Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Description (via NG)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The perfect Mother’s Day gift! The million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost Roses, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

“Not only a brilliant historical tale, but a love song to all the ways our friendships carry us through the worst of times.”Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often,many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. 

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Praise for Lost Roses

“A charming and vividly rendered historical novel . . . Based on true events, this prequel to Lilac Girls transports.”People

“Inspired by true events, just like its predecessor, and just as well-researched, Lost Roses is a remarkable story and another testament to female strength. This sweeping epic will thrill and delight fans of Lilac Girls and readers of historical fiction alike.”—PopSugar

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I was thrilled to receive this title from Net Galley, as I had loved reading Lilac Girls, for which this book is a prequel. To be honest, it took me a bit to get into it. I did better reading at a stretch because each chapter is the point of view of one of the three main characters, and it kept switching, so if I waited too long, I couldn’t remember what had been happening! However, I settled in and read it over the three day weekend (it is almost 450 pages).

I loved the characters in this book, especially tragic but resilient Sophya. While I feel familiar with the story of the Romanovs, I did not know how much Russian aristocracy (“white Russians”) suffered during WWI. Parts of this story were hard to read and disturbing (due to violence) but the overall historical facts made for really interesting reading (such as American society’s attempt to help displaced Russian women). I loved that this story feeds into the next generation story of Lilac Girls and has Caroline as a young girl. I read that the next prequel will focus on Eliza’s grandmother in the Civil War (and again – the Ferridays are real women!).

If you enjoy WWI stories and stories of strong women, pick up Lost Roses today!

Thank you again for my review e-copy!

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Review: THE AFTER HOUSE by Michael Phillip Cash

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I pulled this ghost story from Net Galley as I thought it looked intriguing. The main character is a young mother who is trying to rebuild her life after a terrible divorce from an abusive husband. She gets a place on Long Island not far from her parents, but the historic cottage comes with the ghost of a sea-captain. Remy is trying to start a new life, make new friends, work, be a mom, and she also starts up a romance with a local historian who has all sorts of information about the house and its past occupants. Then in the middle of all this, someone is trying to kill her.

This one is a bit tough for me to review as I really liked some parts of it and was confused by others. I liked the main premise: starting over, new life, “you can do it!” theme. I liked the chapters covering the past with the sea captain’s life. I had known of Nantucket and New Bedford as centers for whaling, but I didn’t realize that whalers went from Long Island, too. I would have enjoyed even more of the past with historical facts, etc.

Here’s what I struggled with: Remy’s parents, especially her father, were incredibly over-protective. They treated her like she was 15 not in her thirties. Perhaps there are parents like that out there, but it seemed odd to me that they were treating their adult daughter who has a daughter of her own like she was a teenager. They also kept saying terrible things about her ex-husband (e.g. “I never liked that guy” etc)  which seemed juvenile and a little unrealistic to me. Then the ghost was a bit confusing — on one hand he was kind of scary, but then that didn’t work well so he turned nice. It almost seemed like the poor ghost was having an identity crisis. Added onto this were two additional ghosts or spirits or angels or something. To be honest, when they weren’t in the story (as observers) I’d forget they were even there, then a chapter would pop up with them discussing what they were looking at in terms of humans and sea-captain ghost. I’m not sure what their role was as it seemed like one was earning her wings, so to speak — maybe help get the sea captain to eternal rest after all these years? I don’t know.

Anyhow, I think this is one of those books that most will either like or not finish. I finished it but am mixed in how much I liked it.

Thanks, Net Galley, for my copy!

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Review: THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY by Laura Shofer

A while ago (longer than I care to admit), I received a download of Laura Shofer’s novel, THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY, from her. Due to an odd issue with my Kindle (where it shuffled my hundreds of novels!) I “lost” it and only recently rediscovered it. This novel has a little bit of something for everyone and I really enjoyed reading it!

THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY starts with a fire (arson) with deaths involved in the Hope’s Point area of Long Island. Ellie Sinclair goes to cover the fire (which isn’t the first that has occurred in this area of late) for her newspaper and discovers that her estranged mother is among the victims. This starts a series of events where Ellie digs to find the truth, but also digs up old emotions, an old romance,  and memories of her “crazy” mother as she was growing up and their complicated relationship. Ellie is scrappy and tough, though somewhat dysfunctional and has a drinking problem. Add in some historical passages tracing Ellie’s Venezuelan heritage and the “fingerprint of destiny”, a few tough Latino gangs, a mystery, and some supernatural thrills and you’ve got the makings for this story!

I enjoyed reading this novel, the first for Ms. Shofer, and found it engrossing and well-written. I think it has such a variety of happenings that many will find it and its “mash-up genre” appealing!

You can see it on Amazon where it is available for Kindle (and where I am an Associate). As of today is it only $2.99!

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