Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

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I love Mary Kubica’s writing. It’s always suspenseful and has a high “can’t put down” rating for me. This novel was no different. I really liked the character of Jessie, though I felt badly for her as she’d had a tough time with her mother’s death and then struggling to figure out her identity (truly her identity, as in, she had no SSN or legal birth certificate).
I don’t want to give away too much, so I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that I had figured out one part of the novel, but had another part — one the author pretty much leads you to (possibly as a red herring) incorrect. I liked this story and will look forward to Ms. Kubica’s next one!
Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!
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The Corpse at the Crystal Palace by Carola Dunn

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When I discovered this title on Net Galley, I had never heard of Daisy Dalrymple and this absolutely delightful cozy mystery series that takes place in England in the 1920’s. I love the cast of characters in this novel, which includes more than just the intrepid Daisy, but also her friends and children. While this is part of a series, it can certainly stand alone (it did for me!). I will definitely go back and read earlier installments in this well-written and plotted series; and I will look forward to new ones.

Thank you for my review copy! Description is below and a bit on the real Crystal Palace (which I had never heard of perhaps because it burned down in 1936) is at the end, compliments of You Tube.

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Here’s a glimpse of the original Crystal Palace (with sad Beethoven music):

And here’s a video from the V&A Museum with no sound that shows how it was built:

I also found this video about the walkway that used to lead to it from the subway – interesting!

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THE GOOD WIDOW by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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Oh, Summer! The days of the thrilling page-turner! I love to read crazy, fast-paced, suspenseful mysteries over the summer (while lying around). This book was no exception. I missed getting it to review so I got it for my kindle through Amazon for a deal. Here’s the description:

Amazon Charts bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke make their suspense debut in this twisty, emotional thriller.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

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There was definitely some craziness in this story. I mean who wants to ferret out the details of their husband’s death with the help of the fiance of the gal he was having an affair with? Not me! Even if it involved a trip to Hawaii! However, I liked these characters, especially Jacks, and I wanted to find out what happened.

Having two authors often leads to a choppy feel in books (especially when they take turns with chapters, or when it’s the dreaded “famous author sharing writing responsibilities with adult child who wants to be famous author, too”). However, this book did NOT have this feel. It was seamless!

Well-written and fast-paced right up the end, this was a great summer read!

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Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

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I love all of Mary Kubica’s books and read them in 1-2 days! This one was no exception. It was a nonstop thrill of suspense and mystery. I felt so sorry for the poor guy in this story. Definitely this is one that stays with you!

Highly recommended if you enjoy suspense genre! Thank you for my review copy, which I received through Net Galley.

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Review: EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng

At BEA I had the chance to meet Celeste Ng and get a signed copy of her novel: EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU. I had heard the chatter about this book, comparing it to GONE GIRL. I was excited to read it.

First, no offense, but GONE GIRL has nothing on this book. Yes they are both about girls who are gone, and you need to learn why, but this novel is SO much more. When the story opens, Lydia’s family doesn’t realize that she’s not just late to breakfast, she is actually dead – drowned at the nearby lake. Lydia was a quiet, studious girl, but did her parents really know her? Did anyone? Lydia’s family is a study in relationships: her intense, Caucasian mother who is determined that Lydia will be the outstanding scholar that she never had the chance to be; her Chinese-American professor father, whose wish is for his children to just “blend in”; her older brother, Nathan, whom she relies on and adores; and her younger, forgotten sister, Hannah, who is the intuitive observer in the family. Told through flashbacks interspersed with current day, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU is beautifully written and is an unforgettable novel about identity, family, and relationships. I could not put it down.

Run, don’t walk, to get this one!

You can find it at a local indie near you. I am an Indie Bound affiliate:


Find it at an Indie near you! I am an Indie Bound Affiliate.

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YA Review: THE WICKED AWAKENING OF ANNE MERCHANT by Joanna Wiebe

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Last year at this time I read and reviewed THE UNSEEMLY EDUCATION OF ANNE MERCHANT (see review here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/ya-review-the-unseemly-education-of-anne-merchant-by-joanna-wiebe/).

I liked it, so when the folks at Ben Bella Books offered me the next book in the series, I said yes please!

This novel, book 2 in the trilogy, picks up whether the first one left off. Anne is still fighting for her life, so to speak, and trying to work out her relationship with Ben and save him, too. This installment spends a lot of time giving more background and fleshing out the story of Anne and her family, her powers, etc. To be honest, I didn’t care for this book as much as the first, largely because I felt there was a lot of dialogue. Whenever there was action, though, especially at the end, I could scarcely put it down. I also got confused about what characters were what, given that some used more than one name. And to be honest, this story had a lot more about the demons in it, and demons really aren’t my thing (though I have lots of friends who love paranormal type reading with demons, etc.). I’m more of a ghost or psychic powers person.

Anyway, just wanted to be honest! I still look forward to the next and final book in this series to see how intelligent and fiery Anne will solve her problems!

Thank you for my review copy (I love the cover)! You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant: Book Two of the V Trilogy

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YA Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

I chose this paranormal YA romance from Net Galley because, ever since middle school, I am a sucker for books that take place in boarding schools! THE UNSEEMLY EDUCATION OF ANNE MERCHANT is the first in a trilogy (wish I had known this going in to it as the ending disappointed me due to lack of resolution!). Undertaker’s daughter, Anne Merchant, is sent from her humble home in a very wealthy area of California to an island off Maine to the  elite Cania Christie boarding school. Right away she notices that everyone there is almost creepily perfect, and they all are bent on an almost ridiculous race to become valedictorian. Anne soon realizes that nothing is as it seems, that valedictorian means much more than grades, and that getting in to Cania Christie is so difficult and expensive, well let’s just say that people are dying to get in!

I can’t say too much more without giving it all away, but Anne works with new friends to explore and understand the mysteries of the school and the island (and villagers) where they live. The more she finds out, the more terrifying it all becomes. Add in some romance, teen angst, and conflict and you have fun (older – due to sexual content) YA fare. I can see this book as a movie – sort of Twilight meets Hunger Games.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate, and thanks, Net Galley and BenBella Books for my copy!

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Review: The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson

Through Net Galley I got a copy of “The Underside of Joy” to review. This is the debut novel of Sere Prince Halverson and I enjoyed it a lot.

When Ella Beene’s husband Joe dies tragically, Ella plans to continue her life with the family store and as stepmother to Joe’s two young children. But soon their absent biological mother shows up, and she wants to be part of their lives. Ella is torn between holding on to the children she has called her own, while trying to reconcile the presence of their biological mother, who she was told had abandoned them. Ella soon learns that Joe did not share everything with her, and she struggles to find the truth and make the right choices for her and her family.

This was a fascinating book as the main moral dilemma was just that: a dilemma. Paige, the biological mother, was not evil incarnate. Ella, the protagonist, was not perfect. I found myself often asking: what would I do in this situation? While the story concluded quickly, I felt it was well-written and compelling. Additionally, there was interesting information on postpartum extreme depression (actually psychosis I believe it would qualify as) and also internment camps for Italian-Americans during WWII (I’m IA and this was new to me).

This book came out this month – I recommend it!

Thanks to Net Galley and Dutton Publishers for my copy!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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