Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Search for the Homestead Treasure by Ann Treacy

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I do love everything I receive from University of Minnesota Press! All the books I’ve received are for middle grades or YA and take place in Minnesota. They are all well-written, interesting, and well-done. This book was no exception.

Here’s the overview:

Fourteen-year-old Martin Gunnarsson is trying to hold his family together on the homestead where his ancestors died of diphtheria in 1865. Somehow rumors of a treasure on the farm survived, and when Martin discovers Aunt Cora’s journal in a musty trunk in the hayloft, he thinks it might give him a clue. But what exactly is he looking for?

Treacy, Ann 1

Ann Treacy is coauthor (with Margi Preus) of A Book of Grace. Her writing has appeared in Lake Superior Magazine as well as Highlights for Children magazine. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

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This was a short read (less than 200 pages) and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the character of Martin, and his resilient spirit as he struggles to help his family run their farm. I also enjoy a mystery, and this was woven in, too — the treasure that was hidden somewhere before his grandparent’s family died of illness. Will Martin find it? Where is it? And will his family be able to survive?

Highly recommended for classrooms and middle grade readers who want more than your average pioneer story!

Thank you for my review copy and for having me share my thoughts!

Look for it at a bookstore or library (or online!) near you —

THE SEARCH FOR THE HOMESTEAD TREASURE
Ann Treacy
University of Minnesota Press | 176 pages | May 2016
ISBN 978-0-8166-9956-8 | hardcover | $16.95
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BLOG TOUR == YA/Kids’ Review: ENCHANTMENT LAKE by Margi Preus and GIVEAWAY!

Preus Tour Banner

I grabbed this fun YA mystery off of Net Galley a while ago, but then was asked to take part in the blog tour for it!

In this story, seventeen year old Francie leaves New York to go to a remote part of Minnesota to help her elderly great aunts whose neighbors seem to be dying every time you turn around. Francie is an actress who once played a detective on television, so everyone refers to her as “that detective”. Eventually she gives up correcting them. She’s dealing with land developers, pushy summer people, legends of treasure, and some dark secrets from her family’s past that she never knew. While she works to figure out who is behind the sudden deaths, Francie realizes that she might be next!

This was a cute book – reminded me of Nancy Drew or something similar. Francie is a brave and intelligent young woman, but she had me laughing at times, too. Perhaps this is the start of a series? I can’t wait to introduce my daughter to Francie.

This book is published by University of Minnesota Press. Author Margi Preus is the New York Times bestselling author of books for young readers, including Shadow on the Mountain, West of the Moon, and Heart of a Samurai, which won a Newberry Honor.

Here’s a picture of Ms. Preus, credit to Shirleen Hieb Photography:

Preus, Margi credit to Shirleen_Hieb_Photography

preus_enchantment cover

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

Enchantment Lake: A Northwoods Mystery

But wait — there’s more!

My friends at University of Minnesota Press is offering not one, not two, but THREE giveaway copies — SIGNED by Ms. Preus (hey – I want one!) to winners from the U.S. and/or CANADA. Yipee!!

Leave me a comment below (one entry per person) and I will use random.org to pick winners. Enter up until 12:01 am on April 19 – because that’s my birthday and this will be my gift to you!! 🙂

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Kids’ Review: BLACKWATER BEN by William Durbin

I received a copy of BLACKWATER BEN a while ago from my friends at University of Minnesota Press. They do wonderful books for young readers (usually historical fiction) that are rooted in Minnesota history and I’ve loved everything they have ever sent me. I have to apologize in that I managed to lose this book TWICE – a record for me – and it has taken forever for me to finish and review it!

BLACKWATER BEN focuses on young Ben Ward, who, in 1898, joins his father at a lumbering camp in the Minnesota woods to work as a cook’s helper. The life of the lumberjack is not an easy one, and Ben has to learn to navigate the different personalities of the crew, along with the somewhat distant personality of his widowed father. Along the way, a scrappy young orphan boy, Nevers, joins them, and Ben has a friend to help him work (and play). Ben wants to know more about his mother, though, and his father is not very forthcoming; a friendship with one of the men at the camp, though, may give him more information.

I really enjoyed this book, which is a great pick for middle grade readers. Ben has various adventures, but throughout, the reader learns a lot about life in the camps at that time. I loved the differing personalities of the various men at the camp. That was a hard life!

I thank University of Minnesota Press for my copy. I think this would make a great book for a school library or to be used in class.

You can find this book at an indie near you (I am an Indie Bound Affiliate):


Find Blackwater Ben at an Indie

Or find it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Blackwater Ben (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage)

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YA/Kids’ Review: STEALING THUNDER by Mary Casanova

I love books by Mary Casanova, so I was thrilled when my friends at University of Minnesota Press sent me a few of her books to review.

In STEALING THUNDER, young Libby loves the horses at the stable next door. She’d like one for her own, but her parents can’t afford it. One day her friend and riding teacher, Jolene, is not there, and the owner tells Libby not to come back. Libby discovers that he is cruel and heartless with the horses and other animals and she fears for the safety of her beloved horses, especially Thunder. Libby decides to save Thunder by stealing her, but can this possibly lead to a happy solution?

Mary Casanova is a wonderful writer and her books should be in all classroom libraries. They often take place in Minnesota and always portray realistic and strong protagonists.

Thank you for my copy to review! You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Review: EVERGREEN by Rebecca Rasmussen

I was a big fan of Rebecca Rasmussen’s first book, THE BIRD SISTERS, so I was excited to see that she had written another novel. I was also able to get an ARC through Edelweiss (yeah!).

EVERGREEN follows three generations of women, starting in the 1930’s in Minnesota. Eveline is a young and naive bride who comes to live with her German immigrant husband in the backwoods. She grows to love the woods, nature, and her baby boy, but sadly an unspeakable act of violence occurs when her husband is away, and her life is changed forever.

Naamah is the child that Eveline abandons at an orphanage. Sadly, Naamah suffers much abuse at the hands of the zealot nun who runs the orphanage. When she is fourteen, she leaves to be on her own, scraping a living from working at the lumber camps as a prostitute.

Eveline’s son, Hux, learns of his sister’s existence as his mother is dying, and makes it his quest to find her and be her family. What follows is a heartbreaking story of a kind-hearted man who tries to tame a solitary girl who is pretty much feral. The last section of the novel is told from Naamah’s daughter’s perspective.

I really enjoyed this novel! My favorite section was  Eveline’s story, and while I’m sure it was necessary to move on with the plot, I missed reading from her perspective again while she was older or dying. How much did she think about that baby girl and did she ever look for her? I would have liked to have read that. I also liked how this novel ended on a note of self-acceptance and reconciliation.

Throughout, Ms. Rasmussen’s writing is so lovely and flowing. It’s an easy read and one that sucks you in, not ending on a happy note, per say, but a positive one.

You can see EVERGREEN on Amazon where I am an Associate. Thanks, Edelweiss and Random House, for my copy!

 

Here’s Rebecca chatting about her book (Norwegian edition) via You Tube –

 

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Review: A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE by Martha Powers

My new Kindle gives me ads all the time when I turn it on or off. Of course this means I am purchasing WAY more things than I used to for my Kindle! One of these purchases was for A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE by Martha Powers. In this story, news reporter Clare Prentice discovers after her mother’s death that she is adopted, and she takes on the mission to discover who her biological parents were. She travels to Minnesota supposedly to interview a popular author, but instead opens up an old mystery and starts nosing around to find out about who her birth mother was, how she was murdered, and what happened to her birth father. Of course the real killer is still lurking about, and is not about to let Clare uncover past deeds!

I enjoyed reading this story, though at times I found it a bit improbable. It is described as a cozy mystery romance. It was a fun read and I enjoyed guessing who the killer was. There were a few surprises at the end!

Ms. Powers has written several books and I might just have to look some more up at the library!

You can see this book on Amazon, where I got mine, and where it is currently $3.99:

 

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Review: “Little Wolves” by Thomas Maltman

“Little Wolves” was a recent find on Net Galley. It tells several story lines in one (a point which at times served to confuse me!). The novel opens with a Minnesotra small town shooting, carried out by a teenager who then commits suicide. Why did he do this heinous act? How will the people left behind carry on and make sense of this tragedy? At the same time, his father is struggling to come to terms with his grief over his wife’s death — now compounded by the senseless death of his son. Small town rivalries and old hurts are cropping up all over.

On the other side of town, the preacher’s wife, who is in her last trimester of pregnancy, is dealing with the deaths, too. The shooter was her student and a valued member of her English class (she is an expert on Beowulf). She grapples with his act of violence and the fact that he had come to house that day on his way to the carnage – and is it her ghost she is seeing? At the same time she is working through the kinks in her marriage to the town minister and her past family secrets, related to the disappearance and death of her mother. Analogous to all these plot lines is Norse mythology and the story of the “little wolves” that her father told her as a child. Throughout the book, a family of coyotes (befriended by Seth previously) make an appearance.

Does all this sound confusing? At times I had a hard time keeping everything straight, but overall Maltman blends these parallel stories into the overall plot – seamlessly and suspensefully. I kept reading as I needed to know what would happen. In the end it all made sense, and I found it a satisfying read.

This book releases in early 2013. You can pre-order it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

Thanks, Net Galley and Soho Press, for my copy!

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Quick Review: “Frozen” by Mary Casanova (releasing 9.7.12)

This novel was a Net Galley ARC download for me, and considered YA but I think it’s good historical fiction for adults, too.

In “Frozen”, Mary Casanova writes an intriguing tale of Sadie Rose, a teenager in Minnesota in the 1920’s. She hasn’t spoken a word in many years, not since the night her mother (a young prostitute) was killed and Sadie was found frozen in a snow bank. Now Sadie is starting to speak, and as her personality blossoms so does her emotions and her feelings for a local young man. Add to this a dynamic,though mentally ill, new friend and the dredging up of Sadie’s mother’s murder – this time with some new information – and you have the makings of compelling and interesting historical fiction!

While I had never read Mary Casanova’s works before, she has written for American Girl. I enjoyed this story and Casanova’s writing, and I thank Net Galley and University of Minnesota Press for my copy.  I believe I read that this story is based on real events, and I’d be curious to find out what exactly the true story is!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

“Meet the author” through this You Tube video:

 http://youtu.be/xm-bDXODh40

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