Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

I love both of these authors individually, so you can image my excitement when I saw that they had collaborated on a novel of WWI! Told primarily through correspondence and telegrams, Last Christmas in Paris tells the story of Evie and Thomas, family friends who have grown up together and who fall in love through their letters during the war.

Moving back in forth from the present (well, late 1960’s) to the war, this is a touching story that has a lot of detail and information in it. It makes you ponder the power of the written word and I wonder if a heartfelt letter is truly a thing of the past. It certainly is in danger of extinction!

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

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Thank you for my review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss! Highly recommended for this holiday season — and beyond!

I also had the distinct opportunity of seeing Heather and Hazel speak at the Concord Bookshop recently for a delightful evening. I love it when authors have the chance to make their work come alive.

 

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LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng (Read by Jennifer Lim)

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From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

(from Amazon)

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Wow! I loved Celeste Ng’s first book, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and I loved this one as well. What a great story. Ng has a way with words, and her prose paints such a vivid depiction of daily life. It’s all in the details.

This was a captivating story, which I listened to on my commute. You could see where things were headed and that disaster was looming on the horizons, but I just couldn’t stop listening. Devastating yet memorable, this was one of my fave books of 2017.

I got mine from Audible, and you can, too — or get it an your local favorite indie bookshop, online, or at the library!

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SUGAR PINE TRAIL by RaeAnne Thayne

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Bring On the Christmas Novels and Romances!!

Oh, it’s my favorite time of year and the time I love to enjoy a light and happy read of folks finding love at Christmas. I have to be honest == I used to scoff at these type of books. True Confession! However, I told myself that I should not turn them away until I actually READ one (easy to be critical of things you don’t actually now about). I started reading them about ten years ago and I can’t tell you how happy they make me. Some times, in the stress of life, you just want to read a sweet book where you know that everything is not going to end up like the evening news. You can trust that there is going to be a happy ending. They make me smile.

So – this was the first one I read this year. I read it way back at the end of summer and read it in a day. It’s a true feel good story and I completely related to the main character as she was like me when I was single. I even had a list like she did. And yes, I met my husband right before Christmas time — and we’ve been married 15 years — my own happy ending! 🙂

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

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THE GOOD WIDOW by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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Oh, Summer! The days of the thrilling page-turner! I love to read crazy, fast-paced, suspenseful mysteries over the summer (while lying around). This book was no exception. I missed getting it to review so I got it for my kindle through Amazon for a deal. Here’s the description:

Amazon Charts bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke make their suspense debut in this twisty, emotional thriller.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

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There was definitely some craziness in this story. I mean who wants to ferret out the details of their husband’s death with the help of the fiance of the gal he was having an affair with? Not me! Even if it involved a trip to Hawaii! However, I liked these characters, especially Jacks, and I wanted to find out what happened.

Having two authors often leads to a choppy feel in books (especially when they take turns with chapters, or when it’s the dreaded “famous author sharing writing responsibilities with adult child who wants to be famous author, too”). However, this book did NOT have this feel. It was seamless!

Well-written and fast-paced right up the end, this was a great summer read!

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BENEATH A SCARLET SKY by Mark Sullivan

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A Note From the Publisher

So – now I think: “this reminds me of a Mark Sullivan novel!”
I think this novel would appeal to many, and I particularly liked the afterword where Sullivan follows up on Pino and the other characters in how they lived the rest of their lives.
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GIRL IN SNOW by Danya Kukafka

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Yet another “I can’t stop reading!” book for me this summer! I love these suspenseful mysteries. I actually figure this one out, but it wasn’t obvious. If you like these type of mysteries, pick this one up today!
Thank you for my review copy!
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THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

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I found this title as a deal of the day on Amazon for my kindle. It was a really captivating story about a group of neighborhood friends who are affected by near-tragic circumstances one summer. It is told through multiple points of view, and with each chapter, you discover a little more about each person as the layers are lifted away. There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, a bit of intrigue. I really enjoyed this read and the ending was quite satisfying! Honestly, it’s the perfect summer read!

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

 

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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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A while ago I received this book through Net Galley, and also received it as a gift for filling out a survey through Blogging for Books. Both were e-copies, but I received the Net Galley one first.

I loved this book about WWII and the power of music and community. Each character has his or her own story and the novel progresses through journals, letters, and straight prose. This was the type of story that I’d hope to see made into a BBC series.

Well-written and full of memorable characters, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR is a book I could easily read more than once.

Thank you for my e-copy, Crown Publishing! It publishes Tuesday, 2/14/17.

Description (via Net Galley)

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The Twilight Wife by AJ Banner

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If you read me regularly, you know that I love suspenseful books, especially those where someone has to ask themselves: am I crazy??

This was a great read. I read it in one day when we were on our cruise in the Bahamas. It’s one of those “I just can’t stop reading!” novels. I had not read this author before but I will look for other titles by her. Someone needs to turn this one into a movie!

Thank you, Net Galley and Touchstone Books, for my review e-copy!

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THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH by Lindsey Lee Johnson

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Here’s another book that I’ve just been waiting and waiting for Pub Day for so that I can tell you about it! I got it on Net Galley months ago and read it in a day.

Now to be honest, I’m not sure I’d compare it to Celeste Ng’s novel (which I loved) and I guess it can be like PREP as it’s about wealthy kids in high school. I also wouldn’t say, as someone does, that it reads like Jane Austen. I, however, found it fascinating because you can watch the trajectory that this teacher is on in terms of her behavior and her actions and even her motivations and you just want to stop her because things are headed for a cataclysm.

If you’ve forgotten what high school was like (really? can anyone, ever?) or if you want to revisit it, especially through the eyes of a young and impressionable (though well-meaning but naive) teacher, pick up this book!

Here’s the look/see from NG:

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Recognition

January 2017 Indie Next selection
January 2017 LibraryReads selection
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