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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One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

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I found this title online and was happy to receive it through Net Galley for my iPad.

It is billed as a children’s book, but I think the content more appropriate for YA or adults. (similar to the conversations about WOLF HOLLOW — is that really a children’s book? I say not).

In this novel, young Annie is the new girl at school and she snubs an unpopular but clingy and unkind girl, who then contracts influenza and haunts Annie. Lots to think and talk about with this one in regards to how we treat others, and/or in the historical context of WWI.

Here’s the overview:

Description

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Again — it’s not just for children! I enjoyed it and read it straight through in a sitting.
Thank you for my review copy!
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THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn

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I had heard some chatter about this novel when it first came out earlier this summer, so I was excited to score a copy through Edelweiss. This was a compelling story about female Resistance members and spies in both WWI and WWII (which you rarely get in a novel!).

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth . . . no matter where it leads.

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Oh my goodness — how I loved these characters, Charlie and Eve! Such strong women who could truly fight for a cause. I love it when the main characters are just so perfectly imperfect. You love them because they seem so real.

This was a solid story — at times sad, at times I laughed.

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction!

Thank you for my review copy!!

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THE RADIUM GIRLS by Kate Moore

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I received this book from Net Galley back in the fall. It is the true story of the women who worked in a watch factory, using radium to illuminate the dials. These young women suffered horrible effects from ingesting the radium as they licked their paint brushes:

Description

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A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen

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I am thrilled today to be part of the publicity blog tour for Tessa Arlen’s new mystery novel: A Death by Any Other Name. I’ve read Ms. Arlen’s other cozies: Death Sits Down to Dinner and Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, and loved them! They are a bit in the Downtown style of Edwardian England with the lady of the house solving mysteries with the help of her trusty housekeeper.

Here’s the overview for this story:

A Death by Any Other Name is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in the English countryside. Building on the success of her last two mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe full of secrets, intrigue, and, this time, roses.

The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson’s services are called upon after a cook is framed and dismissed for poisoning a guest of the Hyde Rose Society. Promising to help her regain her job and her dignity, the pair trek out to the countryside to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires. There, they are to discover a villain of audacious cunning among a group of mild-mannered, amateur rose-breeders. While they investigate, the rumor mill fills with talk about a conflict over in Prussia where someone quite important was shot. There is talk of war and they must race the clock to solve the mystery as the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of WWI.

Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen’s latest does not disappoint.

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Tessa Arlen is a gifted writer, and the pages come alive with the sense of the period. Though this is the third in this series with Lady Monfort, this novel is absolutely a stand alone title as well. Ms. Arlen includes a cast of characters break down at the start of the book, and I found this handy as there were a lot of characters in this novel.

Well, paced and well,plotted, this was a fun read. Highly recommended to those who enjoy cozy mysteries and/or those who may just be missing their Downton fix!

Thank you for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!

 

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THE SILENT LAND by David Dunham

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Today I’m happy to take part in THE SILENT LAND blog tour through HFVBTours!

This is a touching and memorable novel, taking place at the turn of the century and during WWI. The writing is beautiful (check out the excerpt below!). The main character is unforgettable.

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The Silent Land by David Dunham

Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Matador
eBook & Paperback; 300 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Rebecca Lawrence reached a count of sixty in her head and slid her finger into the back pages of her mother’s diary. Mistaking the diary for a book granted her innocence the first time she’d opened it. She had no argument for innocence now.’

Just when Rebecca Lawrence believed joy had come into her life, she learns the truth about how her mother died years before. Marriage to her first love and motherhood pulls her back from resentment, only for the First World War to threaten her peace when her husband is sent to fight.

When she discovers another lie which could fracture her world, she is faced with the choice of ignoring it, or letting the scars of the past corrupt her.

Set between 1903 and 1919, The Silent Land explores the complexities of love and the pursuit of truth in grief. The inspirational purity of the heroine will draw readers in, demonstrating how strength can be found at times when it would have seemed inconceivable.

The Silent Land explores the different shades of grief – the loss of a mother through assisted suicide, the loss of a father through a heart attack, and the loss of a husband through conflict. Comparable to works by Colm Tóibín and Sebastian Faulks, this is a moving and eloquently written tale of the overwhelming struggle faced by women left at home during the war.

A poignant tale through a woman’s viewpoint that won’t scare the horses or male readers with an especially effective second half.” – the bookbag.co.uk

I loved the story… makes you appreciate life and what you have.” – Mojomums.co.uk

A detailed story that shows what happens when there are dreadful and terrible secrets within a family and how the shadow of the great and terrible Great War was a long a dark one.” – thatsbooks.blogspot.co.nz

Amazon UK | WH Smith | Waterstone’s | Whitcoulls

Excerpt

The boys were sat at the table, their hands on their laps.

‘Please, begin,’ said Rebecca, pulling out her chair.

James and Sebastian began to eat. Rebecca waited until their mouths were full and said, ‘I’ll be coming with you in the morning. I’ll meet you after school and we’ll travel home together.’

James swallowed. ‘Why will you be in Worcester all day?’

‘I’m not, darling. I’ll be in Birmingham.’

‘Why are you going there?’

‘To visit your Uncle Teddy.’

James looked confused. ‘Why is he in Birmingham?’

‘He’s in hospital.’

‘Is he poorly?’

‘I don’t believe so.’

‘So why is he there?’

Rebecca hesitated and said, ‘I expect he’s hurt.’

‘From the war?’ asked Sebastian.

‘Yes.’ Rebecca took a sip of wine, hoping the questions would stop. James was soaking a potato in melted butter and Sebastian was chewing on a piece of bread.

‘Was Uncle Teddy with Papa?’ said James.

Rebecca remembered what Edward had written: Giving his life to protect mine. ‘He might have been.’

‘How do you know he’s in hospital?’

‘He wrote to me.’

‘What did he write?’

Rebecca took a longer sip of wine. ‘He told me the hospital he’s in and the time I could visit.’

‘Can we come?’ asked Sebastian.

‘No, you need to be at school.’

‘Can we go on Saturday then?’

‘Perhaps.’

James stabbed another potato with his fork. ‘Why didn’t he tell you what was wrong with him?’

‘I really don’t know, James.’

‘Can I read his letter?’

‘No, you can’t.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because you can’t.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘It was addressed to me, that’s why.’

‘But…’

‘That’s the end of it. No more questions.’

James released his cutlery on to his plate.

‘James!’ snapped Rebecca, banging her fist on the table. ‘You will not behave like that.’

James dropped his head. He finished his dinner in silence and was excused from the table, taking Sebastian with him. Rebecca looked at the three empty chairs and reached for the wine bottle. She poured herself a second glass and then a third, and a fourth, not touching her food. The boys had gone to Rupert whenever she had raised her voice. Now they only had each other.

About the Author

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Having spent his career in the media industry, David Dunham has worked as a reporter, deputy editor, senior producer and homepage editor. David lives in New Zealand, where he was born, though from time to time can be found daydreaming about Worcestershire, England where he was raised.

For more information please visit David Dunham’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 21
Review at Adventures Thru Wonderland

Tuesday, November 22
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 23
Review at Beth’s Book Nook

Tuesday, November 29
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 2
Guest Post at Man of la Book

Monday, December 5
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, December 7
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, December 8
Guest Post at A Bookaholic Swede

Monday, December 12
Guest Post at Books, Dreams, Life

Tuesday, December 13
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, December 14
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Friday, December 16
Review at The Paperback Pilgrim

Saturday, December 17
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Monday, December 19
Blog Tour Wrap-Up at Passages to the Past

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The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

My friends over at William Morrow offered me a review copy of THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY as they knew I love historical fiction. This was a fun read with interesting characters, following the life experiences of a young girl who comes, post WWI, to work at the Savoy Hotel, but who really wants to be a star of the stage.

‘Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …’

WILLIAM MORROW is thrilled to publish New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Hazel Gaynor’s third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY. Gaynor’s previous novels, The Girl Who Came Home (2014), and A Memory of Violets (2015) beautifully illustrated the harrowing era of the Titanic and the gritty streets of London in the 1800s. Now she takes readers back in time to the 1920s and envisions what it was like in one of the most dazzling ages; all while beautifully capturing the sadness of post-war Britain..

“these ordinary girls had been thrown into the most extraordinary experiences during the war, and, for many, the expectation to return to the domestic subservience of the prewar years was almost impossible. After the fear and desolation of war, is it any wonder they wanted to laugh and sing, dance and dazzle?”

– Hazel Gaynor

 Here’s the overview:

In THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, we meet Dolly Lane, a dreamer but a downtrodden maid fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier Dolly loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life. But once Dolly makes her way as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, she takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion.

Soon after Dolly makes her way to The Savoy, her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s ad for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. In the end, Dolly must choose between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

A deeply compelling and emotional rags to riches story, Gaynor makes the dazzling era of the 1920s come alive within the pages of THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY.

 

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I loved this well-written story, which inspired a variety of emotions in me, from amusement to poignancy. While lengthy (over 400 pages), it read quickly, and I found myself easily engaged in Dolly’s story, primarily, but in the other characters, too. Of course, I always love to read about theater as well.

A recommended historical fiction read if you enjoy this time period.

Thank you for my review copy!

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TIME AND REGRET by M.K. Tod

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Description (via Net Galley)

A Note From the Publisher

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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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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk – For My Ears…

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Wow.

Just wow.

I had heard about this book and read that it was a Newbery contender, so of course I thought, “I should probably read it.” (Reminder: I’m a reading specialist in a K-8 school). I hadn’t heard too much about this book except that it was a “good book” and “about a girl bully”.

This book is SO much more. You can read this book on multiple levels – which is one reason it is so good for so many ages. It is beautifully written. I got the audible version (which is beautifully done by Emily Rankin) and listened to it as I drove, but also with earphones by myself as I just didn’t want to leave this story.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience and strength help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

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I could devote an entire blog entry to the character of Betty Glengarry. Why was Betty the way she was? Did something happen that made her so dark within? What does her personality say about the animal that lurks within all of us?  (okay I’ll stop now).

I could devote another entry to the character of Toby, a PTSD sufferer who is somewhat reminiscent of Boo Radley.

But I won’t. (Due to my job/family/volunteer work/life my entries need to be completed in under 30 minutes!).

Take my advice and read this book! Share it with a young person in your life. Share it with another adult. Don’t let it be seen as just a “book about bullying”. This is a beautifully written coming of age story that has so many layers to it. Don’t miss it.

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