Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

DEVOTION by Meg Kerr

A few months ago, Prism Publishers in Canada sent me a pdf of Meg Kerr’s new novel DEVOTION, a continuation of Pride and Prejudice. Thank you!!

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Here’s the overview:

After answering in her first novel Experience some burning questions that Pride & Prejudice fans have always asked — just how happy ever after were Elizabeth and Darcy following their wedding? And what became of the other Bennet sisters?— in her companion novel Devotion Meg continues  the story of the Darcy family, with particular attention to Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana.

Devotion follows the now 20-year-old Georgiana Darcy. While her brother sets out without her knowledge to secure her a husband, Georgiana, upon receipt of a long-delayed letter, embarks on a secret journey—leading to a chance meeting with a charming yet wicked young man with nefarious intentions.

The story is full of intrigue, romance and humour, it also brings to the forefront stories of some other characters first introduced in Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice, including Caroline Bingley and Pen Harrington, and seamlessly introduces new characters while maintaining the integrity of Austen’s beloved classic tale.

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I have to be honest, now, and say that normally I detest these types of novels as authors rarely “get it right” (remember – I spend my spare time cavorting around the home of the Alcott’s and I consider Louisa May a kindred spirit. No one has captured LMA’s storytelling skills to date.).

I have to say that I loved this story! I loved the writing and was amazed by how well Ms. Kerr captured the nuances of 19th century style. I enjoyed the storyline and I think that others who love Austen will, too.

FROM JULY 15-JULY 19, 2017 YOU CAN GET DEVOTION FREE FOR YOUR KINDLE VIA AMAZON! Woot!

Here’s a bit about her (I want her to visit Boston so I can show her Orchard House and we can talk about the 1800’s. I will wear my hoop skirt!):

What do you do when you live in the twenty-first century but a piece of your heart lies in the nineteenth? If you are author Meg Kerr you let your head and hand follow your heart. With her love of country life—dogs and horses, long walks in the woods and fields, dining with family and neighbours and dancing with friends, reading and writing and the best conversation—and her familiarity with eighteenth and nineteenth century history and literature, Meg has a natural gift to inhabit, explore and reimagine the world that Jane Austen both dwelt in and created, and to draw readers there with her.

Her forthcoming book, Devotion, will be available in the summer of 2017.

 Here are a few videos of Meg talking about her novel – check them out!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/472d9xav1c9qprc/DEVOTION_3TheOthers.mp4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/l8uxexsw4qsz6pz/DEVOTION_2MrDarcy.mp4?dl=0

 

 

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DUTY TO THE CROWN by Aimie Runyan

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Via GoodReads:
Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

Praise for Promised to the Crown
 
“A heart-wrenching and timeless tale of friendship, love and hope that skillfully blends history and romance to educate, entertain and inspire.” –Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (less)

ebook, 352 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Kensington
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I absolutely love this historical fiction series about the young women who were “Daughters of the King” – sent to Canada as the “New Land” to marry and populate for the good of France in the 1600’s. This was Book 2 in the series, and it continues the story of the characters introduced in Book 1, with individuals growing older as the books go along. Three young girls from Book 1 are now young women, and they have many trials and tribulations to face as they tackle pioneer life in the 1600’s. I love how these books encompass the highs and lows of life — births, deaths, joys, and sorrows.
I can’t wait for Book 3!
Thank you to the author who sent me this copy as she knew how much I enjoyed Book 1!
BBC – what are you waiting for? Make a miniseries from these novels!!
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THE TUMBLING TURNER SISTERS by Juliette Fay

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I had heard about this book a while ago (it publishes on Tuesday the 14th) and I thought I would like it – I was not wrong! Juliette Fay – a new author for me – does a spectacular job of making 1920’s vaudeville come alive through the story of four sisters, and their mother, who create an acrobatic act in order to make money for their family during tough times.

Here’s the overview via Net Galley:

Description

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YA Review: THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver

Publishing on April 28 is the YA read: THE SECRETS WE KEEP, which I got as an ARC from Net Galley.

Teenage twins Ella and Maddy might be identical, but their personalities are very different. Maddy is the “golden girl” – popular, beautiful, homecoming queen material. Ella is more introverted, artistic, and quiet. When a tragic accident leaves Maddy dead and Ella in the hospital, her first words are “Maddy”. Thus begins the charade where Ella decides to take on Maddy’s personality and live Maddy’s life, to make up for the fact that Maddy’s life was cut short.

This was the kind of book that I would have absolutely loved as a teen! I actually really enjoyed it as an adult, too. As a mother, my heart just about broke for Ella, as she felt herself less worthy than her more outgoing and popular sister. As always, I enjoy books with themes of self-forgiveness and self-growth.

Recommended for older YA readers, this is a book that could leave you wondering, “What would I do?”

See this book at an indie bookstore near you — I am an Indie Bound affiliate:


Find it at an Indie!

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Quick Review: FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen

I love Sarah Addison Allen’s writing. I’ve read all her books (such as GARDEN SPELLS, LOST LAKE, THE PEACH KEEPER, etc.) and was so excited when my husband got FIRST FROST for me. This novel continues the story of the Waverly sisters, and their families who we were first introduced to in GARDEN SPELLS (you can see my review from 2011 here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/quick-review-garden-spells-by-sarah-addison-allen/).

This You Tube book trailer says it all better than I could (since a picture is worth 1,000 words!):

Fans of Ms. Allen should not miss this one! A satisfying and reaffirming read.

Find it at an indie near you:


Find it at an Indie!

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HFVB Tour — Review of SISTERS OF SHILOH by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

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I’m so happy today to be taking part in the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of SISTERS OF SHILOH — a Civil War story of two sisters who go off to war. I absolutely loved it!

Libby and Josephine aren’t very similar, but their bond as sisters is fierce. Libby marries neighbor boy Arden, while Josephine still hasn’t been kissed. When Arden is killed in battle, Libby vows to avenge his death by killing 21 Yankees, one for each year that Arden lived. Josephine can’t let Libby go on her own, and joins her in the disguise of two young men heading off to war. During their “enlistment”, Libby and Josephine learn to fight, survive the elements, and endure the amazing hardships that existed for Civil War soldiers, all while hiding their true identities. Libby’s love for Arden brings him close in spirit – close enough that he talks to her and guides her actions. Josephine however, falls in love with a fellow soldier, which brings complications of its own.

I just loved this story and read it in one day. The writing is so beautifully evocative. I’ve never read a book with two authors where you couldn’t see the seams where the two writing styles came together.

I never share quotes from books – in part because they ask you not to share from ARC’s unless you know it is in the finished work – but this first sentence is so exquisite that I had to stop and re-read it:

Libby waited for her dead husband in the woods, her breath making clouds in the cold night air.

I love that opening. I loved these characters. I loved this book!

Here’s some info from HFVBT:

About Sisters of Shiloh…
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages:256
Genre: Historical FictionAdd to GR Button
A best-selling novelist enlists her own sister to bring us the story of two Southern sisters, disguised as men, who join the Confederate Army—one seeking vengeance on the battlefield, the other finding love.In a war that pitted brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle. Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

Authors and Sisters, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall_2

About the Authors

Kathy Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. Kathy is the best-selling author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar and Blue Asylum She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer. She currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with her husband. Visit Kathy’s Blog.

Becky Hepinstall grew up outside of Houston, Texas. She holds a degree in History from the University of Texas in Austin, and currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, a Navy pilot, and their four children.

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Review: THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah

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Publishing on February 3 is a book that is destined to be one of my top picks for 2015. THE NIGHTINGALE is a story of two French sisters during WWII. Each sister does whatever she can to survive, and their story is both riveting and heart-breaking. I could not put this book down!

Without giving away the whole story line, this novel basically follows two sisters throughout the occupation of France in WWII. One sister, Viann, has a young daughter and her husband is sent to fight. She is determined to keep their family home going and to keep her daughter safe until her husband returns. The other sister, Isabelle, has always been the black sheep. She is young and impetuous, but she is also strong and courageous. She joins the Resistance and works to bring downed allied airmen over the Pyrenees into Spain. The sisters clash and fight and are so completely different, yet at the same time they love each other and want to help each other. Each faces the horrible reality of the war with her own way of coping.

I have to say that when I read this, I identified so strongly with Viann. When I was younger, I might have been more of an Isabelle, but Viann’s struggle to just get by and keep going and to protect her daughter at all costs — I could just imagine myself in her shoes. She was willing to suffer at great lengths as long as it meant that her daughter was safe. However, that doesn’t mean that she did nothing or just went along with the atrocities she was witnessing. One thing I loved about this book is that these characters were so multi-layered. There’s a whole back story involving their mother, which I won’t go in to, that had shaped them, as well as their relationship with their father in Paris. I truly loved these characters even though their story made me weep at times.

If you like WWII novels, and especially if you enjoy reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, pick up a copy of THE NIGHTINGALE. This was my first Kristin Hannah book, but it won’t be my last!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate, and thank you, Net Galley, for my ARC!

The Nightingale

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Review: VANESSA AND HER SISTER by Priya Parmar

I saw this come up on Net Galley and realized how little I knew about Virginia Woolf so I requested it. This was a truly fascinating account of Virginia and her sister Vanessa and their lives in London in the early 20th century, along with their highly gifted friends. This group came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group.

Please note the following may have some plot SPOILERS.

Parmar does an excellent job of portraying Virginia’s genius intellect, coupled with her extreme emotional neediness and her mental instability. Both women had suffered severe loss in their family and were quite devoted to each other. However, Virginia’s connection to her sister bordered on the unhealthy and was almost obsessive. At times reading this novel, I felt so sorry for Vanessa. Virginia pretty much worked to take over anything she had, and then she usually destroyed it (including Vanessa’s marriage). Vanessa herself was a gifted artist, but her life and relationships and talents were hindered, in my opinion, by her sister’s overpossessiveness.

Throughout the book we are treated to glimpses into the social interactions of their partners in the group of intellectuals (writers and artists mostly) that became the Bloomsbury Group. The story is told from Vanessa’s point of view but also through telegrams, letters, diary entries, etc. I really enjoyed this book, though it was a bit depressing. I could have kept reading for about another 10-15 years of their lives! Kudos to Ms. Parmar on what I believe is her debut novel.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. It publishes on 12/30/14:

Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel

 


Find Vanessa and Her Sister at an Indie (I am an Indie Bound Affiliate)

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REVIEW: The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading British author Gabrielle Donnelly’s “The Little Women Letters”. I had received the book as an advanced reader copy while attending the BBC part of BEA in New York in May. (See also my recent post of a video clip of Ms. Donnelly discussing her book). I really enjoyed reading this modern day novel of three sisters who parallel and are the descendents of the fictional March sisters of “Little Women”.

The Atwater sisters live in London and are the great great granddaughters of Jo March. Emma is the always sensible eldest, similar to Meg March. Sophie is the beautiful and somewhat self-centered youngest sister, similar to Amy March. And Lulu is the middle child, seeking to find her way, parallel to Jo March. Their mother is actually somewhat similar to the real “Mrs. March” Abba May Alcott: a feminist and social worker. They even have a crotchety old aunt from Boston – Aunt Amy in this case – similar to Aunt March. Notably, Beth March is missing (a wise choice, in my estimation). The girls seek to solve the various issues in their everyday lives, while Lulu finds a stash of letters written by Jo March to her sisters long ago. The similarities are striking and she takes solace in these letters as she struggles to find a job, a profession, and a relationship with a man.

I think I’ve written before of how I am an incredibly harsh critic of fictionalized stories of Louisa May Alcott since I am quite knowledgeable about the family and spend time at their house museum in Concord. I was a tad sceptical when I began this book as I feared I would once again be disappointed by the actions or discordant voices I might find. However, this book is not about the Alcotts, it is about the March family – and a family in modern times. I was struck by what an excellent job Ms. Donnelly did in capturing not only the voices of the March sisters of “Little Women”, but the essence of the Alcotts as well. There were too many similarities and subtleties between the real family and this novel to think that it was coincidence. Ms. Donnelly not only did her homework, but did an excellent job in capturing that embodiment of character that is Alcott. My hat’s off to her!

This is a book that I would read, put down, and then pick up again. The story moved much like “Little Women” does: a slice of life in a family of sisters. I am guessing LW fans will adore it.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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Review: The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen

I had seen that Rebecca Rasmussen was speaking at the nearby Concord Bookshop in June, but got busy and totally forgot to go. I hadn’t read her book, but had heard through other bloggers that it was good. A few weeks ago I got it from the library and I have been kicking myself ever since that I missed Rebecca’s talk in Concord. I LOVED this book!!

“The Bird Sisters” tells the story of Milly and Twiss – two teen-age sisters growing up in the 40’s in Wisconsin. Milly is beautiful and kind and very good. She’s one of those people who, no matter how hard they try, can’t be mean or cruel as it’s just not in them. Twiss is spunky and a tomboy. She is intelligent and strong and devoted to her sister. Their parents are struggling with a dysfunctional marriage – their father is a self-centered, narcissistic, has-been golf pro, and their mother is a once wealthy, lonely woman, who clings to the fact that she once visited France in order to make herself feel special (or at least more special than the folks in their town). The story centers on one summer when their teen-age cousin, Bett, comes to visit. Things are irrevocably changed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

I just loved this book. It is a story of relationships and love and centers on the strength of women and the love bonds that bind family. It was the kind of book I would put down because I didn’t want it to end. This is Ms. Rasmussen’s first book and I sincerely look forward to her next one! She has a wonderful style with unique and unforgettable character voices. Her story is based, in part, on her own family.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

See the book trailer from You Tube:

 http://youtu.be/lOu_t_2PHJ4

Here’s Rebecca herself discusses her creation of the book: (HOW could I have missed her speaking in Concord??)

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