Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE by Christina June

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Net Galley has a section where you can “wish” for a book — it’s not readily available for request or to all audiences. Well I wished and got this one – and I’m so happy I did! While this is billed as a “Cinderella story”, I found it to be a well-written and insightful YA novel about a teen girl dealing with coming of age issues. I’ll be recommending it to my 14 year old and to my middle schoolers.

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Thank you SO MUCH for making me part of the “wishes granted” group. I feel like Cinderella!

You can find this book at your local library or favorite indie — or online at Amazon, where I am an Associate:

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Armstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank

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I loved this thoughtful kids’ book about two boys in 6th grade and their friendship. Sensitively covering issues of race, grief, class, and peer relationships, this little book has a lot of punch packed between its pages. Highly recommended for middle grades – I’d love to use it with my own students next year!

Thank you for my e-copy which  I got through Net Galley.

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GREYSON GRAY: RUBICON by B.C. TWEEDT

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I was excited to be offered to highlight this book on my book blog during its blog tour, since it was billed as an engaging choice for reluctant readers (especially boys). My son, who just turned 12 yesterday, is a good reader, but tends to gravitate to Minecraft or LEGO’s rather than picking up a book. I asked him if he’d like to take part in this post with me and he agreed.

First here’s the overview of the book and series (via Amazon):

When the world grows more dangerous, so must its heroes.

The epic adventure described as “perfect reading,” a “high-octane thrill fest,” and “just basic fun,” is cranking the action dial up to full-throttle. Rubicon releases Greyson in a tumultuous America rocked by real, relevant issues it faces today. With the daring and endearing energy you’ve come to expect, Greyson dives head-first into a battle to save U.S. Will he do it? Or will secession tear the country apart? Find out now!

The startling events of Deadfall force the government’s heavy hand – prompting it to enact a harsh new law to rid the country of Pluribus.

Meanwhile, Greyson and his weary friends retreat to Colorado with the paramilitary group, Rubicon. It isn’t long, though, until Sydney and Nick are called on a mission, leaving Greyson with no choice but to patiently recover and train, ready to take on Pluribus whenever he may be called.

A year passes, and the country is still suffering from the fallout of the new law, with divided neighborhoods, nationwide protests, and renewed threats of secession. Even worse, Pluribus and its new Wolf teams have worked under the radar on a bold, crippling attack that they hope will send the country over the brink, spiraling to unavoidable civil war.

When Rubicon finally calls Greyson to mission, he must wield new ammunition and work with friends across the country – both old and new – to face the incredible threat. In a frenzy of explosions, deadly drones, and dazzling new technology, Greyson fights the terrorists in urban streets, snow-covered mountains, and towering skyscrapers in pulse pounding action that challenges Greyson to his core.

Parents continue to herald this series for its unwavering commitment to the theme – fighting for what is good and right – no matter the costs. While the truth is sometimes hidden, Greyson searches for it, fights for it, and holds onto what he has. His faithfulness to Sydney and his friends is unparalleled, even in adversity. Kids of all ages love the ceaseless humor, the gritty action, and the mystery that grows deeper and more sinister with each new book. Who can Greyson trust? Will he prevent a new civil war? Keep reading…

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Well, my son was hooked just by the description. When the book arrived I was surprised to see how big it was (over 400 pages) but that was no deterrent. Jack couldn’t wait to start reading.
Now I’ve mentioned that my son is a social kid who’d rather play online than pick up a book. When he was reading, some of his friends would call and he started a routine of reading over Facetime to his bestie. He would read aloud (great practice!) and his buddy would listen and then illustrate the story as they went along. They both got really into it and were excited to “read together”. That said, we didn’t start until after Jack got home from sleepaway camp at the end of August, so as of this writing, they are still reading and enjoying the story!
I think some of the great appeal is that this series taps into my son’s sense of righteous indignation against evil and evil works. Greyson is almost a mini James Bond – and his adventures are exciting. As Jack said, “He’s kind of a kid superhero, but without special powers.”
Here’s some info on Mr. Tweedy, the author, that his publicist has sent me:

B.C. Tweedt lives in North Liberty, Iowa, with his wife, Julie, and their son, Maverick. When he’s not working on his next book, Tweedt volunteers at his church’s youth group as a mentor of young boys, several of whom served as the inspiration for characters in The Greyson Gray SeriesRubicon is the fourth novel in the series, preceded byDeadfall, Fair Game, and Camp Legend. Tweedt plans to continue expanding the series, following Greyson as he grows up in an increasingly divided and threatening world, and is currently working on the fifth Greyson Gray novel.

For more information, connect with Tweedt on his website, or throughFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, LibraryThing or LinkedIn.

Greyson Gray: Rubicon is now available for pre-order exclusively onAmazon. It will be available online at Barnes & Noble and iBookstore in November 2016.

THANK YOU for our review copy and for sharing this story with my son!

Next stop on the tour: http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/

Lori’s Reading Corner — hop on over!

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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?

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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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Teen Reading: GOLDFISH by Nat Luurtsema

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I have come across the perfect summer read for the middle schooler in your life (high schooler, too)!

I started GOLDFISH two days ago, not knowing what to expect.The description on Net Galley was fun but a tad vague:

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Two Books that I Could Not Put Down!

I love a good thriller! Recently I have read several good ones via Net Galley and two were publishing this month, so they are hot off the press:

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The YA novel, The Girl I Used to Be,  was a fast-paced read. Here’s the description from NG:

When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

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This was one of those books where I read it almost straight through while thinking, “I think THIS happened” -and figuring out the mystery. This is the kind of YA book I loved as a teen and enjoy as a fast read as an adult. April Henry is a new author for me, but she is obviously well-known and well-liked!

Then I read:

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Don’t You Cry was my very first Mary Kubica book. I’m hooked! I also grabbed her The Good Girl off a Kindle deal and read that one, too. They’ve got that Gone Girl — Girl on the Train — fast-paced, I can’t-put-it-down, scary-thriller feel to them.

Here’s the description from NG:

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

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It’s a wowza of a ride and I could not put this book down!

I love a good thrill – especially during winter in New England – but these books are good any time of the year!

Thank you, Net Galley, for my review copies!

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Audiobooks — Nightfall and The Japanese Lover

Oh my ears!

I love listening to audiobooks in my car on the way to work. I got two last month: NIGHTFALL by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (which I paid for) and THE JAPANESE LOVER by Isabel Allende (which I used Audible credits for).

These were two very different books!

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I first heard about NIGHTFALL at BEA last spring. It is a YA novel with a twist – about a group of preteens left behind on their community’s island when everyone else leaves as part of the tradition of moving when night comes, once every 14 years. Marin is left behind with her twin brother Kana and their friend Line. They need to survive the beasts that accompany the night and they each are changing as they understand the true meanings of the rituals and traditions that shape their community.

Wowza! This was a tough one to read while driving because I had zero interest in the traffic and full interest in the story. I can’t say too much without giving it away, but it is compelling and unique and well-written. It’s a very creative take on the old fear of being afraid of the dark and the power of friendship and the ties that bind. I’m so glad that I got it for myself since I wasn’t able to get it any other way!  Ably read by Nicholas Guy Smith, NIGHTFALL runs just over 10 hours.

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On a totally different note is THE JAPANESE LOVER by Isabel Allende. If you know me, you know I love all her books! I’ve been a tad disappointed in the last few but this one marked a return for me to her best genre: historical fiction with a touch of magical realism. In this novel, young Alma Belasco is sent from Europe to live with relatives in the United States to escape the horrors of WWII. She falls in love with the son of the Japanese gardener and so begins a lifelong love affair between them.This story was beautiful yet heart-breaking. It moved through time a bit – which can be disorienting if you are in the car listening – but overall was easy to follow and written in the hallmark prose that marks Allende as a true genius of the craft. Joanna Gleason narrates this nine hour tale.

These days I’m working through CUTTING FOR STONE on my commute. This is an intriguing story, though I do get a little squeamish over the medical details! More to come on this one when I finish it!

Find these books online at Amazon, at your library, or at an indie near you!!

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Oh my Ears! What I’ve Been Listening to in the Car…Part One

The crazy commute continues, and while I love my NPR and the Broadway channel, Audible is keeping me sane. I have to say, though, that I often miss things because I have (wait for it —- ) concentrate on driving! I don’t “rewind” or whatever you’d call it digitally simply because I need to focus on driving, not fiddle with my audio player. However, if the choice is listen or not get a book at all, then I’m definitely up for listening!

In this last stretch I listened to six books – one was an Audible gift for the holidays while the rest I either got with my monthly credit or purchased because I couldn’t wait until the end of the month.

After All the Stars in the Heavens (reviewed earlier and separately), I purchased WONDER by R. J. Palacios. Yes, I know I am the LAST PERSON IN THE WORLD to get to this book, but it never seems to be in at the library. Well, it was worth the wait and the $9.99 I paid for it because this book (which you’ve probably all read already) is a gem. WONDER tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a fifth grader who has always been schooled at home because of his physical differences (which are facial). It’s a year in Auggie’s life as he integrates into school and navigates the social scene. I loved this story! When I first heard the main narrator (Diana Steele for Auggie) I thought it was Paula Poundstone trying to sound like a little kid, but eventually it grew on me and I decided it was just perfect. I can still hear that voice in my head!

Next I received a free download from Audible also a holiday treat – the short story of THE CHIMES by Charles Dickens. Wow – this was a miserable and depressing story. I guess Dickens published three stories about Christmas with THE CHIMES coming after A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Anyways — while superbly written, the story centered on this poor, hapless man named Toby “Trotty” Veck whose whole happy life is just a big illusion because everyone’s really dead. Whew — Merry Christmas!

Anyway – after that pick-me-up, I got the NEW Agatha Raisin by MC Beaton – DISHING THE DIRT. I couldn’t wait for it so I bought it for myself as a treat. Agatha is dealing with a new gal in town – a therapist – who not only seems to know a lot about people (including about Agatha’s past), but she uses it to her own devices. That said, she promptly ends up dead (the therapist that is) and Agatha needs to figure out who dunnit! This story was ably read by Alison Larkin.

Over the actual week of Christmas I listened to THE TIME BETWEEN, which I got on sale. It is by Karen White and I really like her stories. Understandably though, close to Christmas is not a good time for listening as there are many crazy people on the roads (or at least there are around here/Boston). This is a story of family and relationships, sisters and secrets. It takes place in the South, which many of Ms. White’s stories do. It was really good and had my fave themes of redemption and forgiveness in it. It had more than one narrator/voice for the women portrayed and all were very good and appropriate: Jennifer Ikeda, Barbara Rosenblat, and Angela Goethals. I may go back and listen to it again.

Well this ends Part One! Part Deux will be coming — featuring a YA novel I really wanted and loved called Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski and Isabel Allende’s new novel: The Japanese Lover.

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HFVB Tour – THE SAFFRON CROCUS by Alison McMahan

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Here I am today to blog about the YA book: THE SAFFRON CROCUS by Alison McMahan. This book has mystery, murder, and adventure in 1600’s Venice. When the young protagonist’s voice teacher mysteriously dies, she tries to find out who killed her and why, opening up a lot of closed doors and secrets from the past.

This was an enjoyable and exciting read, but my favorite part of it was learning about what life was life in Venice in the 1600’s. Isabella’s experience with music and opera, the life of a castrati musician, “kept” women, and the treatment of Jews in Venice at that time all played a role in this novel and kept me interested and reading.

Thank you for my copy!

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
eBook; 306p

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance

Add to GR Button

Winner of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.

Venice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.

Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?

Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita’s past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?

Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.

Excerpt

Who knew a singing career would be this much trouble?

“Rafaele!” She flew into the garret. “Piero, it was so wonderful, wait until I tell you!”

The stool next to the bed was knocked over. The tray with the genepy bottle was on the floor, one of the cups broken. The fat candle that had been burning next to Rafaele’s bed had been flung to the other side of the room.. Canvases were strewn all over the floor, some of them slashed, and many of Master Strozzi’s jars of paint elements were broken.

Did Piero and Rafaele have a fight? She quickly suppressed the thought. Who would get into a fight with a man who was already injured?

Something else must have happened.

She walked across the garret. “Piero? Rafaele, are you here?”

Rafaele was not in the bed. The sheets and blankets she had piled on top of him were strewn everywher. Blood-stained sheets spilled over the edge of the pallet. There was a pile of clothes on the floor.

She walked around to get a closer look.

Not clothes. It was Piero. Face down, one arm stretched out before him, as if in supplication.

A puddle of blood under him.

Dead.

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Praise for The Saffron Crocus

“I adored this beautifully written, passionate book. The Saffron Crocus is a glittering, thrilling opera of a novel that plucked my heartstrings and kept me reading at fever pitch. Brava, Alison McMahan! Encore!” -Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Wicked Saga

Buy the eBook

Black Opal Books
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

About the Author

03_Alison McMahan Author

Alison McMahan chased footage for her documentaries through jungles in Honduras and Cambodia, favelas in Brazil and racetracks in the U.S. She brings the same sense of adventure to her award-winning books of historical mystery and romantic adventure for teens and adults. Her latest publication is The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young. Murder, Mystery & Music in 17th Century Venice.

She loves hearing from readers!

Author Links

Webpage for The Saffron Crocus
AlisonMcMahanAuthor.com
AlisonMcMahan.com
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Twitter
Goodreads
Pinterest
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The Saffron Crocus Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 13
Book Blast at Genre Queen

Thursday, April 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, April 17
Interview at Mythical Books

Monday, April 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 21
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, April 22
Guest Post at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, April 28
Book Blast at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, April 29
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, May 5
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 7
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 8
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, May 9
Book Blast at Romantic Historical Lovers

Tuesday, May 12
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, May 14
Review at Book Babe
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 25
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, May 27
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 28
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, June 1
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, June 2
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, June 5
Spotlight & Giveaway at Jorie Loves a Story

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