Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Concord Bookshop Event: Gregory Maguire

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A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting my favorite local indie — The Concord Bookshop — to hear local author Gregory Maguire (of WICKED fame) speak about and read from his new book: EGG AND SPOON (sorry picture is a tad blurry!). EGG AND SPOON is a story of two girls, one wealthy and one poor, who switch places. Added in to the classic fun is the character of Baba Yaga and her house on legs.

Maguire is a great speaker and fun to listen to. He has a droll sense of humor and I really enjoyed the event. That said, I am still a bit unclear who the targeted audience is for this almost 500 page novel. At first I thought children, but then I thought adults. Then after browsing online I was completely confused. I would say perhaps it is a book about children but written for adults; or a book you could read aloud to older grade children and then discuss. Of course I’m sure there are precocious children who would “get it”, too.

Regardless, here is it on Amazon where I am an Associate (or even better – find it at an indie near you!):

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Saturday Snapshot: Montserrat, Spain

At the end of our August trip to Europe for the Disney Cruise, we went to Montserrat, outside of Barcelona. What a beautiful place! It is about an hour outside of the city, reachable by train, up in the mountains. Traditionally, Montserrat (meaning “serrated mountains”) was a destination for religious pilgrims. It was so amazingly beautiful. While there, we went into the cathedral and saw the famous “black virgin”. Beautiful and interesting little side trip!

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommy.blogspot.com. See her site for participation details!

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Review and Giveaway! A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL by Katie Ganshert

This summer I received a copy of A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL by Christian romance author Katie Ganshert through Blogging for Books. I had read several of Katie’s other novels and found them well-written and enjoyable. I also follow Katie on facebook, where she seems to be a very nice person!

A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL felt slightly different to me than her previous novels. In this story, Ivy Clark, a young fashion model, comes home to model for her stepmother’s new wedding gown line. Ivy was not a character that I liked at first. She was rude and self-centered and a very high opinion of herself. Her interactions with others showed that she basically used her sex appeal and looks to accomplish whatever she wanted and that underneath she had low (or nonexistent) self-esteem for who she was as a person. Ivy has to work with Davis Knights as her photographer, and right from the start, things are different with him. He doesn’t seem taken in my her flirtatious ways and he asks her about her relationship with God. Will Ivy stay detached and self-centered, or is possible that she can open up her heart to others and to God? You’ll need to read to find out!

I enjoy Katie’s writing and I’ll give her credit for creating a story where at first I could not stand the protagonist, but eventually came to feel sorry for her and then to like her. A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL is the perfect title for this story, because beauty after all is only skin deep and the beauty that is found inside is truly the lasting kind.

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

And I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY, too! Due to a technical error, I received TWO copies of this novel, one which I read and one which I saved to give away to one reader in the USA. Please leave a comment and a way to reach you if you’d like to be entered, and I will use random.org to select a winner. I will mail your book to you via USPS once I contact you for your snail mail address. Entries need to be received by October 10.

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Review: THE HIDDEN CHILD by Camilla Lackberg

I’ve developed a HUGE love of Swedish crime novels. This is a whole genre in and of itself and I really like the blend of mystery, character development, and setting. THE HIDDEN CHILD is no exception – it is a well-crafted and executed mystery novel that kept me up reading late at night. I purchased this novel through a Book Bub promotion for my kindle. While this book has characters that were in earlier Lackberg novels, which I haven’t read, I felt it easily stood alone as well.

In THE HIDDEN CHILD, Erika, a writer, is going through her attic when she comes across some odd and surprising things in her deceased mother’s belongings: a blood stained child’s dress, a diary, and a Nazi medal. Erika, whose husband is a police detective supposedly home on paternity leave but very much missing the office, tries to determine the origin of the medal (and why her mother had it), and visits an elderly local man who specializes in Nazi history. He soon turns up dead. Coincidence? I think not. Erika continues to unearth past secrets which very much affect the present, while her husband assists in locating a murderer who is willing to strike again. Events converge for a shattering conclusion.

I really enjoyed this novel, which is apparently around 400 pages but felt shorter. I often wake during the night and I was thrilled to have the opportunity read this book then! I will definitely look for more by Lackberg – her plot, her writing, her characters, the location – all these things combined to make a satisfying read for me!

You can see this book on Amazon where I got mine:

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Kids’ and YA: Casey Templeton Mystery – OLD BONES by Gwen Molnar

While I first published this in the spring, this is a reminder that this book publishes today, 9/22/14.

Happy Pub Day!

 

 

A Net Galley find, this is a YA story (one in a series it appears) about a teenager living in Canada who solves mysteries.

Casey is on a field trip to a museum’s archaeological dig when he suffers a bad case of sunburn, followed by a night alone in the hotel as he attempts to recover. Instead he hears two men plotting to rob the museum! Since Casey can recognize the men, he is put to work at the museum (his family knows the curator¬†there) in an attempt to locate the men. Will Casey save the day? Or will the crooks get away with their loot?

This was a fun read, especially for middle grade and middle school readers, that reminded me of the Hardy Boys.

Look for it this fall at a bookstore near you! Thank you, Net Galley and Dundurn Publishers, for my copy.

See it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Review: THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN by M.C. Beaton

As you readers know, I’m a huge Agatha Raisin fan! I received the latest Agatha mystery this summer from Net Galley. The book published this week.

This time Agatha is pressed into service to help with a local amateur theater production. She is less than thrilled at the prospect, but things go awry when one of the actors is murdered, and Agatha jumps into detective mode to figure out why and by whom. Agatha has her regular issues – interfering with police procedure, getting herself into danger, etc. – and more troubles with her love life. I have to say that I do love how perfectly imperfect she is. She is tough and crabby and physically not overly attractive. You can’t help but like her.

This is the latest in a long line of Agatha Raisin cozy mysteries, and I give MC Beaton credit for her continued ability to create intricate plot lines that keep you guessing until the murderer is revealed. I’m not bored of Agatha yet – and I hope you aren’t either – so I’m sure I will be back for her next installment.

Thank you, Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press, for my ARC.

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

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Saturday Snapshot: Barcelona!

Last week I posted about our Disney Cruise on the Mediterranean. Our ship set sail and returned to Barcelona, Spain. We had never been there before — what a beautiful city!

Here are a few pictures of things we visited before we left on the cruise:

Sagrada Familia — The large church designed by Gaudi that they have been building since the 1800’s and are still working on:

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It was too big to fit in a picture!

Here’s the famous “Nativity” alcove:

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Here’s an link to a virtual visit to Sagrada Familia –

http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/docs_instit/vvirtual.php?vv=4

Truly an amazing piece of architecture and spirituality!

We also went to the Cathedral in Barcelona – which was incredibly beautiful inside. We lit candles for my niece who is getting married next weekend and also for a close relative with a large family who had recently been laid off (happy to report that prayers were answered in the way we had hoped — a new job has been found and secured!).

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My son thought perhaps we should light a candle to “find a LEGO store in Europe”. Um – no.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of WestMetroMommy.blogspot.com. Please see her site for participation details.

Thanks for stopping by! (I am currently on a campaign for a newer phone for better pictures, especially in low light, even though I’m one of the world’s worst photographers). ūüôā

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Review: THE MAJOR’S DAUGHTER by J. P. Francis

As I enjoy reading WWII genre novels, I requested THE MAJOR’S DAUGHTER through Net Galley this summer for my kindle. This novel tells the story of star-crossed lovers: Collie, the major’s daughter in a German POW work camp in New Hampshire, and August, a German POW. As Collie feels herself drawn to the young German soldier, she is torn between her feelings of allegiance to her father (a widow) as well as her country, and her attraction to August. August, in return, is smitten by Collie’s beauty and kindness and determines to defy the camp rules and escape with her to a new life.

I tend to gravitate to WWII stories. I think part of my fascination is that was my parents’ time of early adulthood and it seems so close and yet so far away. Collie and August’s story has more romance in it than history, in my opinion (I tend to prefer the reverse); however, I was fascinated to know that there really was a German POW camp in southern New Hampshire during the war (this is only about an hour from where I live). The POW’s worked at logging in the forests and then were returned to Europe when the war ended (actually, they thought they were headed back to Germany but were sent to Britain instead to help with war clean up). Collie and August’s story has “tragedy” written all over it from the start. It was oddly reminiscent of “Summer of my German Soldier” (but without Kristy McNichol).

There are some subplots happening along the way, too. Two brothers who are extremely different in temperament are wreaking a bit of havoc among the ladies. One falls in love with Collie (and ultimately brings about the climax of the book when he tells her confidential information about the next steps for the prisoners). Collie’s best friend, Estelle, is in a star-crossed relationship herself out in Ohio, as she has fallen in love with a Sikh gentleman. Her choices are very different from Collie’s. All these plots tie up at the end, in just under 400 pages.

If you enjoy historical romance, WWII era, you will probably enjoy THE MAJOR’S DAUGHTER. Thank you, Net Galley and Penguin Group, for my copy!

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

 

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Review: THE GOLDEN PATHWAY by Donna M. McDine

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the HF Virtual Book Tours blog tour for the promotion of the book THE GOLDEN PATHWAY by Donna M. McDine and illustrated by K. C. Snider.

This story is written for children and is about a young boy’s experience during the Civil War. Young David lives in a violent home, and he befriends his family’s slave, Jenkins. One night he gets a chance to help Jenkins escape on the Underground Railroad. Will he take the risk to help his friend?

This is a very short story — picture book style and less than 20 pages. The copy I read was a hardcover/library binding edition. I kept thinking how this would be a wonderful edition to the classroom: David’s story is a great jumping off point to start to discuss the Civil War, slavery, the Underground Railroad, and basic human rights. It is aimed at younger elementary-aged readers, and I plan to have my children read it as a way to start a discussion on slavery and the Civil War (which they’ve learned about some in school, but still find puzzling and highly disturbing).¬†

Author Donna McDine is an award-winning author with several books to her credit. You can read more about her at http://www.donnamcdine.com. THE GOLDEN PATHWAY is published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thank you, Amy, for making me part of your book tour!

 

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Saturday Snapshot: Trip to Europe!

We just had the most fabulous vacation!

In late August we took the Disney Magic cruise ship for a trip that went from Barcelona to France, Italy, and then back to Spain. I can’t say enough how truly “magical” this experience was! We all loved it!

Here’s a picture of the ship (borrowed from online images):

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It was quite spectacular! The kids had a lot of space and activities to themselves, which led my husband and me to have a lot of time alone – woo-hoo!

We stopped in Nice, France. We didn’t get off the boat that day, but it was truly beautiful. Then we went on to Italy and visited Florence: (Il Duomo)

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(photobombed!)

We also saw this guy:

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(note – this is a copy; the original is in the Galleria).

Then we went on to Pisa:

 

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Yes – it is still leaning!

Then we saw Rome:

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And the Vatican:

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We skipped getting off in Naples (we were pooped!)

But at the end of the week, it was these smiles that made us happiest:

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Now we are back to school, but this will definitely be a vacation that lives in our hearts and minds for a very long time!

 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommy.blogspot.com.

See her site for participation details!

 

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