Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

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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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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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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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Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

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I loved this memorable and touching children’s story about a little girl who lives in a graveyard in the Philippines with her mother and her struggle to find her mother when she goes missing. Appropriate for grades 4 to 7, in my opinion, it sensitively tells Nora’s story while focusing on themes of friendship and loyalty.

I was fascinated with this idea of living in a cemetery, and here’s a great article with pictures in it from the New York Times about North Cemetery in Manila, where this story takes place.

Thanks, Net Galley, for my review e-copy! This title publishes in the beginning of October (2018).

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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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Our House by Louise Candlish

 

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Oh my — I chose this book through Net Galley and it was one of those “I can’t put it down” reads! The poor guy in this novel makes some bad choices, and instead of doing the right thing, he makes more bad choices. Meanwhile, the main female in the story, his wife Fiona, suffers the consequences and makes some bad choices herself. I kept reading and thinking, “Oh no. This is not going to turn out okay!”.
Loved the ironic twist at the end, which made me keep thinking about this book long after it was over.
My only challenge with it was that it was told in real time (omniscient narrator from each character’s point of view – Fi’s and Bram’s) and also as a podcast in Fi’s voice with listener comments that I found distracting. The timelines varied throughout, which could confuse some people. I found myself double checking the dates for each chapter so I knew where we were chronologically.
Overall, a suspenseful and satisfying read! Thanks for my e-copy!
SPOILER ALERT — I almost didn’t keep reading this book as I feared Bram had killed the children and I didn’t want any part of that, but no fear, the kids are fine – they are just at grandma’s!
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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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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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