Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Saturday Snapshot: NYC!

So last week we dropped the kids off at summer camp and went to NYC for a few days. As always, we love the Big Apple and had a great time!

Here are a few pictures from Central Park and the Met’s fashion exhibit. I will post more pictures next week.

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


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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for THE IRISH INHERITANCE by M.J. Lee

02_The Irish Inheritance

A few weeks ago I posted a HFVBT book blast about THE IRISH INHERITANCE by M.J. Lee. I also received a mobi copy of the ARC and read it as well.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced and interesting mystery, which ties into my own family history!

Here’s the overview:

The Irish Inheritance: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery
by M.J. Lee

Publication Date: June 15, 2016
eBook; 285 Pages
ASIN: B01FR5PP9S

Series: The Jayne Sinclair Series, Book One
Genre: Historical/Mystery

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June 8, 1921. Ireland.

A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.

Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past.

The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.

Pre-Order Kindle eBook

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So — this is the start of a series with Jayne Sinclair as the protagonist. I liked her a lot — tough, former DI, marriage in trouble, multi-layered. What I loved best, though, was the timeline of the story from past to present, which explains who the father of Jayne’s client is, and why he was sent to America for adoption, etc. The Irish War of Independence and the Easter Rising were portrayed in depth, with some perspectives that were new to me, too.

I’d love to see this book as a movie! It kept me reading to the past page.

If I had one issue, it was that  – being a reviewer – my copy did not have final edits, so I struggled a bit when that pulled me out of the story. Alas, that is the challenge for us ARC readers! 🙂

Look for this novel at a bookstore near you – or online – or ask your library!

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

About the Author

03_MJ Lee

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

You can find more information on M.J. Lee and his novels on Goodreads, Amazon,Facebook, and Twitter.

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HFVBTour for M.J. Rose’s THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES

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I’m happy today to be taking part in the blog tour for THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES, number in the La Lune series by M.J. Rose.

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages
Series: The Daughters of La Lune, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
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As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

“A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose’s extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

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M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online atMJRose.com.

Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

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This is such a beautifully written book – M.J. Rose’s writing is so evocative of another time and place; her writing transports you, and the magical realism of her storyline shines through. I enjoyed the first book in this series (THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS), but each book can stand alone as well.

I loved the character of Opaline – she was so very real – and of course I love anything associated with the Romanovs. What I liked best, though, was the writing: when I would sit down with this book, it was like sinking into a favorite cushy chair.

I look forward to the next book in this series — thank you for making me part of the tour and for my e-ARC.

Follow the tour and discover a new blog!

Blog Tour Schedule

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Tuesday, July 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 13
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 14
Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Friday, July 15
Review at A Dream within a Dream

Monday, July 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 19
Review at First Impressions Reviews

Wednesday, July 20
Review at Laura’s Interests

Thursday, July 21
Review at Read Love Blog

Friday, July 22
Review at Nerd in New York
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Monday, July 25
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 26
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, July 27
Interview at First Impressions Reviews

Thursday, July 28
Review at Creating Herstory

Friday, July 29
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, August 1
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, August 2
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, August 3
Review at Diana’s Book Reviews

Thursday, August 4
Interview at Diana’s Book Reviews

Friday, August 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, August 9
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For

Wednesday, August 10
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 11
Review at Girls Just Reading

Friday, August 12
Review at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, August 15
Review at Fangirls Ahead!

Tuesday, August 16
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review at The True Book Addict

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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk – For My Ears…

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Wow.

Just wow.

I had heard about this book and read that it was a Newbery contender, so of course I thought, “I should probably read it.” (Reminder: I’m a reading specialist in a K-8 school). I hadn’t heard too much about this book except that it was a “good book” and “about a girl bully”.

This book is SO much more. You can read this book on multiple levels – which is one reason it is so good for so many ages. It is beautifully written. I got the audible version (which is beautifully done by Emily Rankin) and listened to it as I drove, but also with earphones by myself as I just didn’t want to leave this story.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience and strength help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

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I could devote an entire blog entry to the character of Betty Glengarry. Why was Betty the way she was? Did something happen that made her so dark within? What does her personality say about the animal that lurks within all of us?  (okay I’ll stop now).

I could devote another entry to the character of Toby, a PTSD sufferer who is somewhat reminiscent of Boo Radley.

But I won’t. (Due to my job/family/volunteer work/life my entries need to be completed in under 30 minutes!).

Take my advice and read this book! Share it with a young person in your life. Share it with another adult. Don’t let it be seen as just a “book about bullying”. This is a beautifully written coming of age story that has so many layers to it. Don’t miss it.

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SUGARLAND by Martha Conway

Back in May, I did a Q&A with Martha Conway, author of SUGARLAND.

Read it here!

I received an e-copy of SUGARLAND, which is subtitled a “Jazz Age Mystery” and I read it a few weeks ago.

Here’s the overview:

SUGARLAND

A New Mystery by Edgar-Nominated Author Martha Conway

In 1921, young jazz pianist Eve Riser witnesses the accidental killing of a bootlegger. To cover up the crime, she agrees to deliver money and a letter to a man named Rudy Hardy in Chicago. But when Eve gets to Chicago she discovers that her stepsister Chickie, a popular nightclub singer, is pregnant by a man she won’t name. That night Rudy Hardy is killed before Eve’s eyes in a brutal drive-by shooting, and Chickie disappears.

Eve needs to find Chickie, but she can’t do it alone. Lena Hardy, Rudy’s sister, wants to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder, but she needs Eve’s connections. Together they navigate the back alleys and speakeasies of 1920s Chicago, encountering petty thugs, charismatic bandleaders, and a mysterious nightclub owner called the Walnut who seems to be the key to it all. As they fight racial barriers trying to discover the truth, Eve and Lena unravel a twisted tale of secret shipments and gangster rivalry.

SUGARLAND mixes the excitement of a new kind of music—jazz—with the darker side of Prohibition in a gripping story with “real suspense for anyone who likes a good mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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This was a gritty, sometimes dark story that showed the seedy side of life on the circuit in the 20’s. The three main females, Eve, Chickie, and Lena, were all very different but were strong characters as they dealt with everything from gangs, to murder, to an unwanted pregnancy, to racial discrimination. I didn’t know too much about the Prohibition Era, or jazz singers/musicians either, and I found this novel so interesting.

I really enjoyed Ms. Conway’s writing and the plotting and pacing of this book. I will admit to sometimes feeling sad because life was not easy for these gals and everything did not wrap up neatly into a pretty bow at the end.

Highly recommended if you want something a little different in a historical mystery!

Thank you again for my e-copy and for your time with me.

Sugarland (Medium)

 

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DEATH AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION by Frances McNamara

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A while back, I received a nice offer of a copy of Ms McNamara’s new book to read and review: DEATH AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION. I did not know this historical mystery series, featuring Emily Cabot, but it looked like something I would enjoy.

Here’s the overview for DEATH AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION, which publishes in September:

In Book 6 Emily, with her husband and three children has traveled to Paris for the 1900 Paris Exposition. She could only do it thanks to the sponsorship of Bertha Palmer who has hired her as social secretary. Mrs. Palmer is the only woman in the US delegation and her fame and money inevitably make her the subject of envy. When Bertha’s famous pearls disappear, and then a young milliner is found dead in the House of Worth exhibit, Emily must prevent disaster by solving the crimes, even if she is in a foreign city. Her adventure takes her behind the scenes at the House of Worth and into the art world of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas in the latest story which will be published in September 2016.

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I really enjoyed this well-written and well-plotted mystery. Emily is a strong female; she reminds me a little bit of Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy (one of my favorite historical mystery solvers!). She’s intelligent and intrepid, drawn to solving mysteries, yet she is a wife and mother and loves her family and her job. This story has a lot of interesting information on the Paris Exposition of 1900 (fun to read as I love Paris and could picture it so well) and also lots of details about clothing and fashion of the period.

While this book doesn’t publish for a few more weeks, there are five previous Emily Cabot mysteries on the shelves right now.

Thank you so much for my opportunity to read and share this novel!

You can read more about Ms. McNamara and her books at: https://fmcnamara.wordpress.com/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

(screenshot above)

 

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The Search for the Homestead Treasure by Ann Treacy

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I do love everything I receive from University of Minnesota Press! All the books I’ve received are for middle grades or YA and take place in Minnesota. They are all well-written, interesting, and well-done. This book was no exception.

Here’s the overview:

Fourteen-year-old Martin Gunnarsson is trying to hold his family together on the homestead where his ancestors died of diphtheria in 1865. Somehow rumors of a treasure on the farm survived, and when Martin discovers Aunt Cora’s journal in a musty trunk in the hayloft, he thinks it might give him a clue. But what exactly is he looking for?

Treacy, Ann 1

Ann Treacy is coauthor (with Margi Preus) of A Book of Grace. Her writing has appeared in Lake Superior Magazine as well as Highlights for Children magazine. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

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This was a short read (less than 200 pages) and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the character of Martin, and his resilient spirit as he struggles to help his family run their farm. I also enjoy a mystery, and this was woven in, too — the treasure that was hidden somewhere before his grandparent’s family died of illness. Will Martin find it? Where is it? And will his family be able to survive?

Highly recommended for classrooms and middle grade readers who want more than your average pioneer story!

Thank you for my review copy and for having me share my thoughts!

Look for it at a bookstore or library (or online!) near you —

THE SEARCH FOR THE HOMESTEAD TREASURE
Ann Treacy
University of Minnesota Press | 176 pages | May 2016
ISBN 978-0-8166-9956-8 | hardcover | $16.95
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For my ears: ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

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So I’m totally late to the party on this one. I found it on sale on Audible and remembered that I had always meant to read it.

What a great book! I know it’s about teens, but I know that adults would love and appreciate it, too. I look forward to my daughter reading this book so we can discuss it together.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Audie Award Finalist, Teens, 2014

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.

So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be, she says, we’re 16.

What about Romeo and Juliet?

Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.

Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be.

Set over the course of one school year, in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

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This is a sensitively written, multi-layered, insightful story that is not to be missed. I listened to mine as I commuted, and it was ably done in two voices:Rebecca Loman and Sunhil Malhotra.

If you missed this when it came out in 2013, don’t miss it any longer! Look for it at a bookstore or library near you – or online!

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HFVBT Book Blast for THE IRISH INHERITANCE by MJ Lee

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Today I’m blasting it up for MJ Lee’s new book – the start of a series I believe – THE IRISH INHERITANCE. I also read this book last week and will be sharing my thought on it soon!

The Irish Inheritance: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery
by M.J. Lee

Publication Date: June 15, 2016
eBook; 285 Pages
ASIN: B01FR5PP9S

Series: The Jayne Sinclair Series, Book One
Genre: Historical/Mystery

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02_The Irish Inheritance.jpg

June 8, 1921. Ireland.

A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.

Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past.

The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.

Pre-Order Kindle eBook

About the Author

03_MJ Lee

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

You can find more information on M.J. Lee and his novels on Goodreads, Amazon,Facebook, and Twitter.

 

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INK AND BONE by Lisa Unger

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This was my first Lisa Unger and I could not put it down! I read this book in 24 hours as I had to know what happened. Definitely, this won’t be my last Lisa Unger mystery/thriller. Thanks to Net Galley for this find.

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