Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

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I loved  Kristy Cambron’s books I’ve read (Sparrow in Terezin; The Butterfly and the Violin), so I was more than thrilled when I was asked to read and review her latest novel: THE RINGMASTER’S WIFE. It’s a historical fiction piece that centers on two women joining in with the circus in the early part of the 1900’s.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

An ounce of courage.

A leap of faith.

Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confi nes of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.

A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the Greatest Show on Earth!

“Vibrant with the glamour and awe that flourished under the Big Top in the 1920s, The Ringmaster’s Wife invites the reader [into] the Greatest Show on Earth.” —Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart

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If you read me, you know I love my historical fiction and this book was no exception! What an interesting look into a time and place that is no longer with us – the heyday of the American circus. I found the character of Mable Ringling quite fascinating, and spent time afterwards reading about her life online. Kristy’s writing never disappoints and I enjoyed the two storylines – even though they moved a bit in and out of chronology – and I always enjoy strong female characters!

This book is published by the Christian line at Harper Collins (Thomas Nelson) but I did not find this book to be a typical “Christian fiction” piece. Just my opinion! It read as historical fiction about two fascinating women – one whom was just as fascinating in real life.

Thank you, Elizabeth from Smith Publicity, for my ARC review copy!

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PASTEL ORPHANS by Gemma Liviero

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In 1930s Berlin, young Henrik, the son of a Jewish father and Aryan mother, watches the world around him crumbling: people are rioting in the streets, a strange yellow star begins appearing in shop windows, and friends are forced to move–or they simply disappear.

After his father becomes gravely ill, Henrik and his little sister, Greta, are taken by their mother to Poland for safety. However, not even the pastoral surroundings of their new home can protect them from the terrors of war. When the Nazis invade and Greta is kidnapped, Henrik must shed his youthful innocence and search for his lost sister, a quest that will further reveal a harrowing landscape of violence and struggle but also unexpected connections.

Uniquely told from the perspective of youth plunged into adult chaos, Pastel Orphans is a coming-of-age story that explores profound lessons in self-belief, kindness, and human endurance. (from Amazon)

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A long time ago my sister recommended this book to me, and so I was thrilled when it popped up as a kindle deal a few months ago. If you read me you know I LOVE WWII fiction. This was one of those books that I could not put down. I had never come across a storyline that involved this horrible bit of history – the kidnapping of Polish children to bring them into Aryan families and raise them as German, “Germanization”.

This was a heartfelt story, told from Henrik’s point of view, and one that you won’t soon forget.

As of this writing (June, 2016), PASTEL ORPHANS is $3.99 for kindle and only $1.99 for audio through Amazon.

 

 

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Book Blast for A MOMENT FOREVER by Cat Gardiner – with EXCERPT and a GIVEAWAY!

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Today I’m part of the Book Blast through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for A MOMENT FOREVER by Cat Gardiner. This one is definitely on my TBR list!

Here’s how HFVBT describes the book:

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A Moment Forever (Liberty Victory Series #1)
by Cat Gardiner

Publication Date: May 28, 2016
Vanity & Pride Press
eBook; 600 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

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In every footlocker, hope chest, and heart full of secrets there is a story waiting to be discovered and told.

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle’s and others’ lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.

Available on Amazon

Read an Excerpt!

The closed door to the attic appeared innocuous, but like the pleasant personas and expressions many people conveyed, Juliana felt it was a dead giveaway that something terrible hid behind it. She was, after all, an example of that. Her deepest wounds, she believed, were cleverly masked behind her jovial expressions and happy demeanor, but she didn’t realize that the signs were evident in her near anorexic figure.

However, on this late afternoon, she felt open and liberated after surviving the luncheon with her mother. She had bared her inner feelings and animosity then came home to clean the vintage kitchen. Feeling renewed, she went to the grocer around the corner because her white Frigidaire looked as hollow as she had felt these last eleven years. Strangely, she was in the mood to cook a cheeseburger.

From the top of the staircase, Juliana could still hear the record player from the parlor. Melancholy tunes by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald filled the entire house. She hoped it would carry up into the attic, thinking the soulful music would transport her back to the era and mindset of William when he had last locked the garret.

Yes, it was locked and after an hour of searching the house high and low, she finally found the key inside a small box in one of the dresser drawers. Beside the brass skeleton key sat a gold signet ring with engraving upon the face: propellers and wings surrounded a small diamond at its center. The inscription along the inside of the band read, “With Love, Mom and Dad.”

“Here it goes,” Juliana said before holding her breath and nervously turning the key. She felt on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.

The door creaked like all the others in the house and her heart rate sped up as it had time and again in the course of this home’s unveiling.

Once the door was fully open, she pulled the slender cord hanging against the wall, illuminating the narrow passage by the bare light bulb fixture.

Each step up the steep staircase issued a groan from the hardened planks beneath every footfall of her black Converse sneakers until she stood at the top, fiercely gripping onto the simple banister. She looked around the large, dark room before taking the final step into the unknown, mysterious, and yet-to-be-discovered past of her great-uncle. After working herself up to it for the last two days, Juliana had been expecting something ominous and frightening in the attic, yet instead she felt a sense of peace coupled with sadness. Her thoughts traveled to her father, and her emotions became even more pronounced. Her eyes welled with tears at the morose tranquility the attic emanated.

Essentially, but for a couple of trunks and a few boxes neatly placed upon a shelf, the attic was empty, having lain undisturbed and unfilled since its purchase in December of 1942.

If these walls could talk, they would tell her how William had slid his footlocker under the eave after placing the last of its contents within and how he had waited one full year before doing so. They would tell his grand-niece how he waited until the very last minute to place the newspaper over the windows. Once beige strips of masking tape were now an aged, burnished orange. The empty space staring back at the modern-day interloper represented the very reason for William’s departure.

Although expecting the worst in the attic, she wasn’t prepared for the emptiness. She had imagined cobwebs extending from box to box and odd pieces of furniture and tools that had long outgrown their usefulness. She thought the attic would surely be filled with scary dolls and broken strollers, perhaps a rocking chair or an eerie mirror, maybe even some Dorian Gray-type painting and faded photographs. Expecting an antique cemetery of sorts filled with memories, stories, and voices of the past residents who had once lived at 300 Bradford Road, she was surprised by the vacant space before her.

The startling emptiness of the room confirmed to her that no happy memories had ever been created in this house. The house never became a home, had never filled with children’s laughter or generations of family dating back to its initial construction. No household item ever had the luxury of being used enough to justify its disregard, saving and eventual storing on the third floor. It was clear to Juliana that Primrose Cottage was only a place where William laid his head, not his heart. True life had never infused these walls. The attic led her to believe he had been a bachelor—never married, never had children, never sharing his life, let alone this house, with anyone. The starkness of the attic revealed the loneliness of the man at the time of his departure.

About the Author

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Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.

She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™.

Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat’s WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.

She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.

For more information please visit Cat Gardiner’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Follow the tour and discover a new blog!

Book Blast Schedule:

Wednesday, June 15
A Holland Reads
Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 16
Susan Heim on Writing
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, June 17
Book Nerd
CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, June 18
The Never-Ending Book

Monday, June 20
New Horizon Reviews
So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, June 21
Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 22
A Literary Vacation
The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, June 23
Library of Clean Reads
What Is That Book About

Friday, June 24
The Recipe Fairy

Monday, June 27
Cafinated Reads
The Reading Queen

Tuesday, June 28
The Gadoury Dreamer

Wednesday, June 29
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Singing Librarian Books

Thursday, June 30
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

But wait! There’s more!

Giveaway ~

To win an eBook of A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner please enter using the GLEAM form below. Two eBooks are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Click to go to Giveaway: https://gleam.io/aCv5S/a-moment-forever-book-blast

Thank you for making me part of the blast! 🙂
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Saturday Snapshot: Trip to Florida

We took a short vacation last week to celebrate the end of school!

Just a few days away, we spent time at Disney and Epcot and also went to the Kennedy Space Center (new for us).

It was a sad time to be in Orlando, but we will be back!

Hop on over the westmetromommyreads.com to get the full scoop on taking part in Saturday Snapshot!

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For my Ears: THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman

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I was currently reading an ARC of THE VELVET HOURS and enjoying it, so I got THE LOST WIFE, also by Alyson Richman, to listen to in the car.

Here’s an overview via GoodReads:

A rapturous novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Rhythm of Memory and The Last Van Gogh. In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there’s an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers…

Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.

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I loved this story, which moved back and forth through time — from the present, to pre-WWII, to post-WWII, to the present. Josef and Lenka are separated by circumstances in the war, and both think the other is dead. Yet throughout their lives they never forget each other.

A lovely and touching story, it is read in two voices (George Guidall for Josef and Suzanne Toren for Lenka), and made me wonder: “Could something like this really happen?” Apparently yes, as in the afterword Ms. Richman states that reading about a reunited couple who thought the other was dead in WWII gave her the idea for this story.

Recommended for those who like the WWII genre – in audio or paper!

I got mine via Audible with my monthly credit.

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Spotlight on BELA’S LETTERS by Jeff Ingber

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Today I’m throwing the spotlight on to BELA’S LETTERS, a novel by Jeff Ingber.

I have this book to read on my kindle and I can’t wait! However, my kindle burnt out this week so I am awaiting a new kindle. Apparently I read the old one to death.

This Spotlight includes a GIVEAWAY – at the end of the post!

Here’s the description from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:

Béla’s Letters by Jeff Ingber

Publication Date: February 18, 2016
Paperback; 596 Pages
ISBN: 978-0985410025

Genre: Historical Fiction

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“Béla’s Letters” is a historical fiction novel spanning eight decades. It revolves around the remarkable life story of Béla Ingber, who was born before the onset of WWI in Munkács, a small city nestled in the Carpathian Mountains. The book tells of the struggles of Béla and his extended family to comprehend and prepare for the Holocaust, the implausible circumstances that the survivors endure before reuniting in the New World, and the crushing impact on them of their wartime experiences together with the feelings of guilt, hatred, fear, and abandonment that haunt them. At the core of the novel are the poignant letters and postcards that family members wrote to Béla, undeterred by the feasibility of delivery, which were his lifeline, even decades after the war ended.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

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Jeff is a financial industry consultant, who previously held senior positions at Citibank, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. His latest book is “Bela’s Letters,” a family memoir based on his parents, who were survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust. Jeff also has written a screenplay entitled “The Bank Examiners.” He lives with his wife in Jersey City, NJ.

For more information visit Jeff Ingber’s website. You can also connect with him onFacebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Follow the tour and discover a new blog!

Wednesday, May 25
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Friday, May 27
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, May 28
Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, May 30
Excerpt at Diana’s Book Reviews

Friday, June 3
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, June 6
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, June 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, June 8
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Interview at New Horizon Reviews

Thursday, June 9
Guest Post at New Horizon Reviews

Friday, June 10
Review at New Horizon Reviews

Monday, June 13
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, June 14
Spotlight at The Mad Reviewer

Thursday, June 16
Review at Nerd in New York

Friday, June 17
Spotlight at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, June 21
Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, June 22
Review at Bookish

Thursday, June 23
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, July 1
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, July 4
Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past

But wait! There’s more….

Giveaway

To win a copy of Béla’s Letters please enter using the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/PIFUN/blas-letters

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my e-copy!

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MURDER IN MISSOULA by Laurence Giliotti

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This mystery was a fast and lively read – perfect for summer when you want a thrill without too much violence.

Here’s the overview from Net Galley:

Description

When an old friend offers him a faculty position at the University of Montana it seems his dreams are about to come true. He never dreamed he would have a second chance at love. He never dreamed he would become the prime suspect in a high-profile murder case. He never dreamed he would be forced to undertake the most important investigation of his life.

But dreams can turn into nightmares when there is Murder in Missoula.

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THE GIRLS by Emma Kline

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Publishing today is one of the most talked about books of the summer: The Girls by Emma Cline. I found this on Net Galley several months ago and it was one of those books that I could NOT put down. Here’s the description:

Girls—their vulnerability, strength, and passion to belong—are at the heart of this stunning first novel for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.
 
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.

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First I have to say that Evie is an unforgettable character – so real and so well-portrayed in this novel, that it almost reads like a memoir. Evie is on the brink of adulthood and her sexuality, and her relationship – almost an obsession actually – with the group of girls surrounding a Mason-like character forms the backbone of this novel. It is disturbing, yet fascinating.

Ms. Cline’s writing is truly superb. This book almost dripped with the perspiration of the summer portrayed within its pages. You could feel the weightiness of the heat and the boredom portrayed within. Everything is so languid that you can hardly believe that it is hurtling towards the climax that is coming.

An amazing debut novel that you will not soon forget, THE GIRLS will continue to be talked about long after this summer is over!

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my e-ARC.

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Illuminated by the Message -LOUISA MAY ALCOTT – A Literary Portal to Prayer

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My friend Susan Bailey – whom I know through Orchard House – was kind enough to gift me with a copy of her new book: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT Illuminated by the Message, part of the Literary Portals to Prayer series. This selection is one in a series of books from Catholic publishing house ACTA that takes beloved writings by authors such as Dickens, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen and paisr them with similarly themed passages from the Bible.

Using a variety of Louisa’s writings, Ms. Bailey has made connections between some of the most touching passages of Louisa’s children’s books and her journals, linking them to Bible passages of both the Old and the New Testaments. One of my favorite passages links an excerpt about Beth in Little Women as she cares for her broken but beloved dolls to a psalm that cites God as a safe-house for the battered.

This would be a nice volume to keep nearby for daily reflection. It makes me realize how deeply one can interpret Louisa’s work, too.

Thank you, Susan, for my beautiful gift copy!

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THE TUMBLING TURNER SISTERS by Juliette Fay

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I had heard about this book a while ago (it publishes on Tuesday the 14th) and I thought I would like it – I was not wrong! Juliette Fay – a new author for me – does a spectacular job of making 1920’s vaudeville come alive through the story of four sisters, and their mother, who create an acrobatic act in order to make money for their family during tough times.

Here’s the overview via Net Galley:

Description

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