Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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I received this one a while ago through Net Galley. I love suspenseful reads! This one wasn’t a thriller, but more of a low grade suspense as I tried to figure everything out that was going on with all these characters! I was thinking while I read it that it reminded me of Big Little Lies, and I see that one of the “real” reviews made the same comparison.

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Recommended! Let me know if you read it. Thank you for my review copy!

 

 

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A Whisper of Bones by Ellen Hart

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I read this one a while ago — it was one of those “read it in one day!” kind of mysteries that I couldn’t put down. While it is part of a series, it certainly stands alone as I haven’t read any of the other titles. Suspenseful and well-plotted, I will look for more by this author!

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Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

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THE TUSCAN CHILD by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me, you know I love Rhys Bowen’s mystery series (Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness, to name two of them). Every now and then she steps out and writes a stand alone (e.g. In Farleigh Field). THE TUSCAN CHILD is just that – a stand alone novel that tells the story of a WWII lost love, a young woman looking for part of her past, and the beautiful Tuscan countryside that is the setting for it all.

Here’s the scoop:

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A Note From the Publisher

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I really enjoyed this one (no surprise), and I think readers who enjoy mystery and family relationships and WWII will connect with this novel.
I received this e-copy via Ms. Bowen’s publicist and Net Galley – thank you!!
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LOSING LEAH HOLLOWAY by Lisa Regan

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A Note From the Publisher

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This novel is the second in a series, but can work as a stand-alone. I hadn’t read the previous title.
I chose this book on Net Galley as it looked intriguing and suspenseful. It was, but it was also rather sad and depressing. The novel starts with a carfull of passengers plunging off a bridge. The driver, a young mother, refuses to be saved and drowns. The story then goes from the present unraveling of the mystery to the past to uncover the chain of events that put the tragedy in motion. While at some points you know the characters’ motivations, there are some twists and surprises as well.
While this was a solid read, it felt different from a typical mystery to me. I generally don’t relate to the murder victim (especially when they die at the beginning of the novel). This story was different in that you could see why and how things came to be.  I found the final ending to be so sad for the children involved, too. Definitely not your typical mystery. Well-paced and plotted, I’d recommend it to those who want a mystery that goes beyond the action.
Thank you for my review e-copy.
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LIARS, INC. by Paula Stokes

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So – this one popped up in my sale of the day for Kindle a while ago. It’s one of those thrilling and suspenseful reads, aimed at YA but I think for older readers, too. I read it in one day just to see what would happen. Here’s the overview from Amazon:

A dark and twisted psychological tale, which Kirkus Reviews called “captivating to the very end” in a starred review—perfect for fans of I Hunt Killers and Gone Girl.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money. So with the help of his friend Preston and his girlfriend, Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something, and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about it. But then Preston never comes home. And the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead to Preston’s body.

Terrifying clues that point to Max as the killer….

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So – here’s the thing. This is the kind of book that you need to suspend disbelief to read, and that can work with YA books. However, due to the amount of sex in this novel, I would recommend it for older YA readers (I find that kids are choosing YA when they aren’t even in middle school yet, and that concerns me. But that is a story for another day!). I couldn’t stop reading as I wanted to see what happened, etc. I did not figure out the ending (kudos to the author!). I’d love to read another by her!

Recommended to those who enjoy a fast, thrilling read that involves older teens.

 

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Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

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I love all of Mary Kubica’s books and read them in 1-2 days! This one was no exception. It was a nonstop thrill of suspense and mystery. I felt so sorry for the poor guy in this story. Definitely this is one that stays with you!

Highly recommended if you enjoy suspense genre! Thank you for my review copy, which I received through Net Galley.

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FATAL OPTION by Chris Beakey

My friends at Smith Publicity sent me an e-copy of FATAL OPTION (thank you!) so that I could be part of the blog tour on this title.

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This story follows a father, who has already had a lot of pain and distress, as he deals with a life-changing decision he makes one snowy night. He will do anything to protect his two teens, but will he do the right thing?

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

A tragic accident. A family in crisis. And a killer watching every move.

Five months after the mysterious death of his wife, Stephen Porter is pulled from a dreamless sleep by a midnight phone call. His 17-year-old daughter Sara is stranded in a blizzard near the top of a mountain beyond their suburban home. She’s terrified and unable to stop crying as she begs him to come to her rescue.

Unfortunately Stephen went to bed just an hour before after a night of binge drinking. With his blurred vision and unsteady balance he knows it’s dangerously irresponsible to get behind the wheel. But he heads out into the snowstorm to bring Sara home.

High school teacher Kieran O’Shea is also behind the wheel, searching for his autistic younger brother Aidan, who is wandering aimlessly through the storm on that same mountain. Kieran is terrified—of the voices in his mind, that Aidan will be taken from him, and that he may soon be arrested for murdering three women.

In a matter of minutes Stephen will encounter Kieran and drive headlong into a collision that will force him to unlock the secret of his wife’s death, avoid prosecution, and protect his children from violence that hits all too close to home.

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I read this book quickly as I wanted to see what would happen. I did find it pretty heavy, though. This story had, among other things, rape, murder, suicide, incest, child abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional), and a serial killer. Just mentioning these things as I know they can be triggers for readers. I did read it to the end, and I liked the ending as I felt it was positive.  I felt for the main character as he was just an average joe who was in some bad situations and trying to make the best of it while he was trying to keep his life and his kids’ lives together. I will look for Mr. Beakey’s other titles!

Here’s a bit of info on the novel from Smith and a book trailer:

Fatal Option [February 21, Post Hill Press] is a nail-biting thriller that explores the devastating moral consequences of a dangerous choice. It’s garnered the following praise:
“A sharp, intelligent thriller. Really top-notch.”
– Neely Tucker, Washington Post staff writer & author of Only The Hunted Run
“A wintery tale of violence and redemption, artfully balanced by a touching portrayal of a family in crisis.”
– Peter Swanson, author of The Kind Worth Killing
“Fatal Option grabs you from the first page. Plan to stay up.”
– Kathleen Antrim, former Co-President of International Thriller Writers & author of Capital Offense
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TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum

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I grabbed this YA title as it was on sale for kindle, and I was so thrilled with it that I bought it (in hardcover!) for my teen daughter.

Here’s the overview from GoodReads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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I had never read anything by Julie Buxbaum and this is her first YA book, but I can hardly express what a treasure it is! I loved the characters, I loved the storyline, I loved the writing. I could not put it down and welcomed my insomnia so that I could continue reading during the night.

Poor Jessie is dealing with so much — her mother’s death, being new at school, moving from a “typical” Midwestern place to a wealthy part of LA, and being part of a new “step-family”. I think most teens can relate to at least one of these things.

I got it for my 13 year old, and had to ponder this as it is really geared to high school and up (some sexual content/discussion), but she is reading it now and loving it.

Highly Recommended!

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Review of THE WINEMAKERS by Jan Moran

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So I somehow missed that this book was coming out. It takes place, in part, in my hometown of Napa so I knew I HAD to read it! Ms. Moran and her publicist kindly sent me a copy via Net Galley.

Here’s the overview from NG:

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she’s never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret — a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for. Many years before, her mother’s hard-won dreams of staking her family’s claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

Me again! I really enjoyed this novel, which was a quick read for me. From Italy to Napa, with hidden secrets, strong women, murder, and romance, it captured my attention and kept me reading. My favorite parts were descriptions of the Valley and of winemaking. I liked the main character, Caterina, but liked her mother even more. I really enjoy a non-perfect but strong main female character! The only character who didn’t really work for me was Luca, as I found him one dimensional. Why was he so very evil? Someone read it and tell me!

Rest assured there was a happy ending (I had my doubts for a bit!) which is always a plus for me!

If you enjoy wine, romance, and the Napa Valley, then pick up a copy of THE WINEMAKERS.

A big thank you to the very gracious Ms. Moran and her publicist for my e-copy!

 

 

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REVIEWING: Two middle grade novels by Mary Casanova

I recently received some books to review from UMP (University of Minnesota Press) Marketing and two were by Mary Casanova (author of FROZEN, another great book I reviewed here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/quick-review-frozen-by-mary-casanova-releasing-9-7-12/).

RIOT, which is based on true events, follows the story of Bryan Grant, a sixth-grader, whose father gets involved in some violent occurrences when non-union workers are brought in to work at his father’s work, leaving his dad unemployed. Bryan befriends a young girl in his class, but then discovers that her father is one of the non-union “rats”. Meanwhile, tensions escalate and violence breaks out. Ultimately, Bryan needs to decide if he will do the right thing.

Casanova does a great job, as always, in creating realistic characters and situations. Bryan is a likable and sympathetic character, and one ends the book asking, “What would I do?” I think this would be a great choice for a classroom discussion, and it would also engage reluctant readers.

The other book by Casanova that I received was CURSE OF A WINTER MOON. This takes places in the 1500’s in France. Twelve-year-old Marius tries to protect his little brother who villagers are scared could be a werewolf (because he was born on Christmas Eve). There is a strong subtheme in this book of going against the establishment, and Marius’ father is accused of being a heretic as he reads the Bible and has sympathies for Martin Luther. There’s lots to discuss in this book, which can be read on several different levels. My ten-year-old is enjoying it now as an exciting adventure, but I would also use it with middle schoolers to discuss life in 1500’s Europe and the events leading to the Reformation.

You can see both of these books on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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I have one more to read from Univ. of Minnesota Press, but thank you for sending me these two!

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