Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

TIME AND REGRET by M.K. Tod

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Description (via Net Galley)

A Note From the Publisher

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HFVBT Book Blast for GIOCONDA by Lucille Turner

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I’m excited to tell you today about a great new historical fiction title: GIOCONDA. I love reading about Leonardo Da Vinci!

There’s a Giveaway, too!

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Gioconda: A Novel of Leonardo Da Vinci
by Lucille Turner
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Granta Books
eBook & Paperback; 304 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

In a world where everyone wants to tell you how to think, what do you do when you know that they are wrong?

Anchiano 1452. A boy is born to a father who will never understand him. Unless he finds the power to become what he could be, he will remain what he is, the son of a notary from a hamlet in the hills, nobody. As he grows up out of step with everyone around him, Leonardo must follow his instincts if he is ever to fulfil the vow he makes: to save people from each other — to save them from themselves. But the time will come when he will have to make a choice. Does he share his knowledge and pay the price for it? Or does he do what his hands have always told him to do? Hide it.

He looks at his aching hands. Runs them over his bony face and rough beard. How long before his body gives up, and when it does, what of it? If he stops now, what will happen – will he live more? What is more, more of what?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Book Depository | IndieBound
Praise
“Gioconda proposes an elegant solution to the problem of why the portrait of the wife of a silk merchant was never delivered … Gioconda is a qualified success, scrupulous with its sources, careful with its conclusions.” –Financial Times

“An elegant, historical debut novel… cleverly constructed and imagined … full of vivid characters and well-drawn incidents. Turner’s careful research and graceful prose style make Gioconda a pleasure to read.” –Tina Jackson, Metro

“Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing genius is brought to life in this vividly atmospheric novel. From his solitary childhood to the conception of his iconic masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, this richly imagined life story will inspire you to re-examine his ideas, drawings and paintings.” –Easy Living

“Lucille offers a fresh and intimate perspective on da Vinci’s life …From the first page she draws the reader in with such a natural easy style you feel you were observing Leonardo da Vinci as he really was.” –Bournemouth Echo

About the Author

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Author of Gioconda, a novel about the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, Lucille Turner is an international prize-winning novelist who lives between England and France. She has an MA in Comparative Literature and teaches part-time at university in France.

For more information please visit Lucille Turner’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Discover a New Blog!

Book Blast Schedule:
Monday, May 2
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 3
Back Porchervations

Wednesday, May 4
Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, May 5
Book Nerd

Friday, May 6
Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Saturday, May 7
The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, May 9
The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, May 10
100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, May 11
Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 12
CelticLady’s Reviews
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Friday, May 13
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

But wait! There’s more!

Giveaway:
To enter to win a paperback copy of Gioconda by Lucille Turner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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/tTaxf/gioconda-book-blast

 

 

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Review: A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

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I absolutely loved this book.

When I was at BEA in the spring, I stood in a very long line (I was number 3 though!) to see Alice Hoffman and to get her new book, The Marriage of Opposites.

First, I must say that Ms. Hoffman is one of my fave authors. I think I’ve read everything she’s written. She is quite gracious in person and was a delight in our albeit very brief meeting (where I tried not to gush). I was later interviewed by Simon and Schuster for something on camera, gushing about how much I love her writing (thankfully I have never found that video clip online, as I’m sure I’d be horrified at my lack of composure and disheveled appearance, being interviewed on the fly during a huge event in NYC).

Anyway – I digress. This story is about the parents of Camille Pissarro, the great French painter. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about his background, and while I am sure that he is fascinating in his own right, Hoffman’s story focuses on his mother, Rachel, and her life as she grows up among a community of refugee European Jews, who are living in the Virgin Islands during the early 1800’s. Rachel is married off to an old widower while she is quite young, and she comes to love his children and to respect him. When he dies suddenly, his younger nephew arrives to take over the business. He and Rachel fall deeply in love – even though she is substantially older and their union is forbidden as they are seen as “family”. Out of their relationship comes Camille.

I loved this story — the characters, the setting, the writing. Rachel’s story was fascinating to me and I loved the subplots and “supporting characters” with their stories along the way.

Historical Fiction at its finest!

Get it today at Amazon, where I am an Associate, at your library, at your favorite indie, or online (but get it – it’s that good!).

The Marriage of Opposites

To get you in the mood, here’s a picture by Pissarro that I got via Google Images:

Jardin Mirbeau aux Damps

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Review: THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS by M. J. Rose

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I had heard about this book via the blogosphere, so I was thrilled to get a copy via Net Galley to review.

In THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS, young Sandrine runs away to Paris in the late 1890’s to get away from her abusive husband and to seek solace from her grandmother. Sandrine is convinced that her husband caused the death of her beloved father and she is determined to make a new life for herself in Paris. Her grandmother is not at her home, though, and Sandrine finds that work is being done – and by an interesting and attractive young architect. Sandrine, reserved and conservative by nature, finds herself becoming attached to the young man, being almost obsessed with painting, and finds herself connected to her grandmother’s house – a house where generations of women of her family have loved and lost in dramatic, almost supernatural ways. Everything connects back to “La Lune” – Sandrine’s ancestress. Is Sandrine just coming in to her own, with wakening desires and talents? Or is the spirit of La Lune possessing her, and using Sandrine to obtain her own wants and needs?

I enjoyed this gothic, historical read a lot! The supernatural was an interesting touch, though I enjoyed the history aspects more than the descent into black arts and possession. I wasn’t too keen on the ending as I always want closure (closure! I demand it!!) but it looks like this book is the first in a trilogy, so I’m sure my questions will be answered in the forthcoming novels.

This one has a little bit of a lot of things: Belle Epoche Paris, art, history, witchcraft, romance, suspense, etc.

Thank you for my review copy! (image via Net Galley)

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

The Witch of Painted Sorrows (Daughters of La Lune)

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Audiobook Review: THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

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A while back, everyone was reading THE GOLDFINCH. Thus, I stayed away. Several people told me they read it in their bookgroups. When I asked how it was, I inevitably got the same answer: long. So, when I saw it at the library on the audiobook shelf, I snatched up all 26 CD’s of it.

THE GOLDFINCH is a tale that covers years in a young man’s life – from the fatal day when a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art takes his mother from him, to time with his friend’s family, to years with his father, to adulthood back in NYC where he works in an antique shop, gets involved in the “art underground”, and tries to reconnect with a girl he has always been fascinated by, a girl he first saw the day of the bombing. This story fascinated me and held me, even though it is long. I loved Tartt’s writing and how she captured the characters and sense of place.

In the beginning, Theo Decker is just thirteen and living with his mother in New York. They go to see some art at the MET that his mother likes and it is clear that they share a special relationship. Theo is enjoying himself and has his eye on a red-headed teenage girl with her grandfather when the bomb blast happens. Theo panics. He  can’t find his mother. In his confused state he finds the grandfather and takes a ring from him. He then takes a picture his mother loves – The Goldfinch – from the wall and puts it in his bag. Within days, Social Services arrives at this apartment as they know his mother is missing/dead. Theo goes to live with a wealthy classmate and his family, the Barbours. The family is fairly dysfunctional, though Theo and Andy get along well. Andy’s older brother terrifies Theo and his younger sister is rather annoying. In time his father comes to look for him, with his girlfriend Xandra, and Theo heads out to live with them and their small dog in Las Vegas. In Vegas he meets Boris, his only friend, and together they spend a lot of time hanging out. In time, Theo’s father dies and he heads back to NYC, to an antique shop where the friend of the girl’s grandfather lives. The parts of his life begin to merge together at this point as Theo tries to win over Pippa (the girl), makes a name for himself in antiques with the older gentleman, has Boris re-enter his life, gets into the art forgery business, and grows into adulthood and into a relationship with Andy’s younger sister. All the time, the priceless portrait of the Goldfinch is hidden in his bag.

Okay – that is way more summary info than I usually give in a review, but it gives you an idea of the scope of this book. That said, when I finally got to the end I was a bit disappointed as I felt that I was left hanging. What happened? What did he decide? Is there a sequel?? The writing is beautiful and the narration was truly spectacular — this was my favorite audiobook narration ever! David Pittu was the narrator and he did an amazing job. I LOVED his husky-voiced Xandra; I LOVED his spot-on accented Boris. He was one reason I liked this book so much.

So apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this is a well-written story, as it won the Pulitzer for Fiction for 2013.

Highly recommended – but also a really great listen! Let me know if you’ve read it already and what you thought about it.

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

The Goldfinch

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Spotlight on “Pigments of Imagination” – a Coloring Book for Adults

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I’m shouting it out today for my cousin Amy’s coloring book for adults: PIGMENTS OF IMAGINATION: PAGES FOR THE PRISMATIC OPTIMIST.

I have to say, when I had my children I often found myself coloring with them (especially in restaurants – lol). I realized how much I missed coloring and how soothing it is.

Last year my talented cousin Amy created a coloring book for adults. It has beautifully intricate pictures. Since her book came out, I’ve seen several items in the media about coloring books for adults. They all agree: it’s a great, soothing, fun, and creative activity to engage in!

You can see Amy’s book on Amazon where I am an associate:
Pigments of Imagination: Pages for the Prismatic Optimist

She also sells it through create space: https://www.createspace.com/4935173?hc_location=ufi

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Review: RODIN’S LOVER by Heather Webb

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Camille Claudel.

I knew the name sounded familiar (and French) but I didn’t know much about her. Camille Claudel was a gifted sculptor and the mistress of Auguste Rodin, living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Heather Webb has taken her story and made it come vibrantly alive in her new historical novel: RODIN’S LOVER.

Camille has loved creating from clay since she was a child. She loves the outdoors and her family’s estate in the French countryside. But Camille comes to realize that being a woman artist gives her little to no rights or privileges in 1800’s France, and she must work doubly hard to be recognized, let alone to be accepted, as an artist. Her creative nature is often overpowered by her intense and emotional personality (and as she matures, mental illness). However, her passionate and intense relationship with Rodin gives her an opportunity to showcase her work, as they each serve as muse for the other.

I can hardly give this novel justice in my short blurb of it. Heather Webb skillfully and beautifully portrays Camille’s life so artfully (no pun intended) that I just couldn’t stop thinking about Camille once the book was over. I could picture her perfectly, I could feel her emotion, and at the end, when I knew the rest of her life’s sad story, I was haunted by her.

Beautifully written, RODIN’S LOVER is a book that I will not soon forget. The cover is a photograph of the real Camille Claudel. Within the novel are pictures of her art that Ms. Webb had recreated by a former student who is an artist – thus I recommend a paper copy (mine did not show well on my kindle, however, I did have an ARC).

I had the opportunity of hearing Ms. Webb speak about her book at the Concord Bookshop recently (read it here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/author-visit-at-the-concord-bookshop-heather-webb/) and I’m so glad I had the chance to read her novel. I highly recommend it!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Rodin’s Lover: A Novel

Or find it at an indie near you! I am an Indie Bound affiliate –


Find it at an Indie!

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

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Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

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While I received THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN through Net Galley, I was never able to access it as it had been archived, so I got a copy through my local library. This was a haunting read that goes back and forth between current day and WWII. This book is subtitled “A Hidden Masterpiece Novel” so I am assuming it is the start or part of a series.

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN starts with modern-day Sera, an art dealer in New York, as she searches for a painting she saw when she was young: a beautiful girl playing the violin in Auschwitz.  Sera has spent years looking for the original and just when she thinks she is close to finding it, complications occur in the form of a young business man from San Francisco who is also seeking the portrait. The story switches to the past so we  can see how the painting came to be. Young Adele is “Austria’s sweetheart”, a violinist whose father is a high-ranking officer in the Third Reich. She is in love with a fellow musician and together they try to help Jewish families to hide or escape to safety. Adele is caught and sent to Auschwitz where she is put into the women’s orchestra, a group of musicians who provide daily music at the camp while prisoners are sent to work or are taken off the incoming trains. Much of Adele’s story is how she and the other women work to stay together and stay alive, even though they find their task gruesome and disturbing.  Sometimes the story has us in Auschwitz, sometimes back before Adele was arrested, and sometimes current day with Sera and William as they look for the portrait.

This book is listed as Christian Historical Fiction. There are strong messages in it about God’s gifts to us and using the gifts we have, along with finding God’s presence through embracing life.

If I could change one thing in this book it would be to make the “past parts” more in order chronologically. I found it somewhat jolting to go from past to present to past but four years earlier than the last time we were in the past to present, etc. I also was troubled by how easily Adele’s parents sent their only child, barely more than a teen, off to a concentration camp.

If you like WWII reads and enjoy strong Christian messages in your story, along with some romance, you should read this book! The historical note at the end talks about the real life women’s orchestras in camps at that time.

You can find it at an indie — I am an Indie Bound affiliate (or find it at the library, like I did!):

Find it at an Indie!

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Review: CITY OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT by Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen recently came out with a new Molly Murphy mystery. If you read me, you know I’ve read them all. I really enjoy historical cozies and Molly is one of my favorite female sleuths (though I have to admit to an even greater fondness for Georgie of Bowen’s Royal Spyness mysteries!).

In this installment, Molly is headed to Paris to stay with friends Sid and Gus after a horrible bombing of her home in New York by an Italian gang. She and Daniel and the baby weren’t hurt, but sadly their young maid was killed. Molly has barely gotten her feet on solid ground when she’s landed in to the middle of a murder mystery. Where are Gus and Sid and why did they leave so suddenly? Who murdered the painter Reynold Bryce? And will Molly ever find her friends or have to go back to NYC?

Once again, Ms. Bowen has written a lively and well-crafted mystery, this time in a unique location. Paris at the turn of the century was a vibrant and beautiful place (it still is, but you know what I mean!). The art culture is explored here, and I was delighted to see many well-known real characters brought to life: Picasso, Degas, Monet, Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein. Molly interacts with all parts of the city, but especially the Montmartre district in her quest to find and then help her friends. I did not guess the murderer (kudos to Ms. Bowen!) and enjoyed reading this right up to the last page. This might be my favorite Molly mystery yet.

Another home run for the Molly Murphy series!

I got mine on Amazon where I am an Associate, and you can see it there, too:

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Review: THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jo Jo Moyes

Recently I received a copy of THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND as a gift. I had heard of Jo Jo Moyes, but never read her books before. This was a riveting and touching story, part current day/part historical fiction, centering around the portrait of a young woman from WWI.

In 1917 France, Sophie LeFevre is trying to keep her family’s inn going while the German occupation occurs. Her artist husband Edouard is gone to fight at the front, leaving Sophie, her sister, and her younger brother alone. Sophie and her sister must feed the German soldiers each night, and one evening the Commandant expresses an interest in the portrait of Sophie that her husband has painted. As time passes, Sophie becomes desperate to learn of her husband’s well-being, and risks everything she has to save him.

Meanwhile, in current day London, Liv Halston is now the owner of Sophie’s portrait. She is grieving the untimely death of her young husband, and the picture was a gift from him. However, the LeFevre family is looking for the portrait and want it returned. Classed as stolen during the war, they feel entitled to have it returned, while Liv is sure that not only did they obtained it legally, but that she has a connection to Sophie the others don’t. Thus begins a battle over the rightful ownership of the picture of “The Girl You Left Behind”. By the end, Sophie’s story is told and Liv’s story has unfolded and taken a new direction.

I really enjoyed this story! I love historical fiction, and having it interspersed with modern day was an effective way to tell the story. It has some mystery, some history, and some romance.

I’ve never read other books by Ms. Moyes, but I will look for more.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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