Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

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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The Dead Ringer by M. C. Beaton

 

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I love all the Agatha Raisin books and this one was particularly good. It’s funny but I feel like this installment, as compared to the most recent one, had a different tone to it, and it was more like the tone of the earlier Agatha Raisin books. Sometimes the jocularity can be a bit overdone and the characters seem caricaturist, but not in this one. Agatha has her issues – with romance, men, and jealous women – and she is as cranky as ever, but she’s not as irascible as she’s been in the past few novels. The storyline with her and Charles is heating up again as well.

I love the Acorn tv series and may have to purchase Acorn so that I can get it more easily (along with other awesome British series — the Brits just do television better than we do in the States!).

If you enjoy Agatha, don’t miss The Dead Ringer!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

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So — I found this title on Net Galley and I love a suspenseful read, even more if it takes place in Norway! This was well-plotted and suspenseful, though I did figure out what was happening. Moving through time and place with different narrators, the stories eventually weave together to the present.
I have to say that I did not like the main character, Annika, at all. I wanted to feel something for her — sympathy, empathy, pity, a connection, something! — but I didn’t. She was pretty much a self-centered, selfish, egotistical, cruel, immature, and heartless person. Pretty much.
If you like suspense, you should check out The Boy at the Door. Thank you for my review e-copy!
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The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

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I am so very excited that Kate Morton, an author whom I adore, has a new novel coming out in October. I had the opportunity to read it via Net Galley and I really enjoyed it!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is wonderful historical fiction, and it follows the story of Birdie, a spirit who tells her own story within the story of a house and all the intertwining lives that play a role there over time. This story stretches from 1862 to present day, but eventually you come to see how all the lives are actually impacting each other through time and place, through love, murder, loss, and mystery. Though the story can sometimes be a bit confusing as the narrator changes, and the story does not move chronologically, I loved making the connections and guessing what would come next. It’s a bit of a sad story, but interesting, and with a cast of characters that is as memorable as it is unique.

Fans of Morton will love this treat, and new readers of her should not miss it!

Thank you for my review copy!

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And because you can find anything on the Internet, here’s a You Tube video of Kate Morton herself discussing the novel:
https://youtu.be/AzefRB67TYQ
I watched this and just wished that I could shout out to her that I love her writing and I even have bangs, too!! We could be kindred spirits if she came to visit Boston!! 🙂
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