Blogmas | Top 7 Books of 2022!

Hello!

In the beginning of 2022, I created my yearly challenge on Goodreads, where I set the goal to read 40-45 books. The reason why I added on another five onto the list was because I wasn’t just doing one challenge, I decided to mix it up with keeping track of the books that had a movie and/or show out in the world. As of 12/18, I’m still trying to complete the 20 books I allowed for myself for this, and honestly, I really enjoyed having both of them going on at the same time. I’m very proud of myself on these successes, but I haven’t exactly made my decision to continue it once the new year comes, but I’ll be letting you know my plans soon!

When I was getting ready to write this post, I was going to discuss my top 12 books, but I wasn’t sure on the time allotted for this week, so I just broke down and made it the top 7 like I did for the last two years.


1. The Best of Us by Kennedy Fox

This is the second year in a row where the authors of Kennedy Fox have claimed first place.

I truly loved this story of these characters, and as I mentioned in the review, I am not much into male characters, especially in the romance genre. I’m quite picky but I think the fact he seemed more relatable than Kendall. The story itself takes place after COVID-19 hits, which I think is what drew me into Ryan more because my mom is a registered nurse and worked her butt off in those early intense days. My heart went out for him and his selflessness and struggles during that time.

Besides all of this, it is also set around Christmastime, so it is literally perfect for this time of year. I wish anyone who is still looking for a steamy holiday themed book, this is what you should be getting into next.

Sidenote: I recently found the first and third books in the series for free on Amazon, so when I get in a mood for a little Kennedy Fox, I’ve got these babies to keep me company!

2. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

This year I wanted to explore children’s books because I still feel the sting of my own struggles with books as a child and it cost me a lot of great stories in the end, so I felt like I needed to explore my horizons and then I found this little gem.

I felt really conflicted to make this #1 because I fell in love with this story of a young girl, who becomes a refugee with her mother after violence in Syria begins. It wasn’t just Jude and her new world that got me, but I also fell in love with the writing style too. It was in verse, and I had never read poetry before, and I liked how the author was able to bring them together like this. It was a magical experience!

3. The Raven and The Dove by K.M. Butler

When I began reading this one, I didn’t really know what I was doing because at the start of the year, I wasn’t into books about the Vikings. I’d tried in the past, but nothing could grab me as inviting until I found K.M.’s debut scrolling through Kindle Unlimited back in January.

The Raven and The Dove is the story about a group of Vikings raiding on small villages in what is now Normandy, France. A shieldmaiden by the name of Halla is a part of the crew and the best way to describe her is restless. She is a warrior, but she doesn’t just want to be that, and while she and a small party go to scope out a village that could be a great way to trade goods, she finds herself put into an odd situation.

She actually volunteers to stay and wed a Christian, Taurien. He is a very conflicting character as he was raised to hate these Northmen, but he also wants to protect his home and its people from any other raids, so he does what any desperate man would do, he decides to wed Halla. Halla oversees her fellow Vikings and attempt to keep the will of the Gods of her people, but that becomes very difficult with their Christian neighbors.

I am all about seeing how the other one lives type of person, and this reflects in the books I read of course, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these two characters fight their feelings of right and wrong; their faiths and trust for one another are tested many times, but it was still enjoyable as a reader because we still have issues seeing past the other person’s origins and religions. I definitely recommend anyone who loves to be a little nosy at times.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

While I was wanting to explore more classics, I knew Little Women would pop up some time, the book is very popular on Jeopardy, and I think that’s why I wanted to just devout myself to it and the best way I did that was through audiobook on YouTube. I had actually found a channel on there that had multiple people acting out the various characters and I loved this type of reading; it reminded me of how they use to tell stories on the radio before television was invented.

This book was lovely and honestly perfect in the springtime. This truly made me happy and excited to see what would happen to these characters–until that chapter about Beth though, boy, did I cry like crazy! After I had completed it, and that was another sad night, because I had grown to dig into it after my mom put me to bed, I tried to read “Little Men” but unfortunately, it didn’t have the same magic as the first but I am willing to give it another try in 2023 because I loved the character Jo so much, I want to see what happens in the later years.

5. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

After I finished with “Other Words for Home” I dove into other children’s books, but my focus was generally on classics. I had read Little Women, the Harry Potter series, and a few by Roald Dahl, so my plan was stay in that lane for a while longer and I ended up reading three and half books of the “Little House On The Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite among them was the one about her future husband, Alonzo Wilder.

I found this story unique compared to the ones written about Laura and her life. “Farmer Boy” was set in Alonzo’s point of view and even though it was fictionalized, I was still amazed by how this little boy lived in these times; readers get a chance to look into the differences between boys and girls on the prairie. My favorite scene was Christmas, they would spend it with one another in absolute silence and eat apples and popcorn with warm apple cider. I’m not much on any kind of cider but I found this interesting and peaceful.

6. Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Apparently, it’s not a book list without a book by Kennedy Fox or Melanie Karsak. This year alone, I read 8 books by Melanie. but only three of them were written by Kennedy Fox.

Anyways, as a couple of months since I had finished The Raven and The Dove, I was itching for another book that discussed the Viking world, but I was still a bit hesitant because I didn’t think I would find anything that could hit that bar and then I went through Melanie’s work and found out she had two series about shield-maidens, so I thought about it a bit, but ultimately went for it.

The story of the shield-maiden Hervor was everything I needed at that time. I love a good badass heroine and Melanie makes a lot of strong but relatable female characters. I was very upset once I was done with the final book, and then I did something totally stupid, I decided to dive headfirst into the sequel “The Shadows of Valhalla” which focuses on Princess Blomma’s children Prince Loptr and Princess Hervor aka Ervie. I was bawling my eyes from the events that happened in “Under the Dark Moon” and then I went into “Gambit of Blood” where they were talking about characters previously featured in the other books and I began crying again. I was truly a mess, and my mom laughed at me! I’m currently waiting on the four and final book in the series as I just finished the most recent installment and I’m already semi depressed about leaving these people for good.

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

I am very happy to say I have finally read all of the Harry Potter books. I did believe I would actually do this because before I went on this journey, I was just a fan of the films, and I was too afraid I wouldn’t enjoy watching them if I read the series. I was forced to read “The Sorcerer’s Stone” back in 2006, and my teacher had us watch the movie a few days after so everything was still fresh in our minds to do comparisons between these formats, so you can understand why I was hesitant going into it in the beginning.

When this book came out, there were a lot of mixed comments about it, the most significant was it isn’t written in the same way J.K. wrote the original seven books. This is a screenplay of the play that appeared in 2016 by John Tiffany It still has the spirit of Rowling with familiar characters jumping in here and there. I found this way of writing better oddly enough. It is different, but after coming out of reading “If We Were Villains” by M.L. Rio, I was able to picture the entire thing in the same way I did when they were doing Shakespeare’s work. I didn’t like this book unfortunately, but I thought it was a lot of help while I was into this one instead.

When I finished “Deathly Hallows” back in July, I felt the epilogue wasn’t that satisfying for me. I wanted to know how Harry and the gang were doing in their lives after the Battle at Hogwarts, and so when I went into this story about Harry’s middle son Albus Serveus Potter and how he deals with being a son of this hero of the Wizarding World, Harry is an adult and father now, so as much as he doesn’t feel like it, his children are faced with making their own legacies or in Albus’s case, attempting to fix a wrong and that in itself was absolutely amazing! It was heartbreaking, between the scene Albus meeting Professor Snape and the final scene at Godric’s Hollow will break you whole, that is, if you weren’t in the first place!


If I hadn’t waited majority of the month to write this post, I would have made it longer. My original plan was to do Top 12, but I didn’t want to rush getting everything done in a short number of days, so I went with seven books total, and I’m still shocked I was able to shrink it down enough for today.

I am excited on what kind of books I discover in the new year. I do hope to get started on my Goodreads Challenge on the first of January and after that, I will type up my goals for 2023 because I know everyone is wondering on how many books I want to read, if I am truly doing two challenges again, and honestly, I enjoy writing those posts for you too, so be on the lookout for that, okay?

How many books did you read this year? Did you hit your intended goal or not? What are your Top 3 books for 2022 as well?

snowflake

Blogmas | Our Advent Calendars

Hello!

Even though I am an American, I thoroughly enjoy advent calendars! I like the fact that every day you get a little something to do or eat, depending on your preferred calendar!

What is an Advent Calendar?

An advent calendar is a special way to countdown to Christmas. It is originally celebrated and made with candles and wreaths in Germany, but as with everything in the modern world, it exploded into the mainstream, and we’ve added candy to the mix.

I think I was introduced to them around 2014. It would have been the first time I’d watch Zoe Sugg’s vlogmas on YouTube. Honestly, by that time I had been introduced to the bulk of the blogging community, so they could have helped me along the way as well. Anyways, I thought it was an interesting way to get ready for the holiday festivities.

Afterwards, my nana received a simple advent calendar from one of the charities she supports, and they sent a naked tree, and your job was to decorate the scene from the first of December to Christmas day. She would put it up on the refrigerator and anytime I came over to visit, it would be the first thing I’d do, but on the days when I didn’t, my nana would say papaw did it for me and that sounds like something he’d do. I think the longer we did it, he started to enjoy it just as much too!

The day I wrote this post, this picture popped up on my Facebook Memories and I’ve never been happier!

Fast forward to 2021, I wanted to get my own advent calendar. It had been some time since I did one and I thought it was time to bring it back. I had also hoped I could persuade my parents to do it with me, and within four days they became as excited as I was on what would be inside the little envelopes. I managed to find a very affordable Harry Potter calendar that opens up like a giant book and considering neither one of my parents know anything about Harry Potter, I think they enjoyed learning more about it through the various memorabilia. and they definitely understand my love for everything Harry Potter now.

Our 2022 Advent Calendar!

I can’t deny to you, I’ve been searching for this year’s advent calendar since May, and I feel absolutely no shame for it either.

Originally, I wanted to get either a calendar dedicated to puzzles or socks. I watched Alexandra Roselyn on YouTube last year and she had two different calendars, one for tea and the other was for jigsaw puzzles. I was kind of curious about whether I’d have enough patience to do a puzzle with my parents, and honestly, I doubt they’d last long with it. Now, about the socks, my mom has a lot of various socks and I point them out to her all of the time because they rarely go with her outfits or seasons, so I figured this would be a winner for us but the prices for these kinds of calendars can be expensive. When I looked through Amazon back in August, the prices stayed around $40 and as much as I knew we’d have fun and get use out of them, I just didn’t believe at the time it was worth it.

I actually told my mom about the sock advent calendar, and she was very stunned, and told me next year we need to get one together… I told you, she likes her socks!

Anyways, my mom ended up finding this year’s advent calendars. The first is a red box with little holiday scene and you have to look for whatever day(s) you are on and your job is to break the cardboard door to find a little treasure. A mini ornament. When my mom took these pictures below, we had missed the first two days, so we have a set of golden bells with a red bow in the middle of them, and a little snowman decorated with mittens, a scarf and Santa hat on top. We really love this calendar the most, it is absolutely adorable and since my Christmas tree is on a medium size, it is better to decorate it with mini ornaments so these prizes will be very well-loved with me once we are finished with it.

In each photo of the calendars, I’ve included the link, so if you’d like to purchase or put them in a folder for next year’s Christmas season you can.

For the second calendar, my mom thought this would be an interesting because we both enjoy watching crime dramas–she’s currently on a Scandal kick whereas I am watching FBI. The crimes you get to try and solve are based on Sir Arthur Cohen Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, it is all with a British theme, which isn’t quite ideal, I’ve had to help mom as she didn’t understand some of the names and phrases. The “crimes” themselves are mostly rated PG. This calendar is set up like one of those calendars you flip over to the next and it just sits on your desk. As you’ve might’ve guessed, this isn’t our favorite, but it’s still technically early so we’ll really see if we change our tune after Christmas.

Maybe next year I can do a little list of advent calendars that seem like they could be fun to do with your family. It would also be nice to give you something around a reasonable budget too! If this is something you would like to see in next year’s Blogmas content, please let me know down in the comments.

Are you and your family doing an advent calendar this year? If so, what is the theme behind it? If you’ve done an advent calendar since you were young, what do you look for when you go to purchase them?

snowflake

Blogmas | Games for the Holidays!

Hello!

I don’t know about you, but my family has never been into games.

The one thing I wished my family did more of was play games. We had a couple of years where we did in fact play Just Dance and Taboo, but they didn’t end quite well, which is probably why we never kept at it afterwards!

Now that I have Nolan and Kimber, I would like to bring in some old school games that I certainly enjoyed as a child. Nolan is very infatuated with technology and understands what a PlayStation and XBOX are–thanks in part to his daddy! However, as I’ve found out recently, he has a knack for Hungry Hungry Hippoes, so I may be right in my thinking that introducing some of these games I will be talking about in this post, will be something he might enjoy too!

Unfortunately, Kimber isn’t old enough to actually play with us, but I’m hoping watching the two of us would give her something to look forward to in the future. So, here were some of the games that I thought could be really good contenders for the three of us and maybe possibly your family too to play during the holidays.


Connect 4

Last September, while my sister was in the hospital, Nolan and I spent a good amount of time together and on Nickleodeon, they had some advertisements for the newest creation of the Connect 4 franchise; we were intrigued, Nolan especially, but I’ve always been more into the original setup, so I wasn’t too interested in this version.

I have many, many memories of playing this game in school. While I was in elementary, I took speech and every Friday we had a popcorn party, where we sat on the floor, ate popcorn, and played a different game (thus how this post came about!) each week. Connect 4 is a very easy game to understand as you have the structure itself and two different colored coins or chips, the objective is to not only block the other player, but you also have to connect four spots in a row in order to win.

Connect 4 is a lot like Bingo and Tic-Tac-Toe as you can go in many directions: diagonally, side to side, and up and down. As long as you win “fairly” then anyone at any age can be a master at the game itself.

Jenga

When I was in elementary school, I took Speech, and I would be in there for maybe 20-25 minutes a day and I specifically remember Fridays being the best day of the entire week because it was our party day. Our teacher was so sweet, and she would make popcorn for each class, and we’d play different games, but it was a ruse because we still had to do our lessons in between turns. She was a smart and sneaky like that! Anyways, I tried to rack my brain trying to figure out which ones we played, and I really hope that I can teach my nephew someday soon.

Jenga is very unique, it is made up of rectangle sticks and requires you to really think about the overall design, whenever it is your turn, you pick a stick from the very bottom of the build or a little higher. For most people, you rarely went from the bottom as you need good bones for everything to stay up and if you take one from that section and it turns out it was helping from breaking down the whole thing, you lose. My nephew has always enjoyed stacking things up and blocks in general, so toddlers would really love playing something like this because they’re always doing things with their toys.

Screamo

For this game, I learned it at the nursing home back in October. If these ladies ranging in age early 70’s to mid-80’s can play, anybody can do it. My nephew is four and he just loves playing this game anytime he comes over. It is usually the first thing he wants to do! What he doesn’t know is that he’s learning a bit of math too!

It is fairly simple once you figure out the steps. You have a paper with the numbers 1-12, two dice, and 12 chips or coins as my nephew prefers to call them. The main goal is to roll both of your dice and say it lands on a four and seven, this equals out to be seven but you’ve already covered up your seven with a previous play, so you have three options, that is if these other numbers are not already gone, you can lay down two coins on your four and three or exchange them with a five and two or six and one, which is even better because it is better to remove the number one as you can’t get a natural one with two dice.

UNO

I like a lot of card games, but my ultimate favorite–even if I’m not the best at it!–is UNO.

I have never been able to figure out how long I’ve loved UNO, but it had to come after middle school though. It doesn’t show up in my earlier memories and this kind of makes sense because I do remember playing an awful lot from 2005-2009 with my family and friends at slumber parties (do you remember those?!) and again, it is pretty easy to follow, but there are a few symbols that can be somewhat tricky, like the reverse and skip cards. These can be really annoying if you are playing with a large group of people and nobody really knows who is next in line, so to make things easier on yourself and the newcomers, I’d pick those guys out before you start the game entirely.

There is an episode of The Golden Girls where Dorothy is playing Gin Rummy with her mother Sophia, and she always loses the game and Sophia basically drives her completely insane after every round so she gives up and decides no more. By the end of the episode, you learn why Sophia chooses to play it with her daughter and they end up playing a round during the last few seconds of the show. I guess I’m the same way with UNO. I love playing it with my family the most, it’s where I have the most memories, and it doesn’t matter on the age because my nana was in her late 70’s when we taught her so it’s not all that difficult once you know what each card means while the game continues.


In a way, I am like Sophia because I like the talk and watching everyone’s facial expressions as they arrange their cards and it’s one game that being an observer can have its advantages… As much as I’d like to win a round or two, I am fine with seeing someone get excited instead. This is what I hope to teach Nolan the most; it’s okay to allow someone to win but you never, ever tell them afterwards, because then they’ll think you forfeited the game and they’ll want a rematch and that attitude doesn’t make good challenges, especially if they lose against you.

What are your favorite games to play during the holidays? Which one do you hope to teach your child or family member someday?

snowflake

Blogmas | Album Review: “Snow Waltz” by Lindsey Stirling

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It has been a long time since I’ve actually done a proper album review. I had plans on changing that this year, but I couldn’t find the right album to make my comeback, that is, until I found out Lindsey Stirling had released a brand-new holiday album.

In 2018, I watched the music video of her version to “Carol Of The Bells” and I still love that reedition of that song. I have found one other cover that could rival it by the artist Ashnikko. I like the symphonic way that Lindsey brought while I also enjoy how creepy Ashnikko was able to do with hers. Anyways, after I heard that song in general, I ended up doing a first impression album review of “Warmer In The Winter” as part of that year’s blogmas content.

Last month, Lindsey unleashed her second album called, “Snow Waltz” and I was smitten. When I saw it on Spotify, I immediately stopped listening to the title track and saved the album so I could do a review of the whole thing you guys. I ended up watching the music video for it, and I absolutely loved how it felt like a live action of the film, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ as that’s the perfect way to explain how the music video looked like to me. I’ll share it with you later in the post, so you can check it out for yourselves.

For this album, we have 14 songs, and it features two other artists, which is interesting as the previous album had more than that, so I’m hoping this means the rest of the songs are instrumentals. I like hearing Lindsey’s creativity and personality with those types of songs, so I’m hoping I don’t become too disappointed this early in the post.

So, let’s begin with the first track, “Sleigh Ride” and this is a popular tune for many people in the world. If you’ve never listened to anything by Lindsey Stirling, it probably would be strange to only hear a bubbly violin, but this is what I enjoy about her music. It’s usually happy sounds, and I’ve always thought this was a sweet song, and I’m glad the violin sounds don’t take away that tone of the song. What I wasn’t expecting was the way the next song sounded like, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was so strange at first. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. I tend to enjoy the “weirder” versions of songs, but this sort of had a tiny bit of hip hop throughout and I liked the fact that there were vocals but not a lot of them though.

“Crazy For Christmas” is the first to feature another singer, Bonnie McKee. They have written songs for many, many pop artists and released her own music too. I think they have a beautiful voice, full of sass. This song in particular most be an original as I’ve never heard of it before; I like it though. It gives me Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” vibes. It has a nice 1940’s flair to it, but it was still very mellow too. It was cute! Next, there’s “Feliz Navidad” which is “Merry Christmas” in Spanish and this one is full of holiday tones but in a faster tempo with Lindsey and the violin on full display.

You don’t see too many artists doing little introductions like these anymore but it’s an interesting way to breaking down part of the album and giving it something else. Honestly, the intro brought me back to her song “Roundabout Rival” with those bold and intense sounds that would go absolutely great with an even powerful Paso Dable choreography! Afterwards, we finally have the title track and I mostly like the fact that it does sound a tiny bit like “Carol Of The Bells” but it also doesn’t sound a true Christmas song either, it can be enjoyed in any season.

Next, there’s “Christmas Time With You” with an artist by the name of Frawley. I have never heard of them, but that’s okay though. I feel like with Frawley’s voice, the entire song has a country vibe. You could do the Charleston to this one honestly! It’s bobby enough to consider with a row of dancers kicking their feet out, kind of like the Rockettes! Okay, let’s move on to our ninth track, “Little Drummer Boy” and since this is essentially about and made for the drums, I loved this route of exchanging the drumming effects to a slow and subtle violin beat instead. I like when overtime a song such as this one with its traditional roots can be turned into something else for the next generation to enjoy.

Another well-known tune to the lineup is, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and this has a beautiful introduction with an almost ethereal way about it. We have a mysterious singer that fades in and out majority of the song, but I’ve found over the years that Lindsey has sang in a lot of her songs, now whether or not this is her is unknown. Other than that, the song itself reminds me of beloved tune of hers, “Crystalize” as it sort of has the same vibe and it’s very pop forward too. Next, we have “O Holy Night” and this one definitely has a cinematic approach to it, which made me really happy because I love anything with some excitement and this rendition definitely has everything I usually enjoy when it comes to that subgenre.

We now come to our final three tracks of the album; and this one is probably an original because I’ve never quite heard of it before, but this wasn’t the oddest part of it. Well, “oddest” is probably the worst word to use here but I couldn’t figure out a better way to describe my surprise when hearing David Achuleta’s voice after all of these years. “Magic” is very bubbly in the best way, and despite David has grown up since his days on Americal Idol, I still liked how sweet his voice was able to mesh with Lindsey’s melody. The thirteenth track is, “Deck The Halls” and I really liked the pop sound mixed with symphonic notes throughout, it was very lovely. And finally, the last song is, “Ice Storm” and again, it’s another original by Lindsey herself and it has a faster and harder tempo, but it could keep up a holiday cheer about it too. I thought it was a great way to end the album.

Well, now we are done with Lindsey Stirling’s second holiday album, and I can’t say I was surprised I enjoyed it because I tend to love the majority of her work anyways, but I also don’t want to seem biased either. My only problem with this collection of songs is that there weren’t any shockers anywhere, whereas with “Warmer In the Winter” had many familiar artists and interesting ways to transform these oldies (but still great!) into something other people would adopt into their family get-togethers every year, and I’m not saying people won’t do this with this album, it was just a tiny bit plain for me that’s all.

Have you listened to “Snow Waltz” by Lindsey Stirling yet? What were your thoughts about it? Any favorites?

snowflake

Book Review: “The Duchess” by Danielle Steel

Hello!

Last month, while I was away, I was able to start and finish two books and they were “Murder On the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie and Danielle Steel’s “The Duchess” and they also were my first reads for both authors, so I might be interested in reading other books in the future. The only reason why I will not be sharing a review on MOTOE is because I’ve already seen the 2017 film and it is considered a classic so thought it belonged in my other journal, but I thought you’d love to know my thoughts on this book instead.

To be quite honest with you, I thought this would be a different story, in my mind I thought it was about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I saw the words “The Duchess” and immediately became excited to finally read the actual book based on the film that came out in 2008, but it wasn’t. The author who wrote that book is Amanda Forman. What I didn’t expect was continuing to read this other story and absolutely loving it!


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The incomparable Danielle Steel breaks new ground as she takes us to nineteenth-century England, where a high-born young woman is forced out into the world—and begins a journey of survival, sensuality, and long-sought justice.

Angélique Latham has grown up at magnificent Belgrave Castle under the loving tutelage of her father, the Duke of Westerfield, after the death of her aristocratic French mother. At eighteen she is her father’s closest, most trusted child, schooled in managing their grand estate. But when he dies, her half-brothers brutally turn her out, denying her very existence. Angélique has a keen mind, remarkable beauty, and an envelope of money her father pressed upon her. To survive, she will need all her resources—and one bold stroke of fortune.

Unable to secure employment without references or connections, Angélique desperately makes her way to Paris, where she rescues a young woman fleeing an abusive madam—and suddenly sees a possibility: Open an elegant house of pleasure that will protect its women and serve only the best clients. With her upper-class breeding, her impeccable style, and her father’s bequest, Angélique creates Le Boudoir, soon a sensational establishment where powerful men, secret desires, and beautiful, sophisticated women come together. But living on the edge of scandal, can she ever make a life of her own—or regain her rightful place in the world?

From England to Paris to New York, Danielle Steel captures an age of upheaval and the struggles of women in a male-ruled society—and paints a captivating portrait of a woman of unquenchable spirit, who in houses great or humble is every ounce a duchess.

taken from Goodreads.

After I quickly found out this wasn’t at all what I wanted to read originally, I never thought to turn away from it. I had surprised myself in a way because I’ve DNF’d (did not finish) a lot of books this year, and I was half expecting this to be added onto that list.

“She had no idea where the future would lead her or what it would look like, but whatever happened, she was determined to survive it.”

And then I learned more about Angelique Lantham’s story, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I started to really hate sleeping at night because the pull to hear more about her and the world Danielle was able to create was so strong.

As familiar as relearning the customs of that time, which as a reader you should take note early on because this is based in an earlier setting than most historical fictions. This is set in the later period of the Regency, after George IV is actually king and it goes on until the start of Queen Victoria’s reign. So, being a woman–a daughter, wife, and/or aunt was rough because you were not entitled to inherit anything, especially if you were a daughter of a duke. The young daughters and orphaned nieces of the wealthy were subjected to find a suitable husband during the Season and were introduced to others in their social class, plus the royals of the time.

For Angelique, she was the favorite of her only living parent, the Duke of Westfield, but she had two older brothers Tristan and Edward who knew they were next in line to their father’s titles, houses and wealth after he died. And their little sister would get nothing, or so they believed. Once their father passed away, he couldn’t protect her from their wrath, much less the law keeping her away what should have been hers in the first place.

What I found interesting, and mesmerizing was Angelique’s will to fight the odds in her own little modest way.

Every time I thought where the story was going, it would twist around and lead into a new direction just like life had been for her. After being forced to leave her little world at her beloved home, she was sent to a family who needed a nanny for their five children. As a reader, this puzzled me because taking care of that many children under the age of five–despite the changes in history–seems very daunting, and in the beginning, Angelique was nervous about this prospect too, but she pushed through it with grace until her final day.

Related to kings in two countries, and daughter of a duke, banished by her brother, she was reduced to working as a domestic, and at the mercy of anyone who would hire her.

Afterwards, she travels to France, another ancestral home but with the same heartbreaking results. She finds no job, and everything feels so numb until she comes across a young woman named Fabienne battered and beaten, and she nurses her back to health. Fabienne has had a rough life and has resorted to prostitution, and this part of the book is where things become slightly more interesting, as these two young women decide to create a high-class brothel in Paris, and as the reader, you never see it coming until afterwards; this was the first twist of the story to me and I was stunned by the fact that Angelique would want to do it in the first place and that really threw me for a loop, but then again we are at the last stages of the Regency period–despite being settled in another country!–so the story of brothels, madams, and hookers wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but don’t get me wrong, it was frowned upon respectable women, but sex work has always been available and people (mostly men) have engaged in this sort of act for every part of history!

However, as Angelique has been quick to find out, life can change in an instant, and she has to abandon her life in France and start all over again, but this time she moves to America, and as she’s on the boat, she meets a nice young man by the name of Andrew and he definitely changes Angelique’s piece of mind about what it means to be in love and suddenly wants everything she’s never wanted in the beginning of the story. This relationship was different compared to all of the others she had in Paris, and it’s in this section that two more things turn for this character that makes you feel very happy inside for a while.

For anyone who has never read anything by Danielle Steel, I think you should consider looking into this book and seeing if it had the same effect on you as it did on me. I have picked out a few other books by her to check out in the future. Maybe I’ll find a chance to read them in 2023?

Have you read “The Duchess” by Danielle Steel before? If you have, what were your thoughts on it?

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