Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

cover127476-medium.png

Today is Pub Day for The Subway Girls, which I read a few months ago after getting it from Net Galley. I love historical fiction, and this story took place in two time periods: post-WWII NYC and current day NYC. I liked the main character from the 40’s particularly (Charlotte) and was so interested in reading about the real Subway Girls in history! This is the first title I’ve read by Ms. Schnall and I really enjoyed it. It was part history, part romance.

Thank you for my review e-copy!

Description

Leave a comment »

Saturday Snapshot: a few costumes from the Met

When we were in NYC, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of my very favorite places! One of my top choices there is to see what’s in the basement area – the costume collection. They were having a special exhibit of vestments and clothing from different Popes and no one could take pictures of it (not sure why). However, I came across two other intriguing “costumes” in an exhibition of visitors to Versailles. With my obsession with history, I love reading about Versailles and the opulent life there. I took a picture of a ladies dress from a visitor (not only magnificent, but amazingly well preserved!):

IMG_2704.JPG

I also took a picture of one of Ben Franklin’s suits. What struck me was that every picture or interpretation I’ve seen of Ben Franklin as an adult has him about 250-300 pounds (with the exception of his large statue at the Franklin Institute in Philly). While his suit was certainly a bit larger than those of his peers in the display, it really wasn’t very large at all (well, by American standards!): (no flash was allowed – sorry!)

IMG_2705.JPG

I found these two costumes memorable!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at Westmetromommyreads.com.

See her site for full participation details!

addendum: I just found online (if that’s to be trusted!) that the real Ben Franklin was 5’9 and 220 pounds.

3 Comments »

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

cover129932-medium.png

B. A. Paris took everyone by storm with her debut novel Behind Closed Doors (which, I have to say, had the very best marketing campaign ever! I was getting postcards and notes from the book characters and was completely freaked out by it all!).

Her second novel, The Breakdown, was engaging, but I had figured it all out quite early on in the novel (first third), so I didn’t find it as compelling.

Her latest novel, Bring Me Back, is another suspenseful thriller (I love this genre!) where a man’s life is being turned upside down when his “missing” fiancee appears to have returned to him, and he is set to marry her sister.

This did keep me guessing, and I thought I had figured it out, but was wrong, then I re-thought and was right. I did enjoy it and couldn’t put it down. If you like the thrill of books like those of Lisa Jewell and Jillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, then you will probably like B. A. Paris!

Thank you for my e-copy via Net Galley!

Description

Leave a comment »

Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

thumbnail_image001.png

I’m always thrilled when Net Galley offers a title in a series that I enjoy. Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell’s series are mysteries that feature the young, intelligent wife of Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes plays his part, Russell is the protagonist. They are cleverly plotted and I always find I learn a little something while reading them.

This latest one takes place in Venice. Holmes and Russell have gone there seeking a missing aunt of a friend. There are LOTS of themes in this book – women’s roles, depression and mental health, sexual abuse, sexuality, treatment in hospitals, rise of fascism, etc. I found it all rather compelling and fascinating. Adding to the mix were real characters, like Cole Porter and his wife Linda, along with Mussolini. I think this is my favorite Mary Russell mystery yet.

This would be a great book club book as there is much to discuss, too.

Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!

From Amazon:

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are back in Laurie R. King’s New York Times bestselling series—“the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today” (Lee Child).

With Mrs. Hudson gone from their lives and domestic chaos building, the last thing Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, need is to help an old friend with her mad and missing aunt.

Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, since the loss of her brother and father in the Great War. And although her mental state seemed to be improving, she’s now disappeared after an outing from Bethlem Royal Hospital . . . better known as Bedlam.

Russell wants nothing to do with the case—but she can’t say no. And at least it will get her away from the challenges of housework and back to the familiar business of investigation. To track down the vanished woman, she brings to the fore her deductive instincts and talent for subterfuge—and of course enlists her husband’s legendary prowess. Together, Russell and Holmes travel from the grim confines of Bedlam to the winding canals and sun-drenched Lido cabarets of Venice—only to find the foreboding shadow of Benito Mussolini darkening the fate of a city, an era, and a tormented English lady of privilege.

Leave a comment »

Alan Bradley’s The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (a Flavia de Luce novel)

813Gf1SkJZL.jpg

If you know me, you know I adore the Flavia de Luce series, centering on a precocious 12 year old genius in 1950’s England. Somehow, while I was distracted elsewhere (probably work), a new installment in the series came out. This one has Flavia and her sisters travelling with Dogger for a short vacation while they regroup from the untimely death of their father. The “rest” has barely begun when Flavia discovers a dead body in the village’s river, and things go from there.

(from Amazon):

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth” (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty mystery novel from award-winning author Alan Bradley.

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder—although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.

*****************

As always, Flavia does not disappoint! I love how these mysteries always keep me guessing. I look forward to seeing what this super sleuth tackles next!

This is Book 9 in the series, and while I loved reading them in order, it can stand alone as well.

I purchased my book at a local bookstore while on a “date night” with the hubs. You can find it at your local bookstore or online or at the library!

Leave a comment »

Follow Me on Facebook!

thumbnail_Boxer_1530401201.976283_asset

I started a Facebook page that is blog-related and is separate from my own personal page.

Please stop by and “like” me! Thanks!

https://www.facebook.com/BethsBookNookBlog/?ref=br_rs

You can also follow me on Twitter at @BethsBookBlog

 

2 Comments »

Saturday Snapshot: St. Pat’s Cathedral

If you know me, you know we like to go to NYC. When we do, we attend Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I never tire of looking at the beautiful intricacies of the architecture there, the statues, the windows, the light.

Here are a few photos I took last weekend when we were there:

 

IMG_2695.JPG

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommyreads.com. Stop by her site for specifics on participating!

4 Comments »

Death at the Selig Studios by Frances McNamara

51C6UAnUTWL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

The early summer of 1909 finds Emily Cabot eagerly anticipating a relaxing vacation with her family. Before they can depart, however, she receives news that her brother, Alden, has been involved in a shooting death at the Selig Polyscope silent movie studios on Chicago’s northwest side. She races to investigate, along with her friend Detective Henry Whitbread. There they discover a sprawling backlot, complete with ferocious jungle animals and the celluloid cowboys Tom Mix and Broncho Billy. As they dig deeper into the situation, they uncover furtive romantic liaisons between budding movie stars and an attempt by Thomas Edison to maintain his stranglehold over the emerging film industry. Before the intrepid amateur sleuth can clear her brother’s name she faces a serious break with the detective; a struggle with her adolescent daughter, who is obsessed with the filming of the original Wizard of Oz movie; and threats upon her own life. (via Amazon)

This is book 7 of the Emily Cabot mysteries, and I love this entertaining and well-plotted series that blends interesting facts from history with a lively fictional protagonist. Each volume can stand alone. Emily finds herself mixed up with film makers in Chicago in this installment. To be honest, I didn’t realize that the early film industry was in part in Chicago before it came to California. At the end of this post I’ve included a You Tube link of a Selig Studios rendition of The Wizard of Oz from 1910, the movie they were filming in this novel. It certainly is different from the movie version most of us grew up with!

Ms. McNamara’s writing is always a treat and she often can write a mystery that I can’t figure out. This novel was yet another winner from her.

Thank you for my review copy, sent from the publishers: Allium Press of Chicago.

Leave a comment »

Us Against You by Frederik Backman

514k7csJe4L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I absolutely love the writing of Frederik Backman. His novel A MAN CALLED OVE made me both laugh and cry. His story of a hockey town in crisis, BEARTOWN, also made me cry. This summer he has a new novel out, a sequel to BEARTOWN, called US AGAINST YOU. It takes up the story of the families of Beartown and brings them through the next year as they continue to struggle and cope with the actions and activities of the past. Peter and Kira struggle with their marriage. Maya struggles with trying to live her life in the shadow of her assault. Leo struggles with adolescence. And throughout, the lives of these very ordinary people are set against the struggles of a hockey team (with a new coach) and the rivalry Beartown has with neighboring Hed. “Rivalry” might be too tame of a word for it, though.

One of Backman’s gifts as a writer is that he takes the very ordinary and makes it extraordinary. He can craft a simple moment and make it memorable; and he gets to the heart of emotion and humanity in doing so.

If you haven’t read Beartown, it makes most sense to read that novel first, but this can be a stand alone title as well.

Highly recommended! Thank you for my review e-copy from Net Galley!

Here’s the overview:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown returns with “a lyrical look at how a community heals, how families recover and how individuals grow” (The Washington Post).

A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.

Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.

Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.

Leave a comment »

Some Summer Reads…

If you know me, you know I love my kindle. I can boost up the size of the print and not need my glasses and I can read when I wake up in the middle of the night (instead of staring at the ceiling and worrying about various things). However, summer is the best time for reading printed books for me because, as an educator, I have lots more time to read during the day and/or read when I’m not exhausted and bleary-eyed.

So – I recently gathered some of my paper books that I’ve been saving for summer and lined them up for a tbr pile picture:

Squee! I’ve got a little bit of everything in here — from Tudor times to a cozy mystery to some YA to a non-fiction laugh a minute memoir from a Little House on the Prairie cast member. Of course I have about 25 things on my kindle, but I’ll be getting to these while the days are long and there’s time to relax with a good book!

What are YOU reading this summer?

Leave a comment »