Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

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In December, I received an electronic copy of THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY via Edelweiss from my friends in publicity at Harper Collins. This was a fast and interesting read, especially since I love historical fiction!

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways.

An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom…

San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision…one that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?

THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY publishes on Feb. 7. Jaeger has done an excellent job in researching the time period and making history come alive. I will admit to loving the historical part better than the present day story, but that usually happens for me in this type of novel!

 

 

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TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP by Beatrice Colin

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I loved this historical fiction which I found on Net Galley a while ago. It is set against the building of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and follows the lives and relationships of a Scottish family, their chaperone, and one of the lead engineers on Eiffel’s project.

Here’s the overview from NG:

Description

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HFVBook Tour BOOK BLAST for C.W. Gortner’s THE VATICAN PRINCESS with GIVEAWAY!

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Today I’m blasting it up for Christopher Gortner’s new novel THE VATICAN PRINCESS – a novel of Lucrezia Borgia.

Here’s what HFVBTours has to say:

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The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Ballantine Books
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

Praise

“Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome’s darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing.” – Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author

“A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read.” – Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author

“Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias.” – Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

About the Author

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C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him onFacebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’sNewsletter for updates.

Book Blast Schedule – Discover a new blog to follow!

Tuesday, February 9
Unshelfish
Drey’s Library
The Maiden’s Court
CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, February 10
The Lit Bitch
The Never-Ending Book
A Dream within a Dream
What Is That Book About

Thursday, February 11
Laura’s Interests
The Reader’s Hollow
Flashlight Commentary

Friday, February 12
Let Them Read Books
To Read, Or Not to Read

Saturday, February 13
So Many Books, So Little Time
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Sunday, February 14
100 Pages a Day
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, February 15
A Book Geek
A Bookish Affair
Puddletown Reviews

Tuesday, February 16
Just One More Chapter
Historical Fiction Obsession
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Wednesday, February 17
Impressions In Ink
A Literary Vacation
The Country Bookworm

Thursday, February 18
The True Book Addict
Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, February 19
Passages to the Past
Kristin Un-Ravelle’d
Book Lovers Paradise

Saturday, February 20
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Sunday, February 21
Carpe Librum (Seize The Book)
Seize the Words: Books in Review

Monday, February 22
Broken Teepee
Book Drunkard
The Reading Queen

Tuesday, February 23
Teatime and Books
View from the Birdhouse
Historical Fiction Connection

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While this is a blast and not a true review I have to say that I am reading this and it is AMAZING! What a fascinating story and Mr. Gortner is a true storyteller and gifted writer.

Historical fiction at its finest!

But wait there’s more!

This giveaway is happening – don’t miss it (I’m entering it myself):

Giveaway

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To win a Borgia-Inspired Velvet Bag & Beaded Bracelet from C.W. Gortner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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/ZMyeG/the-vatican-princess-book-blast

Happy Reading!

 

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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour – FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER by Susan Spann

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I’m happy today to take part in the historical fiction blog tour for Susan Spann’s FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER.

This is the first time that I’ve read a book in this cozy mystery series set in Japan in the 1500’s and I really enjoyed it!

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781250027061
Pages: 304

Series: Shinobi Mysteries (Volume 3)
Genre: Historical Mystery

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August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.

Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro’s life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?

Flask of the Drunken Master is the latest entry in Susan Spann’s thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo.

Praise for Claws of the Cat

“Spann matches period detail with a well-developed whodunit plot in her promising debut, the first in a new series set in 16th-century Japan.”

Shinobi Mystery Series Titles

Book One: Claws of the Cat (Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month)
Book Two: Blade of the Samurai
Book Three: Flask of the Drunken Master

Flask of the Drunken Master Available at

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author

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Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.

For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website and blog. You can also find her onFacebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Here I am again! This was a quick an engaging read for me. I loved learning about the shogun era and the life of a real ninja. It was so interesting to read about the culture of Japan at that time. I think the interaction and friendship between Father Mateo, a Jesuit, and Hiro, the ninja, was  really well-crafted and believable. The mystery was well-plotted, too, and I read through the story in just a few sittings. I would LOVE to see these books as a television series through the BBC!

I will look for more from this author and series. Thank you for my review e-copy and for making me part of the tour!

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HFVB Tour Review: THE UNQUIET BONES by Mel Starr

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So happy today to be taking part in Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour’s Blog Tour for Mel Starr’s THE UNQUIET BONES. If you read me regularly, you know I love historical fiction and I also love mysteries, especially cozy mysteries. This book combined both of those loves in a fun and fast read. And – it’s just the start of a series centering on this main character and his mystery solving in medieval England.

Hugh of Singleton is an educated and intelligent man or somewhat noble birth (but not wealthy). He chooses to work as a surgeon after attending training in Paris and is making a small living doing this when he is called to administer to a local, powerful lord. Lord Gilbert then calls upon Hugh to solve the mystery of some bones found in his cesspool – bones that are distinctly human. Hugh sets about solving the mystery or the bones found (which appear to belong to a teen age girl) and in doing so, unearths more forgotten secrets. Will he be able to find the killer? According to Lord Gilbert, he is going nowhere until he does!

I really enjoyed this book and am thrilled that it is just the first in a series. I could see this fitting so well on the BBC as a weekly series! Hugh is a likable character and the medieval setting will surely make you happy you live now! I always love to learn new things when reading historical fiction, and this book seemed very well-researched. When you think of all the things you could die from back then – things that are rather easily managed today for the most part – it does make one stop and pause (and be thankful for anti-biotics!). I found the mystery well-plotted (even though I did figure it out!), and the extraneous characters served to move the plot along.

I would love to read more of Hugh de Singleton’s adventures! Thank you so much for having me be part of the tour and for my review copy (which I swiftly gifted to my husband as I know he will love it!).

Read more about Mel Starr on his website:

http://www.melstarr.net

See it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

The Unquiet Bones: The First Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon (The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon)

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YA Review: MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER by Katie Alender

I saw MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER at the YA session at BEA but quite frankly, I walked past it. Marie Antoinette – serial killer?? It sounded rather absurd, plus the cover had a costumed girl with blood on her – ick (just a note here: looks like the blood didn’t make it to the final cover). However, when they were doing the session, they mentioned it as a good example of the “mash up” genre: part mystery, part historical fiction, part horror, part supernatural, part contemporary. The speaker recommended it, so I immediately slipped back to the table and grabbed a (free) copy. I have to say – I really enjoyed reading it!

MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER starts with high schooler Colette Iselin preparing for a class trip to France. She is struggling with her parents recent break up and the family’s new, strained, financial situation. She can’t wait to get away with her (rather mindless and not very nice) friends, to explore the place where her family has its roots. Colette’s school group has barely gotten their feet on terra firma when they hear about a serial killer running loose – beheading victims, all of whom are from long-standing French/Parisian families. Colette sees a costumed young woman and realizes she is seeing Marie Antoinette’s ghost. As you might guess, Colette realizes she may be the next victim and needs to figure out the how and why of the murders in order to stop them. Along the way she is helped by their friendly teen tour guide (insert romance!), and she comes to realize that perhaps she has been spending too much time focusing on the things that don’t matter and less time on the things that do.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read and cleverly plotted. I’m a big fan of all things French, so I love reading about people strolling through Paris and seeing the places I love.

Highly entertaining!

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

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Review: HEIRS AND GRACES by Rhys Bowen

My readers know that I LOVE Rhys Bowen’s historical cozy mysteries series – especially the Molly Murphy series and the Royal Spyness series. The latest Royal Spyness book – HEIRS AND GRACES – has just come out and I received an ARC from Rhys herself to read and review.

First let me say just how very EXCITED I was to get a book from Ms. Bowen herself and even signed by her! Yeah!! (I follow her on Facebook and she had mentioned having a few if any bloggers wanted one.) Lady Georgie is one of my favorite characters in cozies. She’s so likable and yet so ordinary. She’s clumsy and unsophisticated, and always struggling to make ends meet. Yet she’s intelligent and spunky and keeps the most remarkable company (ex-police officer grand-dad, actress mummy, cousin the Queen of England, etc.). You can’t help liking her and wanting her to be successful!

In this story, Georgie is sent to a friend’s estate to help a new family member adjust to life as a noble. It seems that an heir has been found for the Altringham family: a heretofore unknown son of the son who died in the war. This young man, Jack, has been born and raised in Australia and is now found and coming to “train” so he  can eventually claim the title (a bit against his will). The family is in an uproar and the head of house, the very unlikable and unfriendly eldest son and Duke, is giving Jack less than a warm welcome. Then the Duke is found dead with a knife in his back – Jack’s knife. Can Georgie figure out who the killer really is and save the day?

This might be my favorite Georgie title yet! There was no dearth of suspects and even though I figured it all out, the mystery was cleverly plotted. Familiar friends Darcy and Belinda plays their parts as well.

Definitely one to read for those who follow the series – and for those new to the series, too!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate, and THANK YOU, Ms. Bowen, for my copy!

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Review: MURDER IN CHELSEA by Victoria Thompson

If you read me, you know I enjoy historical cozy mysteries and the “Gaslight Mysteries” featuring turn of the century, NYC midwife Sarah Brandt. The latest has recently been published and I bought it with a gift card I received from my friend as a birthday gift.

While I think it’s best to read this series in order, one can read them individually. In this installment, Sarah learns that a woman has arrived at the mission, looking for little Catherine and she fears that she will lose the child she has grown to love as her own. However, the woman soon turns up murdered and Sarah and Malloy need to protect Catherine while figuring out exactly who wants her and why. Sarah’s parents get in on the action and help to solve the mystery. At the end – finally! – Sarah and Malloy are together (which has been coming and hinted at for a looong time).

This was an enjoyable and easy read. The only beef I had with it was the amount of surprising personality changes among the characters, especially with Sarah’s parents. At one point, the characters were all looking at each “in surprise” so often that even I was confused how quickly the about-faces had occurred! However, the changes had to happen in order for the plot to move forward and for Sarah and Malloy to get together.

If you have followed this series, I think you’ll like this one!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Quick Review: “Masked Ball at Broxley Manor” by Rhys Bowen

Lady Georgiana is at it again, in this prequel to one of my favorite historical cozy mystery series! Georgie is invited to a masked Halloween ball at a posh manor house and discovers it is planned for her to meet an intended suitor that her family has selected. Instead she meets the elusive and charming Darcy O’Mara, Georgie’s love interest in future books, and gets involved in adventure.

This book – more of a novella – is short — about 50 pages! It reads quickly and will give you an idea if you want to read more of the series. If you are like me and have read the series, it provides more back story and character development.
I got mine via kindle for $2.99.

See it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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Review of the latest Gaslight Mystery – “Murder on Fifth Avenue” by Victoria Thompson

I love, love, love this historical cozy mystery series, set in New York at the turn of the century. Sarah Brandt, midwife and daughter of a wealthy family, pairs with Irish cop Frank Malloy to solve murders and mysteries in the city. Thompson pays great attention to historical details and her books are really a delight to read.

In this installment (apparently number 14 in the series – I’ve read them all but lost track), Sarah’s father, the rather pompous Felix Decker, has called upon Malloy and Sarah to investigate the mysterious death of a friend from his club. It appeared that victim had been stabbed by a small sharp object, didn’t realize he had a mortal wound, and was going about his business until he died in his chair. The victim, Chilton Devries, was a wealthy businessman but truly a horrible and abusive man, and there are no shortage of suspects. Sarah and Frank must work together to figure out who had the means and motive, and then bring the killer to justice (even though most folks were relieved by Devries’ death).

I love this series, and while I loved this installment, I felt it took a good fifty pages to “get going”. There was a lot of time devoted to Mr. Decker asking Frank, and Sarah, and even Sarah’s mother to help out, and then the subsequent conversations between the aforementioned individuals. I also missed the “personal” piece that often figures in this book: Sarah and her daughter, Sarah and Maeve, and – most importantly – Sarah and Frank! I also didn’t like that near the end, the murder weapon was revealed to be a different murder weapon than previously thought. However, all in all, it was another enjoyable read in the series!

I got mine at the library. You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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