Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Tasty Book Tour for FALL OF POPPIES: STORIES OF LOVE AND THE GREAT WAR

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Today I’m part of the virtual book tour for a fantastic book: FALL OF POPPIES – Stories of Love and the Great War.

First I must admit that I had my eye on this title for a while since I saw that Heather Webb was a contributor. Ms. Webb wrote the recent RODIN’S LOVER and I heard her speak at The Concord Bookshop and I think she is fabulous, so I really wanted to read this. Added to that is the fact that while I read quite prolifically about WWII, I have read very little about WWI. Thus, I was quite excited to be part of this tour and to read these wonderfully crafted stories.

Here’s what the tour has to say:

About the Book

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

356 Pgs. |Heat: 2 | Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

Here’s all the info on the authors:

About The Authors

Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, an epistolary love story spanning an ocean and two wars. Named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2013, Letters From Skye has been published in seventeen countries.

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Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets. She writes regularly for the national press, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.

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Evangeline Holland is the founder and editor of Edwardian Promenade, the number one blog for lovers of World War I, the Gilded Age, and Belle Époque France with nearly forty thousand unique viewers a month. In addition, she blogs at Modern Belles of History. Her fiction includes An Ideal Duchess and its sequel, crafted in the tradition of Edith Warton.

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Marci Jefferson is the author of Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart, which Publisher’s Weekly called “intoxicating.” Her second novel, The Enchantress of Paris, will release in Spring 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books.

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Kate Kerrigan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island trilogy. In addition she has written for the Irish Tatler, a Dublin-based newspaper, as well as The Irish Mail and a RTE radio show, Sunday Miscellany.

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Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and international bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. She holds a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.

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Heather Webb is an author, freelance editor, and blogger at award-winning writing sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and she may also be found teaching craft-based courses at a local college

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Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and A Hundred Summers. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. William Morrow will publish her forthcoming hardcover, A Certain Age, in the summer of 2016.

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Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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I loved these stories. They were beautifully written and each was so different; yet each masterfully evoked the sense of that time. As I said above, I am not too well-read on the First World War, and I enjoyed these short stories, though some of the stories were rather sad (or at least poignant).

And there’s a Giveaway!!

THREE copies of this book will be given away by the publisher! US addresses only.

You can follow the link below to the giveaway and follow the instructions:

Link to Rafflecopter Page: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c8947/

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

 

 

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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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Review: A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

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I absolutely loved this book.

When I was at BEA in the spring, I stood in a very long line (I was number 3 though!) to see Alice Hoffman and to get her new book, The Marriage of Opposites.

First, I must say that Ms. Hoffman is one of my fave authors. I think I’ve read everything she’s written. She is quite gracious in person and was a delight in our albeit very brief meeting (where I tried not to gush). I was later interviewed by Simon and Schuster for something on camera, gushing about how much I love her writing (thankfully I have never found that video clip online, as I’m sure I’d be horrified at my lack of composure and disheveled appearance, being interviewed on the fly during a huge event in NYC).

Anyway – I digress. This story is about the parents of Camille Pissarro, the great French painter. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about his background, and while I am sure that he is fascinating in his own right, Hoffman’s story focuses on his mother, Rachel, and her life as she grows up among a community of refugee European Jews, who are living in the Virgin Islands during the early 1800’s. Rachel is married off to an old widower while she is quite young, and she comes to love his children and to respect him. When he dies suddenly, his younger nephew arrives to take over the business. He and Rachel fall deeply in love – even though she is substantially older and their union is forbidden as they are seen as “family”. Out of their relationship comes Camille.

I loved this story — the characters, the setting, the writing. Rachel’s story was fascinating to me and I loved the subplots and “supporting characters” with their stories along the way.

Historical Fiction at its finest!

Get it today at Amazon, where I am an Associate, at your library, at your favorite indie, or online (but get it – it’s that good!).

The Marriage of Opposites

To get you in the mood, here’s a picture by Pissarro that I got via Google Images:

Jardin Mirbeau aux Damps

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Review: REVONTULI by Andrew Eddy

I received a kindle copy of REVONTULI by Andrew Eddy to review from my friends at Booktrope. It was sent to me because I had liked THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS by Chris Bohjalian last year (that was one of my fave books of 2013!).

In REVONTULI, it is WWII and the Germans are occupying the part of Scandinavia known as the Finnmark. The villagers are hardy folks, used to long winters and cold country, and are a blend of Sami and Norwegian culture (just a note- before this book, I had not heard of Sami culture. I looked it up and I have always seen it referred to as “Laplander” though apparently this is a negative term.) The Sami in this book are reindeer herders and semi-nomadic. As war touches the village, teenager Marit is caught between having sympathy for the Bosnian prisoners of war that are being held nearby and her burgeoning friendship with a young German officer, Hans, who boards at her house. The war continues, as does their friendship, and as Hans becomes like a member of Marit’s family, the lines between war and peace blur for her, and the story evolves to a life-changing climax for young Marit.

Throughout the book, the point of view toggles from current day Bavaria and Marit visiting there (she is quite elderly now) and her village growing up when she is seventeen. I really enjoyed this read! WWII is one of my favorite historical genres and this took place in an area that was new to me. Poor Marit was torn between her family’s culture, loyalty to her country, her friends, and her love for Hans. Her actions cause her to have to grow up quickly in a world that is rapidly changing.

Highly recommended to my readers who enjoy this genre! Thank you, friends at Booktrope for my copy! I will look for more forthcoming novels from Mr. Eddy.

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

 

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Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

While on vacation, I downloaded and read “The Winter Sea” on my Kindle (actually my Kindle recommended the title to me). This was a new author for me and the genre was one I don’t often read – historical romance.

In “The Winter Sea”, author Carrie McClelland is visiting the coast of Scotland to get ideas for a historical novel she is penning. Carrie starts having vivid dreams and strong feelings about the different places she sees and even the people she meets. Carrie’s ancestor lived in this area, though she has little information on her, and Carrie eventually comes to believe that she is channelling the memories of Sophie, her ancestor from the 1700’s. In current day, Carrie feels drawn to the son of the man from she rents a small cottage; and both his sons show romantic interest in her. Sophie’s story and her history become Carrie’s quest, and she learns about Sophie’s life as she tells her story through her novel.

This lengthy (over 500 pages) book was an interesting read, especially as it was really two stories in one, with alternating chapters (Carrie in present day; Sophie in the 1700’s). I did find some of the story rather flat: everyone seemed in love with Carrie and I wasn’t exactly sure why. She was an “okay’ character, but not particularly compelling or extraordinary. In the 1700’s, Sophie had her share of suitors as well, though she professed an undying love for one man. I did find some of the events in the story – particularly those of 1700 – rather unbelievable. And of course, it all tied together neatly. however, if you enjoy historical romances, you would probably enjoy this novel.

I have to say that the most interesting part of this novel to me was the idea of “genetic memory” and memory being handed down. At one point it is said that some believe that people who think they have past lives are actually having genetic memories from their ancestors. An interesting concept!

I thought perhaps this story would be similar to “Outlander” – the Diana Gabaldon series which I adore – however, I consider the Outlander books to be more of a saga (and one in which I have learned a ton about what life was like in the 1700’s in Scotland) while I would categorize this book as a story.

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

 

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Quick Review: The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

Having heard about this novel through the blogosphere, I picked it up at the library one day and then it sat on my coffee table. I finally got around to opening it the other day and I was so mesmerized that I couldn’t stop reading. It was one of those moments when your inner voice is saying: “….must….put….book….down” and your body just won’t comply. I read the whole book straight through.

“The Sandalwood Tree” tells two stories a century apart. Evie and Martin, along with their young son, have come to India in 1947 as the British reign is ending. Martin is deeply scarred by his WWII experiences and it has caused a tear in their marriage that Evie fears is irreparable. While staying in their rented house, Evie finds a packet of letters between two British women who lived in India in 1857. The letters tell of their friendship and of their loves. Evie becomes somewhat obsessed with finding out what happened to the women, Felicity and Adela, as she also puts her energies into saving her marriage.

This was a compelling and well-written read with beautiful descriptions of that period in India’s history. As I said before, I couldn’t put it down!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

View the somewhat dramatic book trailer from You Tube:

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