Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson

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I really enjoy this series, set in turn-of-the-century NYC. I’ve read them all (this is #21)! They center on former midwife Sarah and former police officer Frank as they solve mysteries. I often don’t figure them out before the conclusion, and I do love the cast of characters that change and grow as the series progresses. While I’ve read them all in order, each title can stand alone.

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

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Having grown up in the Napa Valley, I was quite excited to find this novel on Net Galley. I love reading about the wives of famous authors (e.g. Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc.), and since I was familiar with Jack London’s home in Glen Ellen, I couldn’t wait to get this one!

Here’s the overview:

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A Note From the Publisher

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Before reading this novel, I knew next to nothing about Charmian London. What an interesting woman (who was very talented herself)! She was the glue that held Jack London together. London, probably not surprisingly, is portrayed as a struggling, somewhat tortured, weak in spirit but genius in mind, individual, and the story leads up to the end of his life. There were so many details in here that I did not know, and they are all based on fact and Rosenberg’s research. And let’s just say that I will never think about Houdini and his wife the same way again!
The descriptions of the Sonoma Valley are evocative of the real thing and the story flows easily, while building to a crescendo. I so enjoyed reading this novel and learning more about London’s life and his very interesting wife, Charmian.
Thank you for my review copy!
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I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

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When I was in my early twenties, I went through what I called my “Romanov stage”. I read every book in the library on the Romanovs and all the books about people who claimed to be Anastasia or Alexei rescued and grown. I was fascinated by their lifestyle and their tragic story, and I wanted so much to think that one of those beautiful children had survived and was alive and well.
This story had me at the title. I love Lawhon’s writing and have read all her other novels. The timeline was unique: Anastasia’s story starts with her family’s imprisonment and continues to their last days and the tragedy in the cellar. Anna’s story starts with the near present and moves backward to that same period.
You can tell that Ms. Lawhon spent her time researching not only the details, but the personalities and characteristics of the characters of this novel, from the sisters to Alexei to the servants.
A sad yet unforgettable read — especially for those, like me, who once went through an “Anastasia phase”.
Thank you for my review e-copy via Net Galley!
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Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

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Oh my goodness, I loved this historical fiction novel that followed the life of Ernest Young, from his early childhood in China at the turn of the 20th century, to his life in Seattle, including being a charity case in a boarding school and spending many happy years as the house boy in a brothel. The story moved from the present (with Ernest, his wife, and his two grown daughters) to the past, where the Seattle Expo of 1909 is taking place. I grew to love these emotional and realistic characters, and I laughed and cried while reading this book.

Highly recommended! Thank you for my review e-copy!

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SHADOW BY THE BRIDGE by Suzanne Tewan — HFVBTours — with Giveaway!

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Today I’m giving a shout out to a historical fiction novel that is based on true events: Shadow by the Bridge by Suzanne Zewan. It takes place in the early 1900’s  when a serial killer was stalking a small town in New York. Check it out!

Shadow by the Bridge by Suzanne Zewan
 
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
No Frills Buffalo
eBook & Paperback; 368 Pages
 
Genre: Historical Mystery
 
11-year-old Fritz Reynolds recalled his father telling him that man is the only creature who can find amusement in killing. Little did he realize that those words would become the theme for his teenage years growing up in the rural hamlet of Linden, New York. In this coming-of-age story, Fritz takes us back to a simpler time when neighbors gathered at the general store to listen to radio shows, drank barrel-aged cider, and worshiped at the Baptist church every Sunday. All was picturesque in his close-knit farming community until terror was unleashed on them.
 
About the Author
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Suzanne is coordinator at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and is an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College. She has a M.A. in English and Creative Writing and a M.S.Ed. in Career and Technical Education. Other publications include a poem in Jigsaw (2014), a short story and two poems in Jigsaw (2016), and a short story in Amaranth Review (2016).
But wait! There’s more! A Giveaway!!

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of Shadow by the Bridge to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents 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.

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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

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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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Litfuse Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY for THROUGH THE SHADOWS by Karen Barnett

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I’m excited to be part of the Litfuse Publicity blog tour for Karent Barnett’s latest novel in the Golden Gate Chronicles: THROUGH THE SHADOWS. This story continues on with some of the characters we have come to know from the previous books in the series: OUT OF THE ASHES and BEYOND THE RUINS. That said, it can be a stand alone title as well.

Here’s the description of this story from Litfuse:

Through the Shadows (Abingdon, May 2016)

As San Francisco rises from the ashes, an age-old battle looms between corruption and the promise of new beginnings.

The devastating earthquake is just two years past, but the city of San Francisco is still trying to recover. Destruction of this magnitude is not so easy to overcome-and neither are the past regrets shadowing Elizabeth King’s hopeful future.

Hoping to right her wrongs, Elizabeth dedicates herself to helping girls rescued from slavery in Chinatown brothels, even if it means putting her own life at risk to sneak through the gloomy alleys and rooftops where dangers lurk.

Putting her life on the line for a worthy cause is admirable. But opening her heart is even more terrifying. So when Elizabeth meets attorney, Charles McKinley—a man who dreams of reforming San Francisco’s crooked politics—Elizabeth begins to doubt: Can she maintain her pretense and hide her past? Or will her secret jeopardize both their futures?

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If you are reading this series, you know it is Christian historical fiction, and I like how the story line is able to encapsulate faith right alongside the action and romance plot lines. Elizabeth is a likable and strong character, and I will give this book credit for highlighting an issue that personally I have never read about (so I am assuming it is often overlooked or ignored) — the plight of the young Chinese prostitute in turn of the century California.

Barnett’s writing flows smoothly and this is an easy read – perfect for starting off the summer!

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Karen Barnett is the author of “Beyond the Ashes,” “Out of the Ruins,” and “Mistaken.” Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs.
Thank you for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!

But wait! There’s more!!! There’s a book giveaway for this tour — click below for info and entering:

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LINK FOR GIVEAWAY: https://promosimple.com/ps/99f1

 

 

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Book Blast for HFVBTours’ OUTRAGEOUS: The Victoria Woodhull Saga by Neal Katz

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I’m excited to be blasting it up today for a book about Victoria Woodhull, the first US woman to run for President (how timely, too!). I can’t believe that I know virtually nothing about this very interesting woman of history.

Here’s what HFVBT has to say (and believe me, it’s quite a fascinating overview!):

Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume I: Rise to Riches
by Neal Katz

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Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Top Reads Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook; 344 Pages

Series: The Victoria Woodhull Saga (Vol I)
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Historical fictionalized account of Victoria Woodhull’s rise to presidential candidate and wealth, coming from poverty and abuse.

What compels a woman and her youngest sister to overcome abject poverty and violent abuse to grow up to defy convention and obliterate every barrier to become the first women to own and operate a Wall Street brokerage firm and publish their own newspaper?

How did Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838 – 1927) become the first woman invited to speak to the United State Congress, and then the first female to run for president. What made Tennessee Celeste Claflin (1845 – 1923) so beguiling that the richest man in America, Cornelius Vanderbilt, fell completely in love with her?

What caused the sisters to live out their long lives as royalty and peerage in Europe. Victoria living as landed gentry outside of London, and Tennessee in a huge castle like a queen? Why aren’t these empowered and independent women iconic in our culture?

Volume One of The Victoria Woodhull Saga tells the poignant, lascivious, and compelling inside story of how the sisters worked closely with Cornelius Vanderbilt, who at age 74 fell in love with the beguiling 24-year old Tennessean. Victoria provided the titan of industry “Inside Her Information” gathered through the soiled sisterhood, the ladies of the evening working at the top seven brothels servicing the rich and famous of New York City.

This relationship resulted in the great lion of industry having his last public roar as together they manipulated the financial markets and created the impending collapse of the U.S. economy in the gold scandal of 1869. To avert the crash, President Ulysses S. Grant provides the richest man in America insider information on the gold market and telegrams Vanderbilt that his railroad company is “Too Big To Fail!” Vanderbilt was proclaimed “The Savior of the American Economy” for intervening in a crisis he helped create.

View Victorian America through the eyes and thoughts of one of its leading heroines., Victoria Woodhull. Watch as the infighting and elitism of the earliest suffrage women denigrating, castigating, and denouncing other passionate suffrage rights women delayed woman suffrage and equal legal standing for five decades. Learn wonderful anecdotes of the origins of products and phrases used today. Learn the story of Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the most popular man in America, who transformed Christianity from his father’s “fire and brimstone” theology to one of a compassionate and loving Jesus, who will redeem all who turn to salvation with complete confession of their sins. The reverend’s personal life did not imitate his lofty and popular theology of his weekly sermons at Plymouth Church. He was a notorious womanizer, often bedding, and sometimes impregnating the wives, sisters, and daughters of his most ardent trackers and deacons of the church.

Written in the first person from Victoria’s viewpoint, Neal Katz weaves a compelling page-turning story that cleverly unfolds history while providing a wonderfully entertaining ride. Katz has pledged one half of book sale proceeds to charities dedicating to the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Praise

“Victoria Woodhull is one of the most fascinating but forgotten characters in American history. She deserves to be better known by anyone who cares about gender equality and the ongoing fight to make America a more tolerant and just country–kudos to Neal Katz for bringing her story to life for a new generation of readers.” -Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

“I can’t believe this is Neal’s first book. Incredibly well written, this is an important work. I see a National bestseller and a long running series.” -Victor Villasenor, National bestselling author of Rain of Gold,Three time Pulitzer Prize nominee, and author of Revenge of a Catholic Schoolboy

About the Author

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Neal Katz is a semi-retired, serial entrepreneur, CEO with a passion for women rights. He lives a life based on self-awareness and Love. He practices Yoga, meditates daily, has taught A Course in Miracles, produced Oregon wines, enjoys being a gourmet chef, recites Vedic sutras, and writes his own inspirational poetry.

The saga of Victoria Woodhull appeales to Neal, as it serves three purposes. First, the story provokes public awareness of the historical and continuing denigration and subjugation of gender prejudice. Second, the tale exposes the historical basis for the manipulation of the free markets of stocks, bonds and commodities. Third, the story shows how existing financial and political power structures used prison and seizure of assets to prevent innovation and social change. Victoria Woodhull overcame all these obstacles in a remarkable life.

Neal chose to write in first person using Victoria s words, thoughts, and point of view to tell the tale, inviting the reader to see through her eyes. The style is magic realism along the lines of Allende, Marquez, and Kathleen McGowan (The Magdalene Trilogy). This is an expression of the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality championed by Emma Watson, and Neal proudly proclaims himself a male feminist!

Neal has pledged fifty percent (50%) of his author’s royalties from book sales and all ancillary revenues, including foreign print distribution and Hollywood rights to a foundation formed in tribute to Victoria Woodhull and her passion for woman rights. The foundation will promote and prove programs for the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers.

For more information visit http://outrageousthebook.com/. You can also follow the author on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Discover a new blog!

Monday, February 22
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 23
Just One More Chapter
The Never-Ending Book

Wednesday, February 24
Back Porchervations

Thursday, February 25
I Heart Reading

Friday, February 26
Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Saturday, February 27
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, February 29
Book Nerd

Tuesday, March 1
The Book Connection

Wednesday, March 2
Boom Baby Reviews
Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, March 3
CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, March 7
A Holland Reads

Tuesday, March 8
A Literary Vacation

Friday, March 11
I’m Shelf-ish

Giveaway

But wait! There’s more!!

To win a signed Hardcover copy of Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Book One please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Five copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US addresses 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.

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Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC by Jennifer Kincheloe

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Back in the fall I was contacted by my friends at Prometheus Books to see if I’d like to read and review THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC. The book sounded great, but it soon disappeared into the piles of things I had around during the holidays, only to be rediscovered recently. What a treasure! I loved this laugh-out-loud funny book about intrepid socialite Anna Blanc and her foray into the dark world of detective work in Los Angeles in turn of the century California.

Here’s how they describe the novel on Edelweiss:

It’s 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals.

Determined to break free of the era’s rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.

If the police find out, she’ll get fired; if her father finds out, he’ll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he’ll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father’s collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief’s son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail.

Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

Story Locale: 1907 Los Angeles

Series Overview: Los Angeles police matron Anna Blanc bucks society’s mores to solve crime in the early 1900s.

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I would LOVE if this became a series! What a fun and well-written read, but it also had a lot to think and talk about in terms of women’s changing roles in society. Poor Anna fought against all the mores holding her in firmly in place,  though I particularly liked the horrid chaperone who was supposed to accompany her everywhere.

I also am not aware of too many cozies set in turn of the century LA. Between the historical mystery, the humor, and a little romance, I give this one top marks!

Thank you so much for my review copy!

This book is available at bookstores near you and online (and of course – check your library!).

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