Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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I received this one a while ago through Net Galley. I love suspenseful reads! This one wasn’t a thriller, but more of a low grade suspense as I tried to figure everything out that was going on with all these characters! I was thinking while I read it that it reminded me of Big Little Lies, and I see that one of the “real” reviews made the same comparison.

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Recommended! Let me know if you read it. Thank you for my review copy!

 

 

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HFVBTour BookBlast for LILLI DE JONG by Janet Benton

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Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Nan A. Talese
Hardcover & eBook; 352 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Literary

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READ AN EXCERPT.

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

Available for Pre-Order at
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell’s

Praise for Lilli de Jong

“Lilli de Jong, discharged from her teaching job and banished from Quaker meetings because of her father’s selfish choice, finds comfort in the affections of her father’s apprentice, Johan. The night before he leaves to embark on a new life, she succumbs to his embrace with his promise that he will send for her. Soon thereafter, a pregnant Lilli finds herself shunned and alone, her only option a Philadelphia charity for wronged women. Knowing that she must relinquish her newborn, she is unprepared for the love that she feels for her daughter. Lilli quickly decides to fight to keep her, but in 1883 that means a life of hardship and deprivation. Telling Lilli’s story in diary form, debut author Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love and the stark reality of the choices she must make. VERDICT A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks.” – Library Journal, Starred Review

“A powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history—a heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute, Lilli de Jong is the story of an unwed mother in late 19th-century Philadelphia who, facing peril at every turn, will do almost anything to keep her daughter alive. Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era—and that still bedevil many women today. A gripping read.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“A stunning ode to motherhood. Lilli de Jong reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies. A debut of robust heart that will stay with me for a very long time.” —Sarah McCoy, author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“Janet Benton’s remarkable novel Lilli de Jong is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli’s sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell. Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold—though reader, be warned: Lilli’s story may break your heart.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Lilli’s fight to craft her own life and nurture her bond with her baby is both devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful. A stunning read about the fierceness of love triumphing over a rigid society.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow

“The trials Lilli undertakes to keep her baby are heart-rending, and it’s a testament to Benton’s skill as a writer that the reader cannot help but bear witness. In a style reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks, she seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist’s struggles . . . An absorbing debut from a writer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A heartrending debut . . . Benton’s exacting research fuels Lilli’s passionate, authentic voice that is ‘as strong as a hand on a drum . . . that pounds its urgent messages across a distance’ . . . Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.” —Publishers Weekly

“A harrowing look at the strictures of nineteenth-century American society. . . . [Lilli] is a full-fledged heroine, persevering despite seemingly insurmountable odds. . . her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven by a mother’s love.” —Booklist

“I loved this novel. Lilli de Jong is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life . . . It’s not only a compelling, beautifully crafted historical novel, however: it’s also important . . . Lilli’s life-and-death struggle is shockingly common to women even today.” —Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr, debut novelist Janet Benton magically weaves a gripping narrative of hardship, redemption, and hope while illuminating a portrait of little-known history. The result is an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and, ultimately, the human bond. Stunning!” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.” —The Millions

About the Author

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Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 17
Bookfever

Tuesday, April 18
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 19
Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 20
100 Pages a Day
The Never-Ending Book

Friday, April 21
A Book Geek
Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Saturday, April 22
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, April 24
Creating Herstory

Tuesday, April 25
The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, April 26
SJ2B House of Books

Thursday, April 27
A Fold in the Spine
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, April 28
Just One More Chapter

Monday, May 1
Back Porchervations

Tuesday, May 2
Books & Benches
Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, May 3
The Lit Bitch
Unabridged Chick

Thursday, May 4
Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, May 5
Brooke Blogs
Trisha Jenn Reads

Sunday, May 7
A Dream within a Dream

Monday, May 8
Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 9
Broken Teepee
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 10
What Is That Book About

Thursday, May 11
CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 12
A Literary Vacation

Monday, May 15
Passages to the Past

 

I am reading this now and hope to review it. Thank you for my review copy and for letting me blast it up! 🙂

 

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WHAT SHE KNEW by Gilly Macmillan

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You all know that I can’t stay away from these suspense novels! Here’s another one that I recently found on sale on Amazon for my kindle:

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…

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Yep – it was another “read all night until it’s over” event. I have to say that I thought this novel did an excellent job portraying how this poor woman was vilified on social media after her son went missing. Everyone is an expert these days and no one waits to throw the first stone.

Pick it up and enjoy it!

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Litfuse Blog Tour for WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR by Carrie Stuart Parks

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I’m happy today to be part of the blog tour for WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR by Carrie Stuart Parks, through Litfuse Publicity.
Here’s an overview of the novel:

When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson, August 2016)

Death has always been part of Gwen Marcey’s job. But when faced with her own mortality, everything takes on a different hue.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs and homes when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky town, located deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, has been plagued by a serial rapist and a series of unexplained deaths. Before Gwen can develop a composite drawing, the latest witness vanishes, just like all the previous victims.

Turning her attention to sketching the face of an unidentified body, she discovers a link between his death and a Pentecostal serpent-handling church. Serpent-handling is illegal in Kentucky, and the churches have gone underground to avoid the authorities and continue to worship as they believe. Gwen is offered a handsome reward to infiltrate the renegade members, a reward she desperately needs as it seems her breast cancer has returned.

Joined by her digitally-obsessed, Generation Z daughter, Gwen goes undercover to a nineteenth century revival, planning to draw the faces of the snake handlers so they can be identified and arrested. Instead she uncovers a murderous plot and a festering evil.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2auSB8Y

About the author:
 
 

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
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This story was a little different than I expected, but I enjoyed it. (I was thinking it might be very “noir”). It is number three in a series, but it is a stand-alone title (I hadn’t read the previous books and didn’t realize they they existed until after I was done with this one).
Gwen is a strong female character, struggling with numerous personal issues (divorce, parenting, health, general self-esteem, etc.). I liked how her emotions and feelings were realistic; what I struggled with was that some of her actions required me to suspend my belief (would you take your teenage daughter along if you knew you were in danger? I wouldn’t). I liked the story, though, and found it fast-paced.
This is under the Thomas Nelson imprint, which is a Christian imprint line, however, this story didn’t seem like the typical Christian novel I receive. I have readers who do not pick up books classed as “Christian” as they feel they don’t relate (basically because they aren’t Christian), however I think this book would appeal to a wide range of readers. One thing I did like about this story line and the character of Gwen was the underlying theme of accepting yourself for who you are and accepting your challenges in life with grace, and knowing that you aren’t alone.
I will look for other books by Carrie Stuart Parks – including those in this series!
Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review e-copy!
But wait, there’s more!!
A Giveaway!
 For an “Undercover Artist Starter Set” ==

When Death Draws Near Carrie Stuart Parks
Plunge into forensic artist Gwen Marcey’s world, full of cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects. Add Carrie Stuart Parks’ new Gwen Marcey novel, When Death Draws Near, to the top of your must-read list. Gwen accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before she can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

Join Carrie in celebrating the release of When Death Draws Near by entering to win an Undercover Artist Starter Set.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 22. The winner will be announced August 23 on the Litfuse blog.

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BETWEEN US GIRLS by Trish Donohue – a Litfuse Book Tour

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Today I’m part of the Litfuse tour for BETWEEN US GIRLS – Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters. If you know me at all, you know I have a pre-teen daughter. This Christian book focuses on sharing and guiding your daughter through some tough discussions of adolescence.

Here’s the overview:

You feel more than mommy guilt. You feel a deep and growing conviction that you must do something to disciple your daughter. But what? How can a busy mom make sure that her daughter learns about the most important things in life: what Jesus did for her on the cross and how to be faithful to him in this broken world?

Author Trish Donohue has been there, and that’s why she wrote Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters. These twenty-six gospel-driven talks are a fun and easy guide for mothers who want to disciple their daughters but don’t know where to start. In each short chapter, moms and daughters read God’s Word, ask one another questions about their thoughts and experiences, get honest about their struggles with sin, brainstorm ways to live out their faith, and build genuine fellowship into their relationship.

Between Us Girls is more than a devotional; it’s a conversation guide, and the twenty-six “chats” are just the beginning. Ultimately, Donohue’s book teaches mothers and daughters a new way to communicate and starts them on a wonderful, lifelong journey of getting to know one another better and learning to love their Savior more.

Between Us Girls was written by a busy mom for busy moms, so no prep time is needed! Just schedule some time with your daughter, grab this book, head to your destination of choice, and cherish every moment you share with your girl.

Here’s a bit about Trish:

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Trish Donohue is a wife and mom who writes from her kitchen table in West Chester, PA. With twenty years experience as a pastor’s wife involved in women’s ministry, Trish has spoken to women in a variety of settings. A desire to disciple her own daughters combined with a love for writing inspired her first book, Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters. Trish and her husband, Jim, are the happy parents of two sons and two daughters.

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This is a lovely little book that you can do as much of as you like at a time. There are sharing questions, ice breakers, suggested scripture to read together, and things to talk about with your daughter, all focused on helping her to understand and talk about challenges in life and making good decisions. There is an emphasis on the mother’s discipleship, so this is a perfect choice for a Christian household.

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

You can find this book online (e.g. Amazon) or at a library or bookstore near you.

 

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Review: THE CHILD GARDEN by Catriona McPherson

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I received this one from Net Galley and Midnight Ink Publishing several weeks ago and read it in two days. If you know me, you know I love anything that is a mystery and I adore all things British. This was a great combination of the two!

In this story, single mother Gloria Harkness lives a quiet life as a registrar in a small town and rents a home (owned by an elderly woman) which is next to a nursing facility where her disabled son lives. One night an old classmate shows up and beings up some long forgotten/buried past secrets involving a classmate’s suicide. The site of their alternative school is where the nursing facility is now. Introverted Gloria is drawn into a whole web of intrigue and secrets when they discover lots of other classmates have died somewhat mysteriously (accidents and suicides) – including one right on the property – and that perhaps it all ties back to what happened that fateful night when several students went on a camp-out at school.

This is a fast-paced novel that keeps you guessing! I just loved the character of Gloria. Her devotion to her son was so touching. You could feel how she had her personal existence and she really wasn’t looking to go public and be out in the spotlight. I also loved the “only in England” elements — Gloria has a large rock in the backyard that is a “rocking stone” and it must be rocked regularly. Clearly this type of thing/tradition only exists in the U.K. and I loved it!

This is what I’d call a “thoughtful mystery”. I enjoyed it!

Thank you for my review e-copy! It publishes on September 8.

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

The Child Garden: A Novel

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REVIEW: Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

As you readers know, I love, love, love Lisa See’s books and her latest, “Dreams of Joy”, is a wonderful addition to her novels. Written as a sequel to “Shanghai Girls”, “Dreams of Joy” takes up where that story left off and follows Joy, Pearl, and May as they struggle to maintain their relationships amidst the changing political climate of China. 

(May Contain Spoilers!) At the start of the book, Joy – May’s nineteen-year-old daughter – learns that May is her biological mother (not her aunt as she had always thought) and that Pearl is actually her aunt. Sam, the only father she has known, has recently committed suicide (in part due to allegations he suffered from the government) and Joy decides to leave her family and return to China (now strictly under Communist regime) to find and get to know her biological father, the artist Z.G. Joy’s journey is not an easy one, and she soon finds herself out in the countryside with her father, while he teaches art to peasants as part of his assignment. Pearl, meanwhile, takes the first opportunity to go to China to find Joy. While this story feels in part like an adventure as Pearl searches for Joy and then the group tries to get out of China, it really is a story of relationships – and specifically of the love between women – as mother/daughter and sister/sister – and also of the amazing tenacity and strength that women have.

I just loved this book. I found all the characters engaging and interesting, from the main characters of Pearl and Joy, to the peasants in the community where they lived. I always find it interesting to read of historical periods, and I really didn’t know too much about what daily life was like in China during these years of Mao’s regime. Ms. See portrays the life of the commoner, and the horrific famine that existed, with stark and deliberate detail. Her scenes of devastation are painted so vividly that they stay with you after you are done reading. Most of all, though, I love a story where intelligence and strength combine to help a person through. Joy changed so much throughout the story, but Pearl was the beacon of strength and maternal love throughout. By the end, both women had learned more about themselves and their bond with each other and to May. Joy’s new baby daughter completes the circle, yet continues it.

I know some people may find the ending a bit incredible. But to me, it ended just as I hoped. In my opinion, life doesn’t always give us happy endings, so I look for them in books.

If you are a fan of Lisa See, and especially if you’ve read “Shanghai Girls”, then don’t miss this latest novel!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate: (my copy was pre-ordered for my Kindle)

Here’s a quickie book trailer from You Tube:

 

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