Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

 

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A Note From the Publisher

Advance Praise

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For my ears: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas; Read by Phoebe Strole

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Description via Amazon/Audible:

Sharp, brilliantly plotted, and totally engrossing.” (Karen M. McManus, New York Times best-selling author of One of Us Is Lying)

“A crafty, dark, and disturbing story.” (Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times best-selling author of Girl In Pieces)

“A little bit Riverdale and a little bit Veronica Mars.” (Riley Sager, best-selling author of Final Girls, a Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year Nominee)

From the author of The Darkest Corners and Little Monsters comes an all-new edge-of-your-seat thriller set in upstate New York about an eerie sequence of seemingly unrelated events that leaves five cheerleaders dead.

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook. First there was the car accident – two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons.

Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost. That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . .

Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all. There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

More praise for Kara Thomas:

“Gripping from start to finish…with twists that left me shocked.” (Victoria Aveyard, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Red Queen)

“You’ll be up all night tearing through the pages.” (BUSTLE)

“This deliciously deceptive thriller…is a must-have.” (SLJ)

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I love these YA thriller novels- they are my guilty pleasure! This was a well-crafted story that kept me guessing (and listening!). The ultimate compliment for an audiobook is when I can drive the 75 minutes to work and then want to stay in the car to keep listening!

I’ve read other Kara Thomas novels and she’s a talented writer, with a penchant for capturing the harsh realities of teenage life. Her characters are believable. They may be likable (or not).

This story was told in present day and in flashback, which can be tricky while listening, but it was clear to me and never confusing. The voices were distinct.

I got mine with an audible credit via Amazon!

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Audiobook Pick: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; Narrated by Richard Armitage

 

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I had heard a bit about this book, so I chose it with my Audible credit this month. What a story! First of all, it held my attention during my lengthy commute (no easy feat) and it was wonderfully narrated by Richard Armitage. The story was truly remarkable and at one point I thought that this could not possibly be true. Some of the things that happened seemed fantastic to the point of being too incredible to believe (SPOILER! for example, their finding each other after the war, or how Lale seemed to be able to get the things he needed to get by and to help others). Yet, this is a true story. While it is a story of the horrors of Auschwitz, it’s an amazing story of bravery and resistance and resiliency that makes you feel connected to these characters and wanting more of them. The last chapter and epilogue of the book could have been a whole other novel in itself. (Just a note, from a cursory glance online, most people seem to enjoy the audiobook more than the novel itself).

Here’s the overview:

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov – an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for “tattooist”), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism – but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful recreation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

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The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

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Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

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Debbie Macomber always writes a happy and heart warming story, and this one was no different. Taking place in Alaska, it focuses on the relationship of Josie and Palmer. The chapters switch between point of view, which I will admit sometime threw me off. I generally don’t read romances, but when I do they are rarely written from a male point of view.
It’s a sweet story with a happy ending, perfect for this time of year!
Thank you for my review e-galley via Net Galley!
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Children of a Good War by Jack Woodville London with Author Q&A

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I recently was contacted by Leslie at PR by the Book to see if I’d like to feature this very interesting sounding historical fiction title on my blog.

Here’s the overview:

About the Book:
Eleanor Hastings knew from experience that some bombs lie buried for decades before blowing up to do their damage. Now, 40 years after World War II, one such bomb explodes in the form of a cache of faded wartime letters, hidden in a cellar, that confirm the rumors that her husband, Frank, had heard all his life:  he really was just a bastard that his father brought back from the war in France.  The discovery sends Frank on a quest to find out who he really is – and to uncover his parents’ long-buried secrets.

Children of a Good War is the third installment of the trilogy, French Letters. The series has been praised for its meticulous research and ability to capture the language, attitudes, and moral culture of their 1940’s setting, written in prose that reviewers describe as beautiful and not pretentious, stories that are riveting and real.

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While I haven’t read all three stories, I am currently reading this one (thank you for my e-copy!) and it stands alone as a title as well. I love anything to do with WWII and this has a bit of a mystery tied in.

I had the opportunity to have a few questions answered by Mr. London:

BBNB: How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?

Characters are wonderful devices.  You can create them, then drop them into nearly any period or event and they will act as such characters would act at any time in history, whether it is ancient Greece, Tudor England, baby boomers in the 1980s, or Trump America.

BBNB: Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I hope that the notion comes through that finding out who we are is something each of us must find out for himself or herself; while we may or may not know who our parents are, we almost never know who they were.

BBNB: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

When drawing complex characters with richly detailed individual lives, it takes a great deal of focus to keep their individual story lines arranged so that they become a part of the real story.  There are clues buried in most of the characters’ roles that readers often breeze through as minor details of daily life, then realize some time downstream that they are important pieces of the story.

BBNB: What’s the best writing advice you have ever received?

Don’t learn to write a book. Learn to write a sentence. Then learn to write a paragraph.

BBNB: How do your spouse/significant other/friends/family feel about your writing career?

She encourages it and realizes just how hard it is to build.

 

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Jack Woodville London is a writer, historian and “Author of the Year” (Military Writers Society of America) who studied the craft of fiction at the Academy of Fiction, St. Céré, France and Oxford University.  His novels are praised for their meticulous historical research and ability to capture the language, attitudes, and moral culture of their setting in prose described by reviewers as ‘beautiful, but not pretentious.’ Jack lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Alice, and Junebug the writing cat.

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The Unpredictability of Being Human by Linni Ingemundsen

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I loved this story about a slightly quirky girl coming to terms with the ups and downs of life. It made a great YA read, with the message that life can throw you some curve balls, it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Here’s the description:

“If I got to be God for one day, I’d like to say I’d end world hunger and create world peace. But I wouldn’t. Because if God could fix the big stuff, he’d have done it already.”

Malin knows she can’t fix the big stuff in her life. Instead, she watches from the sidelines, as her dad yells, her brother lies, and her mum falls apart. At least after she meets Hanna, she has a friend to help her. Because being Malin is complicated – learning how to kiss, what to wear to prom, and what to do when you upset the prettiest, meanest girl in school.

It’s tough fitting in when you’re different. But what if it’s the world that’s weird, not you?

A beautiful, funny and honest coming-of-age story that never pretends life is perfect.

About the Author

Linni Ingemundsen is from Norway, though she currently lives in Malta. She does not know how to draw but is somehow a freelance cartoonist. Some of her favourite things in life include chocolate, free Wi-Fi and her yellow typewriter.

Linni has lived in three different countries and will never be done exploring the world. She has worked as a dishwasher in Australia, a volunteer journalist in Tanzania and has approximately 2.5 near-death experiences behind her. Still, what truly inspires her writing is her background growing up in a village on the south-western coast of Norway.

Linni began writing The Unpredictability of Being Human while on the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing. Her dark, comical storytelling is fully displayed in this unusual, slice-of-life telling as experienced by a fourteen year old girl in Norway.

 

Highly recommend for teens and adults alike, I loved seeing the world through Malin’s eyes. While never directly stated, Malin appears to maybe on the spectrum (though I ask you, aren’t we all somewhere on multiple spectrums?). I think it’s great to read a story where the reader can experience life in what may be a slightly different way than they usually do.

Thank you for my review pdf, which I received from Incorgnito Press, the US publisher.

 

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Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

 

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I absolutely loved Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv which I read earlier in the year (reviewed here: My Review). In fact, I love all of Berg’s novels (and there have been many!). This one continues the story of the characters from Arthur Truluv:

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And yes, I did maybe shed a little tear at the end!
Thank you for my review e-copy via Net Galley!
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Christmas at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

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Yeah!! Bring on the holiday books! It’s one of my favorite times of year and I love, love, love holiday stories. Susan Schild has written a new one and it’s a keeper – a feel-good story about a woman starting a “new life”.

Here’s the overview:

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort

Love and Adventures after 40

Forty-two year old Jenny Beckett is dreading the holidays. Her fiancé has just called off their Christmas wedding, and she’s been evicted from her darling chicken coop cottage. When her estranged father dies and leaves her eight rustic guest cabins on Heron Lake, Jenny seizes the chance to make a new life. She packs up her dogs, her miniature horse and her beat up Airstream trailer and moves to the lake.

Short on time and money, Jenny and her contractor, widower Luke, work feverishly to renovate the cabins in time for the festive holiday event she’s promised her very first guests. When an unexpected blizzard snows them in and jeopardizes the resort’s opening, Jenny and Luke work to save the event and, along the way, find true love… and the magic of Christmas.

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I just adored this character. She loves her dogs and has a miniature horse as a pet. She is intelligent and self-sufficient. She loves curling up with her book and a cup of tea while wearing her nightgown. And she finds love in this story.

I think because I met my husband after we were 35, I have a strong affinity for these types of romances, where the main character is capable and productive, but then finds someone who loves and appreciates her. I think it would appeal to those who enjoy a “clean” read or who enjoy Christian romances (though it’s not one). (To be honest, I’d rather my protagonist curl up with a library book then be out on the town having sex indiscriminately).

This looks like part one in a series, which should be fun to read, as Jenny runs her resort and has interactions with all the different people there. Of course there will be more of Luke as well! To be honest, these books remind me a bit of the Mitford series, which I absolutely love.

Thank you so much for my review mobi, Ms. Schild! I look forward to reading more of this series. And thank you for writing about adult woman who live simply, love their pets, find a partner at 40, and remind me of me!

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Never Odd or Even by John Townsend

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Sent to me by the Incorgnito Publishing, this middle grade novel was a fun and fast read, akin to “Curious Incident…” but without the emotional wallop. Eliot is a wiz with numbers and is always thinking of them and how they relate and how you can find patterns in the world, and he shares some of his “laws of numbers” within the story. Eliot is bullied, though, and this is essentially the story of how he used his superior intellect to fight back and to solve the mystery of who stole a large sum of money at his school.

This was a very quick read – 100 pages – and I could see it used in class with grades 4th and up. It was fun to read through the numbers info and play with numbers like Eliot did!

You can find it on Amazon.

Thank you for my review pdf!

 

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