Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

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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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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A while ago I received this book through Net Galley, and also received it as a gift for filling out a survey through Blogging for Books. Both were e-copies, but I received the Net Galley one first.

I loved this book about WWII and the power of music and community. Each character has his or her own story and the novel progresses through journals, letters, and straight prose. This was the type of story that I’d hope to see made into a BBC series.

Well-written and full of memorable characters, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR is a book I could easily read more than once.

Thank you for my e-copy, Crown Publishing! It publishes Tuesday, 2/14/17.

Description (via Net Galley)

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THE BEAUTY SHOP by Suzy Henderson

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I first received this book through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours – through the kindness of the author. It is a wonderful historical fiction novel, centering on a young couple in love, but even more engaging to me, the young men who underwent life-saving and experimental surgeries and treatments for burns during WWII in Britain, and the doctor who was their savior.

Here’s the overview from HFVBTours, from when I featured a cover reveal:

The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

Publication Date: November 2016
eBook & Paperback; 350 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.

Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.

John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.

Shy, decent and sensible, Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realizes her own battle has only just begun.

Based on a true story, The Beauty Shop is a moving tale of love, compassion, and determination against a backdrop of wartime tragedy.

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I found Archie, the doctor, a fascinating person. He basically pioneered burn treatment and plastic surgery. I read more about him on Wikipedia.

Thank you for this interesting and touching story. If you like a romance set in WWII with some interesting real facts worked in, then pick up a copy of The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson.

Thank you for my e-copy!

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THE GIRL FROM VENICE by Martin Cruz Smith

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This historical mystery was an intriguing and thrilling read. Taking place during WWII in Venice, the novel focuses on a young fisherman and his attempt to aid a young Jewish girl who is in hiding.

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THE GERMAN GIRL by Armando Lucas Correa

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Several weeks ago I read this amazing piece of historical fiction that is actually based on real events. I “wished” for it on Net Galley through Atria Books and was SO happy to receive an e-galley!

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Recognition

November 2016 Indie Next selection
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THE MUNICH GIRL by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

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Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna’s journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

 

I received a kindle copy of this book from Ms. Ring several weeks ago. She was quite gracious and I was pleased to read her novel. I have to say that I don’t know much about Eva Braun, except for an occasional wondering of what she could have seen in A.H. I have also wondered if she knew the extent of the atrocities he committed.

This novel moves back and forth from present day (Anna) and to Eva’s time (with Anna’s mother). I have to say that I enjoyed the WWII time period better than the present day. The book has what I assume to be real pictures of Eva Braun and lots of details about her life, especially her life before A.H. and her family life. It was interesting, but I still can’t say I liked Eva, as I really can’t believe that she was innocent of supporting their cause. To be honest, Anna was a bit trying to me, as she always seemed a bit meek and helpless. I wanted her to stand up to her tyrant husband, or to make some sort of stand for herself. She was rather overwhelmed and while I wanted to feel sorry for her, I sometimes felt annoyed.

Perhaps Anna and Eva are in parallel?

Thank you for my e-copy, Ms. Ring!

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THE QUEEN’S ACCOMPLICE by Susan Elia MacNeal

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I absolutely love the Maggie Hope mystery series; it’s about a young English woman working for intelligence during WWII. Maggie is a great character who is both complicated and very “human”. Each time I read one of these books, I learn more about Maggie and her relationships, her hopes and past experiences. I also learn more about WWII and what it was like to work for the government (MI5) at that time. I love that Maggie is a whiz at math and thus at code breaking.

Here’s the overview on the novel from Amazon:

Spy and code-breaker extraordinaire Maggie Hope returns to war-weary London, where she is thrust into the dangerous hunt for a monster, as the New York Timesbestselling mystery series for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry continues.
 
England, 1942. The Nazis’ relentless Blitz may have paused, but London’s nightly blackouts continue. Now, under the cover of darkness, a madman is brutally killing and mutilating young women in eerie and exact re-creations of Jack the Ripper’s crimes. What’s more, he’s targeting women who are reporting for duty to be Winston Churchill’s spies and saboteurs abroad. The officers at MI-5 quickly realize they need the help of special agent Maggie Hope to find the killer dubbed “the Blackout Beast.” A trap is set. But once the murderer has his sights on Maggie, not even Buckingham Palace can protect the resourceful spy from her fate.

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Me again!

I am so happy with this series and the fact that I never tire of it. The characters keep developing. The plots never go silly. I anxiously await the next installment!

I got mine via Net Galley (thank you!). You can get yours online or at your favorite indie. It publishes Oct. 4, 2016.

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