Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Comanche Moon / Catherine Anderson / 468 pgs

"Loretta Simpson, a prisoner of the Comanches since the brutal murder of her parents at their hands, fights her attraction to Hunter, a Comanche warrior who believes she is the golden-haired maiden who is to fulfill his tribe's sacred prophecy."

This "romance" is a bit uneven to the point I'm not even sure its part of the Romance Cannon.  On the one
side you have Loretta, who as a child watched the brutal murder of her parents by Comanche raiders, and is now a captive and is being forced to marry into the tribe.  Her groom, Hunter, has a deep seated hatred of "white people" since his former (and very pregnant) wife was raped and murdered by white settlers.  Loretta and Hunter's cultures clash throughout the story causing confusion and misunderstandings.  What's good about the romance between Hunter and Loretta is that even though Hunter is in the more powerful position he decides that he will become Loretta's friend first and earn her trust before becoming her "husband".  What's annoying is the constant misunderstandings which tend to get repetitive.  I was also a bit dismayed over the fact that out of the 5 only female characters mentioned in the book 4 of them are victims of rape (either in their past or sometime during the story).  Again it was hard to consider this a romance when the reader is spending so much time cringing over the mistreatment of these poor women.

On a positive note, Catherine Anderson's writing style is descriptive and you get a real sense of place and time.  I also found two covers for the book; the original is the one with the main characters riding the horse; the new cover is a rather bland toned down version.

Considering Kate / Nora Roberts 288 p. Dec. 9 Ladies Dancing

In this 6th of Nora Robert's Stanislaski family series, Considering Kate, features Kate Stanislaski Kimball.  Kate returns home from a very successful ballet dance career to open a dance studio.  When she buys an historic but dilapidated building, she meets contractor Brody O'Connell.  As a widower, he is focused on his 6 year old son, Jack.  He resists Kate.  After all he is a solid, down-to-earth carpenter and she is the darling of the Stanislaski family and a super star in the ballet field.  Jack is quite the character and brings humor into the situation.  Roberts' fans will enjoy this fast-paced, character driven romance, set in West Virginia.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eleanor & Park/Rainbow Rowell/328 pgs.

This is one of the best YA "romances" I've read. Eleanor is the new kid at school--and quite the misfit. Park is the boy who feels sorry for Eleanor and scoots over so she can sit next to him on the bus. And so the relationship begins. The year is 1986. They are both 16 years old and going through the normal angst of the teen age years. In Eleanor's case, she has the added disadvantage of a stepfather who is both verbally and physically abusive. Park feels that he will never meet his father's expectations.The story is told from alternating perspectives between Eleanor and Park. There is some foreshadowing early on in the novel, leaving the reader to wonder what kind of outcome will occur by the end of the book. Highly recommended!
Picture Perfect # 1 Weddings by Design,Janice Thompson, 337 pages

Hannah McDermott has her hands full trying to keep her photography business in the black while dealing with her stagnant family.  Dad insists on corned beef and cabbage with potatoes for dinner each night promptly at 6 when he walks in the door.  I'm not sure why Hannah's Mom would put with that, but it would make grocery shopping easy!  Changes start to happen to everyone, although Hannah's mom and dad seem to embrace those changes easier than one would expect.  The story is a light read, with fun and romance where all conflicts work themselves out almost too easily.
Author Janice Thompson has several other series that intertwine together in this particular story.
Death by Chocolate # 6 Josiah Reynolds Mystery Series, Abigail Keam, 203 pages

When an old friend's son is missing Josiah steps in to nudge the investigation along.  Who knows what sort of trouble that will stir up.  As Josiah traces the missing  man's last actions someone is tracing her movement.  Will Josiah's long time enemy O'Nan finally catch her and finish what he started?  Who will he corrupt in the process?  This book was an enjoyable read.  Abigail Keam reveals a little more about Josiah's daughter in this installment.  

The Girl You Left Behind/Jojo Moyes/369 pages/3 French Hens

During World War I, the small town of St. Peronne has fallen to the Germans. Sophie's husband and her sister's husband have both gone to fight on the front. It's up to Sophie and Helene to keep their small but once elegant inn going. The new Kommandant in charge of their town admires Sophie's determination and spunk as well as the portrait her husband painted of her. As his obsession with her grows, Sophie has to decide what she will sacrifice to see her husband again. Decades later, Liv Halston owns the painting, and when distant relatives of Sophie's husband try to claim that it was stolen from their family by the Germans, Liv digs into the painting's dark past.


This was our book club selection for the month. I was warned that it was slow at the beginning, and it was, but it quickly picked up. I can't wait for our discussion. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading this author's earlier works.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter of the World / Ken Follett 1008 p. Big books

This continues the stories of five interrelated families: American, English, Welsh, German, and Russian.  It picks up about ten years after the first book.  Interwoven into the families' lives is the rise of Nazi German, Spanish Civil War, and World War II.  The story never lags as Follett tells of the major events of the 20th century.  He is a master of including economic, cultural, political, and social transformations of the entire era.  Looking forward to the concluding book.

Fall of Giants / Ken Follett 985 p. Big book

This is the first novel in the historical epic series The Century Trilogy.  The series follows the fate of several families, American, British, German, and Russian.  Through their lives, the events leading to and including World War I, the Russian Revolution, and women suffragette are conveyed.  It is fascinating to read of these characters and their times.  For example, two Russian brothers are separated, one to stay in Russia the other to rise to power in America.  The American characters communicate about the League of Nations.  The story moves along and the characters keep the reader involved until the last page.  Because of this book, I  understand how WWI came from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Plum Blossoms in Paris, Sarah Hina, 338 pages

I'm not sure if I like this book or not.  Daisy, who does not like her name, takes off for Paris after her long term boyfriends breaks up with her via email.  She drops everything, family, classes and her research work to live in Paris until her savings ($4000.00) run out.  Almost immediately, Daisy meets Matthieu, unemployed writer and sometimes tour guide.  As the story progresses we find out both have had some hard moments in their pasts.  Over all the book is thin on plot and long on philosophy.

In the Blood / Lisa Unger / 342 pgs


The main character Lana Granger has many secrets and lies.  As a child Lana spent some time in Mental Hospital facilities for her severe manipulative and aggressive behavior.  Now Lana is a senior in college and is doing everything she can to keep her past locked away.  Of course Lana is majoring in Abnormal Psychology, and has taken on the side job of babysitting a psychotic "troubled" boy named Luke, whose behavior is very much reminiscent of her younger self.   When Lana's roommate, Beck, mysteriously disappears her life is turned upside down.  Is someone trying to set Lana up?  Is Lana crazy and not remembering things correctly? Can a little boy pull off a murder?  This story keeps you guessing until the end.  Recommended!

One day my soul just opened up : 40 days and 40 nights toward spiritual strength / Iyanla Vanzant / 316 pgs.

Iyanla Vanzant give you 40 topics to meditate on.  You are suppose to read one a day and try to focus on that message.  Then at night you reflect on the message and your actions.  Her messages are on peace, non-judgement, simplicity, forgiveness, and so on.  I listened to this on CD while driving my car, so I didn't actually follow the "program".  I do think this would be a good book to have to help focus my meditations, since when I'm left to my own thoughts, I am all over the place.

There's more to life than this : healing messages, remarkable stories, and insight about the other side from the Long Island medium / Theresa Caputo / 240 pgs.

Theresa Caputo is the star of the TLC's tv show "Long Island Medium".  She works as a professional Medium who is able to channel and communicate with loved ones that have passed on.  In her book she talks about her childhood, which was very loving and normal, except she had some major anxiety and phobia issues.  After she discovered that she was able to communicate with the dead, she realized that many of her problems were from her being so sensitive to energy field and not because she was "crazy".

The rest of the book she talks about her clients and the information that the spirits had passed on to them.  Most of the stories were rehashed from the episodes on the TV show.  So if you are a fan of the show you will either be delighted that you recognized the story she is talking about, or you'll just be annoyed that there is nothing new.  

Theresa says she only deals with positive spirits and will not acknowledge evil spirits.  The advice in the book is all positive, and she says that when your loved ones pass on they are still with you and are involved in your life.  Whether you believe in her gifts or not, I personally love the way Theresa is able to talk with people who are grieving and is able to get them to laugh and feel a little better.  She is truly a light in this world.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blossom Street Brides/Debbie Macomber/318 pages

I haven't finished reading a book since January.  It took a Debbie Macomber book to get me started again.  The situations that her characters face are realistic.  She writes about the cancer survivor, the parents of a troubled teen, the aging parents, the blended families, the jealous ex-spouse, and the young, single woman looking for a lasting relationship.  "Blossom Street Brides" blends in some new characters and stories with returning characters from earlier books in this series.  This book kept me interested by switching between story-lines.

Wild Cards / Simone Elkeles / 344 pgs.

"Told from two viewpoints, Derek Fitzpatrick, kicked out of boarding school, must move with his stepmother to her childhood home in Illinois, where he meets Ashtyn Parker, who may be able to achieve her dream of a football scholarship with bad boy Derek's help."

Its nice to read a story about a girl football player who is strong, but the story is realistic enough to show that she is not the "star" player and does not have some inhuman super powers that makes her the best player.  The tension and comments back and forth between Derek and Ashtyn provide some humorous moments.  The harassment and teasing that Ashtyn faces for being the only female football player is cringe-worthy, and only makes the reader want to cheer for her more.  Recommended for High Schoolers.

The Rosie Project/Graeme Simsion/295 pgs./April Challenge

This is one of the quirkiest romances I've ever read--in a good way! Don Tillman, a genetics professor, is searching for a wife. His approach to the "Wife Project" is to have possible candidates fill out his scientifically devised 16 page survey. Enter into the picture Rosie Jarman--a doctoral candidate working for Don's friend, Gene. It turns out that Rosie is everything Don is not looking for in a wife. However, Rosie has her own project, which Don calls the "Father Project." Rosie is trying to discover her biological father, and Don decides to help her in her search. If you are familiar with Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the television show The Big Bang Theory, then you will have a good idea of Don's personality. It is strongly hinted at in the book that Don has Asperger's syndrome, which makes the book even more interesting. There is a lot of humor in the story, with an underlying lesson about how society treats what it deems "the misfits." It's a very entertaining, and highly recommended, book!

Legend / Marie Lu / 305 pgs.

Another Dystopian YA novel, but this one has an element of romance.  This time North America is split into two Warring Nations; with one powerful dictatorship trying to overthrow the other.  In California, Government soldier and child prodigy June is hired to capture the infamous criminal named Day.  June and Day, play a cat and mouse game matching wits, until they are thrown together and will have to learn to trust each other in order to survive.  Lots of action, strong male and female characters, and a star-crossed romance.  This is another series that deserves to be made into a movie.


God's Hotel/Victoria Sweet/416 pgs./April Challenge

Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco was one of the last (if not the last) almshouses in the country. Dr. Victoria Sweet portrays her years as a doctor at Laguna Honda, and the impact health care changes has had on the hospital that was the "last resort" for many people. She explores her own changing role in the health care profession, gives the reader an insight into the special care the patients at Laguna were given, and gives an overall history of the medical profession. It's a fascinating read, and should be required reading for anyone currently in the medical field, or contemplating going into the medical field! Highly recommended.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April's Reading Challenge

Its the "Rainy Day Reads Challenge"!!!

I love, love, LOVE rainy days!!!!  It's true! and I am so glad we are now into April.  This month lets celebrate the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring.  I will give you "2" bonus points for any book that you read that has the word "Rain" or "Storm" or "Puddle", basically anything that indicates rain!!  Happy Reading!

This is Me on a Rainy Day......


...and this would be my Mom on a Rainy Day

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Murder of a Stacked Librarian, Denise Swanson, 273 Pages

Skye Dennison is having second thoughts about the timing of her quickly approaching wedding.  Was Christmas break really the best time, with so much to do for the holiday?  The murder of the very attractive, but opinionated librarian begins to take over Skye's remaining free time.  Will the murder be solved before the honeymoon?  Will disaster strike before Skye can walk down the aisle?  Will Skye's mom stop adding guests to the reception?

Part of the Scumble River series, this was a fun mystery with Christmas, a wedding and a mystery all in one.  We finally know the outcome of Skye's romance with her two beau's.  I only wish there had been a little more time spent telling the reader about Scumble River's library.

Shaker Run/Karen Harper/399 pgs

Kate Marburn’s dream job is about to turn into her worst nightmare . . . Recovering from her former husband’s betrayal and working as a rose gardener for wealthy widow Sarah Denbigh, Kate is dealt another blow when her employer dies and the police suspect she might have something to do with her  death. Looking for refuge, she accepts a job as rosarian at Shaker Run, a historic and once celibate Shaker village. But something strange and dangerous lurks beneath the surface of the idyllic town. Can Jake Kilcourse, the mysterious, rugged furniture builder who also lives at Shaker Run, help her figure out what?  Karen Harper is good at suspense, however, this time I knew who the "bad guys" were long before the end.  That being said, I would still recommend it.

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion/Fanny Flagg/347 pgs

Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with is her mother, the formidable Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a secret about her mother’s past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.
 
Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family’s filling station
until flying airplanes becomes her life and passion.  The characters are quirky and the plot is a mixture of humor, drama and history.  It is Fanny Flagg at her best.

Mrs. Lincoln's Rival/Jennifer Chiaverini/419 pgs

For those few of you that have not read this book...it is about Kate Chase (daughter of Salmon P. Chase).
Because her father is a widower, she arranges his social functions, helps with his campaigns, runs the house and becomes the belle of Washington, D.C.  She also becomes the social rival of the first lady.  The book covers her life as well as those around her  before the Civil War, during the war and after Lincoln's assassination.  Jennifer Chiaverini makes nonfiction read like a novel, making the characters very real and the storyline one that keeps your interest.

Rescued and Remembered/Braxton DeGarmo/423 pgs

This is the second in the MedAir series by DeGarmo.  At the end of the first book Lynch Cully was assumed dead.  Amy Gibbs was battling the emotional demons of losing Cully and the physical trauma that she had endured at the hands of the same monster that had killed him.  In this installment, Amy is suffering from PTSD and ends up grounded.  Cully has been fished out of the river (barely alive), taken to a remote cabin and nursed back to health by Danijela and Ibrahim.  While he is recuperating and trying to retrieve his memory he learns about and becomes involved in Ibrahim's secret life.  I enjoyed both books in this series and am looking forward to the next one.  They definitely kept my interest with the suspense and plot twists.  We do have the books in the local author collection, now.

The Light in the Ruins/Chris Bohjalian/305 pages

The story begins in the countryside of Florence, Italy with war raging all around, the Rosati family  believes that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from harm. Ten years later, there has been a brutal murder, a serial killer targeting the Rosatis. The investigator Serafina, finds herself digging into a past that might also include her own tragic history.  It seems the author at times was trying to write a romance and then other times a murder mystery, and not really developing the story line of either. Very vivid picture of Germany's occupation of Italy during the war and how it affected the people. It was heartbreaking for families trying to do whatever they could just stay alive.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shotgun Lovesongs / Nickolas Butler / 304 pages

The small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin serves as the setting for this poignant novel about life, love, friendship, and forgiveness.  In this character-driven novel, each chapter is devoted to one of the characters who have known each other practically from birth.  Henry is a very good man, good friend, great husband and father who stays in Little Wing and farms.  Ronny is a damaged alcoholic who rode in national rodeos before he returns home.  Kip is the hotshot successful commodities trader who comes back to Little Wing but still doesn't quite fit in.  Leland is the singer who becomes an international star but still calls Little Wing home.  Beth is the girl who married the hometown guy, Henry, but still harbors feelings for Henry's best friend Leland, and Leland regrets what he might have had with a girl like Beth.  Lives intertwined, betrayal, loss, love, laughter & tears all create a terrific Midwestern story.  Didn't know they smoked so much weed in Wisconsin though!

And Then There Were Nuns / Jane Christmas / 292 pages

This is a non-fiction account of the writers personal journey in response to a lifelong call to be a nun...after being divorced twice, being a single parent, and earning a living as a successful but stressed out writer.  The book begins with a proposal of marriage from her long time friend on the same day she planned to tell him she was thinking about becoming a nun!  Christmas' story is heartfelt, sincere, highly personal, humorous, and insightful.  The author shares the inside story of what it was like to live with nuns/sisters and monks of Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches who help her to find her true path in life.  The author states in her Acknowledgements that the names (except for a couple) were not changed so readers are getting the real story of monastic and cloistered life, the widely varied personalities of real people in religious orders, and some very thought-provoking statements about churches.  Very interesting, informative and even entertaining.

Concealed in Death/J.D. Robb/402 pgs.

The latest in the Eve Dallas series begins with the discovery of bones, wrapped in plastic, in the walls of a building Dallas's husband, Roarke, plans on renovating. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called in to try and determine who the victims were, and to find the perpetrator of the heinous crime. She learns that the building, back in the mid-2040s, was called The Sanctuary, and housed troubled, homeless teens. The caregivers have moved to a better facility, and this is where Dallas's investigation begins. It's an entertaining read--not, in my opinion, one of her best, but also, not one of her worst. It's a good series!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reaper/ L.S. Murphy/ 279

YA urban fantasy written by St. Louis area author, L.S. Murphy, is the story of sixteen year old Quincy Amarante who will become the fifth grim reaper. Quincy is concerned about one thing before Death enters into her life–being popular and going out with a gorgeous guy. But Death won’t leave her alone and neither does her childhood best friend, Ben–whom all readers will be swooning for by the end of the book. I enjoyed the book mainly for the love triangle, the grim reaper aspect, the main character learning about what is actually important in life, and the ending...no spoilers from me.
 
Dead Between the Lines, Denise Swanson, 264 pages

This is the third book in the  Devereaux's Dime Store mystery series.  After she opens the Dime Store for an after hours book discussion group, a dead body is found behind Devereaux's store.  She pokes around in the investigation with help from her two beau's, Jake and Noah.  The mystery is interesting as Devereaux, Jake and Noah interview and eliminate suspects, but the romance triangle is a bit tiring.  Even though this is the third book in the series it can stand on it's own without reading the previous two books.

I started reading Denise Swanson's first mystery series set in Scumble River after she was noted in a magazine article featuring University of Illinois alumni.  Both mystery series have local color.  Scumble River is just south of Chicago and Devereaux's Dime Store is just east of Kansas City.

Given Day / Dennis Lehane 704 p. Big Book

This historical novel focuses on the post-World War I Boston.  The intricate plot follows two main characters; an African American Luther Lawrence and Irish cop Danny Coughlin.  Danny has strong family ties to the upper echelon of the Boston Police Department.  He and Luther force a strong bond when Luther comes to work for the Danny's police captain father.  It is interesting to read of Calvin Coolidge, governor at that time, as he makes a name for himself during the Police Strike of 1919.  Boston cops were paid below the poverty level and worked in appalling situations.  Union members are persecuted by the police commissioner.   Luther is on the run.  He got involved in illicit activities and kills to save his life.  This story tells of anarchy, socialism, Bolsheviks, Prohibition, racism, the strikes, baseball, and Babe Ruth.  Through the tragedies it tells of the bonds between family and friends.  This page-turner was hard to put down and left you wanting to know more about Danny and Luther.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tempting Fate/Jane Green/343 pgs./April challenge

Gabby has a good life: a loving husband, Elliott; two teenage daughters, Olivia and Alanna; good friends; outside interests, etc. She is, also, in her early forties, and is questioning her appeal as a woman. So, during a girls night out at the bar, Gabby meets Matt, early thirties, single, and very handsome. Gabby feels young and alive, but has no intentions of doing anything stupid that would jeopardize her family life. But intentions, no matter how good, don't always turn out as planned--or in this case, unplanned. Mistakes are made, ties are severed, and the damage is done. How Gabby, Elliott, Olivia, and Alanna deal with the resulting destruction to their family life, and the attempt to rebuild their family unit is central to the story. The author does a very good job of delving into the feelings and complexities of the family members. Highly recommended.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Divorce Papers / Susan Riger / 461 pages

As improbable as it sounds, there is no narrative to this book.  The plots are advanced by letters, memos, emails, and documents.  I found the story a bit slow and downright depressing - as I think it might be for anyone who had gone trough a divorce.  The story is humorous at times, the divorce process interesting, and the characters are all to humane and believable.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson / John Green and David Levithan / 310 / 12 Drummers Drumming December Challenge

"Crying is almost totally avoidable if you follow two very simple rules: 1. Don't care too much. 2. Shut up."  This was Will Grayson's mantra.  His best friend, Tiny, is quite large and proudly gay.  His is active in GSA at school and is currently writing a musical about his life (and love).  There are actually two Will Grayson's and the second is gay.  Although this book was a Teen Best of the Best and highly recommend on the blog and it did contain several memorable scenes and a rousing ending, I would not recommend this one - too much bad language, underage drinking, and gay pride for me.


"Love is the most common miracle."
"Being in a relationship, that's something you choose.  Being friends, that's just something you are."
"When things break, it's not the actual breaking that prevents them getting back together again.  It's because a little piece gets lost - the remaining ends couldn't fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed."

Panic / Lauren Oliver / 408 pages / April Challenge Rain Scene

"That's what Panic was all about: not fear."  "No one knows who invented Panic or when it first began."  It's a series of challenges open only to graduating seniors of Carp High School but funded by every student. The winner gets $50,000+-.  "In seven years of playing, there have been four deaths..."  One enters the competition by participating in the Opening Jump - jumping off "the jagged rocky lip of shoreline jutting forty feet into the air on the inside of the quarry."  Heather Nil enters the game spontaneously because she realized after her boyfriend, Matt Henley, dumped her she was a complete and total nobody.  This is an edge-of-your-seat read with multiple themes and backstories.  YA language, teen sex, shoplifting, and disrespect for law enforcement do not negate the impact of this book.  This is an awesome read, perhaps appealing to fans of the Hunger Games.


"Insects are like humans, in a way stupid and sometimes vicious, blinded by need."

Black Rose / Nora Roberts / 544 pages / USA Today Bestseller November Challenge

This is the second book in Nora Roberts' Garden Trilogy.  Harper House is still haunted by the ghost of Amelia and she is becoming far more dangerous.  Mitch is researching Harper family history, partially to determine Amelia's identity.  Stella and Logan who met in the first book, wed in this one and another romance blooms.

Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell / 309 p.

Another fascinating book from Gladwell on what we can learn from statistics. He presents the information in a readable and interesting fashion. This time his focus is on the factors that go into success which often have to do with time, place and culture as much as with ability. His examples run from sports figures to captains of industry to the Beatles.


The section on pilots was very timely as I was reading it while the search goes on for the Malaysian flight that has disappeared.

Red Lily / Nora Roberts / 512 pages / USA Today Bestseller November Challenge

This is the third and final book in the Garden Trilogy.  The final couple - Hayley and Harper, realize and declare their love and the ghost of Amelia possesses Hayley.  Through Hayley's experiences with Amelia, we learn what really happened to Amelia and her baby all those years ago.  This is an entertaining read with a fairy tale ending.

Blue Smoke / Nora Roberts / 743 pages / March Challenge 700+ pages

Katrina Hale was devastated by the fire that destroyed her family owned restaurant.  The family who lived upstairs could have been killed.  The fire was set by the father of a young boy accused of attacking Reena.  The father is sent to prison and his son begins plotting his revenge.  Reena is fascinated by fire - its brutal beauty and destructive power.  She studies it and becomes a police officer on the arson squad.  Her boyfriends meet with tragic, destructive accidents.  It take years for Reena to see the connections.  This is a top notch thriller from romance writer Nora Roberts.

The MacGregor's Lady / Grace Burrowes / 406 pages / 11 Pipers Piping December Challenge

"A woman's courage is different from a man's.  We pillage and plunder.  They endure.  I don't pretend to understand it, but I suspect the race would die without their version of courage much sooner than it would without ours." So says Ian MacGregor to his older brother, Asher MacGregor, the Scottish Lord Balfour.  Balfour's history is most unusual in that his father sired him while engaged in the fur trade business in Canada.  Balfour lived there among his mother's people, became a physician, and returned home to Scotland to accept his title and family.  He has agreed to sponsor a young American heiress in her stepfather's quest to find her a suitable match.  Hannah Cooper has no intentions of marrying.  She just wants to return to Boston to care for her grandmother, mother, and half brothers, even after she has fallen in love with Asher and he with her. This is most satisfying romance with a most pleasing ending.


"Sometimes there's nothing to do but love the best we can."

Control / Lydia Kang / 395 pages / 8 Maids a Milking December Challenge

Zelia and Dylia Benten and their father live in a dystopian future where the United States of American has ceased to exist.  Now, instead of a unified nation "where you live wherever you wanted, with any lifestyle you chose, no intense border scrutiny and screening tests, no pledges to adhere to the morals and dress codes mandated by each state, we find the country divided into clustered states - Alms, Ilmo, Neia, Okks...each stewing in happy ideals, all of them unified under a government weaker than [Zelia's] left pinkie."  The girls are orphaned when their father is killed in a magpod accident.  When the girls are separated, Zelia determines to find her perfect sister and reunite them as family, risking all...  This is a mesmerizing story of self-sacrificial determination and perhaps foolish heroism to attain heartfelt ideals.  Action-packed, with characters with a most unusual array of gifts, and a most decadent, futuristic depiction of hedonistic clubbing, this premier novel by a practicing physician is truly phenomenal.


"Failure is always a real possibility.  But nothing would be accomplished if we always succumbed to fear."
"What we want and what we can make happen are often disparate things."

Gemini / Carol Cassella / 341 pages / 5 Gold Rings December Challenge

"Raney (Renee Remington Flores) now lived the truth that there are all types of love: the kind that hits you like a truck hauling down a highway, the kind that needs as much nurturing as a winter campfire, and the range between." She never knew her father.  Her mother abandoned her with her grandfather in a rural area of the Olympic peninsula, and she fell in love with Bo, a wealthy nephew of local store owners.  Bo's social status, his family, and his medical problems incapacitate their relationship.  When Raney meets the Filipino carpenter, Clete, she discovers an extremely different kind of love.  At age 39, Raney is victim of a hit and run accident and taken to Seattle's Beacon Hospital where she is unidentified - a Jane Doe.  Her doctor, Charlotte Reese does everything in her power to sustain Raney's life and discover her identity.  This is a story of love, hope, and family with well-developed characters, a spice of suspense, and a satisfying ending.


"Something can be real even when the only proof you have is your own faith."
"Survival depends on continuous change."
"Love is certainly the least rational state of mind."
"Christmas is a time to celebrate the blessings of spiritual wealth and material poverty."
"Unlimited choice can be as paralyzing as poverty or ignorance.

The Deepest Secret / Carla Buckley / 427 pages / April Challenge Rain Scene

Eve Lattimore's son Tyler has XP, a rare medical condition that makes him fatally sensitive to light, natural or manufactured.  Exposure results in melanoma...and death.  Tyler's windows are boarded, the neighbors have switched to incandescent bulbs, and Tyler ventures outside only during the dark.  He is about to enter high school but is, of necessity, separated from his peers.  His previously perfect sister, Melissa, is not so perfect and a neighbor girl, eleven year old Amy, is missing.  Tyler's dad commutes from his jog in DC, missing Tyler's birthday and other important milestones, placing stress on the marriage and family.  Eve saves everything she can in case a miracle cure is developed.  Secrets are harbored by almost every protagonist.  Who is responsible for Amy's disappearance? This is a gripping story of a mother's fiercely protective love and a family's struggle to battle seemingly insurmountable odds.


"Maybe no one's safe.  Maybe there's no such thing as a true love that lasts a lifetime."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Something Like Normal/ Trish Doller/216 pages

Travis is returning home after a tour in Afghanistan, his parents are getting divorced, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and he is haunted with nightmares of his best friend's death. Everything looks pretty bleak until he runs into a girl from his past, Harper. Harper becomes his lifeline as Travis deals with PTSD and trying to return to a "normal" life. Sometime it's easy to forget our soldiers are young men and women trying to deal with emotional scars of war. Told from a male perspective but most guys won't read because cover leads readers to believe that it is a romance. Trish Doller has an impressive debut novel in "Something Like Normal".

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pet Sitter: A Jenna Stack Mystery/ Amy Eyrie and Alex Sloan/ 187 pages

Jenna Stack is a criminology student by day, and a bartender by night.  After giving up her boyfriend and their apartment she finds herself helping out a friend with his Pet Sitting business.  Her 'easy' assignment to care for six cats and walk one dog thrusts her into a mystery of murder and mayhem.  Who can Jenna trust?  The rich dog owner?  The hacker nerd friend?  The FBI agent with a fake name?

Even though this was a fairly cheap Kindle book I enjoyed the mystery and it kept me guessing who was the real bad guy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shadow Spell/Nora Roberts/339 pgs


This is book two in the The Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy.  It is Connor & Meara story this time.  They are still battling the evil sorcerer, Cabhan and he has taken a liking to Meara.  Connor & Meara have always been friends but working together is adding a new dimension to their relationship.  This is your typical Nora Roberts novel but I have enjoyed the story line.  I always enjoy her stories when she locates them in Ireland.  

Missing You/ Harlan Coben/ 399 pages

NYPD Detective Kat Donovan's friend thinks she's been single long enough, so Stacy signs Kat up for an online dating service to help her find "the one." Kat does find him. He was "the one" that left her 18 years ago, breaking her heart and their engagement. When she decides to try to connect with him online, he doesn't seem to remember her at first, but then tells her that their past is too painful and they must move on. She reluctantly agrees. When his online profile pops up in a possible kidnapping case, Kat must locate him to find out if he's part of a horrible crime or just a face on the internet.


Another home run for Coben. He takes several different stories and weaves them together for one haunting story. This is definitely a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of using an online dating site. While I was reading this, I thought that Kat Donovan might become a regular Coben character, but now that I finished it, I don't know if she'll continue.