Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

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I found this title online and was happy to receive it through Net Galley for my iPad.

It is billed as a children’s book, but I think the content more appropriate for YA or adults. (similar to the conversations about WOLF HOLLOW — is that really a children’s book? I say not).

In this novel, young Annie is the new girl at school and she snubs an unpopular but clingy and unkind girl, who then contracts influenza and haunts Annie. Lots to think and talk about with this one in regards to how we treat others, and/or in the historical context of WWI.

Here’s the overview:

Description

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Again — it’s not just for children! I enjoyed it and read it straight through in a sitting.
Thank you for my review copy!
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HFVBT for THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER by Laini Giles

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I’m a stop on the historical fiction blog tour for Laini Giles’ novel: THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER. I absolutely loved this creative novel which focuses on Olive Thomas, a real life star of stage and early film. In the novel, the ghost of Olive is living at the New Amsterdam Theater in NYC. She delves into her past and tells her story, from growing up in the midwest to becoming a star, to her work with some of the biggest names of the day. She focuses on her marriage to Jack Pickford (Mary Pickford’s brother) and then her untimely death. Her character and voice is so strong throughout this story, that I looked up Olive Thomas afterwards and found out more about her. Here’s a picture of her, taken from google images:

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I found Olive fascinating and just like the novel’s ghost, she continues to haunt me. I love just about any story about the early days of Hollywood and the heyday of big name classic movie stars, but this one is a stand out. It looks like it’s the start of a series of books about actresses so I can’t wait for the next one! Thank you for my review e-copy and making me part of the tour!

Here’s what HFBVT has to say:

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The Forgotten Flapper: A Novel of Olive Thomas (Forgotten Actress Series, Volume 1)
by Laini Giles

Publication Date: August 1, 2015
Publisher: Sepia Stories Publishing
Formats: eBook & Trade Paperback
Pages: 411

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

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A presence lurks in New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre when the lights go down and the audience goes home. They say she’s the ghost of Olive Thomas, one of the loveliest girls who ever lit up the Ziegfeld Follies and the silent screen. From her longtime home at the theater, Ollie’s ghost tells her story from her early life in Pittsburgh to her tragic death at twenty-five.

After winning a contest for “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York,” shopgirl Ollie modeled for the most famous artists in New York, and then went on to become the toast of Broadway. When Hollywood beckoned, Ollie signed first with Triangle Pictures, and then with Myron Selznick’s new production company, becoming most well known for her work as a “baby vamp,” the precursor to the flappers of the 1920s.

After a stormy courtship, she married playboy Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford’s wastrel brother. Together they developed a reputation for drinking, club-going, wrecking cars, and fighting, along with giving each other expensive make-up gifts. Ollie’s mysterious death in Paris’ Ritz Hotel in 1920 was one of Hollywood’s first scandals, ensuring that her legend lived on.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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A native of Austin, Texas, Laini Giles grew up the daughter of bookworms, and became a Nancy Drew devotee early on. When she realized there might be no escape from hairy tarantulas and bad guys with guns, she put her detective dreams on hold and wrote about them instead, finishing her first mystery novel with custom illustrations when she was eight. It was this love of mystery combined with a love of old MGM musicals and The Marx Brothers that led her to check Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon out of the library during her formative years. Ideas began to simmer.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, she put the writing on hold for a while when real life got in the way (i.e.—she met and married her Canadian husband and headed north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer). She highly recommends moving to another country and not being able to work for a year for finishing any novels you may have laying around.

Laini and her husband live in Edmonton, Alberta with their three gray girl cats, nicknamed The Supremes.

For more information visit Laini Giles’ website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter andGoodreads.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, August 3
Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 4
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, August 5
Book Blast/Spotlight at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, August 6
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, August 7
Book Blast/Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 10
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, August 11
Book Blast/Spotlight at Room With Books

Wednesday, August 12
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, August 13
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, August 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read

Saturday, August 15
Book Blast/Spotlight at Please Pass the Books

Monday, August 17
Book Blast/Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 18
Book Blast/Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 19
Review at A Book Drunkard

Thursday, August 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse

Friday, August 21
Book Blast/Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, August 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, August 27
Book Blast/Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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Review: THE GHOSTS OF PEPPERNELL MANOR by Amy Reade

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I snagged this one from Net Galley since I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. Carleigh Warner and her preschooler Lucy head to Charleston, S.C. to work on restoring a friend’s family home. Carleigh is regrouping after a divorce and starting a new life. Carleigh moves in with the Peppernell family in their manor house, but soon finds out that there is a resident ghost – Sarah, a former slave on the plantation – who does not want the house restored. Things start to get out of control when two family members die and Carleigh’s work is destroyed. Is it the ghost? Or is something else afoot?

I enjoyed this light read (sounds funny to say it’s light with two murders, but it felt that way). That said, there were some things that jumped out at me that did not work for me. Occasionally I felt the writing got bogged down by exposition (for instance, in one place, late at night, the phone rang. Then there were a few sentences about how Carleigh had never heard the house phone because people had been using their cell phones, but this wasn’t a cell phone, it was a landline in the hallway. Way too much info on something I could care less about — it ruined the tension of a late night mysterious phone call). I also was puzzled about the murders. SPOILER ALERT – – one person had a heart attack and died but poison was found in their system. The attitude seemed to be: well, they died from the heart attack, so whatever… Then another person is killed violently and no one seems to make even a vague connection between the two deaths. Then a work colleague is “charged” with the murder of the victim based on the fact that he had an argument at work with him and had a domestic violence charge on record from his past. What?? Of course there was a clear explanation for both these deaths that came out at the end of the book.

That said, I liked Carleigh’s character (though I had some reservations about her lying to her ex about things that impacted their daughter’s care) and I wanted her to succeed. I would have loved a lot more info on the ghost. Why didn’t she want the house restored? There was mention of her having a child at 15 – what was the story there? Why wasn’t she at rest? And I could have done with a lot less of Mrs. Peppernell who was so arrogant and stuffy that she felt like a cliché. At the end there was a tidy wrap-up with mystery solved, but I would have liked to hear one more time from Sarah.

Thanks, Net Galley, and Kensington Books for my copy!

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

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

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Audiobook Review: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

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Chris Bohjalian is one of the most versatile authors I know. Each thing he writes is unique and quite different from his other works. As I loved his THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS and CLOSE YOUR EYES, HOLD HANDS, I pulled this from the library audio shelf (as I’ve mentioned before, I spend a LOT of time in the car).

THE NIGHT STRANGERS reads like a classic Stephen King novel – normal people with extraordinary happenings that are ghostly in nature. The novel starts with a plane crash. Told from the point of view of the pilot, the writing was so accurate and tense that I actually started crying as I was driving down the road (okay – my husband was travelling to Europe that day, so I might have been a little over-sensitive about plane crashes). The story is then told from both the pilot’s point of view — interestingly, using the second person “you” for narration — and the wife’s and daughters’ points of view. The narration on this audiobook is done by a man and a woman for these respective parts.

The plot in short is that the pilot survives his crash, but 39 passengers and crew do not. His family moves to a New Hampshire farmhouse to try to pick up their lives. Chip is still suffering. When he finds a strange door in the basement – with 39 bolts on it – he becomes a bit obsessed with discovering what lies in their basement. Meanwhile, wife Emily befriends the local neighbor women – who happen to be into witchcraft, herbs, and a few other things. Their twin daughters, Garnet and Hailey, are doing their best to adjust to fifth grade in their new town and school. Things start to spiral out of control when supernatural events start occurring and the friendly neighbors reveal their not-so-friendly agenda.

I enjoyed listening to this book. As always Chris Bohjalian is a gifted writer. He’s amazing. That said, I didn’t love his choice of ending – but again, it had that classic “horror” feel to it (sort of a “The Shining” meets “Salem’s Lot”). I just always like a “good guys win” ending! 🙂

Ably read by two distinct voices, this was one audiobook that made me not mind spending extra time in the car!

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Quick Review: POE by J. Lincoln Fenn

This Amazon “Breakthrough Novel” award winner was a fun find for me! It is the quick moving story of Dimitri Petrov, an obituary writer at his local newspaper. Dimitri is mourning the death of his parents from the year before. He is also writing a tome on Rasputin in his spare time. Dimitri is sent on an assignment to cover a séance at a local deserted “haunted house”, along with an annoying colleague, the medium, and a young woman he has met before and hopes to attract. What happens that night causes Dimitri to end up in the morgue as a DOA (though thankfully, he revives). After the séance, Dimitri is haunted by a female spirit he calls “Poe”, and he becomes determined to solve the mysteries surrounding the house and some murders, while protecting himself and his new girlfriend, Lisa.

This was a fun and fast read. I just loved the character of Dimitri, who was a bit hapless. He wasn’t strong, overly courageous, or sophisticated. He was smart, though, and very “real”. I couldn’t help cheering for him!

I loved how this novel combined supernatural, horror, and fantasy elements, along with humor. I look forward to more from Ms. Fenn — maybe even more with Dimitri? I would recommend for older YA as well, but be aware of some adult content and language.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate, and where I got my Kindle copy!

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Two Quick YA Reviews: “Fog” by Caroline Cooney and “The Twisted Window” by Lois Duncan

I recently got two creepy, YA suspense thrillers from Net Galley. These are the type of book that I loved to read when I was in middle school! Both were re-releases from Open Road Media – thanks, Open Road and Net Galley for my copies!

“Fog” is the first in a trilogy by Caroline Cooney (who has apparently over 100 books for teens; the one I know best: “The Face on the Milk Carton”). In this story a group of Maine island teens leave their homes to attend school on the mainland. Creepy and disturbing things begin happening and one girl, Christina, fights against the evil. Who will win?

When I started “The Twisted Window” by Lois Duncan I knew it seemed familiar. I had actually read it in the 1980’s. Lois Duncan is a masterful storyteller with all sorts of YA titles to her credit, most of them scary and/or supernatural thrillers. In this one, Tracy Lloyd befriends the new guy in school and gets involved in helping him get his supposedly kidnapped sister back from his stepfather. As a kid, Duncan was always one of my favorite authors as her stories are well-plotted and paced.

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

 

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Review: “The Widow of Saunders Creek” by Tracey Bateman

Through “Blogging for Books” I received a free copy of this book to review. “The Widow of Saunders Creek” tells the story of Corrie Saunders, a young woman recently widowed when her husband dies serving his country in Iraq. Corrie returns to her husband’s hometown and to the home they own and had planned to restore. Her husband’s family is still learning to accept her into the family and tensions are a bit high. Jarrod’s (her husband) cousin Eli, who is also a preacher, helps Corrie with work on the house; but as time progresses Eli worries that he is beginning to have feelings for his cousin’s widow. Meanwhile Corrie is still battling her grief and feelings of loss and begins to believe that Jarrod’s spirit is dwelling in their house. Will Corrie ever be able to move on with her life? And just what is going on in that house??

I have to say – I enjoyed reading this book, which combined dealing with grief, romance, and Christian elements. I found the supernatural aspect (the ghost in Corrie’s house) an interesting addition. Corrie dabbles a bit in local folklore and “craft” by trying to have a séance. She is guided by Eli to a relationship with Jesus. In some ways, this happened rather quickly and easily in the book (one minute she’s having a séance and the next she’s calling on Jesus). I also never quite figured out what the spirit in the house was, though Eli certainly thought it was a demon.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Christian romances and would not be bothered by the discussions of witchcraft/occult in the book.

Thank you, WaterBrook Press, for my copy!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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YA Review: “Beautiful Lies” by Jessica Warman (releasing 8/7/12)

Tomorrow “Beautiful Lies” comes out. I got this book as an ARC through Net Galley a few months ago. It is thrilling YA fare: identical twin sisters Alice and Rachel share everything (or do they??). When one twin goes missing, some think she’s run away, but her sister believes she’s in trouble, and she has the physical manifestations to prove it. This supernatural, creepy, at times disturbing and confusing book kept me guessing (and reading) to the last page.

I love a good YA read, and this was no exception. However (and this is a SPOILER ALERT), I was confused at times. The twins are switching identities, yet people are calling them by their other twin’s name, but not all people are; and then there is the whole what is real and what is imaginary and what are ghosts theme that was profoundly confusing at times. It’s the kind of book that I like to read twice so that I can go back and pick up clues the second time through.

All in all, a page-turner that I enjoyed!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. And thanks, Net Galley and Walker Children’s Books, for my copy to review!

 

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YA Review: “The Unquiet” by Jeannine Garsee – coming in July!

I’ve been on a YA supernatural reading kick lately, and got this one from Net Galley last month. It’s releasing next month and can be pre-ordered now.

“The Unquiet” is the story of Corinne – or Rinn – Jacobs, a teen who moves with her mom to a new town and new school and is looking to start over. Rinn has some serious mental health issues, and is relieved to make new friends who are accepting and understanding. Not only are these friends popular and fun to be with, the boy across the street is also amazingly cute and interested in her. All is going well until strange things start happening down a deserted hallway at school. The teens are convinced that a ghost is haunting them and Rinn decides that she will get to the bottom of all the happenings.

I really enjoyed this novel, which I would recommend for high school and up (due to mature themes). I also felt Garsee, who is a psychiatric nurse by day, did a sensitive and thoughtful job in writing of the complexities of teens on medication and of mental health.

In this story, the ghost is haunting a deserted pool area which is fenced off, but the students still pass through this dark and deserted walkway to get to class as they are not allowed to “cut through the gym”. I found this rather hard to believe until I read in the afterword that Garsee bases this story on a walkway she had in her own school as a little girl. It, too, had a disused and deserted part over to the side that totally creeped her out and stayed with her, lending itself to this ghost story now.

This book trailer – set to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata – might even be creepier than the novel!


See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

Thanks, Net Galley and Bloomsbury USA, for my copy!

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Quick YA Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

I received “New Girl” through Net Galley last week. It was a quick YA read with a plot to entice your average teen: our heroine, Callie, is admitted to the prestigious “Manderly Academy” in NH where she takes the place (literally) of missing student “Becca Normandy”, struggling to make new friends and dealing with major romance issues are secondary to the overall anxiety of Becca possibly returning (alive or from the dead).

Here’s the thing: I would have LOVED this book as a teenager. Ghosts? Dead roommates? Social issues? Teen sex? Attractive rich students off at boarding school with few if any adults in sight? I would have lapped this up, similar to my obsession in middle school with the “Flowers in the Attic” series.

As an adult, though, I had some major issues. Having worked in independent schools for over 20 years I found the fact that the main character’s parents “got her in” unbeknownst to her as incredulous. I found the amount of time the students were off partying and unattended, etc., incredulous. I found the fact that this poor girl was moved in mid-year to the same dorm room where the missing girl lived and the missing girl’s personal belongings were still all there and in place incredulous. I was also bothered by the Manderly/Becca/Rebecca association, which was intentional as a “retelling”, but wondered if most teens would recognize the DuMaurier reference or if I was just dating myself. Finally, I felt that I was reading the writing of a young person. I had no idea who this author was, besides assuming it was a woman, and felt this could be her first novel (it is not) or that she was young and still developing as a writer (she was 20 when she wrote it). Don’t get me wrong, the writing is fine. I just have read a lot of writing in my years as a teacher and college professor and it felt along the same lines. But the bottom line is I read it, and kept reading until the end.

So – I’d be interested in feedback when this comes out (it can be pre-ordered at the moment). I’d like to look forward to more from Paige Harbison, too. Due to the drugs/sex/rape/murder references, in my opinion it’s for older YA readers.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate – and thanks Net Galley and Harlequin Teen for my freebie!

 

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