Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

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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FAITHFUL by Alice Hoffman

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I always love Alice Hoffman’s writing and this new novel was no exception.

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SUGARLAND by Martha Conway

Back in May, I did a Q&A with Martha Conway, author of SUGARLAND.

Read it here!

I received an e-copy of SUGARLAND, which is subtitled a “Jazz Age Mystery” and I read it a few weeks ago.

Here’s the overview:

SUGARLAND

A New Mystery by Edgar-Nominated Author Martha Conway

In 1921, young jazz pianist Eve Riser witnesses the accidental killing of a bootlegger. To cover up the crime, she agrees to deliver money and a letter to a man named Rudy Hardy in Chicago. But when Eve gets to Chicago she discovers that her stepsister Chickie, a popular nightclub singer, is pregnant by a man she won’t name. That night Rudy Hardy is killed before Eve’s eyes in a brutal drive-by shooting, and Chickie disappears.

Eve needs to find Chickie, but she can’t do it alone. Lena Hardy, Rudy’s sister, wants to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder, but she needs Eve’s connections. Together they navigate the back alleys and speakeasies of 1920s Chicago, encountering petty thugs, charismatic bandleaders, and a mysterious nightclub owner called the Walnut who seems to be the key to it all. As they fight racial barriers trying to discover the truth, Eve and Lena unravel a twisted tale of secret shipments and gangster rivalry.

SUGARLAND mixes the excitement of a new kind of music—jazz—with the darker side of Prohibition in a gripping story with “real suspense for anyone who likes a good mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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This was a gritty, sometimes dark story that showed the seedy side of life on the circuit in the 20’s. The three main females, Eve, Chickie, and Lena, were all very different but were strong characters as they dealt with everything from gangs, to murder, to an unwanted pregnancy, to racial discrimination. I didn’t know too much about the Prohibition Era, or jazz singers/musicians either, and I found this novel so interesting.

I really enjoyed Ms. Conway’s writing and the plotting and pacing of this book. I will admit to sometimes feeling sad because life was not easy for these gals and everything did not wrap up neatly into a pretty bow at the end.

Highly recommended if you want something a little different in a historical mystery!

Thank you again for my e-copy and for your time with me.

Sugarland (Medium)

 

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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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Two Books that I Could Not Put Down!

I love a good thriller! Recently I have read several good ones via Net Galley and two were publishing this month, so they are hot off the press:

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The YA novel, The Girl I Used to Be,  was a fast-paced read. Here’s the description from NG:

When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

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This was one of those books where I read it almost straight through while thinking, “I think THIS happened” -and figuring out the mystery. This is the kind of YA book I loved as a teen and enjoy as a fast read as an adult. April Henry is a new author for me, but she is obviously well-known and well-liked!

Then I read:

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Don’t You Cry was my very first Mary Kubica book. I’m hooked! I also grabbed her The Good Girl off a Kindle deal and read that one, too. They’ve got that Gone Girl — Girl on the Train — fast-paced, I can’t-put-it-down, scary-thriller feel to them.

Here’s the description from NG:

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

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It’s a wowza of a ride and I could not put this book down!

I love a good thrill – especially during winter in New England – but these books are good any time of the year!

Thank you, Net Galley, for my review copies!

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HFVBTour and Giveaway for PROMISED TO THE CROWN by Aimie K. Runyan

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I’m part of the HFVBTour today for PROMISED TO THE CROWN, a historical fiction novel that I found so interesting and loved reading!

Here’s what the tour has to say:

Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France, Book One)
by Aimie K. Runyan

Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Kensington
Paperback & eBook; 352 Pages

Series: Daughters of New France
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Bound for a new continent, and a new beginning.

In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony.

They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.

Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.

An engaging, engrossing debut.”—Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie

An absorbing adventure with heart.”—Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

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Aimie K. Runyan, member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, has been an avid student of French and Francophone Studies for more than fifteen years. While working on her Master’s thesis on the brave women who helped found French Canada, she was fortunate enough to win a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months which enabled the detailed research necessary for her work. Aimie lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

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

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This book introduced a whole new piece of history to me and I found it fascinating. I loved these women’s stories, even though they certainly each had her own share of struggle and hardship. I see that this is Book One – which thrilled me as I would love to read the next books in this series.

I had to ask myself while reading: could I have done this? Could I have travelled across the ocean to be the wife of a man I would scarcely have time to get to know and then face all the challenges of living in the New World? I’m not sure I could have been so brave!

There is a Giveaway associated with this tour – so enter and hopefully win a copy!

Giveaway

Two copies of Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.

Link to Giveaway: hhttps://gleam.io/ZEMHo/promised-to-the-crown

Thank you so much for my review e-copy!

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Review: LILAC GIRLS by Martha Hall Kelly

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If you know me, you know I love WWII stories. I picked this one from Net Galley and it was wonderful. At times both touching and heart breaking, this is an unforgettable story about three young women in three different places during the war whose paths converge.

Here’s what Net Galley has to say:

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Quick Review: DELIVERING THE TRUTH by Edith Maxwell

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I discovered this book on Net Galley and it sounded really interesting – a historical cozy mystery!

Here’s the Net Galley description:

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Review of THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin

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Last year, I got a galley of this novel signed at BEA. I also received it through Net Galley. I’m a HUGE Melanie Benjamin fan ever since I read THE AVIATOR’S WIFE (reviewed on here) and I follow her on Facebook (where she seems to be incredibly normal, cheerful, and funny).

Here’s the description of SWANS:

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Review: THE CANTERBURY SISTERS by Kim Wright

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I got an ARC of this novel through Net Galley and it promptly got swallowed up in my kindle! After rediscovering it, I couldn’t put it down and read it in a little over a day. It is a laugh-out-loud funny, touching, and heart-warming story about a woman who follows her mother’s dying wish to take her ashes to Canterbury Cathedral in England.

Here’s the description from Net Galley:

In the vein of Jojo Moyes and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a warm and touching novel about a woman who embarks on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral after losing her mother, sharing life lessons—in the best Chaucer tradition—with eight other women along the way.

Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage.

Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years.

Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.

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Oh my goodness — I just loved the character of Che. She is a slightly sarcastic, workaholic introvert, stuck in the middle of this “Broads Abroad” pilgrimage. While each woman is unique and has her own story to tell (part of their walk each day is sharing a story), Che was my favorite and the one we get to know the best.

I once read that “taking a journey” is one of the key plot designs for novels, and this story is no exception. As Che journeys, she finds out more about herself, her relationships, and her true desires in life. Themes of the importance of family and relationships, being true to oneself, self-forgiveness, and that special bond that women share ring throughout this very readable novel, often leaving me nodding my head and thinking, “Yes, that’s exactly how it is, isn’t it?”

Highly recommended! Thank you, Net Galley and Gallery Books, for my review copy!

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