Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

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I really enjoyed The Lace Reader, so I was thrilled to see that Brunonia Barry had a new novel out: The Fifth Petal. This was a suspenseful story of old and current Salem.

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TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber

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Nothing warms my heart like a Debbie Macomber title – especially at this time of year. This one came out well in advance of the holiday season and is a sweet story of romance and the holidays, family life and the power of kindness.

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OXBLOOD by Annalisa Grant

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Description via Net Galley —

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BAT DAD! A Parody by Blake Wilson

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I don’t know if you follow Bat Dad on You Tube but we find him hilarious!

Apparently, Blake Wilson spontaneously purchased a Batman mask one day at Target and was goofing around, talking like Batman — suddenly a star was born!

My kids find the Bat Dad videos hysterical, and I have to say, Blake’s patient wife (Jen!!) and really cute four kids make them fun.

This small book is a compilation of Bat Dad moments, set like a comic book, with a picture and word bubble per page. Many of them seemed familiar to me, so I am guessing they are taken from the Bat Dad videos.

While my middle-schoolers also enjoy Bat Dad, he’s really meant for parents — with humor that at times borders on “adult” and/or is really meant to speak to the average parent who is dealing with all that comes with raising kids and running a household.

Thank you, Blogging for Books and Three Rivers Press, for my review copy!

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Litfuse Blog Tour for SIMPLE PLEASURES: Stories of my Life as an Amish Mother

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Today I’m part of the Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour for Marianne Jantzi’s non-fiction book of “snapshots” of her life as an Amish mother.

I’ve always been fascinated with the Amish and how they live their lives. These stories are short glimpses into the daily life of their household, from pregnancy, to child care, to jobs, to household “dailiness”. It was a lovely read and very insightful. And that cover just brings a smile to my face whenever I see it!

I read that the publisher is one that focuses on having Amish individuals tell their stories so that the world can have a better understanding of Amish life and culture. Love this!

Here’s the description from Litfuse:

Young Amish homemaker Marianne Jantzi invites readers into her family’s life and Amish community. The mother of four young children, Jantzi writes about her daily routines and heartfelt faith with equal measures of wit and warmth. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and helping to manage the family store take up most hours in her day, but Jantzi finds time to pen columns for the Connection, a magazine beloved by Amish and Mennonite readers. Never sugarcoating the frustrations of motherhood, Jantzi tells it like it is, broken washing machine and bickering children and all. But through her busy days, Jantzi finds strength in simple pleasures of family, fellowship with her Amish community, and quiet time with God.

About Marianne:

Marianne Jantzi is an Amish writer and homemaker. Formerly a teacher in an Amish school, Jantzi now educates and inspires through her Northern Reflections column for the Connection. She and her husband have four young children and run a shoe store in the Milverton Amish community of Ontario.

Follow the tour and discover a new blog!

Tour Schedule:

4/14/2016
Mary | The Mary Book Reader
Karen | Karens Korner
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!

4/15/2016
Pam | Southern Gal Loves to Read
Amy | Forever Beloved

4/16/2016
Amanda | Inklings and Notions

4/17/2016
Terra | Heck Of A Bunch
Cristi | Cristi’s Reviews
Lisa | A Rup Life
Margaret | The World As I See It
Shawna | Not The Former Things

4/18/2016
Laura | Lighthouse Academy
Gloria | Amish Reader
Amanda | The Talbert Report

4/19/2016
Heidi | Heidi’s Wanderings
Susan | Susan Heim on Writing
Tammy | Bluerose’s Heart

4/20/2016
Melissa | Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers
Heather | Mom 2 Mom Connection
Athena | The Loose Screw
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart
Megan | When life gets you down…read a book
Beth-Anne | Book Reviews

4/21/2016
Brenda | WV stitcher
Kristie | Moments
Pat | Living Life With The Love’s
Colletta | Colletta’s Kitchen Sink
Sarah | Running Through The Storms
Alyssa | 1 Six 1 Five

4/22/2016
Crystal | Eccentric Eclectic Woman
JC | J.C.s BookShelf
Donna | Donna’s BookShelf
Alison | NOVA Frugal Family
Carol | Buttercup Counts Her Blessings

4/23/2016
Julie | More Of Him
Annie | Just Commonly

4/24/2016
Kemi | Homemaking Organized
LeAnne | Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

4/25/2016
Joyce | Joyce Maree
Carrie | Reading Is My SuperPower

4/26/2016
Dominique | Mama and the Bears
Beth | Beth’s Book-Nook Blog
Patty | Tammycookblogsbooks
Vicky | Walking in Grace
Alaina | The Untrained Housewife
Wendy | Life at Rossmont
Maureen | Maureen’s Musings

4/27/2016
Lindsey | Growing Kids Ministry

4/28/2016
Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Leslie | Did you hear about the Morgan’s?

THANK YOU for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!

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Audiobook Review: CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese

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So — since I’m probably the only person who hasn’t read this book, I put it on my “must get” list to purchase from Audible. I actually started this book when it came out several years ago, but couldn’t stay with it. I thought perhaps an audio version would be easier for me, especially since it had been so long I could not remember what it was about and why I didn’t stay with it.

This novel is the lifelong story of twins boys, Shiva and Marion, born to an English doctor and a young Indian nun. Their mother dies in childbirth and their father wants nothing to do with them, so they are raised by a pair of doctors who take the boys in and grow to love them (and each other). The story traces the boys’ development, growing up amid political turmoil in Ethiopia, falling in love with the same young woman (Genet – their childhood playmate), and making lives for themselves as physicians.

So here’s the thing — I wanted SO MUCH to like this story. It’s extremely well written, it has constant and universal themes in it of family, love, and sacrifice. Plus, EVERYONE I know has loved this book. Loved it. But I have to be honest – this book made me miserable. I found the almost gruesomely vivid medical details to be too much for me (driving to school one day I had to turn it off as I was going to throw up). I loved the part when the boys were young, but then some things occurred that involved Genet and I found them extremely disturbing. I was very troubled by the story and its outcomes. Yes, it’s  an incredible work, but it left me in tears and haunted (not in a good way) by the characters. What can I say? I read to escape and I enjoy positive and uplifting feelings and endings. I’m extremely sensitive.This book genuinely made me miserable, so I was happy to finish it.

I’d love to hear from others who read it and their experience!

The Audiobook was a lengthy 24 hours and was ably read by Sunil Malhotra.

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Historical Fiction Virtual Tour for TAMING THE TWISTED by Jodie Toohey

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Here I am today as part of one of my favorite things – an HFVBT blog tour! Today we are featuring TAMING THE TWISTED by Jodie Toohey.

Here’s what HFVBTours has to say:

TAMING THE TWISTED
BY JODIE TOOHEY

Publication Date: August 15, 2015
Wordsy Woman Press
eBook & Paperback; 242 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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READ AN EXCERPT.

Taming the Twisted is written in a similar style to Laura Ingalls Wilders’ Little House books though updated for modern times. It might read as if she’d left in all of the juicy tidbits about things people didn’t talk about during the time when she was writing. Taming the Twisted is a story of destruction, romance, mystery, and deceit set against a back drop of an actual historical event.

In early June, 1860, Abigail enjoyed a peaceful home life with her parents, younger sister, and twin toddler brothers. Their home in Camanche, Iowa, where they’d emigrated from Pennsylvania, was almost complete and her beau, Joseph Sund, had recently proposed marriage.

That changes the evening of June 3rd when a tornado rips through town, killing her parents. At the mass funeral for the over two dozen people who perished in the storm, she learns Marty Cranson, with whom Abigail witnessed Joseph having a heated argument, died, but at the hands of a person rather than the tornado.

In addition to being faced with raising her young siblings, Joseph has disappeared without a trace and a stranger, Marshall Stevenson, appears, offering to help Abigail repair the families’ home and cultivate the newly planted farm crops.

Abigail, while developing romantic feelings for Marshall, tolerating the scorn of town woman Pamela Mackenrow, and working as a seamstress and storekeeper to support her siblings, becomes obsessed with finding out who killed Marty, hoping that and not that he no longer loved her, was the reason Joseph left without saying goodbye.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

About the Author03_Jodie Toohey

Jodie Toohey is the author of four additional books, two poetry collections – Crush and Other Love Poems for Girls (2008) and Other Side of Crazy (918studio, 2013) – as well as two novels, Missing Emily: Croatian Life Letters (2012) and Melody Madson – May It Please the Court? (2014).

When Jodie is not writing poetry or fiction, she is helping authors, soon-to-be-authors, and want-to-be authors from pre-idea to reader through her company, Wordsy Woman Author Services.

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER |GOOGLE+ | GOODREADS | PINTEREST

 

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Here I am again!

While I enjoyed this story I did have a few issues with it. For me, personally, I find it challenging when books jump around in time (unless it’s a clear flashback/telling of a story for the majority of the book). The beginning of this book moved around from the tornado then backstory then back to the tornado. I think it could have built to the tornado without starting there. That said, I also have some issues with the “mash-up” genre, which is quite popular now and which most people find exciting, especially as it relates to YA/kids books. Is this historical fiction? Romance? A problem novel? A mystery? All of the above? To me at least, I like my books (and my theater, too) to commit to a genre and stay there! I know that many would disagree.

All that aside, I enjoyed reading this book and liked the characters. I was rooting for the main characters as life was not easy for them. I also love a good clean read, and a happy ending! I found it really interesting that this book was based on a real tornado that occurred in Iowa and which wreaked much havoc.

Thank you for my review copy!

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Litfuse Blog Tour with GIVEAWAY for MERMAID MOON by Colleen Coble

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I’m happy to  be part of the Litfuse Blog Tour for Colleen Coble’s new novel: MERMAID MOON.

Here’s what the tour has to say:

About the book:

Mermaid Moon (Thomas Nelson, January 2016)

Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.”

Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point.

Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart—and left—without a word, years ago.

When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye.

As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.


Purchase a copy:
http://bit.ly/1J0PXVl

About the author:

USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written several romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn,Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Her books have sold more than 3 million copies.

Connect with Coble: website, Twitter, Facebook

 

 

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This was my first Colleen Coble book, and I know she has quite a following. This book is “romantic suspense” – not my typical genre, but I enjoyed it. Poor Mallory has a lot of issues here and while trying to discover the events leading up to her father’s death (murder?), she uncovers and revisits things from her past that she’d rather leave forgotten. Mallory teams with Kevin, former beau and trusty game warden, to solve the mystery, and ultimately to save her own daughter’s life.

Yes, I will admit to having to suspend disbelief a bit during this story, but the bigger element here for me was that this was a story of redemption and self-forgiveness and if you read my blog at all, you know that I love that theme in books. Mallory has some things in her past that she needs to deal with, and she needs to forgive herself before she  can truly move on in her life.

With a wide cast of characters, this novel is number two in a series. It stands alone, but I did want to go back and read number one in the Sunset Cove series.

Thank you for my review copy!

But wait – there’s more — A GIVEAWAY!!

Colleen Coble’s Mystery e-Reader Prize Pack Giveaway

One grand prize winner will receive:

 Link: http://bit.ly/1PVlGXk (if link is not “hot”, please copy and paste into your browser).

Good luck!

 

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Review: MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout

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Several years ago I read OLIVE KITTERIDGE and just loved it. It’s hard to describe why – I just did. I was excited to MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON come up on Net Galley and got it to read.

Here’s how Net Galley describes it:

Description
A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

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I just loved this story. Again, it’s hard to explain why. Lucy is a typical woman, though you can see that she has had hardships (unexplained) in her past. She is just trying to get through life. She wants to be (and becomes) a writer. Her illness gives her an opportunity to reconnect with her mother (her entire family was very dysfunctional). Throughout there are hints that Lucy is keeping some parts of her past hidden as they are too painful to think about. What I really liked, though, was that there never was a “big reveal”. We never exactly discovered all there was to discover about Lucy Barton (though one could make some guesses). It was one of the things I liked most about this book — it’s ability to keep the narrator slightly unknown.

This book would be an excellent book club book, giving folks a chance to make their decisions about what they think about Lucy and her family and her life. Some might find this book slow or unexciting (no car chases!), but I thought it was just right. It is short but beautifully written. Elizabeth Strout has the ability to craft a sentence that is so right and so true that it stays with you.

Thank you for my review e-copy, Random House and Net Galley! MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON publishes today – 1/12/16.

Now I’m throwing it back to my earlier review of OLIVE KITTERIDGE – for your reading pleasure:

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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt like they knew you stripped bare of your outer facade?

This is how I felt about the characters of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Olive Kitteridge. Olive Kitteridge is a middle-aged woman, living in the small town of Crosby, Maine, and this novel is a series of vignettes depicting the people of the town, their lives, their hopes, dreams, and disappointments. The common thread running through these short stories is the character of Olive. In each story we see a different side of Olive, and by the end come to know her as multi-faceted and deeply human.

Whenever I pick up a Pulitzer, I’m never sure if I’m going to like it. Will it be too deep to get through? Will I feel compelled to love it, and don’t? Will I be able to read it enjoyably, or have to attack it like a college textbook? I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. It is a gem. Strout’s writing is so beautiful and descriptive. She calls on elements of human nature that, as I read, I found myself shaking my head and saying, “Yes, that is exactly how it is in life, isn’t it?” This book portrayed her characters in such a raw state that at times it was a bit painful to read. Yet, each story had a feeling of redemption in it, too. This was a wonderful book. I picked it up on a whim at a local bookstore and purchased it – and I’m so glad I did!

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Audiobook Review: ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS by Adriana Trigiani

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I recently had the chance to get ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS with my Audible credit for the month. I LOVE Adriana Trigiani’s books and I was quite excited to listen to her new one. This is a wonderful story, set in the golden age of Hollywood and involving familiar and beloved classic stars.

Gretchen Young took the screen name “Loretta Young” and spent her life as an actress. Witty and hardworking, Gretchen and her sisters all worked in the movies, supporting themselves and their mother, from early childhood into adulthood. In her early twenties and recently having her marriage annulled, she is coming off an infatuation with the already married Spencer Tracy, when Loretta finds herself drawn to the always irresistible Clark Gable (another married man). Her strict Catholic upbringing makes her unable to engage in an open affair, and she fights her attraction to him, all while they are filming The Call of the Wild together. However, weeks after filming Loretta discovers she is pregnant and has to decide how she will proceed in her life — both personally and professionally.

While I knew Loretta Young from the movies, I had no idea she had a child by Clark Gable (true). The whole story is something Hollywood-esque. (However, there are also stories that she later said she was date raped by Gable — decidedly not exciting/romantic/humorous/okay if that’s true). If you know me, you know I LOVE stories of classic Hollywood, and I love anything to do with movie stars and Hollywood, especially in the old days (I also love plays and theater and Broadway but that’s for another day).

Trigiani does her usual excellent job in evoking a sense of place and personality here — doubling challenging as she is taking on the personas of living legends. Even the minor characters are exciting — Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, etc. (and I want Myrna Loy for a friend!).

The audible version was read by Blair Brown and she does an amazing job in telling the story, pitching her voice with variety, and pulling the reader in. Truly, this was one of the best “aud-itions” of a novel that I’ve experienced.

While this book released recently, it is EVERYWHERE! Get yours pronto and let me know how you like it!

 

 

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