Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

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In December, I received an electronic copy of THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY via Edelweiss from my friends in publicity at Harper Collins. This was a fast and interesting read, especially since I love historical fiction!

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways.

An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom…

San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision…one that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?

THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY publishes on Feb. 7. Jaeger has done an excellent job in researching the time period and making history come alive. I will admit to loving the historical part better than the present day story, but that usually happens for me in this type of novel!

 

 

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Litfuse Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY for THROUGH THE SHADOWS by Karen Barnett

Through-the-Shadows

I’m excited to be part of the Litfuse Publicity blog tour for Karent Barnett’s latest novel in the Golden Gate Chronicles: THROUGH THE SHADOWS. This story continues on with some of the characters we have come to know from the previous books in the series: OUT OF THE ASHES and BEYOND THE RUINS. That said, it can be a stand alone title as well.

Here’s the description of this story from Litfuse:

Through the Shadows (Abingdon, May 2016)

As San Francisco rises from the ashes, an age-old battle looms between corruption and the promise of new beginnings.

The devastating earthquake is just two years past, but the city of San Francisco is still trying to recover. Destruction of this magnitude is not so easy to overcome-and neither are the past regrets shadowing Elizabeth King’s hopeful future.

Hoping to right her wrongs, Elizabeth dedicates herself to helping girls rescued from slavery in Chinatown brothels, even if it means putting her own life at risk to sneak through the gloomy alleys and rooftops where dangers lurk.

Putting her life on the line for a worthy cause is admirable. But opening her heart is even more terrifying. So when Elizabeth meets attorney, Charles McKinley—a man who dreams of reforming San Francisco’s crooked politics—Elizabeth begins to doubt: Can she maintain her pretense and hide her past? Or will her secret jeopardize both their futures?

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If you are reading this series, you know it is Christian historical fiction, and I like how the story line is able to encapsulate faith right alongside the action and romance plot lines. Elizabeth is a likable and strong character, and I will give this book credit for highlighting an issue that personally I have never read about (so I am assuming it is often overlooked or ignored) — the plight of the young Chinese prostitute in turn of the century California.

Barnett’s writing flows smoothly and this is an easy read – perfect for starting off the summer!

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Karen Barnett is the author of “Beyond the Ashes,” “Out of the Ruins,” and “Mistaken.” Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs.
Thank you for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!

But wait! There’s more!!! There’s a book giveaway for this tour — click below for info and entering:

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LINK FOR GIVEAWAY: https://promosimple.com/ps/99f1

 

 

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HFVBTour for 1906 by James Dalessandro

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Hey, Readers — I’m shouting it out today for a new book about the San Francisco 1906 earthquake: 1906.

Here’s what HFVBTours has to say about it:

1906: A Novel by James Dalessandro

eBook Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Crossroad Press
eBook; 368 Pages

Genre : Historical Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

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Every disaster has a backstory, none more thrilling than this one. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning tale of political corruption, vendettas, romance, rescue—and murder—is based on recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Told by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Victorian-era city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle—fought even as the city burns—that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor.

With the appeal and texture of The Alienist, Carter Beats the Devil, and the novels of E. L. Doctrow, James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | KOBO

Praise

“…an imaginative and dense interplay between fact and fiction …of corruption, crime lords and the great San Francisco earthquake…” -Publisher’s Weekly

“Imagine ‘Gone with the Wind’ set against the backdrop of the great San Francisco Earthquake…it steals your breath away.” -Bookideas.com

“A Bold, Sweeping Novel…Richly Textured…Extraordinary.” -Vincent Bugliosi (author ‘Helter Skelter’)

“loaded with admirable historical detail and raptor civic corruption as murderous as the San Andreas Fault.” -Oakley Hall (author, the Ambrose Bierce mysteries)

“…will keep you at the edge of your seat.” -The New York Sun

“..action packed…exciting and vivid.” -Kirkus

“A riveting account of corruption, greed and murder…” -Dallas Morning News

About the Author

03_Author James Dallesandro

James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland Ohio, and educated at Ohio University and UCLA film school. In 1973 he founded the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ken Kesey, the nation’s largest literary event. He has written for Playboy, the Examiner newspapers, San Francisco magazine. He was writer of the House of Blues Radio Hour and created the nationally syndicated program “Rock On” with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. He has published four books: Canary in a Coal Mine (poetry); Bohemian Heart (noir detective fiction); Citizen Jane (True Crime); and 1906: A Novel (Historical Fiction). He is award winning writer/director/producer of the documentary film THE DAMNEDEST, FINEST RUINS (PBS/KQED), and writer/producer of the Hallmark Movie “Citizen Jane,” based on his book. He is screenwriter of “1906” the upcoming Pixar/Warner Brothers live action film based on his novel of the same name. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Katie and best pal Giacomo Poochini.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOOGLE+ | GOODREADS

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Thank you for sending me a free e-copy!

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Litfuse Blog Tour for BEYOND THE ASHES by Karen Barnett and Giveaway!

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I’m happy today to take part in the blog tour for Karen Barnett’s second story in her Golden Gate Chronicles series: BEYOND THE ASHES.

Here’s the synopsis from Litfuse:

About the book:
Beyond the Ashes (Abingdon Press, June 2015)Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes?

Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love.

Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed.

Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1IGu1bg

About the author:

Karen Barnett is the author of Beyond the Ashes, Out of the Ruins, and Mistaken. Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs.

Find Karen online: website, Twitter, Facebook

If you read me, you know I love historical fiction. Plus I grew up in the Bay Area, so stories taking place in San Francisco are always a draw for me! This story had a lot of background in it about conditions after the big quake and medical issues at the time. I found the whole subplot about cancer and cancer treatment – just a hundred years ago – quite fascinating, too.
There were a lot of characters in this book, with the main ones being Ruby, her brother Robert, and his friend and fellow doctor Gerald. I did find the first half of the book a tad slow. There was a lot of build up to Ruby and Gerald’s feelings for each other. Then it seemed like the second half of the book flew! There were a few other subplots (such as one about the abuse of young Asian girls), along with Ruby and Gerald’s relationship, the upcoming wedding of Robert, Gerald’s illness, and an ill-timed diphtheria outbreak! The Christian element in this book is what I call a “light touch”. Ruby and Gerald – and another key character who was a minster – are people of faith and they let that faith guide them.
Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction!
Here’s a chance to win a copy of your own: Giveaway!
Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review e-copy!
You, too, can follow the tour:

Blog Tour Schedule:

6/29/2015
Rebekah | Backing Books
Jendi | Jendi’s Journal
Tressa | Wishful Endings
Karen | LyonsLady
Charity | aTransParentMom
Marianne | reviewing Novels Online
Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too !
Charity | Giveaway Lady
Trish | View from the Birdhouse
Lisa | A Rup Life
Julia | Avid Reader Reviews

6/30/2015

Taylor | Taylor Reid Reads and Breathes
Vicky | deal sharing aunt
Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Cassandra | Cassandra M’s Place
Erin | For Him and My Family
Megan | when life gets you down…read a book

7/1/2015

Jami | Jami’s Words
Rayleigh | Accelerate The Jesus Movement
Joy | Splashes of Joy
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Kav | Best Reads

7/2/2015

Pamela | Daysong Reflections
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart

7/3/2015

Angela | Griperang’s Bookmarks
Gayle | BOOKS REVIEWS ETC
Margaret | The World As I See It

7/4/2015

Amanda | Inklings and Notions

7/5/2015

Sandra | Simple Harvest Reads
Annie | Just Commonly

7/6/2015

Sally | Proverbial Reads
Nicki | Confessions of a Teenage Bookworm
Wendy | Life at Rossmont

7/7/2015

Sarah | Growing for Christ
Val | Beyond the ashes
Debra | Footprints in the Butter
Rachel | EmpowerMoms
Victor | Vic’s Media Room
Nancy | sunny island breezes
Laura | Harvest Lane Cottage
Becky | Christian Chick’s Thoughts
Heidi | Heidi Reads…

7/8/2015

Lena | A Christian Writers World
Katrina | Life With Katie
Lindsey | Books for Christian Girls

7/9/2015

Britney | Buzzing About Books
Kristie | Moments
Hallie | Book by Book

7/10/2015

Vera | Chat With Vera
Carole | The Power of Words
Margaret | Frugal-Shopping and More
Veronica | Veronica’s ‘Views
Sue | Thoughts from Mill Street

7/11/2015

Beth | Beth’s Book-Nook Blog

7/13/2015

Crystal | Reading Corner Book Reviews & More!
Carla | Working Mommy Journal

7/14/2015

Cheryl | cherylbbookblog
Kay | Kaisy Daisy’s Corner

7/15/2015

Paige | Electively Paige
Renee | Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot
Deb | Positive Grace

7/16/2015

Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Abbi | Christian Novels
Kari | Slow It Down

7/17/2015

Barbara | i’m Hooked on Books
Marissa | The Review Stew

7/18/2015

Amy | A Nest in the Rocks
Mindy | A Room Without Books is Empty
Michelle | Out Little Corner of the World

7/19/2015

Stacey | WORD Up!
Tammy | Tammy is Blessed
Shirley | A Mom After God’s Own Heart
Amanda | The Talbert Report
Lisa | Seekingwithallyurheart
Rebekah | Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews

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Audiobook Review: RIPPER by Isabel Allende

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First let me begin by saying: I love Isabel Allende’s books. THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS is one of favorite books ever. EVA LUNA, OF LOVE AND SHADOWS, DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE, PORTRAIT IN SEPIA. You get the idea. So I was thrilled to see she had written a mystery novel – described as “fast-paced” – that takes place in San Francisco (near my old stomping grounds). I got it as an audiobook from my public library.

Wow — what a disappointment. Isabel Allende is an incredible writer. Her attraction for me has always been in the beauty of her language. Her characters are so real and human. Her stories are enthralling.

Not this one. This story had me puzzled right from the beginning. There was WAY TOO MUCH character description and background given. The story is about a serial killer in San Francisco and I felt like I was at about CD 6 before we got a murder (covered in what felt like a few paragraphs). Instead we had this lush, detailed history of our main character (soon to become victim-in-danger-of-being-murdered-by-serial-killer) Indiana Jackson – a woman who was so beautiful, so gifted, so extraordinary, and so not aware of her power over men that she seemed totally unbelievable as she went about her work as a homeopath. Her daughter is the shy and reclusive, but brilliant, Amanda, who spends her time playing an online game called “Ripper” with other teens where they solve murders. Amanda’s father – Indiana’s ex – is luckily a SF homicide cop so that gives everybody access to detailed police information. Amanda’s grandfather is her best friend and plays Ripper, too. When Indiana is finally abducted in about disk 10, Amanda makes it her job to figure out who the killer is and save her mother in time.

THIS PART CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Now, someone who has read this book please tell me: who WAS that killer?? He had like five different names and aliases and he was someone I didn’t even remember from earlier in the novel when we were getting the back story to birth of all those other characters. What??? And all those other people he killed were related to him and his crazy, feral, abused, neglected youth, but why did he want to kill Indiana?? Did she maybe reject him? (I have to say I do struggle with following books while driving sometimes and I can’t really rewind). Also, this was looooong. I just looked it up on Amazon and saw it has over 500 pages. I believe it.

So – in a nutshell – if you want great character descriptions and Allende’s writing, you might like this. If you want a fast-paced thriller, skip this one. My expectations were really high, so that didn’t help.

But Isabel, I still absolutely love your (other) books!

PS – forgot to mention the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini — LOVED his smooth voice!

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Review: CHINA DOLLS by Lisa See

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the publication of Lisa See’s latest novel, CHINA DOLLS. If you read me, you know I LOVE her works and have read them all. I particularly enjoy her historical fiction. CHINA DOLLS downloaded to my Kindle when it came out a few weeks ago, and  I was so excited the day I turned on my Kindle and there it was! Ms. See hit it out of the ballpark again with this novel, telling the story of three young Asian women during WWII who are entertainers/dancers on the night club scene in San Francisco.

The story starts with Grace, one of the three voices portrayed in the novel. Grace has arrived in California from Plain City, Ohio, and she plans on being a star. Grace is escaping an abusive homelike, and she is sure her dancing talents and determination will be enough to get her to stardom. Next she meets Helen, who is still suffering from a past tragedy, and who lives with her family in a compound in Chinatown. Helen is pretty much only going through the motions of life, when she spontaneously decides to join Grace in her auditioning quest. At the dance call, they meet Ruby, a tough but sparkly young woman from Hawaii who is secretly hiding the fact that she is Japanese, not Chinese. The three become fast friends and vow to never let anything come between them.

Over the course of the book, the three women have a lot of trials and tribulations. Falling in love, lost love, betrayal, back-stabbing, and other relationship woes strain their friendships, and when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Ruby fears for her safety and is eventually arrested and sent to a detainment camp for Japanese Americans. The three girls mature into women who have to constantly balance their own needs with the needs of their families and their relationships and dance careers. The three strike a tentative balance among themselves, with the bond of friendship and love being the foundation on which they move forward with their lives.

I just LOVED this book. Lisa See is an excellent writer. The story was engaging, but her writing itself flows seamlessly. Her depictions are so true to life, and she is spot on in how she portrays women and their relationships. I particularly liked how this story was told through three distinct voices.

I cant’ wait to see what’s next from this gifted author!

You can see this book on Amazon where I got mine and where I am an Associate:

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Review: Women’s Murder Club THE 12TH OF NEVER by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

I’ve read all the James Patterson and Maxine Paetro “Women’s Murder Club” books. Just out is number twelve: THE 12TH OF NEVER, which I managed to get at the library even though there is a long wait for it. In this installment (number 12 obviously!) Lindsay and Joe have a baby girl. Lindsay is learning to balance the demands of motherhood and the demands of her job. Baby Julie is the light of their lives, but then she falls ill (and that’s all I’m saying about that!).

Meanwhile, down at the precinct, Lindsay is faced with some tough cases. A rather odd English professor comes in to announce that he is dreaming of murders happening. No one really takes him seriously until the murders DO happen, very much the way he predicts they will. This case gets more confounding as time goes on. At the same time, the high-profile girlfriend of a star 49er football player is murdered, and then her body disappears from Lindsay’s best friend and medical examiner, Claire’s, lab. At the  same time, Yuki, another murder club member, is prosecuting the case of her career against a sleazy lawyer who is accused of killing his wife and child. And, last but not least, reporter Cindy is having relationship issues with Lindsay’s partner, Richie.

All in all, there’s a lot going on in this novel. It moves quickly and I read it in a day or two. I have to say it wrapped up quickly, especially the missing body/murder part. I still don’t fully understand how the precognition piece and how the murders involved happened. Without saying too much, I will say I found that piece far-fetched. Also (SPOILER ALERT) I found the missing body/missing security guard problem kind of far-fetched, too (everyone seemed to think of the guard as a suspect and not a potential victim – perhaps to create another suspect?). However, overall I enjoyed this read, as I have the other ones in the series!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Saturday Snapshot: Some pics from SF

Here are some shots of SF from our trip last week! We started in San Francisco, and then headed to my hometown of Napa to visit friends.

My son delighted in the SF cable cars!!

photo (2) cable car

My daughter asked me to take this shot of the street lantern in Chinatown – our hotel was only a few blocks away.

photo (2) Chinatown lantern

It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed hanging out at the park by Ghiradelli Square, where I snapped this pic of the Golden Gate Bridge! (a little blurry – iPhone and me)

photo (2) GG Bridge

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at www.athomewithbooks.net. You can participate by posting a picture(s) you’ve taken (appropriate content, please) and linking it to Alyce’s site!

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Saturday Snapshot! I Left My Heart…

photo (2)LEGO SF

Do you know what this is? It’s a LEGO rendition of San Francisco! While we saw this in Florida this February, today we are headed to the REAL SF and to my hometown of Napa! Wish us a Bon Voyage as we start school break!

Saturday Snapshot is hoted by Alyce of http://www.athomewithbooks.net. You can join the fun by posting an appropriate picture that you or a friend/family member took and linking it to Alyce’s site!

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Quick Review: 10th Anniversary by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

I’ve read all of Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books and was so glad to snatch this one up from the new release shelf at the library. As with the others, I found it a quick, fun read – I finished it the day after I got it.

In this installment, SF police detective Lindsay Boxer is getting married to her beloved Joe, but a serial rapist is loose in SF. “Babies” are also a theme in this book – with a victimized young girl who has apparently sold her baby and a high-profile murder case of a mother with young children who accused of killing her husband taking up Lindsay’s time, along with her own desire to be a mother. Lindsay gets involved in the murder trial and comes up against her dear friend Yuki, who is the prosecutor. At the same time, Lindsay is determined to uncover what happened to the teen’s baby. Cindy, the news reporter, gets a little too involved with chasing after the rapist as well.

There is a lot of tension in this novel, along with the camaraderie of the ladies. The events are non-stop action, and with Patterson’s short chapters, this was an easy read for me.

I think it may be my favorite WMC book yet from this writing team!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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