Monday, January 31, 2011

Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage

By Patricia Thayer and Donna Alward

From the back of the book:

"Snowbound Cowboy: Lone wolf Boone Gifford has spent years standing on the outside. Now he’s looking at Christmas—through the window of beautiful Amelia’s home. The snow falls hard—the stranded family needs help. It’s time for the cowboy to step inside.

A Bride for Rocking H Ranch: Kelley is a rancher, housekeeper, doting sister to Amelia, granddaughter and aunt—and the stress of preparing the perfect Christmas at Rocking H ranch is getting to her. But distraction soon arrives in the form of delectable chef Mack Dennison."

I actually sat down and read this book in one sitting. It’s absolutely charming. Here are two sisters who, for entirely different reasons, have accepted spending the rest of their lives alone. They have totally made up their minds to run the family ranch and not think about having men in their futures.

However, the best laid plans aren’t always what come to fruition as they both find men who have similar issues and who are drawn to them. Against their better judgment, they give in and are able to find happiness.

This was a truly fun holiday read and one I’ll definitely add to my shelf of Christmas books I’ve been collecting the past couple years.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The eBook Insider

I'm sure many of you received similar e-mails this morning, but I just had to share with those who might have missed this!

The editors of Alfred A. Knopf, Doubleday, Pantheon, Nan A. Talese, Vintage, Anchor, Schocken and Everyman's Library have put together a 178-page free publication titled "The eBook Insider." It's absolutely packed with reading information mainly designed for e-book readers. However, since many of these books are also available in hard copy, it's a great resource for any lover of books!

In it, you will find lists of book award winners for 2010, excerpts from some of the best books, what books you should read before the movie comes out, reading group favorites and recommendations from your favorite authors.

It really is a great resource and I'd like to thank these companies for putting it together for readers. Follow this link to download your own copy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Music of the Spheres

By Elizabeth Redfern

From the back of the book:

“While the Revolution rages across the Channel, Jonathan Absey, working for England’s Home Office, tracks down foreign spies in the war against France. But he is obsessed with the recent killings of prostitutes, all of whom resemble his lost daughter, who met her end in the shadowy alleys of London. The redemption he craves won’t be found in the politics of war. The answers he seeks won’t be on the city streets. Danger and intrigue will compel him to look elsewhere, for it is where he least expects it that a secret is hiding.”

As soon as I began reading this book, I fell in love with it. So, I looked for other reviews to see what readers thought of it. Was I imagining how wonderful it is?

Surprisingly, I found a wide range of reactions to it. Many readers absolutely hated it, while others liked it, especially the so-called “professional” reviewers – those who work for media outlets, such as newspapers. Is this why I liked it so much? Because I am a journalist? After all, these are the types of stories we crave.

Elizabeth Redfern is one of the best writers I’ve read in a long time. She brings forth the style of the classic writers to the present day as she relates a tale that takes place in the 1790s. It’s a Jack the Ripper-type of story as young prostitutes are brutally murdered in the back alleys where they work. Yet, there is so much more to this story than random slayings and I found it absolutely fascinating how it transpired.

This author writes in such an interesting voice. I felt as if I were sitting in a dark corner listening to the story being told in quiet whispers. Although the killings were rather graphic at times, the tale surrounding them was so intriguing and the characters so well defined, I couldn’t help but find myself walking among the pages of this excellent novel.

Bravo, Ms. Redfern! This is an award-winning novel!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Whisper on the Wind

By Maureen Lang

From the back of the book:

“Belgium, 1916 – The German Imperial Army may have conquered Belgium on its march through Europe, but the small country refuses to be defeated. An underground newspaper surfaces to keep patriotism alive and bring hope and real news of the war to the occupied country. It may be a whisper amongst the shouts of the German army, but it’s a thorn in their side nonetheless – and Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print … even risk his life.”

Yes, Edward is willing to risk his life to keep the underground newspaper in print, but he also risks the lives of his mother and the two women he loves, Isa in particular.

Isa’s family fled Europe for America when the war first began. She finds her way back and sneaks into the country. She is determined to find Edward and his mother and bring them out of Belgium with her. She’s loved Edward since she was a little girl and now, she’s grown into a young woman who is very set in her ways. Of course, Edward refuses to leave and Isa convinces him to let him help with his goals.

As Isa and Edward’s mother take back over Isa’s family home from the Germans, they move the printing press into a hidden room within the cellar. From there, they begin working on the paper while Isa also works to show Edward she’s not the same silly girl his mother babysat while her wealthy parents traveled the world.

Of course, the Germans are suspicious and are watching Isa. They send spies to her home and, at one point, she is thrown in prison for providing food to the enemy. As bad as the experience was, she remains determined to help Edward.

I really liked this book and found the subject matter interesting. I hadn’t read much about the German occupation of Belgium during World War I, so that made the book all the more fascinating for me. It goes along at a nice pace and there really weren’t any parts that bogged the story down. It was fun to read and made for an intriguing tale.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Messiah Secret

By James Becker

From the back of the book:

“Asked to help assess the contents of a lavish English estate, museum conservator Angela Lewis is surprised to discover an unopened crate full of sealed pottery jars. But what she discovers within one of the jars shocks her: a parchment with writing by a noted first-century Jewish scholar that describes the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. For Angela, the find is a miracle: the first written reference to Jesus outside the New Testament. But her discovery draws her into a centuries-old race for the truth, with a field of competitors driven by both ruthless avarice and fanatical devotion. And if Angelo survives, the truth may prove to be more than she can bear.”

This is a book full of intrigue, legend and action. As the main characters hunt for a hidden treasure, using ambiguous clues, they are followed from England to Egypt to India by others who are in search of the same item – what they believe to be the Ark of the Covenant. And those who are watching them are definitely not nice people. In fact, they intend to kill them once they have been led to the treasure.

Angela is being assisted by her ex-husband, who has a background in law enforcement, specifically detective work. At the beginning of the book, he notices anything out of the ordinary and because of that, they are able to thwart those who wish to do them harm. However, as the story progresses, he seems to lose his ability to sense they are in danger. He doesn’t realize his own cell phone and their rental car have been rigged with GPS, even though he wonders about seeing some of the same vehicles and people no matter where they go.

So, what happened to that sixth sense he seemed to have? It bothered me throughout most of the book as I wondered when he was going to realize they were being followed. To me, it was pretty obvious because the bad guys didn’t stay that far behind.

But, all in all, it was an interesting story and the author obviously did his research into the subject before writing the book. If you enjoy stories along this line, you’re sure to like “The Messiah Secret.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finding Frances

By Janice M. Van Dyck

From the back of the book:

“Frances Baldwin is ready to die. Prepared to deny further medical care that might save her, she asks her son to help her bring closure to a well-lived life. Can William, a philosophical med-school dropout, honor his mother without tearing himself and his family apart? To help her die, he must face off against the medical community and the system that is trying to keep her alive regardless of the quality of life she will lead. To lose her, he must find her and find himself.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this book. I loved the story idea and Frances was actually a very endearing character. However, I found myself not liking William very much. He seemed to fluctuate between a nice guy and someone whom it appeared just wanted his mother to die so he wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.

At first glance, Frances doesn’t really seem that sick. Her afflictions are undercover – COPD, heart problems, etc., so you really don’t see them on the surface. The doctors and her husband aren’t convinced she’s in as bad of shape as she claims. But she knows she is dying and she is determined to let it happen.

After she is talked into having a surgery that could potentially help but doesn’t, her health care providers finally must admit she’s not going to live much longer. With that acceptance comes a peace for her and she begins preparing for that ultimate event.

Her biggest roadblock continues to be her husband, who selfishly doesn’t want to continue through life alone. He’s come to rely on her taking care of him and isn’t sure how he will fend for himself.

Yet, amid all this turmoil, the redeeming light comes from a new closeness between Frances and her daughter. Their love takes on a deeper meaning and I enjoyed watching that relationship develop.

This really is a good book. I just wished I could accept William more, but without his character, the book probably wouldn’t have been the same. It’s a great first novel by this new author and she does an excellent job of approaching this controversial issue with style and grace.