Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal

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Then next Maggie Hope story is here! I love this series, which is WWII mystery series centering on a young and daring spy, Maggie Hope. I used to think of them as cozies, but they really aren’t. They are more of a historical mystery. I learn so much about women’s roles in WWII while reading them!

This one reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Everyone is dying, one by one, and Maggie must find the killer.

Here’s the description from Net Galley – thanks for my review e-copy! Happy Pub Day!

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Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

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I had never read a title by Suzanne Rindell, but I chose this book from Net Galley since I love WWII stories. The novel centers on three main characters: Louis, one of the many children of a poor farmer who carries a grudge against the Japanese family next door; Harry, the son of the Japanese farmers; and Ava, a young girl who is part of an itinerant circus group. When their paths cross, the boys sign on to be part of an air circus, doing stunts in the sky. However, as WWII reaches the US, Harry’s family is sent to an internment camp and forever changed, while Louis must struggle with his family’s long-held feud, and Ava must decide where her love lies.

I really enjoyed this story and particularly liked the characters. It’s always fun to read about California, where I grew up, and in one scene they visit the Napa Valley (yeah!). I would love to see this novel made into a movie. I bet it would have beautiful cinematography!

This may be my first Suzanne Rindell novel, but it won’t be my last. Thank you for my review e-copy!

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The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer

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This was a wonderful young readers’ story about a family escaping Europe during WWII through an orchestra that was created to save Jewish musicians in the Holocaust. Based on true events, I’d recommend it for grades 5 and up.

Thank you for my e-copy!

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A Note From the Publisher

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THE TUSCAN CHILD by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me, you know I love Rhys Bowen’s mystery series (Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness, to name two of them). Every now and then she steps out and writes a stand alone (e.g. In Farleigh Field). THE TUSCAN CHILD is just that – a stand alone novel that tells the story of a WWII lost love, a young woman looking for part of her past, and the beautiful Tuscan countryside that is the setting for it all.

Here’s the scoop:

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A Note From the Publisher

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I really enjoyed this one (no surprise), and I think readers who enjoy mystery and family relationships and WWII will connect with this novel.
I received this e-copy via Ms. Bowen’s publicist and Net Galley – thank you!!
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Christmas on the Coast by Rebecca Boxall

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This was one of my many holiday reading picks from Net Galley this year. I really enjoyed this story that jumped between current day and WWII, as a woman reads her great-aunt diary.

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THE TRICK by Emanuel Bergmann

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I read this novel at the end of summer and it was a treat. This was a at times humorous at times touching story of a young boy who wants to find a (basically) old, washed up magician, because he wants him to teach him how to keep two people (his parents) in love. It is sweet yet funny (the magician is rather cranky and is happy to take advantage of people), yet there is a twist to the story, too.

Moving between two time periods, the writing flows easily, and I read it in two days. I didn’t want to stop reading! They liken it to All the Light… and The Nightingale. Well – no. I’ve read both and they are not like this novel at all, except that they both do include WWII and All the Light has the young girl in it. This novel is much lighter with much more humor (though there are certainly serious moments, esp. in the section on WWII), and has a true feel good ending.

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

Here’s the overview:

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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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THE PARIS SPY by Susan Elia MacNeal

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If you know me, you know I LOVE the Maggie Hope books! I always thought of them as cozy mysteries, but really that does not do them justice. I always learn something from reading them and they are serious, but not gory. They remind me of something I’d watch on PBS or the BBC — thoughtful and historically accurate, but entertaining. This latest is no exception. The war (WWII) is progressing, and Maggie is still hard at work for the Allies. Planning for the D-Day Invasion is the storyline behind this novel, and Maggie is trying to get top secret information through to those who need it. As always Susan Elia MacNeal has done her research and presents loads of historically accurate details to make her story come alive. I do love the strong character of Maggie, and I never get tired of reading these books!
Thank you for my review e-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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In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me at all, you know I love Rhys Bowen’s cozy mysteries, especially the Royal Spyness books. She has recently written a new novel, a stand alone mystery, called In Farleigh Field, which I got via Net Galley (I also was later contacted by Ms. Bowen’s publicist about it).

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This was a great read! I absolutely loved these characters, and the book had a “Downton feel” to it (though this is WWII, not WWI). Each character (the family has several daughters and their are plots for each of them) was interesting in their own right, but I really liked the character of Ben. The poor guy couldn’t catch a break for most of the book and you couldn’t help but like him. I liked the clever plotting (she’s a clever one, that Ms. Bowen!) and of course I love anything set in WWII and in England — win-win!!

If you are having looking for a well-written and well-crafted WWII historical mystery, you should pick up IN FARLEIGH FIELD by Rhys Bowen. I saw online that she did not plan to write more books with these characters. Please reconsider this!

Thank you for my e-copy!

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