Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

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 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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Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

 

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A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the story behind the picture is worth a thousand more…

Philadelphia, 1931. A young, ambitious reporter named Ellis Reed photographs a pair of young siblings on the front porch of a farmhouse next to a sign: “2 children for sale.”

With the help of newspaper secretary Lily Palmer, Ellis writes an article to accompany the photo. Capturing the hardships of American families during the Great Depression, the feature story generates national attention and Ellis’s career skyrockets.

But the photograph also leads to consequences more devastating than ever imagined—and it will take jeopardizing everything Ellis and Lily value to unravel the mystery and set things right.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers throughout the country, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of ambition, redemption, love, and family.

 

I love Kristina McMorris’ writing, and was thrilled to receive this galley through Net Galley. I actually thought of the picture that this novel is based on as I’ve seen it, too, so I had the picture perfect (no pun intended) image in mind while reading. This is such a sad but moving story, reminding us that sometimes desperate people do desperate things. The main characters, Ellis and Lily, want to right the wrong that was done and put themselves on the line to do it.

I love a book that has self-forgiveness and redemption as a theme, and that ran throughout, culminating in a satisfying ending.

I follow Ms. McMorris on Facebook and she seems like a lovely and positive person. This is the second novel of hers that I’ve read – and it won’t be the last! Thank you for my e-copy!

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HFVBTour for Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton with Giveaway!

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I’m thrilled today to take part with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours to promote Janet Benton’s amazing novel: Lilli de Jong (which I originally received from Net Galley)

LILLI DE JONG BY JANET BENTON

Paperback Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Anchor Books
Paperback; 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.

Lilli confides this story to her diary as it unfolds, taking readers from a charity for unwed mothers to a wealthy family’s home and onto the streets of a burgeoning American city. Her story offers a rare and harrowing view into a time when a mother’s milk is crucial for infant survival. Written with startling intimacy and compassion, this accomplished novel is both a rich historical depiction and a testament to the saving force of a woman’s love.

Awards

NPR Best Books of 2017
Library Journal Best Historical Fiction 2017
Bustle The 17 Best Debut Novels by Woman in 2017
An Amazon Best Book of May 2017
Semifinalist in historical fiction, Goodreads Choice Awards, 2017
Finalist, David J. Langum Prize in Historical Fiction, 2017

Praise for Lilli de Jong

“A heartrending debut…Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.”—Publishers Weekly

“Powerful, authentic… A heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“I loved this novel. It’s deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous.”—Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute…A gripping read.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Piece of the World

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow

“A captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.”—The Millions

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr… Stunning!”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“A stunning ode to motherhood.” —Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“A new feminist classic…Benton’s writing is shrewd and beautiful.”—Philly Voice

“Eloquent and powerful.”—HuffPost Books

“This is both a super lush historical novel and an amazing feminist manifesto…Buy it for everyone.”—Book Riot

“You would be hard-pressed to find a more intimate—even revolutionary—depiction of the emotional and sensory experiences of motherhood.”—UMass Magazine

“A brilliantly quiet novel with a spine of steel.”—Read It Forward

“[What a] monumental accomplishment the novel achieves. . . . Benton holds a mirror up to the past and in doing so, illustrates how far we have come as well as how far we have yet to go.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

JANET BENTON’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has cowritten and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For decades she has taught writing at universities and privately and has helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit www.janetbentonauthor.com for more information. You can also find Janet on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 13
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, August 15
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Friday, August 17
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Monday, August 20
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, August 23
Feature at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 28
Review at Dressed to Read

Friday, August 31
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 3
Review at Oh, October

Friday, September 7
Review at The Book Mind

Tuesday, September 11
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, September 12
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, September 13
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of Lilli de Jong to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/competitions/ZGnpb-lilli-de-jong-paperback

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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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As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

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Oh my goodness, I loved this historical fiction novel about an ordinary family during an extraordinary time. The Bright family is moving to Philadelphia and it’s the outbreak of WWI. Along with the war comes the pandemic of Spanish Flu, which kills thousands of previously healthy young people. This family has to much loss to deal with, crisis, and challenges. Then in one of their darkest hours, one of the daughters finds a little baby and takes him home so that they can raise him and bring some light into their lives.

This story is told in the four distinct voices of the four main character women: Evelyn, the intelligent, eldest daughter, Maggie, who finds the baby and is quite determined, Willa, the spunky and headstrong youngest, and their gentle, kind mother Pauline. I loved the story and the characters and the message.

I have never read any of Meissner’s other novels, so I will need to look for them.

Thank you for my review kindle copy via Net Galley!

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The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

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Today is Pub Day for The Subway Girls, which I read a few months ago after getting it from Net Galley. I love historical fiction, and this story took place in two time periods: post-WWII NYC and current day NYC. I liked the main character from the 40’s particularly (Charlotte) and was so interested in reading about the real Subway Girls in history! This is the first title I’ve read by Ms. Schnall and I really enjoyed it. It was part history, part romance.

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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Alan Bradley’s The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (a Flavia de Luce novel)

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If you know me, you know I adore the Flavia de Luce series, centering on a precocious 12 year old genius in 1950’s England. Somehow, while I was distracted elsewhere (probably work), a new installment in the series came out. This one has Flavia and her sisters travelling with Dogger for a short vacation while they regroup from the untimely death of their father. The “rest” has barely begun when Flavia discovers a dead body in the village’s river, and things go from there.

(from Amazon):

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth” (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty mystery novel from award-winning author Alan Bradley.

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder—although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.

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As always, Flavia does not disappoint! I love how these mysteries always keep me guessing. I look forward to seeing what this super sleuth tackles next!

This is Book 9 in the series, and while I loved reading them in order, it can stand alone as well.

I purchased my book at a local bookstore while on a “date night” with the hubs. You can find it at your local bookstore or online or at the library!

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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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