Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

THE PARIS SPY by Susan Elia MacNeal

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If you know me, you know I LOVE the Maggie Hope books! I always thought of them as cozy mysteries, but really that does not do them justice. I always learn something from reading them and they are serious, but not gory. They remind me of something I’d watch on PBS or the BBC — thoughtful and historically accurate, but entertaining. This latest is no exception. The war (WWII) is progressing, and Maggie is still hard at work for the Allies. Planning for the D-Day Invasion is the storyline behind this novel, and Maggie is trying to get top secret information through to those who need it. As always Susan Elia MacNeal has done her research and presents loads of historically accurate details to make her story come alive. I do love the strong character of Maggie, and I never get tired of reading these books!
Thank you for my review e-copy!
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TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP by Beatrice Colin

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I loved this historical fiction which I found on Net Galley a while ago. It is set against the building of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and follows the lives and relationships of a Scottish family, their chaperone, and one of the lead engineers on Eiffel’s project.

Here’s the overview from NG:

Description

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THE VELVET HOURS by Alyson Richman

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I had heard about this novel and wanted to read it, so I was quite thrilled to be able to get it from the publicist through Net Galley. (Thank you!!).

You all know that I LOVE WWII fiction, and when I read that this story involved an untouched apartment and a family changed by war, I knew I was hooked. Here’s the overview:

Description (via Net Galley)

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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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DEATH AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION by Frances McNamara

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A while back, I received a nice offer of a copy of Ms McNamara’s new book to read and review: DEATH AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION. I did not know this historical mystery series, featuring Emily Cabot, but it looked like something I would enjoy.

Here’s the overview for DEATH AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION, which publishes in September:

In Book 6 Emily, with her husband and three children has traveled to Paris for the 1900 Paris Exposition. She could only do it thanks to the sponsorship of Bertha Palmer who has hired her as social secretary. Mrs. Palmer is the only woman in the US delegation and her fame and money inevitably make her the subject of envy. When Bertha’s famous pearls disappear, and then a young milliner is found dead in the House of Worth exhibit, Emily must prevent disaster by solving the crimes, even if she is in a foreign city. Her adventure takes her behind the scenes at the House of Worth and into the art world of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas in the latest story which will be published in September 2016.

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I really enjoyed this well-written and well-plotted mystery. Emily is a strong female; she reminds me a little bit of Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy (one of my favorite historical mystery solvers!). She’s intelligent and intrepid, drawn to solving mysteries, yet she is a wife and mother and loves her family and her job. This story has a lot of interesting information on the Paris Exposition of 1900 (fun to read as I love Paris and could picture it so well) and also lots of details about clothing and fashion of the period.

While this book doesn’t publish for a few more weeks, there are five previous Emily Cabot mysteries on the shelves right now.

Thank you so much for my opportunity to read and share this novel!

You can read more about Ms. McNamara and her books at: https://fmcnamara.wordpress.com/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN by Jeanne Mackin with GIVEAWAY!

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The Beautiful American
by Jeanne Mackin

Publication Date: June 3, 2014
NAL/Penguin Group
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio
352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION |GOOGLE PLAY | IBOOKSTORE | INDIEBOUND |POWELL’S

PRAISE

“Will transport you to expat Paris.” – Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

“A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece” – Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women

“Leaves its essence of love, loss, regret and hope long after the novel concludes.” – Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty

“Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing…her vividly drawn characters…come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies and triumphs” – Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France

“From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship…an engaging and unforgettable novel” – Renee Rosen, author Doll Face

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness.

Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Here I am!

I am really excited to be part of this blog tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received an audiobook CD version of this novel and listened to it during my new, lengthy commute. This was a somewhat sad story, but interesting. 1920’s was truly a heyday in Paris and I’ve always found the ex-pat lifestyle of that time quite fascinating and love to read about it. If you read me regularly, you know I love reading about the WWII era, and this book moved into the war and the characters’ experiences before and afterwards. I found Nora’s search for her daughter heart-wreching, and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending!

These characters were based on real people, which made the storyline even more poignant. I had never heard of Lee Miller and her work in photography. The CD’s (ten of them) moved quickly and Mackin’s writing flows easily. Her words are read in a smooth, soothing style by Kate Reading.

This was a compelling story that would engage readers who like to read of this era. Thank you for my review CD’s!

But wait – there’s more!

You can enter to win a free copy of this novel — go to:

The Beautiful American
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

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HFVBT BOOK BLAST for Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson

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We are shouting it out today for Marci Jefferson’s new novel: ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS!

Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court
by Marci Jefferson

Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King’s opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.

The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini’s birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.

Desperate to avoid her mother’s dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie’s charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.

Disgusted by Mazarin’s ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin’s deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis’s love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | INDIE BOUND | MACMILLAN

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Told with vivid historical detail and packed with court intrigue, this is sure to please fans of royal fiction.” — Library Journal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Marci Jefferson

Years after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, immersing herself in a Quality Assurance nursing career, and then having children, Marci realized she’d neglected her passion for history and writing. She began traveling, writing along the way, delving into various bits of history that caught her fancy. The plot for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN evolved slowly after a trip to London, where she first learned about the Stuart royals. Marci is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, making hair-bows for their daughter, trying not to step on their son’s Legos, and teaching a tiny Pacific Parrotlet to talk.

For more information visit Marci Jefferson’s website. You can also find her on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE

Tuesday, August 4
Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, August 5
Unshelfish
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Curling up by the Fire

Thursday, August 6
Book Lovers Paradise
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, August 7
100 Pages a Day
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Saturday, August 8
Historical Readings & Reviews

Sunday, August 9
Book Nerd

Monday, August 10
Genre Queen

Tuesday, August 11
A Chick Who Reads
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, August 12
A Literary Vacation
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, August 13
Broken Teepee
CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, August 14
A Book Geek
The Lit Bitch

Saturday, August 15
The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, August 16
Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, August 17
Luxury Reading
Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, August 18
A Bookish Affair

GIVEAWAY

To enter to win a signed copy of Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Giveaway! 

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Review: THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS by M. J. Rose

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I had heard about this book via the blogosphere, so I was thrilled to get a copy via Net Galley to review.

In THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS, young Sandrine runs away to Paris in the late 1890’s to get away from her abusive husband and to seek solace from her grandmother. Sandrine is convinced that her husband caused the death of her beloved father and she is determined to make a new life for herself in Paris. Her grandmother is not at her home, though, and Sandrine finds that work is being done – and by an interesting and attractive young architect. Sandrine, reserved and conservative by nature, finds herself becoming attached to the young man, being almost obsessed with painting, and finds herself connected to her grandmother’s house – a house where generations of women of her family have loved and lost in dramatic, almost supernatural ways. Everything connects back to “La Lune” – Sandrine’s ancestress. Is Sandrine just coming in to her own, with wakening desires and talents? Or is the spirit of La Lune possessing her, and using Sandrine to obtain her own wants and needs?

I enjoyed this gothic, historical read a lot! The supernatural was an interesting touch, though I enjoyed the history aspects more than the descent into black arts and possession. I wasn’t too keen on the ending as I always want closure (closure! I demand it!!) but it looks like this book is the first in a trilogy, so I’m sure my questions will be answered in the forthcoming novels.

This one has a little bit of a lot of things: Belle Epoche Paris, art, history, witchcraft, romance, suspense, etc.

Thank you for my review copy! (image via Net Galley)

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

The Witch of Painted Sorrows (Daughters of La Lune)

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Robert Wheeler’s HEMINGWAY’S PARIS

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I recently was at a book event at the Concord Bookshop and Robert Wheeler sat near me. When I told him I had heard of his book and planned to read it, he pulled one from his bag and gave it to me as a gift. I was thrilled!

This is a beautiful book – coffee table worthy – of pictures of Paris and connections to Ernest Hemingway and his time there writing. For instance, there is a paragraph about Hemingway walking along the Seine as he worked out his plots, and then a picture of a walkway along the Seine. The pictures are beautiful and you can truly get a glimpse of what “Hemingway’s Paris” was like.

Loved this book! If you know me, you know I love Paris and one things I like to do is to think about how different famous people walked the same streets, were inspired by the same art, ate in the same cafés, etc. This book was perfect for me!

If you love Paris, Hemingway, or both – get this book for yourself and enjoy it at your leisure!

Thank you again for my surprise copy – I will treasure it!

Find it an in Indie near you – I am an Indie Bound affiliate:


Find it at an Indie near you! I am an Indie Bound Affiliate.

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Review: THE DREAM LOVER by Elizabeth Berg

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I love Elizabeth Berg’s writing. I’ve read just about all her books (JOY SCHOOL, DREAM WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BLUE, HOME SAFE, THE YEAR OF PLEASURES, DURABLE GOODS, and more). She’s a fantastic writer, so I was quite excited when I saw she had written a new novel: a historical biography of the author George Sands.

Told in differing points in time, this novel traces George Sand’s life from her parents’ courtship to her rise as a respected author. However, most of the focus is on her love life – who she is in love with and what happens between them. And I should mention that George Sand had a lot of loves in her life. Jumping through time, we find George (whose real name was Aurore) struggling to be a writer, George meeting her husband,  George as a young girl, George and her lovers, George and her children, etc. until the story lines converge and the plot moves forward towards the end of the book.  I struggled to keep the chronology intact while I read. To be honest, I found the parts about her childhood and her family quite interesting. I found her laundry list of lovers rather boring. A large part of this novel is George hopping in and out of bed with just about anyone who catches her eye. For 368 pages, that was a lot of hopping.

At the end of this novel, which is beautifully written, I pondered the question: what was the author’s purpose here? I think I was expecting a biography. But the title really says it all, when you think about it: “The Dream Lover”. George Sand was constantly seeking to feel love and to be loved, in part because that was when her creativity blossomed. She couldn’t write when she felt stagnant. Loving and being loved opened her up to the creative spark that lived within her. She was a genius, and she struggled against the mores that held her, as a woman, firmly in place and stifled her. Constantly seeking for the perfect love brought George into her creative realm and made her the author she was.

Interesting – well-written – but one you may need to stick with until the end, I found THE DREAM LOVER an intriguing read.

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

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