Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

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Today is Pub Day for The Subway Girls, which I read a few months ago after getting it from Net Galley. I love historical fiction, and this story took place in two time periods: post-WWII NYC and current day NYC. I liked the main character from the 40’s particularly (Charlotte) and was so interested in reading about the real Subway Girls in history! This is the first title I’ve read by Ms. Schnall and I really enjoyed it. It was part history, part romance.

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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Saturday Snapshot: a few costumes from the Met

When we were in NYC, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of my very favorite places! One of my top choices there is to see what’s in the basement area – the costume collection. They were having a special exhibit of vestments and clothing from different Popes and no one could take pictures of it (not sure why). However, I came across two other intriguing “costumes” in an exhibition of visitors to Versailles. With my obsession with history, I love reading about Versailles and the opulent life there. I took a picture of a ladies dress from a visitor (not only magnificent, but amazingly well preserved!):

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I also took a picture of one of Ben Franklin’s suits. What struck me was that every picture or interpretation I’ve seen of Ben Franklin as an adult has him about 250-300 pounds (with the exception of his large statue at the Franklin Institute in Philly). While his suit was certainly a bit larger than those of his peers in the display, it really wasn’t very large at all (well, by American standards!): (no flash was allowed – sorry!)

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I found these two costumes memorable!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at Westmetromommyreads.com.

See her site for full participation details!

addendum: I just found online (if that’s to be trusted!) that the real Ben Franklin was 5’9 and 220 pounds.

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Saturday Snapshot: St. Pat’s Cathedral

If you know me, you know we like to go to NYC. When we do, we attend Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I never tire of looking at the beautiful intricacies of the architecture there, the statues, the windows, the light.

Here are a few photos I took last weekend when we were there:

 

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommyreads.com. Stop by her site for specifics on participating!

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The Good Twin by Marti Green

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A Note From the Publisher

Evil twins? Unreliable narrators? Double-crossing husbands who get their comeuppance??
Sign me up!
This was a fast and fun read that I was afraid would disappoint me, but didn’t!
Thank you for my e-copy!
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Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson

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I really enjoy this series, set in turn-of-the-century NYC. I’ve read them all (this is #21)! They center on former midwife Sarah and former police officer Frank as they solve mysteries. I often don’t figure them out before the conclusion, and I do love the cast of characters that change and grow as the series progresses. While I’ve read them all in order, each title can stand alone.

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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BRIDGES by Maria Murnane

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A while ago I was contacted by the very pleasant author of this novel, Maria Murnane, to see if I’d like to read and review her novels – BRIDGES and WAITING FOR THE RAIN. I had a tbr list of 35 titles, but said yes and Ms. Murnane has been quite patient in awaiting my thoughts on her novels!

This appealing story covers a long weekend in NYC when three best friends from college get together for a girls’ weekend. Each woman has something on her mind and challenges she is facing. Here’s the overview from Amazon:

It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here’s to the power of friendship!

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The women in this story are all around 40 years old, and that really appealed to me, because personally I have trouble connecting with free-wheeling 20-somethings that often are peppered throughout books like this. These women’s challenges are familiar and their relationship is one that has gone through the test of time, reminding me of my own friends. While certainly problems exist, this is a light read, perfect for summer, with likable characters and an uplifting and positive ending. I really enjoyed it!

Here’s some info on Maria:

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Biography

The story of how Maria became an author is a little crazy. She used to work in high-tech PR but hated it, so she quit and ended up playing semi-pro soccer in Argentina for a year. While she was down there she decided to write a novel, which was something she’d always dreamed of doing. Fast forward a few years, and she’s now the bestselling author of the Waverly Bryson series (Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two, which garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly), plus Katwalk, 2015 International Book Award winner Cassidy Lane, Wait for the Rain, and Bridges. And yes, she still plays a lot of soccer!

Learn more and sign up for her mailing list at http://www.mariamurnane.com

If you enjoy Maria’s books, please tweet @mariamurnane and “like” her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/mariamurnane.

To contact her via email, send a note to maria@mariamurnane.com. She loves hearing from readers and personally responds to every message!

THANK YOU so much for my review copy of BRIDGES! WAITING FOR THE RAIN (which has the same characters and actually comes before this title) is next!
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Saturday Snapshot — More from NYC!

Following up on last week’s post, I wanted to add some shots from St. Pat’s Cathedral and also show the two shows we saw: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and Waitress. We really enjoyed both of them!

I’ve added a picture of the cute little apple pies they were selling at intermission at Waitress!

One morning my husband had to make a business call, so I went out and about and ended up in the Today Show crowd on tv! Now I wish I had a picture of that!! 🙂

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommyreads.com. See her site for full participation details!

 

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From CookBook to Real Life! Eating at HEARTH in NYC

On our recent trip to NYC, we made a reservation to eat at Hearth, Marco Canora’s restaurant in Manhatten. Last year I read Marco’s cookbook A GOOD FOOD DAY and loved loved loved it!

See my post about it here!

Since the rugrats were at summer camp, we figured this was the best time to have a new dining experience.

Hearth is located off First Avenue on 12th Street in a cute little brick building. It felt very cozy and was lit by candles (thus the dim pictures — sorry).

My husband ordered the Restaurant Week menu, which was prix fixe (it was “restaurant week in NYC when we were there). It included really yummy meatballs and a cheese course for dessert.

I ordered the grilled pork chop with pork sausage, summer kale, and peach balsamic. Yum!!

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My husband and I shared a side dish of mushroom trifolati. That was a new term for me, and I always have to ask a million questions when we dine because I am allergic to some things. It means they were fried with olive oil, garlic, and parsley, and let me tell you – I wanted to lick the bowl! (but I didn’t..after all, we were in a nice place!).

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For dessert, we shared a yummy piece of tiramasu cake:

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And then – to my excitement, they brought out a chocolate tray with chocolates from around the world!

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You could sample as much as you wanted – they all had differing amounts of cocoa in them. Of course, we were behaving, so we each tried two different ones. Yummy!!

Our server was super nice and took good care of me and my allergies (shellfish and cilantro). They also had a nice wine selection (we chose a Cote de Rhone I believe).

All in all, visiting HEARTH was a bit of a dream come true since I’m such a fan of Marco’s cookbook!

Check out Hearth’s website at http://www.restauranthearth.com/ You can read about their mission and philosophy of food.

Or even better — check it out the next time you are in NYC!

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Saturday Snapshot: NYC!

So last week we dropped the kids off at summer camp and went to NYC for a few days. As always, we love the Big Apple and had a great time!

Here are a few pictures from Central Park and the Met’s fashion exhibit. I will post more pictures next week.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommyreads.com. See her site for full participation details.


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Review of FORGETTING TABITHA by Julie Dewey

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to read and review FORGETTING TABITHA by Julie Dewey.  This was a rather gritty look at life for an orphan in NYC who goes on one of the “orphan trains” to a new life if rural New York in the 1860’s.

Here’s the overview:

Forgetting Tabitha by Julie Dewey
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Holland Press

Raised on a farm, Tabitha Salt, the daughter of Irish immigrants, leads a bucolic and sheltered existence. When tragedy strikes the family, Tabitha and her mother are forced to move to the notorious Five Points District in New York City, known for its brothels, gangs, gambling halls, corrupt politicians and thieves.

As they struggle to survive in their new living conditions, tragedy strikes again. Young Tabitha resorts to life alone on the streets of New York, dreaming of a happier future.

The Sisters of Charity are taking orphans off the streets with promises of a new life. Children are to forget their pasts, their religious beliefs, families and names. They offer Tabitha a choice: stay in Five Points or board the orphan train and go West in search of a new life.

The harrowing journey and the decision to leave everything behind launches Tabitha on a path from which she can never return.

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About the Author
Julie Dewey is a novelist who resides with her family in Central New York. Her daughter is a singer/songwriter, and her son is a boxer. Her husband is an all-around hard working, fantastic guy with gorgeous blue eyes that had her falling for him the moment they met.

In addition to researching and writing she is an avid reader. She is also passionate about jewelry design and gemstones. She loves anything creative, whether it be knitting, stamping, scrapping, decoupaging, working with metal, or decorating.

Visit her at http://www.juliedewey.com to get your reading guide for this book and to read an excerpt from One Thousand Porches, her second novel. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

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02_Forgetting Tabitha

Okay — so here’s my take on things. The overview covers the beginning of the book and this was my favorite part of the story. I wanted little Tabitha to find a better life. I was horrified by the squalid conditions in which they had to live (which was very accurate for the time). I also have read a lot about the Orphan Trains, and felt that her experience on them (crying children, people wanting to adopt either little babies or older boys to work on their farms, etc.) was fairly typical.

SPOILER ALERT  — SPOILERS AHEAD!

Where I struggled with the story was at the midway point once Tabitha (now called Mary) was settled into her new life. New characters were introduced and sometimes these characters took over the narrative. There were several points of view portrayed, which was made less confusing by the fact that the chapter titles were the character’s names. However, and this is just for me as a reader, while I would call the first part of the book “gritty”, there were several scenes in the second half of the book that were violent and also portrayed sexual violence (which is not my bailiwick). These included a 13 year old prostitute being brutally raped. I found those scenes disturbing (especially since I wasn’t expecting it, I was still thinking “orphan trains! chance at a new and better life!”); but to be fair, if you read me regularly, you know that I am a “cozy mystery” type of person rather than a “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” type, so this just isn’t my thing.

I did like the ending and I really liked the plucky and resilient character of Tabitha/Mary. I thought it was interesting how much she changed, and yet how much she stayed the same throughout the book.

If you’d like to read and see more about the orphan trains in real life, check out the wonderful PBS special about them. More info here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/orphan/

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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