Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST – A Molly Murphy Mystery – by Rhys Bowen

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My publicist friends at Minotaur books offered me a review e-copy of the latest Molly Murphy mystery and of course I said yes!! I believe I have read all of the other Molly mysteries. I love a historical mystery, and I love reading about New York at the turn of the century. This time, Molly, husband Daniel, and baby Liam are headed out to Connecticut for the holidays at a house filled with sadness from the loss of a child ten years before. Molly herself has recently lost a child through miscarriage and she is still healing. As always, there’s a realness to these characters that make them very believable and easy to relate to.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house’s atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple’s young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother’s pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on. Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. “I’m Charlotte,” she says. “I’ve come home.”

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While I do love these books, I did find this wrap-up a bit hard to believe, but I liked it anyway. It’s Christmas time — give me happy endings!!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

 

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Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

I love both of these authors individually, so you can image my excitement when I saw that they had collaborated on a novel of WWI! Told primarily through correspondence and telegrams, Last Christmas in Paris tells the story of Evie and Thomas, family friends who have grown up together and who fall in love through their letters during the war.

Moving back in forth from the present (well, late 1960’s) to the war, this is a touching story that has a lot of detail and information in it. It makes you ponder the power of the written word and I wonder if a heartfelt letter is truly a thing of the past. It certainly is in danger of extinction!

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

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Thank you for my review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss! Highly recommended for this holiday season — and beyond!

I also had the distinct opportunity of seeing Heather and Hazel speak at the Concord Bookshop recently for a delightful evening. I love it when authors have the chance to make their work come alive.

 

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MERRY AND BRIGHT by Debbie Macomber

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It may be Thanksgiving, but if you know me, you know I love holiday stories. Bring on the happy endings! Debbie Macomber is an author you might already know, as she has several popular series of books. I follow Debbie online and she seems like not only a talented writer, but a genuinely nice person. Her stories are realistic but gentle and are the perfect choice when I feel stressed.

This story centers on a young woman who is hard-working and single – until her mother and brother set up an online dating account for her. Here’s the overview:

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This was such a fun story and so sweet. Yes, I knew where it was heading, but I wanted it to go there. People – believe me – we need as many happy endings as we can get these days!!
I received this book from Net Galley – thank you for my copy, Penguin Random House!
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LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng (Read by Jennifer Lim)

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From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

(from Amazon)

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Wow! I loved Celeste Ng’s first book, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and I loved this one as well. What a great story. Ng has a way with words, and her prose paints such a vivid depiction of daily life. It’s all in the details.

This was a captivating story, which I listened to on my commute. You could see where things were headed and that disaster was looming on the horizons, but I just couldn’t stop listening. Devastating yet memorable, this was one of my fave books of 2017.

I got mine from Audible, and you can, too — or get it an your local favorite indie bookshop, online, or at the library!

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For My Ears: BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate – Read by Emily Rankin

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Wow! This story was recommended online in the blogisphere, and I thought I might enjoy it, but I was blown away by this story of a family torn apart and the young girl who tries to keep her siblings together against all odds.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

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While these children weren’t real, this is based on true events, and you will be forever haunted at the shocking and terrible things that happened to poor families in the Depression and post-Depression era South. Normally I don’t like disturbing books centered on children, but this story was so compelling, and I loved the character of Rill so much, along with the fact that the present day protagonist was unraveling the mystery of the family tree, I just could not stop listening!

Beautifully narrated, it’s a story you won’t soon forget.

I used my audible credit for this one.

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THE IT GIRL AND ME by Laini Giles with GIVEAWAY!

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I love taking part in Amy Bruno’s blog tours for historical fiction novels!

If you know me, you know I love love love Hollywood from days of old and anything to do with theater/movies/entertainment. This novel is a story of Clara Bow – the “It Girl” from the 1920’s told from the perspective of her assistant. I like this technique for telling a story; Erika Robuck uses it in her books, too, and I find it very effective.

I am enjoying this book right now as I got a late start on it. I love reading of this time period and the writing flows easily. I read Laini Giles’ “Forgotten Flapper” and really enjoyed it — this is another book in the “forgotten actresses” series and I’m enjoying it, too! UPDATED 11/19:  I finished this novel this past weekend. What an interesting story! While told through the eyes of Clara’s assistant, the character is historical and the events, especially those at the end of the novel, while shocking, are based in fact. This story must have rocked the papers at the time, especially since Clara Bow was so well-known and beloved. This was a great read — I can’t wait to see what Laini Giles writes next!

Here’s the scoop from HFVBT:

The It Girl and Me: A Novel of Clara Bow by Laini Giles
Publication Date: March 25, 2017
Sepia Stories Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 341 Pages
Series: Forgotten Actresses, Book #2
Gere: Historical Fiction/Biographical
Daisy DeVoe has left her abusive husband, her father has been pinched for bootlegging, and she’s embarrassed by her rural Kentucky roots. But on the plus side, she’s climbing the ladder in the salon of Paramount Pictures, styling hair for actress Clara Bow.
Clara is a handful. The “It” Girl of the Jazz Age personifies the new woman of the 1920s onscreen, smoking, drinking bootleg hooch, and bursting with sex appeal. But her conduct off the set is even more scandalous. Hoping to impose a little order on Clara’s chaotic life, Paramount persuades Daisy to sign on as Clara’s personal secretary.
Thanks to Daisy, Clara’s bank account is soon flush with cash. And thanks to Clara, Daisy can finally shake off her embarrassing past and achieve respectability for herself and her family.
The trouble begins when Clara’s newest fiancé, cowboy star Rex Bell, wants to take over, and he and Daisy battle for control. Torn between her loyalty to Clara and her love for her family, Daisy has to make a difficult choice when she ends up in the county jail.
Here, Daisy sets the record straight, from her poverty-stricken childhood to her failed marriage; from a father in San Quentin to her rollercoaster time with Clara, leaving out none of the juicy details.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble Chapters
About the Author
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Originally from the counterculture mecca of Austin, Texas, Laini discovered a love of reading early on, and when she was eight, decided to be Nancy Drew. This dream was dashed when she realized she was actually a big chicken, and that there were no guarantees of rescue from tarantulas, bad guys with guns, and other fiendish plot twists. She finished her first “mystery novel” (with custom illustrations) when she was nine.
She set the writing aside for a while when life got in the way, but was led back to it through her interest in genealogy and 18 months of enforced unemployment due to moving north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer. Reading old microfilm stirred new life into her interest in writing, and watching early silent films struck the match.
Like most other writers, most of her monthly budget is spent on coffee and books. She lives with her husband and their two gray cats in Edmonton, Alberta.
For more information, please visit Laini Giles’ website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour Schedule
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Wednesday, November 1
Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Thursday, November 2
Feature at What Is That Book About
Friday, November 3
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, November 6
Review at Bookish
Tuesday, November 7
Feauture at WS Momma Readers Nook
Thursday, November 9
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Friday, November 10
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Monday, November 13
Review at Creating Herstory
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Wednesday, November 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, November 17
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation
Monday, November 20
Feature at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, November 22
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, November 23
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Friday, November 24
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Saturday, November 25
Excerpt at T’s Stuff
Tuesday, November 28
Review at View from the Birdhouse
Wednesday, November 29
Review at A Book Drunkard
Giveaway
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 paperback copies of The It Girl and Me! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada 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.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
 
Direct Link: https://gleam.io/Ieh6N/the-it-girl-and-me
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SUGAR PINE TRAIL by RaeAnne Thayne

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Bring On the Christmas Novels and Romances!!

Oh, it’s my favorite time of year and the time I love to enjoy a light and happy read of folks finding love at Christmas. I have to be honest == I used to scoff at these type of books. True Confession! However, I told myself that I should not turn them away until I actually READ one (easy to be critical of things you don’t actually now about). I started reading them about ten years ago and I can’t tell you how happy they make me. Some times, in the stress of life, you just want to read a sweet book where you know that everything is not going to end up like the evening news. You can trust that there is going to be a happy ending. They make me smile.

So – this was the first one I read this year. I read it way back at the end of summer and read it in a day. It’s a true feel good story and I completely related to the main character as she was like me when I was single. I even had a list like she did. And yes, I met my husband right before Christmas time — and we’ve been married 15 years — my own happy ending! 🙂

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

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THE TRICK by Emanuel Bergmann

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I read this novel at the end of summer and it was a treat. This was a at times humorous at times touching story of a young boy who wants to find a (basically) old, washed up magician, because he wants him to teach him how to keep two people (his parents) in love. It is sweet yet funny (the magician is rather cranky and is happy to take advantage of people), yet there is a twist to the story, too.

Moving between two time periods, the writing flows easily, and I read it in two days. I didn’t want to stop reading! They liken it to All the Light… and The Nightingale. Well – no. I’ve read both and they are not like this novel at all, except that they both do include WWII and All the Light has the young girl in it. This novel is much lighter with much more humor (though there are certainly serious moments, esp. in the section on WWII), and has a true feel good ending.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

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