Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

HFVB Tour Review: LOOKING FOR JANE by Judith Redline Coopey

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Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours is featuring a variety of books by Judith Redline Coopey. I had the pleasure of reading LOOKING FOR JANE a few weeks ago while I was on vacation.

LOOKING FOR JANE follows the adventures of 15-year-old Nell, an orphan in Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s, who runs away from her convent orphanage as opposed to being adopted by a family who’s looking for a worker. Nell knows that her birth mother’s name was Jane and after coming across a story about Calamity Jane, she decides whole-heartedly that Calamity Jane is her birth mother and she needs to find her asap. Nell’s journey takes her through many varied adventures, meeting new friends and finding out about herself and life along the way.

I really enjoyed this story and loved the plucky character of Nell. I always love the “journey to discovery” theme in books, and this one was no exception. Ms. Coopey peppers her story throughout with interesting facts of the time period and gives Nell a very distinctive voice.  I found myself cheering for Nell as she fought her battles.

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

Looking for Jane

Publication Date: December 21, 2012
Fox Hollow Press
Formats: ebook & Paperback
Pages: 238

Genre: Historical Fiction

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READ AN EXCERPT.

“The nuns use this as their measuring stick: who your people are. Well, what if you don’t have no people? Or any you know of? What then? Are you doomed?” This is the nagging question of fifteen-year-old Nell’s life. Born with a cleft palate and left a foundling on the doorstep of a convent, she yearns to know her mother, whose name, she knows, was Jane.

When the Mother Superior tries to pawn her off to a mean looking farmer and his beaten down wife, Nell opts for the only alternative she can see: she runs away. A chance encounter with a dime novel exhorting the exploits of Calamity Jane, heroine of the west, gives Nell the purpose of her life: to find Calamity Jane, who Nell is convinced is her mother.

Her quest takes her down rivers, up rivers and across the Badlands to Deadwood, South Dakota and introduces her to Soot, a big, lovable black dog, and Jeremy Chatterfield, a handsome young Englishman who isn’t particular about how he makes his way, as long as he doesn’t have to work for it. Together they trek across the country meeting characters as wonderful and bizarre as the adventure they seek, learning about themselves and the world along the way.

Buy Looking for Jane

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

I have mixed feelings as to the age group for this story — there is some implied sexual situations in the story, but nothing graphic. I personally would let my sixth grader read it, but it really seems geared as not a children’s book. I enjoyed it a lot!

Thanks for making me part of the tour and for my review copy!

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BLOG TOUR == YA/Kids’ Review: ENCHANTMENT LAKE by Margi Preus and GIVEAWAY!

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I grabbed this fun YA mystery off of Net Galley a while ago, but then was asked to take part in the blog tour for it!

In this story, seventeen year old Francie leaves New York to go to a remote part of Minnesota to help her elderly great aunts whose neighbors seem to be dying every time you turn around. Francie is an actress who once played a detective on television, so everyone refers to her as “that detective”. Eventually she gives up correcting them. She’s dealing with land developers, pushy summer people, legends of treasure, and some dark secrets from her family’s past that she never knew. While she works to figure out who is behind the sudden deaths, Francie realizes that she might be next!

This was a cute book – reminded me of Nancy Drew or something similar. Francie is a brave and intelligent young woman, but she had me laughing at times, too. Perhaps this is the start of a series? I can’t wait to introduce my daughter to Francie.

This book is published by University of Minnesota Press. Author Margi Preus is the New York Times bestselling author of books for young readers, including Shadow on the Mountain, West of the Moon, and Heart of a Samurai, which won a Newberry Honor.

Here’s a picture of Ms. Preus, credit to Shirleen Hieb Photography:

Preus, Margi credit to Shirleen_Hieb_Photography

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

Enchantment Lake: A Northwoods Mystery

But wait — there’s more!

My friends at University of Minnesota Press is offering not one, not two, but THREE giveaway copies — SIGNED by Ms. Preus (hey – I want one!) to winners from the U.S. and/or CANADA. Yipee!!

Leave me a comment below (one entry per person) and I will use random.org to pick winners. Enter up until 12:01 am on April 19 – because that’s my birthday and this will be my gift to you!! 🙂

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Quick Review: FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen

I love Sarah Addison Allen’s writing. I’ve read all her books (such as GARDEN SPELLS, LOST LAKE, THE PEACH KEEPER, etc.) and was so excited when my husband got FIRST FROST for me. This novel continues the story of the Waverly sisters, and their families who we were first introduced to in GARDEN SPELLS (you can see my review from 2011 here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/quick-review-garden-spells-by-sarah-addison-allen/).

This You Tube book trailer says it all better than I could (since a picture is worth 1,000 words!):

Fans of Ms. Allen should not miss this one! A satisfying and reaffirming read.

Find it at an indie near you:


Find it at an Indie!

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Saturday Snapshot: Hawaii!

We are just back from a week in Honolulu. Hawaii is one of our favorite places – so beautiful and warm and relaxing!

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at Westmetromommyreads.com. See her site for participation details.

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Review: A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

I found this fun story on Net Galley. I’ve always been a fan of classic movies and this story sounded so neat: a young woman moves to Hollywood from Indiana since she wants to be a screenwriter. She becomes a personal assistant to Carole Lombard and spends time with Lombard and Butler as the filming of “Gone with the Wind” is taking place.

I’ve read Kate Alcott’s other two books — both I actually listened to as audiobooks in the car (The Daring Ladies of Lowell and The Dressmaker). I liked this novel more than either of those two (which I also enjoyed). TOUCH OF STARDUST focuses on Julie Crawford, who I was rooting for throughout the story. She is seeking independence and wants to be a screenwriter in a male-dominated industry. She meets a young man, Andy, whom she is drawn to and starts dating. Andy is Jewish and this ties in to the more global story of the war in Europe (it is 1938) and Andy’s concern for his relatives. The portrayal of Carole Lombard and the other movie people, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, David O’ Selznick, etc. is what made the story for me. They truly come alive on these pages. Alcott has done her research and homework into events of the time, issues in the making of the movie, life in Hollywood in the pre-war 30’s, and mostly the personalities of these movie icons.

An enjoyable and fun read that I highly recommend if you, like me, are a fan of classic Hollywood.

Thank you for my review copy, Net Galley and Doubleday Books!

Find this book at an indie near you! (I am an Indie Bound affiliate).


Find it at an Indie!

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Spent the week on vacation…

Did you miss me? While I did have one post scheduled to go in my absence, I took an “unplugged” vacation this week and traveled with my family to Hawaii. If you know us, you know we LOVE the Hawaiian Islands. This was our third visit with the kids.

I’m sure I’ll do more of these for a Saturday Snapshot, but here are a few from my phone. Yes. the water was warm, the sky was blue, and it was sunny and 77 there every day. Given that we came from Boston, we greatly appreciated it!!!

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HFVBT Book Blast — MADEMOISELLE CHANEL by C.W. Gortner — and Giveaway!!

We are blasting it up today to celebrate C.W. Gortner’s newly published book: MADEMOISELLE CHANEL — which is definitely on my TBR list!!

Here’s some info from HFVBT —

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About Mademoiselle Chanel

Publication Date: March 17, 2015
William Morrow/HarperCollins
Formats: Hardover, eBook, Audio Book

Genre: Historical Fiction

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DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her.

An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story.

Praise for Mademoiselle Chanel

“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)

“In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl)

“A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls)

“From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex)

“Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review)

“Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist)

“Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’swebsite and blog. You can also find him onFacebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, andYouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’sNewsletter for updates.

Giveaway! Starts March 17th

Three Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets will up for grabs during this blast, follow along for chances to win!

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– Giveaway starts on March 17th at 12:01am and ends on April 3rd at 11:59pm EST.
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

Here is the link to the Mademoiselle Chanel giveaway: https://gleam.io/n4EVt/mademoiselle-chanel-book-blast-giveaway.

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Cookbook Review: LIGHTEN UP Y’ALL by Virginia Willis

If you read me regularly, you’ll know I’ve been on a cookbook kick. I love to cook and we’ve been trying to eat healthy, tasty recipes this winter.

LIGHTEN UP, Y’ALL has classic Southern recipes which are reworked so they are healthier. Virginia Willis is a Southerner and writer for the Food Network.  She has several other cookbooks out. This was the first one of hers that I’ve gotten.

I’ll be the first to say that I am not a girl of the South. I was born in RI, grew up in CA, and now live in MA. I’m sort of a blend of Yankee pot roast and good wine (and I have a shellfish allergy). But I’ve always been fascinated by Southern food. What exactly is okra? And are grits tasty ?? because they sound horrible. Virginia makes the point that in the past, the South was mostly agricultural, and meals reflected that by having a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits.

First up for us to try will be Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup, Pulled Pork Tenderloin with Red Pepper Vinegar Sauce, and Buttermilk Biscuits with Turkey Sausage Gravy. Mmm-mmm! (Of course these won’t be all on the same night!). The recipes look easy to follow and the pictures are beautiful. But note — there is not one picture for every recipe included (I know that matters to some people. Me – not so much as I’m not very visual).

I look forward to having this book in my collection!

Thank you, Blogging for Books, for my copy!

Find it at an indie bookstore near you — I am an Indie Bound affiliate.


Find it at an Indie!

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Spotlight on PIONEER GIRL – the Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder – annotated by Pamela Smith Hill

I seriously waited forever for this book to come out.

I heard it would be in the winter, then the spring, then the summer, then the fall. I pre-ordered it and waited months (literally). I received mine on November 30 and that was the second printing. It had already gone into a third printing.

PIONEER GIRL is the original life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, written by her before she wrote the Little House books but from where the Little House books spring forth. Pamela Smith Hill has painstakingly created an in-depth annotated work here, giving background on the Ingalls family, other people in their lives, other items from daily life in the 1800’s, etc. It’s full of notes, pictures, and most excitedly, Laura’s own words.

You should know what you’re getting into here, though. This is not a novel or a “discovered work”. It is a large (think coffee table book) book of over 300 pages, most of which are scholarly notes and annotations stemming from Laura’s manuscript. Laura’s reminiscences are here, but most of the book is providing background, context, and historical data.

I’m slogging through it – a bit at a time. But if you are like me (a complete Laura fanatic) and often wondered “I wondered what the real Cap Garland looked like?” or “Wow – did that whole thing with Pa and the wolves really happen?” then this is the book for you.

Check out http://www.pioneergirlproject.org to see more on the book itself, including ordering it from the publisher.

And please consider ordering the book from a LIW homesite, such as Walnut Grove or DeSmet.

Here’s a beautifully organized listing of the homesites from my friends at Beyond Little House:

http://beyondlittlehouse.com/lauras-homesites/

The beautiful cover by Judy Thompson is lovely to look at!

And just a note — I’ve had at least five people (and just about every news article I’ve seen) bring up the whole Bloody Benders bit. You’d think this book was chock full of sensationalism. It isn’t. If that’s what you’re looking for – here’s a link to Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Benders

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HFVB Tour — Review of SISTERS OF SHILOH by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

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I’m so happy today to be taking part in the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of SISTERS OF SHILOH — a Civil War story of two sisters who go off to war. I absolutely loved it!

Libby and Josephine aren’t very similar, but their bond as sisters is fierce. Libby marries neighbor boy Arden, while Josephine still hasn’t been kissed. When Arden is killed in battle, Libby vows to avenge his death by killing 21 Yankees, one for each year that Arden lived. Josephine can’t let Libby go on her own, and joins her in the disguise of two young men heading off to war. During their “enlistment”, Libby and Josephine learn to fight, survive the elements, and endure the amazing hardships that existed for Civil War soldiers, all while hiding their true identities. Libby’s love for Arden brings him close in spirit – close enough that he talks to her and guides her actions. Josephine however, falls in love with a fellow soldier, which brings complications of its own.

I just loved this story and read it in one day. The writing is so beautifully evocative. I’ve never read a book with two authors where you couldn’t see the seams where the two writing styles came together.

I never share quotes from books – in part because they ask you not to share from ARC’s unless you know it is in the finished work – but this first sentence is so exquisite that I had to stop and re-read it:

Libby waited for her dead husband in the woods, her breath making clouds in the cold night air.

I love that opening. I loved these characters. I loved this book!

Here’s some info from HFVBT:

About Sisters of Shiloh…
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages:256
Genre: Historical FictionAdd to GR Button
A best-selling novelist enlists her own sister to bring us the story of two Southern sisters, disguised as men, who join the Confederate Army—one seeking vengeance on the battlefield, the other finding love.In a war that pitted brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle. Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

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About the Authors

Kathy Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. Kathy is the best-selling author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar and Blue Asylum She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer. She currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with her husband. Visit Kathy’s Blog.

Becky Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. She holds a degree in History from the University of Texas in Austin, and currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, a Navy pilot, and their four children.

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