Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers

Wow! I had this book for a while via Net Galley, but only got to it last week. Once I started it, I could not stop and read it in almost one sitting. It was a really intriguing Civil War story, told through various voices and documents – letters, diary entries, court reports – in various voices across years.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy a story of this era, along with some mystery and lots of details that are true to fact!

I have to say, that I never have read a lot from the point of view of a Southern woman trying to keep her farm going doing the War. Every day was a battle of survival, and while this is understandable, the way this novel is written, the facts are so bare and gritty that it shed a new light for me on women’s experience.

Thank you for my e-copy to review!

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GLORY OVER EVERYTHING by Kathleen Grissom

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I really enjoyed THE KITCHEN HOUSE, so I was thrilled when GLORY OVER EVERYTHING – Beyond the Kitchen House – came up on Net Galley. This novel essentially continues the story begun in THE KITCHEN HOUSE. (see my review of that here )

Here’s what Net Galley had to say about GLORY OVER EVERYTHING:

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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE by Andy Kutler

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Today I’m one of the stops on HFVBTour’s THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE tour. This was a clever and interesting war story that included past, present, and time travel.

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

The Other Side of Life
by Andy Kutler

Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Neverland Publishing Company LLC
Formats: Trade Paperback and Kindle
Pages: 360

Genre: Historical Fiction

READ AN EXCERPT.

December 1941, Pearl Harbor. A peaceful Sunday morning turns into a devastating attack on American soil. Naval officer Malcolm “Mac” Kelsey is severely wounded while defending his ship. A flawed man abandoned long ago by his alcoholic wife, Kelsey has been mired in despair and hopelessness following the accidental death of Lucy, the young daughter he considers the only redemptive aspect of his life. Near the point of death, Kelsey is brought to what he believes to be an afterlife where he is offered an opportunity to shed his past memories and embark upon an alternate path in another place and time. Eager to escape his torment and begin a more tranquil existence, Kelsey accepts, only to feel quickly betrayed as he soon finds himself back in the midst of battle, this time as a Union soldier at the dawn of the Civil War.

Through Antietam, Gettysburg and four years of relentless fighting, Kelsey attempts to cast aside his painful past while trying to survive the horrors of combat. He crosses paths with compelling figures on both sides of the conflict determined to persevere and return to those they left behind. Idealistic Ethan Royston, promoted from the enlisted ranks, believes in preserving the Union but is plagued by insecurity and self-doubt. His closest friend, West Point-trained Cal Garrity, remains loyal to his home state of Virginia despite his misgivings about the virtue of the Southern cause. The war will divide these friends, just as it will divide Garrity from his adoring wife, Emily, the charismatic and headstrong daughter of a prominent Norfolk shipbuilder, forced to face the onset of war alone.

Each will endure unimaginable hardship and brutality that will forever reshape their core beliefs and values. Each will find their strength and resolve tested as they search for self-purpose, humanity, and reconciliation. Most of all, Mac Kelsey will discover the very essence of life and death, and whether the new beginning he has long coveted will bring him the inner peace he has so desperately sought.

PRAISE

“Employing some new twists on the novelist’s technique of time travel, Andy Kutler sends a naval officer bombed at Pearl Harbor back to the Civil War. Among his comrades in a Union cavalry regiment he absorbs the enduring values of trust, loyalty, love, and selflessness during the chaos and tragedy of a war that took place a half century before he was born. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story and captivated by its principal characters.” — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winner author of Battle Cry of Freedom and The War That Forged a Nation

“Profound, smart, and entertaining – the path through The Other Side of Life is an amazing journey through history.” — Joe Weisberg, Creator and Executive Producer of FX’s The Americans and author of An Ordinary Spy

“Andy Kutler’s war scenes are gripping, his characters vulnerable and honest, and his story ultimately triumphant — an exciting journey back into two levels of the past.” — David Hardin, author of Emblems of Woe: How the South Reacted to Lincoln’s Murder

“The Other Side of Life imaginatively mingles brutal scenes of Civil War battlefields with thought-provoking moral issues. It describes the conflicted loyalties and sufferings of that tragic era and the spiritual growth of the book’s hero—a naval officer wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack—and those he becomes close to when he is transported to the past. The swiftmoving, compelling narrative grips the reader from first page to last.” — Bernard Weisberger, historian and author of America Afire: Adams, Jefferson, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800

“Andy Kutler has written a thoughtfully imaginative adventure across time, approaching the Civil War from a fresh perspective while creating memorable, compelling characters. The story flows beautifully and is consistently challenging.” — Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, Now and Then Reader (nowandthenreader.com)

AMAZON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

03_Andy Kutler

Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A.) and Georgetown University (M.A.), he has previously worked on the senior legislative staff of two United States Senators before serving as a senior policy officer with the U.S. Secret Service. He is working today as a consultant to the national security community.

While Andy’s writings have appeared in The Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Other Side of Life is his first novel. Andy’s interests include travel, military history, his Wisconsin sports teams, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and two children.

For more information and news please visit Andy Kutler’s Facebook page.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, September 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Sunday, September 14
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, September 15
Review at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Friday, September 19
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, September 26
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, October 6
Review at A Book Geek

Monday, October 13
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, October 20
Review at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, November 1
Review at Genre Queen

Monday, November 10
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, November 12
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, November 13
Blog Tour Wrap-Up at Passages to the Past

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Me again!

I really enjoyed this novel and found Kutler’s depictions of battles – both at Pearl Harbor and in the Civil War – accurate and descriptive. I really liked and connected with the character of Kelsey, too. And – no spoilers! – I loved the ending!

My only challenge was following some of the changes in point of view in the narration. There are several main characters.

This is Mr. Kutler’s first novel (though he is a very experienced writer) and I look forward to more by him.

If you enjoy reading about the Civil Way and like the idea of time travel (just to mash up the genre a bit!), then you should pick up THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE.

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review e-copy!

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HFVBook Tour for STEERING TO FREEDOM by Patrick Gabridge

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One thing I love about reading historical fiction is learning about new things. STEERING TO FREEDOM is no exception. This is an amazing story based on a true account of black slaves who literally take a ship and steer it north to freedom.

Here’s what Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours has to say:

Steering to Freedom
by Patrick Gabridge

Publication Date: May 11, 2015
Publisher: Penmore Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 352

Genre: Historical Fiction

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A troubled country, a courageous heart, and the struggle for freedom. In May 1862, Robert Smalls, a slave and ship’s pilot in Charleston, South Carolina, crafts a daring plan to steal the steamship Planter and deliver it, along with, the crew and their families to the Union blockade. After risking his life to escape slavery, Robert faces an even more difficult challenge: convincing Abraham Lincoln to enlist black troops. Based on a true story, Steering to Freedom tells the powerful and inspirational story of a young man who becomes the first black captain of a US military ship, while struggling to navigate a path to freedom for himself, his family, and his people.

PRAISE

“Steering to Freedom sweeps back the curtain on an extraordinary story of heroism and sacrifice. Escape is only the beginning. Robert Smalls doesn’t just save himself: he brings out his family, his friends and his mates — and then he goes back, fighting not just the navies of the South but the deep-rooted prejudices and ignorance of the North. With a sure touch for historical detail and a mastery of the human condition, Patrick Gabridge brilliantly evokes the spirit of a time, a country in struggle, and the heart of a man at its center”.— Mike Cooper, author of Clawback and Full Ratchet.

“In Patrick Gabridge’s meticulously crafted new novel Steering to Freedom, we’re treated to the gripping true tale of Captain Robert Smalls, a South Carolina slave who, after seizing his freedom, risked his life in a series of nautical adventures to win freedom for all of his enchained brothers and sisters. This powerful and inspirational story is skillfully and dramatically rendered by a writer who not only knows how to steer a good story, but who does so without losing sight of the heart-breaking humanity of his players.” — Mark Dunn, author of Ella Minnow Pea and Under the Harrow.

“Engaging characters and captivating storytelling make this inspiring historical adventure a must-read. For readers who enjoy seeing history through the lens of imagination. ” — Sophie Littlefield, author A Bad Day for Sorry and A Garden for Stones.

“Steering to Freedom brings to life the extraordinary true story of Captain Robert Smalls, an important figure in American Civil War history who should not be overlooked. This is an inspiring story of a hero: a slave who steals a steamship and navigates treacherous waters to lead his crew and their families to freedom. Yet in the hands of novelist Patrick Gabridge, Robert Smalls is entirely human, real, and relatable. Gabridge shows us a man whose highest ambitions are fueled by the important personal relationships in his life, especially his wife and children. With its cinematic scope, action-packed adventure, historical detail and emotional heft, Steering to Freedom will appeal to many audiences. ” — Diana Renn author of Blue Voyage, and Latitude Zero.

“Patrick Gabridge’s Steering to Freedom is a swashbuckling, page-turning epic set against the immaculately detailed backdrop of Charleston Harbor during the Civil War. Robert Smalls, a brilliant, resourceful slave, makes a daring and audacious bid for freedom. The story, based on actual events, reads with the freshness of fiction and the authenticity of truth. The characters from every walk of life earn your respect and then your admiration and finally your love. Patrick Gabridge has given us a whole new lens on the Civil War by bringing a previously unknown chapter to vivid, deeply moving, unforgettable life. — Laura Harrington, award winning author of Alice Bliss and selected for Barnes & Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” program, and as an Entertainment Weekly “Best Reads of the Summer,” and a Publishers Weekly First Fiction title.

In Steering to Freedom, Patrick Gabridge has intertwined history with a meticulous and moving narrative of Robert Smalls—Confederate steamboat pilot, family man, and slave—whose daring vision to claim freedom against all odds will grab the reader from the first page. —Jessica Maria Tuccelli, author of Glow.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY |CHAPTERS | ITUNES | KOBO

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Patrick Gabridge is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. His full-length plays include Flight, Distant Neighbors, Lab Rats, Constant State of Panic, and Blinders, and have been staged by theaters across the country. His passion for history extends to the stage, and his historical plays include work about the creation of the English Bible (Fire on Earth), the astronomers Kepler and Tycho (Reading the Mind of God), a volcanic eruption on Martinique (The Prisoner of St. Pierre), 19th century Boston publisher Daniel Sharp Ford (None But the Best), and the 1770 Boston Massacre (Blood on the Snow).

Patrick has been a Playwriting Fellow with the Huntington Theatre Company and with New Repertory. Recent commissions include plays and musicals for In Good Company, The Bostonian Society, Central Square Theatre, and Tumblehome Learning. His short plays are published by Playscripts, Brooklyn Publishers, Heuer, Smith & Kraus, and YouthPlays, and have received more than a thousand productions from theatres and schools around the world.

His other novels include Tornado Siren and Moving [a life in boxes]. His work for radio has been broadcast by NPR, Shoestring Radio Theatre, Playing on Air, and Icebox Radio Theatre.

Patrick has a habit of starting things: he helped start Boston’s Rhombus writers’ group, the Chameleon Stage theatre company in Denver, the Bare Bones Theatre company in New York, the publication Market InSight… for Playwrights, and the on-line Playwrights’ Submission Binge. He’s also a member of the Dramatists Guild, StageSource, and a board member of the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund. He is currently the co-founder and coordinator of the New England New Play Alliance and is actively involved with the Boston theater scene.

Patrick has received numerous awards for work, including fellowships from the Colorado Council on the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Commission. For more information visit Patrick Gabridge’s website, or on his blog, The Writing Life x3.

You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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This was a truly inspiring read. Gabridge’s style is very readable and his characters are multi-dimensional. I enjoy reading about the Civil War era, and this story deserves to be told. Smalls’ quest for freedom for his family and then his work to allow Black troops in the Union forces should not be overlooked. I’d love to see this book used in classrooms and/or made into a movie.

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for sharing this story! I see that Mr. Gabridge does a lot in my local scene, so I hope to cross paths with him sometime in Boston. 🙂

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Review: THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN by Sarah McCoy

Every now and then a book comes along that is to touching and so beautifully done that it makes you want to hold it close to you and weep. This is how I felt about Sarah McCoy’s THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN.

In this novel, modern day Eden moves to an old house in New Charleston, W.V. Her story parallels another story of that house in a different time: as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Sarah Brown is the daughter of abolitionist John Brown and she makes maps for slaves moving north to seek freedom. Sarah is a complex character and struggles with her own physical and emotional limitations while bravely working to bring families to freedom. Eden, meanwhile, is struggling to come to terms with her relationship with her husband and the trials they have faced with infertility. Eden finds a doll’s head under the kitchen floorboards which starts her on a quest to find out more about the house. Add in a precocious young neighbor and a cute puppy, and Eden reaches the point where she must decide whether she will embrace life, or continue to live in self-doubt.

I just loved this book. I always love Sarah’s writing and this was no exception. She has an amazing ability to capture setting so that you feel the time and place; she captures character as well and you feel you really know these people. Eden’s and Sarah’s stories are woven together seamlessly.

Highly recommended! Sarah will be at the Concord Bookshop on May 7 and my calendar is marked!

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

Find this book at an indie near you – it publishes in early May. (I am an Indie Bound affiliate):


Find it at an Indie!

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HFVB Tour — Review of SISTERS OF SHILOH by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

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I’m so happy today to be taking part in the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of SISTERS OF SHILOH — a Civil War story of two sisters who go off to war. I absolutely loved it!

Libby and Josephine aren’t very similar, but their bond as sisters is fierce. Libby marries neighbor boy Arden, while Josephine still hasn’t been kissed. When Arden is killed in battle, Libby vows to avenge his death by killing 21 Yankees, one for each year that Arden lived. Josephine can’t let Libby go on her own, and joins her in the disguise of two young men heading off to war. During their “enlistment”, Libby and Josephine learn to fight, survive the elements, and endure the amazing hardships that existed for Civil War soldiers, all while hiding their true identities. Libby’s love for Arden brings him close in spirit – close enough that he talks to her and guides her actions. Josephine however, falls in love with a fellow soldier, which brings complications of its own.

I just loved this story and read it in one day. The writing is so beautifully evocative. I’ve never read a book with two authors where you couldn’t see the seams where the two writing styles came together.

I never share quotes from books – in part because they ask you not to share from ARC’s unless you know it is in the finished work – but this first sentence is so exquisite that I had to stop and re-read it:

Libby waited for her dead husband in the woods, her breath making clouds in the cold night air.

I love that opening. I loved these characters. I loved this book!

Here’s some info from HFVBT:

About Sisters of Shiloh…
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages:256
Genre: Historical FictionAdd to GR Button
A best-selling novelist enlists her own sister to bring us the story of two Southern sisters, disguised as men, who join the Confederate Army—one seeking vengeance on the battlefield, the other finding love.In a war that pitted brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle. Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

Authors and Sisters, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall_2

About the Authors

Kathy Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. Kathy is the best-selling author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar and Blue Asylum She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer. She currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with her husband. Visit Kathy’s Blog.

Becky Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. She holds a degree in History from the University of Texas in Austin, and currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, a Navy pilot, and their four children.

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Review: THE GOLDEN PATHWAY by Donna M. McDine

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the HF Virtual Book Tours blog tour for the promotion of the book THE GOLDEN PATHWAY by Donna M. McDine and illustrated by K. C. Snider.

This story is written for children and is about a young boy’s experience during the Civil War. Young David lives in a violent home, and he befriends his family’s slave, Jenkins. One night he gets a chance to help Jenkins escape on the Underground Railroad. Will he take the risk to help his friend?

This is a very short story — picture book style and less than 20 pages. The copy I read was a hardcover/library binding edition. I kept thinking how this would be a wonderful edition to the classroom: David’s story is a great jumping off point to start to discuss the Civil War, slavery, the Underground Railroad, and basic human rights. It is aimed at younger elementary-aged readers, and I plan to have my children read it as a way to start a discussion on slavery and the Civil War (which they’ve learned about some in school, but still find puzzling and highly disturbing). 

Author Donna McDine is an award-winning author with several books to her credit. You can read more about her at http://www.donnamcdine.com. THE GOLDEN PATHWAY is published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thank you, Amy, for making me part of your book tour!

 

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Quick Review: I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Oh how I loved this book! While it doesn’t publish until 1/2014, I just can not stay quiet about this Civil War love story and spunky heroine.

Rosetta and Jeremiah are newly married when  Jeremiah leaves to join up with the Union forces. Rosetta is a tomboy  and while she loves being married, she detests “women’s work” (of that era) and prefers to run the farm. A series of events lead her to rashly decide to join up disguised as a boy so that she can find her husband and be with him.

I absolutely loved this story and give McCabe credit for creating such a powerful heroine with a unique voice. Her depiction of the Civil War experience is clearly based on much research and I could not forget this book after I was done. I cried in parts. I rooted for Rosetta. I could not put it down.

I got mine as an ARC from Net Galley, but you can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Quick YA Review: Alias Dragonfly by Jane Singer

Wow – I am waaaay behind on my blogging to our really awful fall with unexpected deaths in both my and my husband’s families.

However, here I am to start off the parade of reviews in my “saved drafts” section, with the YA historical novel: “Alias Dragonfly”. I scored this free from Net Galley.

In this novel, Civil War teen Maggie Bradford leaves New Hampshire with her father and goes to stay with her cranky aunt in Washington, DC. The war surrounds them and Maggie finds herself involved with intrigue by becoming part of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency by working as a Union spy.  Maggie finds romance as well as mystery, and the book ends by leaving you hanging and waiting for more. It appears to be part of a series.

Highly recommended for YA Civil War reading and for those, like me, who just love historical fiction of this period!

Thanks, Net Galley and Bell Bridge Books for my copy!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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Quick Review: Tomorrow’s Sun by Becky Melby (coming in January, 2012)

Another Net Galley ARC that I downloaded for my Kindle was “Tomorrow’s Sun” by Becky Melby. In this novel  Emily Foster is a young woman who is haunted by the tragic events of a past skiing accident – an accident for which she blames herself. To make money and to help herself heal, she decides to fix up and sell a house she has purchased. However, Emily is unprepared for what she finds: an old Underground Railroad stop with letters from the 1860’s. Emily is also unprepared for the feelings she begins to have for her contractor, Jake Braden. Emily’s story mirrors the story of the house in the 1860’s.

I enjoyed reading this novel, which would be considered a romance with a touch of historical fiction in it. It also had a strong Christian element in it, especially in the second half of the book (it seems I’ve gotten a lot of books with Christian themes in them lately!). Most of the story worked for me – though I will admit to finding Jak’es brother-in-law a bit too much of a villain, and I found it an awfully big coincidence that Becky had met Jake in the distant past as a teen. All in all, though, I love a historical mystery and a happy ending!

See this book on Amazon where you can pre-order it:

 

Thanks Net Galley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for my copy!

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