Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa

I was thrilled to be offered this title via Net Galley since I had read and reviewed The German Girl a while back in 2016 (see review here: https://drbethnolan.com/2016/11/03/the-german-girl-by-armando-lucas-correa/). It was yet another story that was based in fact and unforgettable. Again, the ability of Jewish families to get passage to other countries where they will be safe is featured, and it is so disturbing to see how not many countries were helpful. I felt for the main character in this novel, Amanda, as she had so much loss. And yet, her story is most probably not too different from many women of that time and place.

Recommended for those who enjoy reading of WWII and of normal people who are forced to face extraordinary things. This novel has been called “heartbreaking” – and it is.

Thank you for my review copy.

Description

The Daughter’s Tale is immersive, both heartbreaking and redemptive, steeped in harrowing historical events and heroic acts of compassion that will have you reflecting on the best and worst the human heart has to offer. Fans of WWII history and book clubs will find depth and skillful storytelling here, but on a deeper level, searing questions about life, love, and the choices we make in the most impossible of circumstances.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable family saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac GirlsWe Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.

BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is inter­rupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.

NEW YORK, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.

Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the war. Heart­breaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.

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The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

I bought this title as a present for myself because I had heard about it online (and it was already past Pub Day!). If you know me, you know I love WWII stories, and this one was so interesting and intriguing. It focused on a group of female spies in Europe during the war and their activities. It was based on true accounts.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Highly recommended for those who like stories from this era!

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The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

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Description

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TIME AND REGRET by M.K. Tod

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Description (via Net Galley)

A Note From the Publisher

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BECOMING JOSEPHINE by Heather Webb

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Continuing my fascination of “the woman behind the man”, I found BECOMING JOSEPHINE on sale for my kindle a while back. I loved Heather Webb’s RODIN’S LOVER (review here) and was excited to read her debut novel.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

A sweeping historical debut about the Creole socialite who transformed herself into an empress

Readers are fascinated with the wives of famous men. In Becoming Josephine, debut novelist Heather Webb follows Rose Tascher as she sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte.

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So — I have to admit that beyond knowing that Josephine was married to Napolean, and that he loved her deeply, I knew nothing about her. What a fascinating woman! She lived in very turbulent times and she endured a major amount of hardships and trials, including slave revolts, imprisonment during the Revolution, assassination attempts, and a horrible accident where her balcony gave way with her on it. Ms. Webb states a reminder that this is historical fiction, but most of the events of the story are true. What fascinated me most is how determined and resourceful Josephine was (she was also intelligent and self-centered). She would do what she needed to do in order to benefit herself and her children. I was also surprised at the amount of lovers she took. It felt like Tudor reading with all the bed hopping going on! Josephine used her relationships, though, to survive and to support herself.

Interesting reading, especially if you have never read much about Josephine in the past. I found myself looking up more information online.

You can find this book online or at a bookstore or library near you.

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Review: A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

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I absolutely loved this book.

When I was at BEA in the spring, I stood in a very long line (I was number 3 though!) to see Alice Hoffman and to get her new book, The Marriage of Opposites.

First, I must say that Ms. Hoffman is one of my fave authors. I think I’ve read everything she’s written. She is quite gracious in person and was a delight in our albeit very brief meeting (where I tried not to gush). I was later interviewed by Simon and Schuster for something on camera, gushing about how much I love her writing (thankfully I have never found that video clip online, as I’m sure I’d be horrified at my lack of composure and disheveled appearance, being interviewed on the fly during a huge event in NYC).

Anyway – I digress. This story is about the parents of Camille Pissarro, the great French painter. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about his background, and while I am sure that he is fascinating in his own right, Hoffman’s story focuses on his mother, Rachel, and her life as she grows up among a community of refugee European Jews, who are living in the Virgin Islands during the early 1800’s. Rachel is married off to an old widower while she is quite young, and she comes to love his children and to respect him. When he dies suddenly, his younger nephew arrives to take over the business. He and Rachel fall deeply in love – even though she is substantially older and their union is forbidden as they are seen as “family”. Out of their relationship comes Camille.

I loved this story — the characters, the setting, the writing. Rachel’s story was fascinating to me and I loved the subplots and “supporting characters” with their stories along the way.

Historical Fiction at its finest!

To get you in the mood, here’s a picture by Pissarro that I got via Google Images:

Jardin Mirbeau aux Damps

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HFVBT BOOK BLAST for Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson

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We are shouting it out today for Marci Jefferson’s new novel: ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS!

Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court
by Marci Jefferson

Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

READ AN EXCERPT.

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Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King’s opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.

The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini’s birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.

Desperate to avoid her mother’s dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie’s charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.

Disgusted by Mazarin’s ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin’s deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis’s love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | INDIE BOUND | MACMILLAN

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Told with vivid historical detail and packed with court intrigue, this is sure to please fans of royal fiction.” — Library Journal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Marci Jefferson

Years after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, immersing herself in a Quality Assurance nursing career, and then having children, Marci realized she’d neglected her passion for history and writing. She began traveling, writing along the way, delving into various bits of history that caught her fancy. The plot for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN evolved slowly after a trip to London, where she first learned about the Stuart royals. Marci is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, making hair-bows for their daughter, trying not to step on their son’s Legos, and teaching a tiny Pacific Parrotlet to talk.

For more information visit Marci Jefferson’s website. You can also find her on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE

Tuesday, August 4
Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, August 5
Unshelfish
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Curling up by the Fire

Thursday, August 6
Book Lovers Paradise
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, August 7
100 Pages a Day
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Saturday, August 8
Historical Readings & Reviews

Sunday, August 9
Book Nerd

Monday, August 10
Genre Queen

Tuesday, August 11
A Chick Who Reads
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, August 12
A Literary Vacation
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, August 13
Broken Teepee
CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, August 14
A Book Geek
The Lit Bitch

Saturday, August 15
The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, August 16
Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, August 17
Luxury Reading
Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, August 18
A Bookish Affair

GIVEAWAY

To enter to win a signed copy of Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– 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.

Giveaway! 

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Review: THE DREAM LOVER by Elizabeth Berg

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I love Elizabeth Berg’s writing. I’ve read just about all her books (JOY SCHOOL, DREAM WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BLUE, HOME SAFE, THE YEAR OF PLEASURES, DURABLE GOODS, and more). She’s a fantastic writer, so I was quite excited when I saw she had written a new novel: a historical biography of the author George Sands.

Told in differing points in time, this novel traces George Sand’s life from her parents’ courtship to her rise as a respected author. However, most of the focus is on her love life – who she is in love with and what happens between them. And I should mention that George Sand had a lot of loves in her life. Jumping through time, we find George (whose real name was Aurore) struggling to be a writer, George meeting her husband,  George as a young girl, George and her lovers, George and her children, etc. until the story lines converge and the plot moves forward towards the end of the book.  I struggled to keep the chronology intact while I read. To be honest, I found the parts about her childhood and her family quite interesting. I found her laundry list of lovers rather boring. A large part of this novel is George hopping in and out of bed with just about anyone who catches her eye. For 368 pages, that was a lot of hopping.

At the end of this novel, which is beautifully written, I pondered the question: what was the author’s purpose here? I think I was expecting a biography. But the title really says it all, when you think about it: “The Dream Lover”. George Sand was constantly seeking to feel love and to be loved, in part because that was when her creativity blossomed. She couldn’t write when she felt stagnant. Loving and being loved opened her up to the creative spark that lived within her. She was a genius, and she struggled against the mores that held her, as a woman, firmly in place and stifled her. Constantly seeking for the perfect love brought George into her creative realm and made her the author she was.

Interesting – well-written – but one you may need to stick with until the end, I found THE DREAM LOVER an intriguing read.

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my copy!

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Review: RODIN’S LOVER by Heather Webb

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Camille Claudel.

I knew the name sounded familiar (and French) but I didn’t know much about her. Camille Claudel was a gifted sculptor and the mistress of Auguste Rodin, living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Heather Webb has taken her story and made it come vibrantly alive in her new historical novel: RODIN’S LOVER.

Camille has loved creating from clay since she was a child. She loves the outdoors and her family’s estate in the French countryside. But Camille comes to realize that being a woman artist gives her little to no rights or privileges in 1800’s France, and she must work doubly hard to be recognized, let alone to be accepted, as an artist. Her creative nature is often overpowered by her intense and emotional personality (and as she matures, mental illness). However, her passionate and intense relationship with Rodin gives her an opportunity to showcase her work, as they each serve as muse for the other.

I can hardly give this novel justice in my short blurb of it. Heather Webb skillfully and beautifully portrays Camille’s life so artfully (no pun intended) that I just couldn’t stop thinking about Camille once the book was over. I could picture her perfectly, I could feel her emotion, and at the end, when I knew the rest of her life’s sad story, I was haunted by her.

Beautifully written, RODIN’S LOVER is a book that I will not soon forget. The cover is a photograph of the real Camille Claudel. Within the novel are pictures of her art that Ms. Webb had recreated by a former student who is an artist – thus I recommend a paper copy (mine did not show well on my kindle, however, I did have an ARC).

I had the opportunity of hearing Ms. Webb speak about her book at the Concord Bookshop recently (read it here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/author-visit-at-the-concord-bookshop-heather-webb/) and I’m so glad I had the chance to read her novel. I highly recommend it!

Find it at an indie near you! I am an Indie Bound affiliate –


Find it at an Indie!

Thank you, Net Galley and Plume Books , for my review copy!

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Review: THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah

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Publishing on February 3 is a book that is destined to be one of my top picks for 2015. THE NIGHTINGALE is a story of two French sisters during WWII. Each sister does whatever she can to survive, and their story is both riveting and heart-breaking. I could not put this book down!

Without giving away the whole story line, this novel basically follows two sisters throughout the occupation of France in WWII. One sister, Viann, has a young daughter and her husband is sent to fight. She is determined to keep their family home going and to keep her daughter safe until her husband returns. The other sister, Isabelle, has always been the black sheep. She is young and impetuous, but she is also strong and courageous. She joins the Resistance and works to bring downed allied airmen over the Pyrenees into Spain. The sisters clash and fight and are so completely different, yet at the same time they love each other and want to help each other. Each faces the horrible reality of the war with her own way of coping.

I have to say that when I read this, I identified so strongly with Viann. When I was younger, I might have been more of an Isabelle, but Viann’s struggle to just get by and keep going and to protect her daughter at all costs — I could just imagine myself in her shoes. She was willing to suffer at great lengths as long as it meant that her daughter was safe. However, that doesn’t mean that she did nothing or just went along with the atrocities she was witnessing. One thing I loved about this book is that these characters were so multi-layered. There’s a whole back story involving their mother, which I won’t go in to, that had shaped them, as well as their relationship with their father in Paris. I truly loved these characters even though their story made me weep at times.

If you like WWII novels, and especially if you enjoy reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, pick up a copy of THE NIGHTINGALE. This was my first Kristin Hannah book, but it won’t be my last!

Thank you, Net Galley, for my ARC!

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