rebellion

4. Absent Parents (in YA or middle grade)

5. Confused Mother (in thrillers)

6. Damsel in Distress

Did you make a Six for Sunday list?

Review: King Mouse

Title: King Mouse
Author: Cary Fagan, Dena Seiferling (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Books
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

King Mouse finds his authority in question when his subjects find crowns of their own. A gentle and humorous modern fable about imaginative play and kindness in the tradition of classics like Little Bear and Frog and Toad.

A sweet, thoughtful tale of friendship, sharing and play, King Mouse begins when a mouse comes upon a tiny crown in the grass. The mouse puts the crown on his head, and when a bear subsequently comes upon him and asks if he’s king, the mouse responds “Yes.”

This diminutive monarch settles into his new role very comfortably . . . until a snake comes upon a crown and claims she is queen. The mouse is not amused, especially when one by one the other animals find crowns and claim they are kings too. But when the bear can’t find a crown, King Mouse make a most surprising decision.

This inspired collaboration between an award-winning author and debut picture book illustrator Dena Seiferling is quietly profound in its simplicity and has the feeling of a modern classic. 

Review:

One day, Mouse finds a crown on the ground. He puts it on and becomes King Mouse. The other animals, like a crow and a bear, bow down to him and do things for him, such as bring him food and entertain him. Then, a snake finds a crown and puts it on, becoming Queen Snake. Now, all of the animals are finding crowns, except for the bear, who is left out of being a King or Queen. King Mouse is left to decide what to do to help the bear.

This is such a great teaching story for kids. It shows how it feels to be left out, since the bear was very sad that he didn’t have a crown when everyone else did. It also shows that just because someone has something that makes them popular, doesn’t mean they deserve it. Mouse became a king just because he found the crown. The crown was important when there was only one but it became meaningless when everyone else had a crown.

The illustrations in this story were beautiful. They looked like sketches in monochromatic colours. The illustrations told the story along with the words. It would be easy for children learning to read to follow the story by the pictures without reading the words.

I loved this children’s picture book!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mouseton Abbey: The Missing Diamond by Nick Page, Tim Hutchinson (illustrator)

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, Mika Song (illustrator)

Have you read King Mouse? What did you think of it?