Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

October in the Rearview Mirror…

Here’s a wrap-up of what I read and reviewed this month:

WICKED LITTLE SECRETS by Kara Taylor (YA)

QUEEN OF HEARTS by Rhys Bowen (cozy)

DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal

A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Anita Shreve (audiobook)

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander)

REVOLUTION by Deborah Wiles (YA)

AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes (Princess Bride movie non-fiction)

CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Neil Patrick Harris (non-fiction)

THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbo (mystery; audiobook)

STEALING THUNDER by Mary Casanova (kids/YA)

I also posted a few Saturday Snapshots and wrote about the Kickstarter campaign at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord. I also posted about the upcoming Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday Readathon!

Phew! A busy month!! :)

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YA/Kids’ Review: STEALING THUNDER by Mary Casanova

I love books by Mary Casanova, so I was thrilled when my friends at University of Minnesota Press sent me a few of her books to review.

In STEALING THUNDER, young Libby loves the horses at the stable next door. She’d like one for her own, but her parents can’t afford it. One day her friend and riding teacher, Jolene, is not there, and the owner tells Libby not to come back. Libby discovers that he is cruel and heartless with the horses and other animals and she fears for the safety of her beloved horses, especially Thunder. Libby decides to save Thunder by stealing her, but can this possibly lead to a happy solution?

Mary Casanova is a wonderful writer and her books should be in all classroom libraries. They often take place in Minnesota and always portray realistic and strong protagonists.

Thank you for my copy to review! You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Audiobook Review: THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbo

I knew Jo Nesbo from his well-written and hilarious children’s books featuring Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder. I had heard that he also wrote Scandinavian crime fiction, so I grabbed THE SNOWMAN on audio when I was at the library. All I can say is that this a very different kettle of fish from his children’s books!

THE SNOWMAN starts with a young boy waiting for his mother as she is visiting her lover. It is cold and wintry and there is a snowman. Flash forward and he is now a serial killer. His calling card is a snowman at the scene. The killings are brutal and bloody and not something I could listen to when the kids were in the car! Harry Hole, Nesbo’s detective protagonist from a number of his novels, needs to get to the bottom of the killing spree. Harry has his own issues and demons, though, but along with a new partner works tirelessly to solve the crimes. Several times they think they have the killer, but they are wrong. Soon Harry finds himself in the killer’s sights.

This was a well crafted book (ably executed by reader Robin Sachs) that kept me guessing and guessing. It was much “rougher” than I was expecting and I couldn’t play it around my kids or at school while waiting for them (explicit sexual content, language, violence, gore). At some points I was even a bit “grossed out” (remember – I’m kind of a cozy mystery gal). I would read more by Nesbo, though, as I think he’s a talented writer. (And my apologies to him that my keyboard won’t allow me the Nordic slash that his last name requires).

You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday Read-a-thon! November 6-11th

This year I’m going to be taking part in a Holiday Read-a-thon, hosted by Kimba from The Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jennifer from BookShelfery. I heard about it on the Book Dragon’s Lair book blog.

Here’s what she posted:

So break out the cocoa, the coffee, and cookies! Grab those holiday theme books and bring your holiday spirit. Prepare to enter challenges, win prizes, meet new friends and Twitter chat with us. You can join for a day or sit by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participate the more entries you will earn for the Participant Giveaway.

We love holiday themed reads from the covers to the warm & fuzzy tales on the inside. For this read-a-thon you must read holiday themed or winter setting reads. For bloggers, we have spoken to most of the main publishing houses and for ARCS of holiday books released in Sept/Oct, they are fine with you posting a review in November and December since that is when folks look to buy them. Below are the rules. Read them, grab the button and link up. For our non-blogger friends you can join too. Just link your Goodreads, Tumblr or Facebook account.

Here’s where to go to sign up:

http://www.bookshelfery.com/ho-ho-ho-holiday-read-a-thon-sign-ups/

Join me! :)

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Saturday Snapshot: Theater fun

If you know me, you know I’m currently involved in a production of Little Women: The Musical at a local community theater. I play Aunt March, who is supposed to be in her sixties. Since I’m only in my forties, I get a wig and get “aged” each night. Here are some before and after pictures:

Me on the way to the theater (selfie):

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Now here’s me after I’ve been made up:

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Aunt March gets her cranky on!

Wish me break a leg as this is our final weekend (and we are being adjudicated).

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommy.blogspot.com.

See her site for participation details.

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REVIEW: Neil Patrick Harris Choose your own Autobiography

While attending BEA this year, I went to the breakfast featuring Neil Patrick Harris talking about his forthcoming autobiography, which is in a “choose your own adventure” format. I just love NPH and I couldn’t wait until this book came out. Lucky for me, it surfaced on Blogging for Books and I was able to snag a review copy.

If you know/remember the “Choose your own Adventure” books from the 90’s, you will remember that they are written in the second person. After a short vignette, you can then decide which way to go. NPH has set his book up in this format. You experience his family life, his early experiences in theater, his love of magic, his journey to discover his sexuality, his Broadway experiences, and more. Along the way, you choose what pages to go to next “If you’d like to hear more about your Broadway adventures, turn to page 96. If you want to learn a magic trick, turn to page 105.” etc.

I absolutely loved this book. I laughed so hard in places, that I was nearly crying. NPH has this rather cynical humor that is at times really ridiculous. I think my favorite part was when he has the altercation with Scott Caan outside of an LA nightclub. I also loved the parts when he talked about his twins. And it comes with pictures!

That said, there is definitely a strong sexual component in this book, so it’s not one I’ll be passing on to my fifth grader. Also, I had a print copy of this book, which I really recommend as I’m not sure how you would navigate it in e-book format, or through audio channels.

If you love NPH then you shouldn’t miss getting to know him even better through his new book. You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate. Thank you, Blogging for Books, for my copy!

Enjoy the book trailer:

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Quick Review: AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

I was more than thrilled when Maria at Simon and Schuster asked me if I’d like to review Cary Elwes’ new book, the full title of which is As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. I just love that movie, and I figured it would be a fun read.

This book starts with Elwes getting cast to play Westley and goes through the entire filming and creation process. Interspersed throughout are pictures, along with quotes and snippets from other cast members, often sharing their view of the same incidents that Elwes writes about. His book is not a self-serving bit of megalomania (a worry I had since it is written by a Hollywood star!) but more of a tribute and a very touching personal recollection of what could be described as the best job of his life. Throughout it you come to intimately know the real people behind the characters, along with Rob Reiner, the director (apparently one of the greatest and most lovable guys in Hollywood). This book was a lovely and fun read, paying homage to a film classic that many of us count in our top ten favorite flicks of all time.

If you love this film, don’t miss reading AS YOU WISH.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

 

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YA Review: REVOLUTION by Deborah Wiles

I read Deborah Wiles’ COUNTDOWN a while back and loved it

see review here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/?s=countdown&submit=Go

so I was thrilled to find REVOLUTION, part two in the Sixties Trilogy, in my favorite local indie (The Concord Bookshop).

In REVOLUTION, it is the Summer of ’64 – Freedom Summer – and volunteers have come to Greenwood, Mississippi to register black voters. Twelve-year-old Sunny has enough going on at home with a new stepmother, stepbrother and stepsister, and a new baby on the way. Her world has always been neatly separated into black and white, and Sunny has never really questioned it, or thought about it. However, things start to change when Sunny and her stepbrother sneak out to the whites only pool one night and surprise a young Black boy who is there. Soon they see demonstrations in their town and the young teen they saw at the pool is involved. Sunny is drawn to the Freedom worker volunteers, especially one who reminds her of her mother. The summer of ’64 becomes a summer for Sunny to grow up and come of age, and to understand that she has decisions to make in life that will guide her future.

I really enjoyed this “documentary novel”, which, while lengthy, is full of pictures, excerpts, and lyrics from the summer of 1964. Sunny’s portrayal is so well crafted. Her ability to see the prejudice in her small town from the perspective of a child is perfectly portrayed as she tries to reconcile adults’ racist actions towards the Black townspeople with their kind actions to her as a child growing up. She sees the ugliness and the hatred and it is greatly unsettling. However, that is one of the messages of this book – especially as it is for young readers – that prejudice and racism are all around us and we must not be blind to them.

This is a superb choice for a middle school classroom and to introduce students to the civil rights movement. To be honest, I haven’t read or seen too much about the summer of 1964 (outside of the movie Mississippi Burning) and it should not be something that fades from our collective conscience.

I can’t wait for Ms. Wiles’ next book in this trilogy!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Kickstarter Campaign for Orchard House Documentary – only 60 hours left!

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If you know me, you know I have a complete obsession with all things Alcott — the person, the family, the books, etc. I’m a “Little Women” junkie (I’m actually also a lifelong devotee to Laura Ingalls Wilder, but that’s for another post).

Orchard House, the house museum of Louisa May Alcott in Concord, MA, where she wrote Little Women is running a Kickstarter campaign in order to create a documentary about the house. This is how the official page describes the project:

The Documentary Project:

Everyone has a special place – a mountaintop, a cathedral, a beloved home – that makes them feel safe, connected, and inspired. For millions of people from all over the world, Orchard House is that place: a gathering place, where people from many backgrounds have come together for over 350 years to count themselves part of a community – a community steeped in hope, courage, and perseverance.

Many who wish to experience Orchard House may never be able to visit in person, and there are millions more that do not realize the house exists. Together with your pledges and our dedication, this film will change that.

The history of Orchard House includes the prolific Alcotts, of course, but other stories remain unexplored. Even a visit to the home cannot reveal all there is to tell about Orchard House. That’s why we need to make this documentary.

Our film will be an hour-long, PBS quality documentary that will dive deep into those stories starting in the 1600’s. We will tell of the courageous occupants before the Alcotts, including the rescuer of a kidnapped woman and a Revolutionary soldier. We will also offer insights about Concord’s rich literary history; chronicle the process of how the museum was created in 1911; and, of course, give a behind-the-scenes look into the Alcott family and their time in Orchard House. We will seek national and international distribution to share interviews with house staff, Alcott scholars, celebrity friends, and the people of Concord to illuminate the remarkable power of place Orchard House possesses.

You can see the whole project, read more, make a pledge of just about any amount, and see the details at:

We are SO CLOSE to reaching the goal of $150,000 and there are only a handful of hours left.

Only a little more than $7,000 to go! #pledgeyourlove http://www.louisamayalcott.org

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Review: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

If you know me, you know I have an Outlander obsession. I’ve read them all (and watch the show). Of course I had to read the latest tome from Ms. Gabaldon. I did it over time, though, reading several other things at the same time, because sometimes I just needed a break from the trials of living in the 1700’s!

This book starts where the last one left off, and I only wish I could have remembered exactly what had happened at the end of the last book! Next time I am definitely re-reading the end of the previous book. It took me about 100 pages to get settled and remember all the challenges folks were facing. (What I really needed was a chart with characters, which is there, but really not too accessible via kindle; print copy would have been better).

Anyhow, Claire and Jamie were reunited. Lord Grey was having some serious physical issues in the war (and with Jamie). Ian was wanting to marry his Quaker love, Rachel. Brianna was fending off a crazy man who was trying to abduct Jem, while Roger runs off to the past thinking Jem is there (but ends up in the wrong time). Then there was a whole HOST of other folks running around and having problems. I could scarcely keep track of it all!

As always, I love the story of Claire and Jamie. Theirs is a love that truly transcends time. The other many subplots are fun to follow, though I found the time in the forest with the soldiers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. Things picked up quickly towards the end and one can see another book on the horizon.

Now if you know me, you know I have a “problem” shall we say, with Brianna. I can’t stand her “I’m perfect. I’m intelligent. I’m beautiful. Everyone desires me. I’m Brianna.” personality. I found her much more likable in this installment. Her motherly side has softened me to her. Now, instead, I find Rachel annoying. Her “I am pious. I am perfect. I am incredibly beautiful and brave with a perfect body under these drab Quaker togs. Look at me!” character a bit much. I don’t want her killed off, but really, let’s make her not quite so perfect. And once I got thinking about this I realized that all the women in these books are pretty much physically perfect while most of the main men have some sort of physical difference or scar or missing limb: Jamie’s scars and missing finger, Jenny’s husband’s limp, Roger’s damaged throat, Fergus’ hook, Colum’s Toulouse-Latrec. Interesting…

Okay – I just googled to make sure it was Colum with the T-L and not Dougal and there’s an Outlander Wiki???

Anyhow, you, too, can slog through the 800+ pages of the latest Outlander. You can see it on Amazon where I got mine and where I am an Associate:

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