Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown
320 pages, Paperback
Sourcebooks Landmark, April 2014

Source: Provided by publisher/NetGalley in exchange for review

Carlene, owner of a lingerie shop in a small town in North Texas discovers a pair of red undies she designed in her husband's briefcase. They are not hers, but she knows exactly who she made them for. This begins the crazy, but fun antics of her family to get back at her cheating husband Lenny.

This was so much fun. It reminded me a bit of Steel Magnolias and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. The sisters are hilarious, the cousins have a great relationship and the men in their lives (minus Lenny) are sweet, supportive and understanding of their craziness. There is small town, out-of-control gossip, old ladies having cat fights, and some really hot...chili.

I really enjoyed this book. It was laugh-out-loud funny, fast paced and reminiscent of many Texas ladies I knew when I lived there. 

For more info about the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off will be published Tuesday, April 1st! Be sure to go get yourself a copy.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Groupon Books!

I got $40 worth of books for $24 at Books, Inc.! Woohoo. 
Well, I may have gone over a bit. Shh.
A few books for me, a few for the little girl...
Let's just say, we had a nice day.
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating: A Novel by Carole Radziwill

The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating: A Novel by Carole Radziwill
320 pages, Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co, February 2014

Source: sent by publisher in exchange for review. Thanks, Emily.

Claire has become a widow at the age of 32. The story follows her over a year after the strange death of her husband. She must navigate through NYC societal "rules" on length of mourning, dating and finding love again.  Her resources? A couple of old but true friends, two therapists, a diviner and a griot. 

I used to be obsessed with reading all books about life in NYC. Such a different lifestyle than my own, it was fun to immerse myself in art openings, exclusive clubs with bottle service and the excesses of the rich and not so rich. I hadn't read any in quite awhile. This was a good read back into the genre. I enjoyed it. The writing is smart and witty. The dry, matter-of-fact way the story is told is refreshing and quite enjoyable. 

For more info about the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Toddler Tales: London with the 3 year old

I am very excited and a little scared.

London Eye View

We are going to London for two weeks and taking the little girl.

First, the flights. There and back are non-stop flights! How many hours is that, exactly? She has been great flying cross country and also to Hawaii, but those were only about five hours. Hoping she will be excited enough to be on her best behaviour, or at least sleep through most. 
Then there will be the jet lag to deal with. Ugh.

I am excited about the time we will have in London. The hubby will be working during the week so the little girl and I will be exploring on our own. I think it will be fun. I do need some ideas for kid friendly activities. Do you all have any kid friendly suggestions for London?

My little world traveller. It is still amazing to me that she has gone to so many places in three years when I didn't fly until the age of 22! My first time to Europe- 25!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Deborah Swift Book Blast

HF Virtual Book Tours is delighted to introduce you to historical novelist Deborah Swift!  Deborah's acclaimed novels are set in turbulent seventeenth century England and have been described as "brilliant" and "a must for all readers looking for something out of the ordinary but grippingly alive".  Her previous life as a scenographer and costume designer shine through as the settings are beautifully evoked, immersing the reader in the sights and smells of the time.

Deborah's multi-layered and engrossing historical adventures will make perfect picks for reading groups. Reading Group Guides can be conveniently found in the back of each book and on her website.

Find more information below on Deborah's novels below and enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (£15 UK)!

About the Books

The Lady's Slipper
The Lady's Slipper
Publication Date: June 3, 2011
Pan MacMillan
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

England, 1660.

The King is back, but memories of the English Civil War still rankle. In rural Westmorland, artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady's Slipper orchid. She is determined to capture itís unique beauty for posterity, even if it means stealing the flower from the land of the recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid. Meanwhile, others are eager to lay hands on the flower, and have their own powerful motives.

Margaret Poulter, a local medicine woman, is seduced by the orchid's mysterious herbal powers, while Geoffrey Fisk, Alice's patron and former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness. Fearing that Wheeler and his friends are planning revolution, Fisk sends his son Stephen to spy on the Quakers, only for the young man to find his loyalties divided as he befriends the group he has been sent to investigate.

Then, when Alice Ibbetson is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk's sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed. Vivid, gripping and intensely atmospheric, The Lady's Slipper is a novel about beauty, faith and loyalty.

Praise for The Lady's Slipper

"The novel grips from the opening lines and carries the interest throughout. The several plot-lines are seamlessly blended and come together in a wholly satisfying conclusion. Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly recommended." - Historical Novels Review Magazine

"Recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory and Rose Tremain, as well as students of the English Civil War." - Library Journal

"The intertwined stories of the orchidís fate, the mounting problems between the Quakers and the Kingís men, and Aliceís murder trial and its aftermath make for a riveting narrative." - For the Love of Books Blog

The Gilded Lily UK Cover
The Gilded Lily
Publication Date: September 13, 2012
Pan MacMillan
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Westmorland, 1660.

Sadie Appleby has lived all her life in her small village. One night she is rudely awoken by her older and bolder sister, Ella, who has robbed her employer and is on the run. The girls flee their rural home of Westmorland to head for London, hoping to lose themselves in the teeming city. But the dead manís relatives are in hot pursuit, and soon a game of cat and mouse begins.

Ella becomes obsessed with the glitter and glamour of city life and sets her sights on the flamboyant man-about-town, Jay Whitgift. But nothing is what it seems, even Jay Whitgift.

Can Sadie survive a fugitive's life in the big city? But even more pressing, can she survive life with her older sister Ella?

Set in London's atmospheric coffee houses, the rich mansions of Whitehall, and the pawnshops, slums and rookeries hidden from rich menís view, The Gilded Lily is about beauty and desire, about the stories we tell ourselves, and about how sisterhood can be both a burden and a saving grace.

Praise for The Gilded Lily

"There is no greater compliment than -'Give me more!' A delight." - Susanna Gregory

"The Gilded Lily is impeccably written historical fiction. The detail is superb and life in London is so vividly depicted that the city seems to take on its own persona and become a lurking character in the story." - Let Them Read Books

"A heart-rending story of two sisters on the run, searching for a better life. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, the novel drew me straight into the teeming streets of Restoration London. An addictive, page-turning read." - Mary Sharratt

"Superb dialogue, steeped in contemporary language, adds credibility and atmosphere to this compelling tale which examines the ties that bind together siblings, the consequences of greed and ambition, the fickleness of fate and womenís constant battle to survive in a manís world. The Gilded Lily is also a fast-paced adventure peopled with ruthless villains and feisty heroines whose exploits grab the imagination and add suspense and excitement to a historical gem." - Lancashire Evening Post

The Gilded Lily Book Trailer

A Divided Inheritance
A Divided Inheritance
UK Publication Date: October 24, 2013
Pan MacMillan
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

London, 1609.

Elspet Leviston's greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathanielís lace business. But her simple dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane, who has his own designs on Levistonís Lace. Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relation but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary, determined to claim the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

In the searing heat of Seville, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery and finally unlocking the true meaning of family.

Praise for A Divided Inheritance

"a true gem. It has a pacy storyline, the characters are complex, intriguing and often unexpected, and it is packed with fascinating historical fact" - Gabrielle Kimm, author of His Last Duchess

"Elegantly written, A Divided Inheritance brings the uncertainty of the seventeenth century gloriously to life in an engaging tale of determination, tenacity and family loyalty." - Flashlight Commentary Blog

"a multifaceted tale about the consequences of religious intolerance, the expiation of guilt, the importance of family, and the appearance of unexpected love. And swordplay! The action sequences are as sharp and dazzling as Zacharyís hand-forged blade." - Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past

Buy the Books
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Deborah Swift
About the Author

Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Ladyís Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.

The Riddle of Writing Blog
Royalty Free Fiction Blog
English History Authors Blog

Book Blast Schedule

Sunday, March 16
Lily Pond Reads
Kincavel Korner
Bibliophilia, Please
Passages to the Past
The True Book Addict

Monday, March 17
Mari Reads
Turning the Pages
A Chick Who Reads
Historical Fiction Connection
History from a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, March 18
Just One More Chapter
Susan Heim on Writing
Caroline Wilson Writes
Historical Fiction Obsession
Historical Readings & Reviews

Wednesday, March 19
Book Nerd
Broken Teepee
Literary Chanteuse
Historical Tapestry

Thursday, March 20
Book Drunkard
Mina's Bookshelf
Curling Up By the Fire
To Read or Not to Read
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Friday, March 21
Closed the Cover
CelticLady's Reviews
The Little Reader Library
Books by the Willow Tree


To enter to win a $20 (£15 UK) Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form.

Giveaway will run from March 16-21. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on March 22 and notifiied via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth
487 pages, Paperback
Katherine Tegen Books, February 2012

Source: purchased

I thought it was finally time I read this book and see what all the hype was all about. I also thought I should read since the movie was coming out and I knew I would want to see it. I am not sure why I waited so long to finally read this first book in the ever popular series. Two years? Definitely not like me.

Anyway, I am glad that I finally read it. I really enjoyed it. Could not put the book down once I started it. It has been a while since doing that. It has also been a while since I had read a YA dystopian novel.

This book has been around so long I don't feel the need to give a synopsis. Hope you all don't mind.  So, what I enjoyed... the unique world Roth has created is really the star. I loved the look of her post-apocalyptic Chicago, with the lake now a marsh and the city in ruins. It will look great in the movie. 
Tris is an interesting character and I really enjoyed following her on her journey. She is strong and motivated to do the right thing and not completely boy crazy as girls tend to be in YA books. I mean, there still is a boy of course, it's just not the main storyline.  

Looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sweater in Progress

I have been slowly working on the right front panel of a sweater. This knit is all for me.

Pretty cables, huh?

It is the Stranger Cardigan by michiyo for Brooklyn Tweed. I had been looking for a cabled cardigan for awhile and this one just seemed perfect.

I got some nice discounted yarn on WEBS, a really pretty dark teal. It is a little more green than it looks in the photo. The yarn is Valley Yarns Stockbridge in Deep Teal. Love it. This is going to be a very cozy sweater. 

Happy Knitting!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Series Catch up and a GIVEAWAY!

I have fallen behind in some of my favorite book series. And thought this year would be a great year to get caught up.  I went through my stacks and figured out where I left off. 
Here are the 10 books I need to get my hands on and read. 

Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan Series:

Spider Bones
Flash and Bones
Bones are Forever

Kelly Armstrong Women of the Otherworld:

Waking the Witch

Jim Butcher Dresden Files:

Ghost Story
Cold Days

In my search though my bookshelves I found an extra copy of Storm Front by Jim Butcher. It is Book One of The Dresden Files. Anyone interested in starting a new series? It is a fun one.  Let me know in the comments if you would like me to send it your way. :)

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

FO Friday: GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley

Pattern: GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley
Yarn: Berroco Vintage Chunky in Black
Needles: US 10 cable

My sister put in a request for a black infinity scarf and the GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley fit the bill perfectly. It was a quick knit considering it is bulky yarn. I didn't have a long enough cable any bigger than US10 so went with a smaller needle than the pattern called for. I think it looks nice with the smaller needles. 

I did have to cast on extra stitches (200) and should have knit more rounds to make it wider, but I got lazy. I didn't want to wind up another skein. It ended up about 7 inches wide. 

Anyway, I am really happy with it. Am about to start another one for myself but in green. Will use enough yarn to make it at least 10 inches wide, though.
Happy Knitting!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cover Reveal: Craving Him by Kendall Ryan

Craving Him by Kendall Ryan
A Love By Design Novel, Book 2

E-book edition on sale March 24, 2014 | Atria Books | 288 pages | ISBN 9781476756547 | eBook ISBN: 9781476764634
Tradepaper on sale June 17, 2014 | Atria Books | 352 pages | ISBN 9781476756547 | ISBN: 9781476764627

About the book:

In Working It, New York Times bestselling author Kendall Ryan delivered a sexy and addictive contemporary romance about Emmy Clarke, a sweet southern girl out of her depth in New York City’s cutthroat fashion industry, and Ben Shaw, the hot male model who introduced her to a world of pleasureBut their story is far from complete…

Emmy Clarke is no quitter. Toughened by her experience working for fashion heavyweight Fiona Stone, Emmy has come a long way from her country girl roots, embracing her fast-paced and unpredictable life in New York City.

Though that life comes with more than a few complications.

First there’s the mystery of Fiona’s pregnancy, which may or may not involve Emmy’s boyfriend, superstar male model Ben Shaw. Emmy has always known that Ben comes with more baggage than she can handle—and not the Louis Vuitton kind. Yet Ben is the only man who has ever loved Emmy for who she is, and she wants nothing more than to do the same for him, even if it means forgiving his past and overlooking their wildly different lifestyles.

But when a shocking secret from Ben’s past comes to light, unraveling all of their progress, Emmy must decide if their relationship is worth the fight, or if it’s time to ignore her passion for him and let go. 

Indie Bound:

ebook editions of WORKING IT and CRAVING HIM are each available for $3.99 for order and pre-order.

About the Author:

Kendall Ryan is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the contemporary romance novels Unravel Me, Make Me Yours, Hard to Love, Resisting Her, The Impact of You, and Working It. She's a sassy yet polite Midwestern gal with a deep love of books and a slight addiction to lip gloss.

Visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
416 pages, paperback
Disney-Hyperion, December 2013

Source: Sneak Peek from NetGalley

One house, two worlds...

I grabbed this 13 Chapter Sneak Peak from NetGalley awhile ago but had not read it until now. Why did I wait? It is quite the fun read. I read this in a couple hours and promptly purchased the whole book to keep reading. It is addictive and a bit of a guilty pleasure read filled with scandal and gossip, secrets and lies, all within the walls of Somerton, an English Estate, during the beginning of the 20th Century. 

This is Downton Abby meets Gossip Girl and it makes for a perfect escape/vacation read. Just wish I was on vacation while reading. It's also good for some late night reading while sitting with my sick little girl.

We get to follow both the people upstairs and those downstairs, discover their secret affairs and malicious intents. This is a YA book, perfect for those ages 12-18, so the romance and scandal are not as mature as you would find in adult books, but I liked that.  The innocence of the characters and their actions seem appropriate for the time period and their ages.

Cinders and Sapphires is the first book in the Somerton series. Book 2, Diamonds and Deceit, was published in January.

For more info about the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February 2014 Wrap-Up

I have to take this time to pat myself on the back...I think I am back to my old reading self. 

I seriously never thought I would be. I seem to be finding more time to read, and doing a better job of picking books that I really want to read and getting them read. Being picky with review books is a good thing! Of course, that means you will be seeing lots of gushing reviews. Just know they are all genuine. I am purposely finding books I know I am going to like/love/obsess over.

Anyway, I didn't do a wrap up post for January so I am including my reading count for then, too. 


1. Third Lies the Charm by Laura and Lisa Roecker *
2. Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield *
3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King =
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zukas
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6. This Girl by Colleen Hoover +


7. The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose *

8. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
9. Divergent by Veronica Roth
10. The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert *
11. Tyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin *
12. The Diviners by Libba Bray
13. The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown*

Woot, Woot! Seven books in February! That hasn't happened in years. I am getting a good mix of books for review and TBR books this year. It seems to be working.

Here is what you can look forward to in March on MariReads:

Book/Author Spotlights:
 Across Great Divides by Monique Roy
Deborah Swift

Cover Reveals:
Craving Him by Kendall Ryan

Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating: A novel by Carole Radziwell
The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown

At home posts:
Knitting: A couple of FO's and some new works in progress to share
Toddler Tales: What do you tell them when they ask about death?

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Spotlight: Across Great Divides by Monique Roy

About the Book:
Across Great Divides is a timeless story of the upheavals of war, the power of family, and the resiliency of human spirit. When Hitler came to power in 1933, one Jewish family refused to be destroyed and defied the Nazis only to come up against another struggle—apartheid in South Africa.

Sixteen-year-old twins, Eva and Inge, witness their lives in Berlin change before their eyes. Their best friend, Trudy, betrays them when she becomes a member of the Hitler Youth. A valuable family heirloom, a beautiful emerald and diamond necklace, is confiscated by the Nazis as they harass Jewish families and businesses. 

Their younger brother, Max, a member of the underground resistance, sees great danger ahead. Their father, Oskar, a successful diamond merchant, refuses to leave his beloved Germany and believes Hitler will fail. Their mother, Helene, holds her family together under dire circumstances

After the devastation of Kristallnacht in 1938, the family flees Germany with the help of the underground resistance after hiding many diamonds. They seek refuge in Antwerp, but war follows them as Belgium is occupied by the Germans. 

German man, a nun, a countess, and a winegrower help the family escape Europe. They hike over the Pyrenees Mountains while eluding German patrols and Spanish informers. Then, they spend agonizing days on a ship bound for Rio de Janeiro that is targeted by a German U-boat. As Rio’s diamond business is corrupt, they decide to go to South Africa, another diamond market. 

In Cape Town, Eva encounters an impoverished colored woman, Zoe, who is in need of work. The family hires Zoe as their maid. They shield her and her daughter from the dangers they face in the slums of District Six and from the horrors of apartheid, which are all too reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

But, when Max gets into trouble with the South African police over his participation in an anti-apartheid march, will he be subject to imprisonment? 
In a thrilling conclusion, the family comes to terms with the evils of society, both in their memories and current situation in South Africa.

Buy the Book at Amazon
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About the Author:
Monique Roy loves writing that twitches her smiling muscles or transports her to another time or place. Her passion for writing began as a young girl while penning stories in a journal. Now she looks forward to deepening her passion by creating many unique stories that do nothing less than intrigue her readers.

Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and is the author of a middle-grade book Once Upon a Time in Venice. Monique loves to travel, play tennis, pursue her passion for writing, and read historical fiction. In 2008, she was chosen by the American Jewish Committee's ACCESS program to travel to Berlin, Germany, on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, to explore German and Israeli relations along with 20 other Jewish professionals from across the U.S.

Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides, her newest novel.

What attracts Monique to historical fiction is taking the factual record as a structure and letting imagination run wild to fill it all in. Historical fiction lets you escape to another time and place; and Monique likes to explore the past so that we can potentially better understand the future.

Her latest book is the historical fiction, Across Great Divides.

Visit her website at

Connect & Socialize with Monique!


Sneak Peek:

Chapter One

Berlin, Germany 1932

Eva first saw him on a mild summer night at the Berliner Philharmonic concert hall, minutes before a symphony. She watched from the balcony as the hall slowly filled up with people—women in glittering dresses, impeccably dressed gentlemen, and children scrubbed clean and in their finest clothes. Tuxedoed ushers greeted streams of guests as they floated into the great hall, soon to be riveted by sweeping, romantic music.

Eva concentrated on the stage setup—the position of the strings and basses in relation to the flutes and clarinets, as well as the talented musicians who readied themselves onstage, eager to deliver a truly spectacular performance. In fact, Eva always observed the way the instruments were positioned as it revealed a great deal about the performance to come.

Suddenly, her concentration was broken when the hall went silent and the audience’s attention was directed to a man who appeared in the second floor’s golden balcony. He was a recognizable and popular figure. He was not alone. A beautiful, young blonde woman clung to his side. Before he took his seat, he turned to the audience and outstretched his right arm in a rigid, formal salute. Many in the audience raised their right hands in response. Without a sound or any movement, he acknowledged the guests with his hypnotic, pale blue eyes and spellbinding manner. He possessed a strange and powerful magnetism. Gentle murmurs emerged from the audience and quickly hushed as darkness enveloped them. 

Eva leaned over the balcony’s rail and stared across the hall at the man. She knew who he was. Everyone did.

“Is that –” her sister, Inge, softly whispered.

“Adolf Hitler,” Eva cut her off, maintaining her stare. “The leader of the National Socialist Party. Many say he is a man of great power and may be Germany’s last hope.”

Inge’s eyes, identical to her sister’s, grew wide with curiosity.

“He seems rigid and terrifying,” Inge said, leaning forward in her chair. “But still, it’s hard to believe that little man will be anything. I think he is somewhat comical…don’t you?”

“Beyond his physical appearance, Inge, I’ve heard he is a captivating speaker who has enraptured the hearts of many Germans,” Eva said, observing the audience as they waited to be dazzled by the symphony.

Eva noticed the finely dressed audience. Germans had a pride of appearance and a regard for cleanlinesswhich filled her with admiration. On the surface, there seemed to be prosperity in Germany. But, the extravagant dresses and spotless white collars only obscured the poverty and hardship that lay beyond the building’s sturdy walls.

Eva felt fortunate to be at the symphony, considering that Germany suffered greatly as the Great Depression left millions unemployed and the country in shambles. From elected leaders, the people of Germany received nothing but indecision and chaos. The Germans lacked confidence in their befuddled, degenerate government, the Weimar Republic.

Eva recalled a recent conversation with her father who told her that the depression in Germany was merely a gift—a grand opportunity for Hitler to make promises to the people of Germany—vows that would in turn build trust and support. Hitler emphasized rebuilding the broken German state and promised a glorified future as he set out to consolidate power, and force old President Paul von Hindenburg to make him chancellor.

But it would be several months until Hitler ruled Germany. And on that night, like other nights, Hitler wanted to make his presence known. Eva continued to watch him as he finally took his seat and turned his gaze toward the stage. She then forced her eyes back to the orchestra.

A silence permeated the air as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra awaited its cue. Conductor Wilhelm Furtwänglerstood awkwardly on the podium and bowed to the audience. He then turned to the musicians and lifted his baton. The meandering of his baton in melodic shapes summoned the first note of Beethoven's Symphony # 9 ("Choral"). His right hand and baton roughly kept the beat; his left hand weaved round in flowing patterns, while his head and torso constantly jerked.

Rhythmic sounds full of sweeping grandeur wafted through the air. Eva felt pulsating vibrations to the core of her stomach. The ebb and flow of sounds were like a pulse, a heartbeat.

Eva closed her eyes for a brief moment. Even with her eyes closed, she could see the movement of the instruments in front of her. From the thundering dances of the bass and cello, the sound dropped back to a soft dance of full pizzicato strings. This faded ever so slightly and then became an extraordinary progression of beats. The violins slowly initiated a towering climax and then an explosion of full orchestra, giving way to a quieter current of sounds.

She remembered coming to the symphony as a little girl, when she would sit in awe between her parents, Oskar and Helene, her eyes glued to the symphony’s sudden quick movements followed by slow and melodic ones. The music always inspired her, infused her with hope, and uplifted her spirits.
As she observed the audience, she sensed the intense emotion of the people around her—how suddenly as the joyful melody enraptured them, they emerged from their dark worlds and their eyes shined like lights.

Distant, locked away memories vividly spilled back into her mind now. Eva stood in glittering shoes on her father’s feet as he waltzed her around the parlor of their home. As they weaved around heavy antiques, Eva held onto her father’s strong arms as they danced together to the sound of music from an old music box. Inge sat shyly in the background, enjoying the spectacle before her, smiling at the graceful, light movements of her sister’s feet as she awaited her turn to dance with her father.

A glint in the distance caught Eva’s attention. She peered through the mother of pearl opera glasses across the audience. Her searching blue eyes scanned the audience and stopped at the sight of a beautiful woman wearing the most striking emerald pendant necklace set in harmony with a starry radiance of brilliant cut diamonds. She had never seen anything like it before. Fearing the woman might glance in her direction, Eva directed the looking glasses back to the stage. A few minutes later, she would steal another glimpse at the unique piece of jewelry that filled her with envy. Her eyes shifted to Inge, but her attention could not be broken.


The mid-afternoon sun cast a soft, golden glow on the autumn foliage along the path to the auction house. The air was crisp and silent, the only sound being the rustle of dried leaves underfoot. Oskar reached the steps to the opulent auction house and paused briefly. Dressed in a fine black suit and gabardine overcoat, he reached for his gold pocket watch.

"Almost time," he said to himself.

For luck, he kissed the inscription on the back of the watch that read: “Oskar, my love always, Helene.”

He climbed the stone steps to the entrance. The entryway was marked by arched windows and glass doors that lead to a large foyer, the Great Hall, adorned with high golden ceilings, sparkling chandeliers and marble floors. This was where elegant society with a cultivated taste in artmingled and where time could stand still for a lingering moment.

Oskar entered the rosewood parlor to peruse the dazzling display of estate jewelry, including diamond rings, strands of pearls, gold, platinum and silver rings, necklaces, brooches, and bracelets. Roaming the room, he slowly inspected the jewelry, impressed by the splendor around him. He walked towards a piece a few feet away. The jewel glimmered back at him. When he was only inches from the jewelry, he stopped.

The familiarity of the gem startled him. He went closer and examined the emerald and diamond necklace. A replica or a piece he had cut with his very hands? He recalled the brilliantly green emerald glowing like a ball of green fire. It was one of a kind, a finely cut pendant necklace, fit for a queenLooking at its beauty, Oskar recognized the stunning emerald set with a gleaming radiance of many brilliant cut diamonds.

Everything from the diamonds to the emerald to every intricate detail would always be etched in his mind. Oskar had inherited the gemstones when his father died in 1925, a time when Berlin culture was considered decadent and sophisticated, amid unprecedented social and artistic freedom. When Oskar took over his father’s prosperous diamond business, the city had become an intellectual center where artists, musicians, and writers thrived. It was a special time, even for jewelers like Oskar.
He then remembered the woman who bought the necklace from him five years prior. She was a younger woman with soft eyes, an alluring face, and a lovely, long shapely neck. Her name did not come to mind. He recalled she came alone. She bought the necklace nonchalantly, as if she was buying a loaf of bread, and he never heard from her again. Why was the pendant necklace here? He clenched his jaw in thought and scratched his head.