Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

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Oh my goodness, I loved this historical fiction novel about an ordinary family during an extraordinary time. The Bright family is moving to Philadelphia and it’s the outbreak of WWI. Along with the war comes the pandemic of Spanish Flu, which kills thousands of previously healthy young people. This family has to much loss to deal with, crisis, and challenges. Then in one of their darkest hours, one of the daughters finds a little baby and takes him home so that they can raise him and bring some light into their lives.

This story is told in the four distinct voices of the four main character women: Evelyn, the intelligent, eldest daughter, Maggie, who finds the baby and is quite determined, Willa, the spunky and headstrong youngest, and their gentle, kind mother Pauline. I loved the story and the characters and the message.

I have never read any of Meissner’s other novels, so I will need to look for them.

Thank you for my review kindle copy via Net Galley!

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Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

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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.

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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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