Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Silent Lee and the Adventure of the Side Door Key by Alex Hiam

My friends over at Smith Publicity send me an electronic copy of the fun middle grade book (grades 4-8) about an intelligent and resourceful young girl, Silent Lee, and her adventures in time travel in Boston.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

As if life isn’t already complicated when you have to sneak out a magical side door and enter a different century just to get to school each morning.

And now Silent has to figure out what happened to her beloved Aunt Generous, the woman who raised her–which would be complicated enough even if CIA agents in black SUVs weren’t chasing her–but they definitely are!

This was such a fun read – especially since I live in the Boston area. Even though this title was a stand alone, I know that there are more stories about Silent Lee that are coming!

Thank you for sharing your book with me, Mr. Hiam!

Here is a bit on Alex Hiam, too:

As a child, writer and artist Alex Hiam spent holidays in the mysterious Boston mansion of his great-grandmother on Dartmouth Street. A graduate of Harvard College and UC Berkeley, Hiam was awarded the English Department’s Arnold Prize. But the honor he is most proud of was being entrusted as a student with the key to the iron gates of Mount Auburn Cemetery, where he would let himself in at dawn on Spring mornings to study the migrating birds before the rest of Cambridge awoke. Previously a teacher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, today he teaches Making Writing Exciting! at North Star, a learning center for self-directed teens. He has sailed the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, logging thousands of nautical miles and plans some day to write a book about pirates. Hiam lives with his wife and daughters in an old farmhouse in Amherst, Massachusetts.

This title publishes today – happy Pub Day! 🙂

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The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

You know I love me a good ghost story! This one drew my attention via Net Galley and I read it a while ago. I couldn’t put it down and read it straight through to the end. I really liked the ending!

Thank you, Doubleday Books, for my e-copy via Net Galley!

Description via NG:

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

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I Know You by Erik Therme

I had read several of Mr. Therme’s earlier novels (Mortem, Keep Her Close), so I was honored that he offered me an ARC of his new novel via Net Galley.

Here’s the overview:

Description

‘I can help you save your sister. But I need something from you …’

Sisters Bree and Alissa Walker share a special bond. Neglected by their parents, they have always looked out for one another. But one day, sixteen-year-old Alissa goes missing. When Bree discovers her green backpack with all her belongings, abandoned on the steps of their run-down trailer, she knows that something bad has happened …

Then she receives a chilling text message. Someone has Alissa. But Bree will have to give up something very precious in exchange.

Desperate to save Alissa, Bree looks at everyone close to their family. She’s sure that Alissa’s best friend is keeping something back about her little sister and a boy at school, and why has their estranged uncle, who they’ve not seen in years, been hanging around again?

It soon becomes clear that the person behind the message knows a lot about the dark truths within the Walker family and will go to any lengths to get revenge. And as the search for Alissa continues, Bree discovers something about her brother Tyler that she wishes she hadn’t, a dangerous secret, which is also the key to bringing her little sister back home …

A gripping and addictive thriller about family secrets and lies and the lengths people will go to protect them. Perfect for fans of Teresa Driscoll and Louise Jensen. 

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So – to be honest – this novel took me longer to get into than the previous ones I had read by Erik. There was a lot of dialogue and internal thinking, with less emphasis on action and descriptions. I had some trouble picturing things as I read, especially as there were a lot of twists and turns. I wasn’t sure where things were going as I read along, but I liked how they ended up.

Thank you, Mr. Therme, for giving me a chance to review another title of yours!

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City of Flickering Light by Juliette Fay

I really enjoy Juliette Fay’s writing and was thrilled to receive her City of Flickering Light, about the early days of Hollywood, via Net Galley! It tells the story of three friends who are a bit down and out and head to Hollywood to make their fortunes, having a lot of adventures and ups and downs along the way.

Here’s the overview from NG:

Description

Juliette Fay—“one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal)—transports us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the raucous Roaring Twenties, as three friends struggle to earn their places among the stars of the silent screen—perfect for fans of La La Land and Rules of Civility

It’s July 1921, “flickers” are all the rage, and Irene Van Beck has just declared her own independence by jumping off a moving train to escape her fate in a traveling burlesque show. When her friends, fellow dancer Millie Martin and comedian Henry Weiss, leap after her, the trio finds their way to the bright lights of Hollywood with hopes of making it big in the burgeoning silent film industry.

At first glance, Hollywood in the 1920s is like no other place on earth—iridescent, scandalous, and utterly exhilarating—and the three friends yearn for a life they could only have dreamed of before. But despite the glamour and seduction of Tinseltown, success doesn’t come easy, and nothing can prepare Irene, Millie, and Henry for the poverty, temptation, and heartbreak that lie ahead. With their ambitions challenged by both the men above them and the prejudice surrounding them, their friendship is the only constant through desperate times, as each struggles to find their true calling in an uncertain world. What begins as a quest for fame and fortune soon becomes a collective search for love, acceptance, and fulfillment as they navigate the backlots and stage sets where the illusions of the silver screen are brought to life.

With her “trademark wit and grace” (Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters), Juliette Fay crafts another radiant and fascinating historical novel as thrilling as the bygone era of Hollywood itself.

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One fun thing in this novel is the return of one of the Tumbling Turner sisters from Ms. Fay’s earlier novels! Reviewed here by me:https://drbethnolan.com/2016/06/11/the-tumbling-turner-sisters-by-juliette-fay/

While it took me a few chapters to get into this story, I ended up really enjoying it and loving the characters. I look forward to more great historical fiction from Ms. Fay and I hope to meet her sometime as she lives just a few towns over from me!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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Treading the Uneven Road – a short story collection by L.M. Brown

I received an electronic copy of this wonderful collection of stories from the author a few months ago. They take place in Ireland and are all inter-related.

Description:
The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on.

Me again!! I love Ireland and I love short stories where there is a connecting thread throughout them all. These aren’t all happiness and light, but they do leave you thinking about the characters and wondering about their lives. Brown has the ability to develop character and evoke setting, so that these stories are vividly impressed upon you as you read.

Thank you so much for my review copy! You can find it on Amazon and other online retailers!

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