Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

HFVBTour for ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC by J.B. Rivard with GIVEAWAY!

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I’m happy to be shouting it out today for the interesting novel: ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC, which I received through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Here’s the overview:

Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago
by J.B. Rivard

Publication Date: April 17, 2016
eBook; 233 Pages
ASIN: B01EGSC8N8

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

READ AN EXCERPT.

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The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Illusions of Magic, set in Chicago in early 1933, does a masterful job of telling the highly entertaining love story between an out-of-work magician and his old flame . . . Rivard creates a historically accurate background for his cast of fascinating characters, creating a moving novel . . .” —Dr. Willard Oliver, Professor at Sam Houston State University and co-author of Killing the President.

Illusions of Magic, a story of political intrigue in 1930s Chicago, is written in an informative, yet entertaining style. Rivard weaves into his narrative the true story of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak’s murder and he does it with accuracy and complete authenticity . . . Each chapter powers along, insisting you read ‘just one more’ part. The taut writing has a ‘made for the movies’ tension . . .” —Mel Ayton, author of The Forgotten Terrorist and Hunting the President.

[The] attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in…1933…is part of the dramatic backdrop of Rivard’s fast-paced and punchy novel….Nick Zetner’s adventures, part screwball comedy and part Dashiell Hammett, combine with the richly authentic atmosphere of the setting to create a quick and very enjoyable read that smoothly intermingles Nick’s love life with a challenging case he takes on for a corrupt banker. The book reads like a breath of fresh air – recommended.” -Joanna Urquhart, Historical Novel Society

About the Author

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Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.

As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.

Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.

For more information, please visit the Illusions of Magic website.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 9
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 10
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, January 11
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, January 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 13
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, January 19
Review at Laura’s Interests

Friday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, January 23
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 24
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, January 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, January 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 27
Review & Interview at Quitterstrip

Giveaway!

To win a paperback copy of Illusions of Magic by J.B. Rivard, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US 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/MmmM2/illusions-of-magic

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A few for my ears….

As you know, I spend a lot of time commuting.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed some really good audiobooks through my Audible account.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger was a mixed mystery/coming of age story that was really well-written. Here’s the description from Amazon:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
WINNER OF THE 2014 DILYS AWARD
A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2013

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

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I really enjoyed this book — it kept me listening right up unto the end. I particularly loved the main character and his reminiscences of this fateful summer of his youth. It is read by Rich Orlow – who did a fantastic job – and runs 11 hours.

 

Another fantastic book was Z by Therese Anne Fowler. This is historical fiction about Zelda Fitzgerald. Here’s the Amazon overview:

“Picture a late-May morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume – same as I would wear that evening….”

Thus begins the story of beautiful, reckless, 17-year-old Zelda Sayre on the day she meets Lieutenant Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald at a country club dance. Fitzgerald isn’t rich or settled; no one knows his people; and he wants, of all things, to be a writer in New York. No matter how wildly in love they may be, Zelda’s father firmly opposes the match. But when Scott finally sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda defies her parents to board a train to New York and marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Life is a sudden whirl of glamour and excitement: Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel – and his beautiful, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, trades in her provincial finery for daring dresses, and plunges into the endless party that welcomes the darlings of the literary world to New York, then Paris and the French Riviera. It is the Jazz Age, when everything seems new and possible – except that dazzling success does not always last.

Surrounded by a thrilling array of magnificent hosts and mercurial geniuses – including Sara and Gerald Murphy, Gertrude Stein, and the great and terrible Ernest Hemingway – Zelda and Scott find the future both grander and stranger than they could have ever imagined.

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I LOVED this book so much! Zelda’s story is so tragic yet you can’t look away.

The narrator, Jenna Lamia, was AMAZING and I can still hear her voice in my head (in a good way!). It runs approximately 12 1/2 hours.

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I also listened to the novel: THE BOYS IN THE BOAT, by Daniel James Brown, about the Washington college crew team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Here’s the Amazon overview:

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together – a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boatis an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

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What a great story! I love a feel-good athletic underdog story!!

This 14 1/2 hour book was read by Edward Herrmann. He did a fine job, but his voice reminded me of the voiceover from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when I was a kid. To be honest, I would have loved a bit more pep.

 

Currently I am listening to THE LINCOLN LETTER by William Martin. I love his books! In this one Peter Fallon is looking for a lost diary of President Lincoln.

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What have YOU been listening to lately?

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Review of THE BIG BRUSH-OFF by Michael Murphy

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This was a fun find from Net Galley!

I love a retro mystery and this one takes place in the 1930’s.

Description (via Net Galley)

The irresistible Jake & Laura return in Michael Murphy’s witty, fast-paced mystery series—perfect for readers of Dorothy Cannell and Christopher Fowler. In The Big Brush-off, the charming and indomitable duo heads to the Midwest to solve a chilling cold case of a young girl’s murder.

Blackie Doyle is dying. That’s what Jake Donovan’s literary agent tells him. Sales are falling, and the rough draft of Jake’s latest Blackie novel doesn’t look promising. Maybe Jake has been distracted by a recent barrage of real-life homicides, or by his marriage to the beautiful up-and-coming actress Laura Wilson, now slated for a part opposite Clark Gable himself. Whatever the reason, Jake decides to return to his roots. Which is why he and Laura hop the next train to the small town in Pennsylvania where Jake once worked as a Pinkerton detective.

Ten years ago, the murder of a teenage girl interrupted life in quiet, God-fearing Hanover. The unsolved case has always gnawed at Jake, and it seems no coincidence that as soon as he starts digging up old ghosts, he’s once again writing like a dervish. Nor is it surprising that some townfolk would rather see the truth stay buried—and maybe even Jake and Laura with it. But the glamorous crime-solving pair refuse to leave before sorting through a bevy of suspects—and at long last nailing the one who almost got away with the not-so-perfect crime.

Praise for Michael Murphy’s Jake & Laura mysteries

“Glittering with a hint of Nick and Nora, Michael Murphy’s 1930s Manhattan provides a witty setting for murder and mayhem.”—Mary Daheim, bestselling author of The Alpine Yeoman, on The Yankee Club

“[Jake and Laura] are fun, witty, and charming, and [All That Glitters] is filled with the same kind of 1930s Hollywood glamour that made the film of The Thin Man such a classic.”—Popcorn Reads

“The third installment in Murphy’s series is just as much fun as the first. The mystery is full of twists with an ample amount of red herrings, suspects, and action.”—Mystery Please!, on Wings in the Dark

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I loved this story and I loved the characters of Jake and Laura. It’s a cozy, and you know how I love cozies. Mysteries can be thrilling and fun and they don’t need to be gory or nightmare-worthy. I would love to see this series made into a series — BBC style — as I can imagine viewers loving the story lines and the period aspects (costumes, cars, etc.).

While this was my first Jake and Laura mystery, it won’t be my last!

Thank you for my invitation to review it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Blast for THE EDGE OF LOST

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We are blasting it up today to bring you Kristina McMorris’ THE EDGE OF LOST. This book is on my TBR list and I will be entering the GIVEAWAY, too!

The Edge of Lost
by Kristina McMorris

Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Kensington Books
Trade Paperback, 340 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | POWELL’S| INDIEBOUND

 

Advance Praise

“Kristina McMorris evokes such a strong sense of place that to open her books feels less like reading and more like traveling. Her absorbing new novel..[is an] epic, deeply felt tale of struggle and second chances… a transporting piece of historical fiction.” — BookPage

“McMorris’ gripping immigrant saga sweeps from Dublin to New York, through Prohibition and vaudeville, from New York to San Francisco and Alcatraz. It is a young man’s battle with hardship and tragedy, but it is also a portrait of America during a turbulent time and a quest that ends in triumph. Readers will be caught up in this well-told story.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Compelling, resonant and deeply moving, The Edge of Lost is an absorbing tale of deceit and self-deception, survival and second chances, the ties that bind and the lure of the unknown.” — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author ofOrphan Train

“The story will grab your heart on page one and won’t let go until the end—and if you’re like me, not even then. I absolutely love this book, and so will you.” — Sara Gruen, #1New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“A beautifully told story about a young man’s journey through adversity and loss with an exhilarating ending that I couldn’t put down and stayed up well past my bedtime to finish.” — Charles Belfoure, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Architect

“In The Edge of Lost Kristina McMorris takes us on a thrilling ride . . . I found myself thoroughly immersed in her richly evocative settings, just as I was captivated by the pure humanity of her characters as they struggled for redemption. This book is a wonderful read!” — David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

“The Edge of Lost takes readers on an enthralling journey . . . right up to a tense, edge-of-your-seat ending that left me breathless. An absorbing, addictive read.” — Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant

“With prose as lyrical as the music woven through its narrative, and boasting impeccably observed historical details, The Edge of Lost is a thoroughly mesmerizing novel. I adore everything that Kristina McMorris writes and this book is no exception.” — Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Somewhere in France

About the Author

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Kristina McMorris is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep, in addition to her novellas in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central.

Prior to her writing career, Kristina hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland’s “40 Under 40” by The Business Journal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Oregon, where she is working on her next novel. For more, visit www.KristinaMcMorris.com. You can also follow Kristina on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, December 14
The Maiden’s Court
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 15
A Literary Vacation
CelticLady’s Reviews
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, December 16
Reading Is My SuperPower
Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, December 17
Unshelfish
A Book Geek
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Friday, December 18
The Lit Bitch
The Reading Queen

Saturday, December 19
Book Nerd
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
So Many Books, So Little Time

Sunday, December 20
Let Them Read Books
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Monday, December 21
Boom Baby Reviews

Giveaway!

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To win a signed copy of The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US and 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.
The Edge of Lost Book Blast Giveaway

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/hu4b3/the-edge-of-lost-book-blast-giveaway

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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton

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Everybody clap your hands, because Kate Morton has a new book out!

I am so very thrilled to be part of this tour today because I absolutely love her books and when I saw this opportunity I was almost overcome with excitement. THE LAKE HOUSE is Kate Morton at her finest; it does not disappoint.

First here’s what HFVBT has to say:

The Lake House
by Kate Morton

Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 512 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | GOOGLE PLAY | ITUNES | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’S

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary Gothic novels.

Kate Morton has sold over 7.5 million copies in 26 languages, across 38 countries. Her novels include The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and The Secret Keeper.

You can find more information about Kate Morton and her books at www.katemorton.comor www.facebook.com/KateMortonAuthor

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, October 5
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, October 6
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 12
Review at Book Drunkard

Thursday, October 15
Review at The Eclectic Reader
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, October 20
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Luxury Reading

Wednesday, October 21
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, October 26
Review at Beth’s Book Nook

Tuesday, October 27
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, October 28
Review at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 29
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, October 30
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Sunday, November 1
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, November 2
Review at A Book Geek
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, November 3
Review at Bookish
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, November 4
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Words and Peace

Thursday, November 5
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, November 6
Review at A Literary Vacation
Review at Curling Up By the Fire

Me again — Oh my goodness, this book has SO MUCH of what I love: mystery, old English country houses, hidden passageways, forbidden love, tragedy, happy endings, reconciliation, self-forgiveness — the list goes on and on! Ms. Morton’s writing flows easily and her books read quickly. I get engrossed in the characters and have read several where they move back and forth through time in the same setting. I always can’t wait to get to the next chapter.

In this story, I really connected with the character of Eleanor (surprisingly) and how she went from being a happy child to being in love to having the world come down on her and dampen her zest for life. Sadie was another sympathetic character. I thought I had the mystery figured out (more than once) and was mistaken. There are lots of twists and turns with this one!

If you have never read her books, start with this one. Or get thee to the library and find them all!

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my Net Galley copy to review.

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Here is a lovely picture of Kate Morton. I just want to shout: “Kate! I want to be your friend and we can talk about books and old English country houses!” But of course she might find that odd…

Here’s a You Tube book trailer:

Here’s a You Tube video of Kate reading the first chapter — you can pretend she’s your friend and reading to you!

Here she is discussing her inspiration for the book (via You Tube). I was wondering about how she got her idea and voila – questions answered!

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Review: THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US by Annie Barrows

I received this from Net Galley a while back – and took my time reading it (it’s a tad long). I loved Annie Barrows’ Guernsey LIterary and Potato Peel Pie novel, so I knew I’d like this one, too.

In this novel, a young woman and senator’s daughter (Layla Beck) is sent to be part of the Federal Writers’ Project and to record the history of the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia. She boards with the Romeyn family, and throughout that hot, sticky summer of 1938, she learns about the town, the family, and herself.

The Romeyn family has a somewhat checkered past. Felix is the head of the household, but he’s a distant and somewhat mysterious man, whose past is shrouded in secrecy. His sister Jottie shares the house with him and cares for his two young daughters, Willa and Bird. Their mother has left them years ago. Jottie has a past herself, marred by tragedy and star-crossed love. Layla finds herself drawn to the family and their other relatives, all the while she is deciding what she really wants to do with her life.

The character of 12-year-old Willa tells the story along with Layla and we sometimes get Jottie’s point of view, too; but the switch is never confusing. I loved the voice of Willa. I loved, too, how Ms. Barrows’s evocative writing moved in parts with the lazy heat of summer. This book oozed with secrets kept right under the surface, and people grown complacent in keeping those secrets. Layla’s feelings and actions moved toward their inevitable conclusion with a slow trickle. The last part of the book moved quickly, though, with the climax and subsequent actions/denouement.

Loved this book – lots to discuss, too!

Find it at an Indie near you – I am an Indie Bound Affiliate.

Thank you, Net Galley and The Dial Press, for my review e-copy!

Find it at an Indie near you! I am an Indie Bound Affiliate.

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Review: THE NAZI OFFICER’S WIFE by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin

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While at BEA, I met Susan Dworkin and got a signed copy of her book. The subtitle to this novel is “How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust”. This was a fascinating story about how Edith, a young Jewish woman in Vienna, survived WWII through an incredible series of circumstances, including, at one point, being married to a German officer and being a “hausfrau”.

Edith was born in Vienna in 1914 into a well-to-do and educated Jewish family. She always wanted to study law and was doing so when she was denied her final exams and degree because she was Jewish. She and her family were sent to the ghetto and then she was sent to a labor camp, working first on a farm and then in a paper factory. She survived harsh conditions for months, then escaped as she was being sent “home” (she realized it was to a concentration camp). Edith hid for a while, then borrowed a brave friend’s identity papers and went to Germany, getting a job at the Red Cross and passing herself off as Christian. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi officer. He wanted to marry her, but Edith felt she must reveal her true self to him first. Vetter and she married and she lived as a housewife until the war was over. While this is much more a summary than I usually give, believe me, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in this book. The amount of scary circumstances, the coincidences, the heartfelt yearning she had for her mother, her life of living a lie – plus all the events post WWII, well it made for fascinating and inspiring reading.

The story reads as a memoir, with Edith’s voice strongly standing out. You can picture her telling her story to Ms. Dworkin as you read. It was published about 15 years ago, though I had never come across it. A documentary was also made on Edith’s life, but it looks like it only aired in the UK. Edith Hahn Beer died in 2009.

You can find this book at an Indie near you — I am an Indie Bound Affiliate. Read it and be inspired.


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HFV Book Tour of RISKING EXPOSURE by Jeanne Moran

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I’m happy today to be part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for Jeanne Moran’s YA novel: RISKING EXPOSURE.

In this story, teenager Sophie lives in Munich, Germany during the late 1930’s. She is a talented photographer and an active member of the Hitler Youth. Sophie has some qualms of conscience about the Reich’s activities, especially when her Jewish friend is suddenly no longer in touch with her. Then Sophie suffers the devastating effects of polio. She spends months recuperating in a hospital with other patients. She is stunned to learn that they are seen as useless burdens on society. When she is asked to use her photography skills to highlight the work of the Hitler Youth activities, she has to decide whether she will work along with them, or risk everything to show the truth.

This was a quick and engaging read. The story is less than 200 pages and would be a good choice for reluctant readers in the classroom. While I did not like the lack of closure at the end, I see that there will be a sequel coming which I’m sure will answer some of the “but what happens??” questions. One of the most interesting things in this book, to me, was the perspective of a German youth during the first part of WWII. It is rare that I read from the German perspective and it’s good to get a glimpse of what life was like for the regular people of that time.

Here’s what HFVBTours has to say:

Publication Date: September 2013
CreateSpace
Formats: eBook, Paperback
186 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult

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Munich, 1938, Nazi Germany. War is on the horizon. A timid Hitler Youth member contracts polio. Photographs she takes of fellow polio patients are turned into propaganda, mocking people with disabilities. She is now an outsider, a target of Nazi scorn and possible persecution. Her only weapon is her camera.

This well-researched historical fiction novel unveils a seldom-seen side of the Nazi agenda. A sequel is in the works.

Praise for Risking Exposure

“…an engaging, well written, thought provoking book. It reminds us of the responsibility we have to one another.”

“The story is true to history and would be ideal for a classroom studying this time period.”

“…you find yourself think thinking of the young character, Sophie, long after the last page.”

“… lets us see a world in which we know what happened, but Sophie does not yet. Our knowledge makes us want to read to the very last word–and wish the story would continue.”

“This book felt like I was reading a biography, the characters and story were all very real. Risking Exposure was certainly geared towards young adults, but this story captivated me from the beginning til the end – so it most certainly can hold the attention of an adult audience.”

“Ms. Moran is opening the door to this thought: if more (maybe only a handful more) people stood up and did small things too, could some of the awful suffering of this era been averted or lessened? And more poignantly, how about today? The book ratifies the importance of small actions done with love, bravery, and purpose.”

“Sophie is still on my mind days after finishing this book.”

”…the book was a beautiful collection of thoughts, historically accurate bits of data, and a easy read in terms of the flowing writing style, but deals with a lot of heavy topics in a censored way. This is definitely a great book to study, for school students, as it’s written in a simplistic yet effective writing style, and provides a brilliant coming-of-age story for all types of audiences.”

“There is so much to talk about in Sophie’s story – – what we accept as normal, what society thinks of its less able-bodied citizens, whether one person can really make a difference… we read it for our own book club discussion next month — and we’re all well past our teen-age years, so that shows the power of this small gem.”

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
iTunes
IndieBound
Kobo
Smashwords

About the Author

03_Jeanne Moran

Jeanne Moran reads and writes stories in which unlikely heroes make a difference in their corner of the world. In her everyday life, she strives to be one of them.

For more information visit Jeanne Moran’s website.  You can also find her on Facebook,Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Risking Exposure Blog Tour Schedule – Follow the Tour!

Monday, May 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Spotlight & Excerpt at Shelf Full of Books

Tuesday, May 5
Spotlight at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Wednesday, May 6
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Spotlight & Excerpt at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, May 7
Spotlight at Broken Teepee

Friday, May 8
Review at Book Babe

Monday, May 11
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 12
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, May 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 14
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, May 15
Review at Genre Queen

02_RIsking_Exposure

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Review: A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

I found this fun story on Net Galley. I’ve always been a fan of classic movies and this story sounded so neat: a young woman moves to Hollywood from Indiana since she wants to be a screenwriter. She becomes a personal assistant to Carole Lombard and spends time with Lombard and Butler as the filming of “Gone with the Wind” is taking place.

I’ve read Kate Alcott’s other two books — both I actually listened to as audiobooks in the car (The Daring Ladies of Lowell and The Dressmaker). I liked this novel more than either of those two (which I also enjoyed). TOUCH OF STARDUST focuses on Julie Crawford, who I was rooting for throughout the story. She is seeking independence and wants to be a screenwriter in a male-dominated industry. She meets a young man, Andy, whom she is drawn to and starts dating. Andy is Jewish and this ties in to the more global story of the war in Europe (it is 1938) and Andy’s concern for his relatives. The portrayal of Carole Lombard and the other movie people, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, David O’ Selznick, etc. is what made the story for me. They truly come alive on these pages. Alcott has done her research and homework into events of the time, issues in the making of the movie, life in Hollywood in the pre-war 30’s, and mostly the personalities of these movie icons.

An enjoyable and fun read that I highly recommend if you, like me, are a fan of classic Hollywood.

Thank you for my review copy, Net Galley and Doubleday Books!

Find this book at an indie near you! (I am an Indie Bound affiliate).


Find it at an Indie!

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Quick Review: QUEEN OF HEARTS by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness mystery)

I love all the Georgie mysteries, and this one was no exception. Somehow I missed that it was publishing, and so I found it for my kindle a few weeks ago. In this installment, Georgie and her mother head to the US to get a quickie divorce for her mum in Reno. While they are waiting, they go to Hollywood so her mother can take part in the filming of a movie (they met a movie mogul while coming over on the boat from England). Who should show up but best friend Belinda and boyfriend Darcy (who is sleuthing around for a jewel thief). Georgie of course ends up stumbling over dead bodies and it seems like everyone is a suspect, but no one had the means to commit murder.

Will Georgie figure it all out in time? Will Darcy and Georgie ever move forward in their relationship? Will Georgie ever get a proper lady’s maid??

You will have to read it to find out.

Always a pleasure, Ms. Bowen’s latest is the eighth in this series. Added to the fun is the addition of “real” character Charlie Chaplin.

You can see it on Amazon where I got mine and where I am an Associate:

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