Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

HFVBTour for M.J. Rose’s THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES

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I’m happy today to be taking part in the blog tour for THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES, number in the La Lune series by M.J. Rose.

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages
Series: The Daughters of La Lune, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
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As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose’s extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

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M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online atMJRose.com.

Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

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This is such a beautifully written book – M.J. Rose’s writing is so evocative of another time and place; her writing transports you, and the magical realism of her storyline shines through. I enjoyed the first book in this series (THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS), but each book can stand alone as well.

I loved the character of Opaline – she was so very real – and of course I love anything associated with the Romanovs. What I liked best, though, was the writing: when I would sit down with this book, it was like sinking into a favorite cushy chair.

I look forward to the next book in this series — thank you for making me part of the tour and for my e-ARC.

Follow the tour and discover a new blog!

Blog Tour Schedule

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Tuesday, July 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 13
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 14
Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Friday, July 15
Review at A Dream within a Dream

Monday, July 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 19
Review at First Impressions Reviews

Wednesday, July 20
Review at Laura’s Interests

Thursday, July 21
Review at Read Love Blog

Friday, July 22
Review at Nerd in New York
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Monday, July 25
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 26
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, July 27
Interview at First Impressions Reviews

Thursday, July 28
Review at Creating Herstory

Friday, July 29
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, August 1
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, August 2
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, August 3
Review at Diana’s Book Reviews

Thursday, August 4
Interview at Diana’s Book Reviews

Friday, August 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, August 9
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For

Wednesday, August 10
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 11
Review at Girls Just Reading

Friday, August 12
Review at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, August 15
Review at Fangirls Ahead!

Tuesday, August 16
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review at The True Book Addict

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For the Kids – THE KINGDOM OF OCEANA by Mitchell Charles

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My friends at Book Publicity Services recently sent me a galley of THE KINGDOM OF OCEANA, a story of two brothers, taking place in what is present-day Hawaii (you know I love Hawaii!).

Here’s the info from them:

The Kingdom of Oceana is the first book in a new Young Adult fantasy adventure series by Mitchell Charles. It was published in November 2015.

The story takes place five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, where there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic.  When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt–just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Two brothers, but only one can rule.

“While the book is fiction, it is heavily influenced by the rich and beautiful Hawaiian myths, legends, locales, and culture.  Many locations in the story are inspired by real places in Hawaii,” says Mitchell.

The Kingdom of Oceana takes readers on a fun and exciting adventure, with big wave surfing, fire walking, and shark taming, while also being educational and bringing to light many environmental and social issues, like ocean conservation.

The Kingdom of Oceana is currently available for sale on Amazon in kindle and paperback. The audiobook will be released in April 2016.

Praise

“This book is a real page-turner, full of action and adventure, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hope that there will be more books like this from Mitchell Charles in the future.” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“This is a rollicking good read — a fascinating journey into a mythological world filled with legendary characters and magnificent twists and turns.” – 5 Stars, Amazon

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I had fun with this book. It had interesting elements of Hawaiian culture and beliefs, with fantasy thrown in (shape shifting and telepathy, for instance). But at its root, it’s a story about two brothers and their sibling rivalry. I thought it’d be a great classroom book, especially if you were doing a unit on Hawaii and Hawaiian history. Many Hawaiian words are used and a glossary is provided. On my kindle, I could just click and get the meaning of them, too.

Looks like a sequel is in the works!

Thank you for my review copy!

About the Author

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Mitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked.  He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit http://kingdomofoceana.com/

 

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Quick Kids’ Review: NIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman

I absolutely adored this middle grade novel which I got from Net Galley.

Twig and her family live in Sidwell, Massachusetts, but her life is far from ordinary. Her brother is kept hidden because he bears the effect of a curse put upon the family years ago by witchcraft. When two young girls move in next door Twig wants to befriend them, but doing so may put her brother at risk. Even worse, the girls are the descendants of the witch who first cursed Twig’s family. Can Twig and her friends reverse the curse before it is too late?

Loved loved loved this beautifully written story about love, family, and self-acceptance.

Highly recommended!

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my copy.

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Quick Review: FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen

I love Sarah Addison Allen’s writing. I’ve read all her books (such as GARDEN SPELLS, LOST LAKE, THE PEACH KEEPER, etc.) and was so excited when my husband got FIRST FROST for me. This novel continues the story of the Waverly sisters, and their families who we were first introduced to in GARDEN SPELLS (you can see my review from 2011 here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/quick-review-garden-spells-by-sarah-addison-allen/).

This You Tube book trailer says it all better than I could (since a picture is worth 1,000 words!):

Fans of Ms. Allen should not miss this one! A satisfying and reaffirming read.

Find it at an indie near you:


Find it at an Indie!

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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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Kickstarter Campaign for Orchard House Documentary – only 60 hours left!

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If you know me, you know I have a complete obsession with all things Alcott — the person, the family, the books, etc. I’m a “Little Women” junkie (I’m actually also a lifelong devotee to Laura Ingalls Wilder, but that’s for another post).

Orchard House, the house museum of Louisa May Alcott in Concord, MA, where she wrote Little Women is running a Kickstarter campaign in order to create a documentary about the house. This is how the official page describes the project:

The Documentary Project:

Everyone has a special place – a mountaintop, a cathedral, a beloved home – that makes them feel safe, connected, and inspired. For millions of people from all over the world, Orchard House is that place: a gathering place, where people from many backgrounds have come together for over 350 years to count themselves part of a community – a community steeped in hope, courage, and perseverance.

Many who wish to experience Orchard House may never be able to visit in person, and there are millions more that do not realize the house exists. Together with your pledges and our dedication, this film will change that.

The history of Orchard House includes the prolific Alcotts, of course, but other stories remain unexplored. Even a visit to the home cannot reveal all there is to tell about Orchard House. That’s why we need to make this documentary.

Our film will be an hour-long, PBS quality documentary that will dive deep into those stories starting in the 1600’s. We will tell of the courageous occupants before the Alcotts, including the rescuer of a kidnapped woman and a Revolutionary soldier. We will also offer insights about Concord’s rich literary history; chronicle the process of how the museum was created in 1911; and, of course, give a behind-the-scenes look into the Alcott family and their time in Orchard House. We will seek national and international distribution to share interviews with house staff, Alcott scholars, celebrity friends, and the people of Concord to illuminate the remarkable power of place Orchard House possesses.

You can see the whole project, read more, make a pledge of just about any amount, and see the details at:

We are SO CLOSE to reaching the goal of $150,000 and there are only a handful of hours left.

Only a little more than $7,000 to go! #pledgeyourlove http://www.louisamayalcott.org

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FREE YA book on Kindle — 11/8-12!

My friends over at Smith Publicity have alerted me to a freebie this week! The YA novel THE SAFFRON FALCON by J.E. Hopkins will be available FREE for your kindle from 11/8 through the 12th. Here’s what they sent me about the book:
In The Saffron Falcon (Unseen Worlds Publishing, 2013), author J. E. Hopkins uses fantasy and what he calls “Transition magic” to explore the unique challenges faced by adolescents as they reach adulthood.

A dark fantasy-thriller, the book takes place in our world in the near future. Children can use Transition magic for one month as they approach puberty, but they must use certain ritual words and the magic must be unique. If it doesn’t meet these requirements, the child doesn’t make it to adulthood. Few children attempt to use their power because the danger is too great, and most who do use it, die.

“Life in the book can be tough. Favorite characters can and do die. Children can and do die,” Hopkins says. “Magic wouldn’t be very interesting if kids could use it with impunity. Some manage to find a way, but that’s the rare exception.”

The Saffron Falcon features two parallel stories: in one, United States security agents try to recover an ancient codex that would eliminate Transition magic’s uniqueness requirement. If they fail, dark magic will be unleashed on the world. At the same time, the book tells individual stories of children throughout time who have used Transition magic to save themselves or someone they love.

“This is the story of flawed adults either trying to protect the world from magic or trying to use magic to dominate it, while children struggle with the knowledge that Transition will probably kill them,” Hopkins adds. “Unfortunately, some young characters face circumstances that make them feel as if they have no choice but to use their power, no matter the risk.”

J. E. Hopkins is the author of fantasy thrillers including The Scarlet Crane (March 2012) and The Saffron Falcon (October 2013). A life-long reader, Hopkins says his writing influences include J. R. R. Tolkien, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Isaac Asimov, John Connolly, and Greg Bear, among others. The Saffron Falcon (Unseen Worlds Publishing, 2013) is available at http://www.amazon.com. For more information, visit http://www.jhopkinsbooks.com.
Sound good? I will be downloading myself a copy to read, too! 🙂

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Review: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame (The Enchanted Attic Series, #1) by L.L. Samson

A few weeks ago I read this book and posted the book trailer for it. It’s the first in a new series for young readers, coming out in May, in which 12-year-old twins Linus and Ophelia discover a magic circle in their aunt and uncle’s attic, which brings book characters to life. (Of course the circle is also being misused for bad deeds by a nefarious former house occupant). One day Ophelia drops her copy of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” down, and the next thing they know, Quasimodo is there in person. Enlisting the help of a young neighbor friend and a “cool” priest, they have a race against time to get Quasi back to his own world.

I loved this book and look forward to more in this series. I’ve already recommended it for our school library and will be getting it for my own elementary-age children.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate and it can be pre-ordered. Thanks, Net Galley and Zonderkidz books, for my kindle copy!

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Book Trailer: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame by LL Samson

Here’s a book trailer for a new series for kids that I am reading right now. I love it!

It’s coming out in May. Definitely will be on my to-buy list for the school library:

http://youtu.be/NLtZbRBhuv0

Full review coming in time…

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