Month: September 2014

Mr. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Available October 7: Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel

***3/5 stars

The perfect script for a Hallmark holiday movie, Mr. Miracle isgood, classy holiday reading.

Recommended readers:

  • If you want to get into the holiday spirit
  • If you like Hallmark movies, especially during the holidays.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 3/5 overall
  • Note: 1/5 some steaminess

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Mr. Miracle was what you would expect from Debbie Macomber – a classy, touching story of falling in love at Christmas.  Throw in an angel-in-training, a few struggling characters, and Macomber has created the perfect setting for another good Hallmark movie.  If you’re looking for depth or exquisite  story-telling this may not be the novel for you, but if you want a simple holiday story, you will enjoy this.

Available at Amazon:

The top ten books that have made a lasting impression on my life

I was challenged to list the top 10 books that made a lasting impression on my life. Here’s my list:

  1. 292408Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner:  The first assigned reading I stayed up all night reading.  Wallace Stegner is the voice of the American West.  And I am still half in love with Oliver Ward. (And Jamie Fraser.)
  2. Peace like a River by Leif Enger: The best opening pages I have ever read, and I am SUCH a sucker for a good quest novel.  Throw in the American west, and you’ve got me- hook, line, and sinker.
  3. No Great Mischief by Alastair McLeod: A tragic and beautiful account of family ties, the presence of the past, and a destroyed Scotland preserved in Canada.
  4. Where Rivers Change Direction by Mark Spragg: a bald and lyrical memoir of growing up on a dude ranch on Wyoming’s continental divide, where rivers changes direction.
  5. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: introduced me to magical realism, post colonialism, and the history of India all in one fell swoop.
  6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck: After a rash of escapist novels and a binge of television watching, reminded me why I read literature in the first place.
  7. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy: love and duty and justice and the romance of the cowboy all meet in the American West.
  8. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon: Scotland, history, time travel, grand adventure, escapism, romance, character development eight books strong.  ‘Nuff said.
  9. The Amelia Peabody Mysteries Series by Elizabeth Peters: About the time I got over my fantasy of becoming the female Indiana Jones, I discovered Amelia Peabody and it started all over again…
  10. City of Thieves by David Benioff:  The best based on a true story/great quest novel/war novel/ work of fiction I have ever read.  This book has it all.

cityofthieves.final.indd

Plus, since this task is nearly impossible, and Terra/BooksforHer gave me license to cheat, lets just make it fifteen:

  • Cowboys are my Weakness by Pam Houston:  If  I was going to teach lit students the concept of “voice,” this is what I’d use.  Mature lit students, that is.
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: A stunner of a character, a portrait of an age, and a twist or two.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: It is THE well-known classic for a reason.
  • Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot: for reminding me why I am a historian
  • AND The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand: for giving voice to the philosophy of history I didn’t even know I had.

In case anyone really cares.

Children’s Review: Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild

Available Oct 14: Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild!bignate

**** 4/5 stars

Big Nate is a popular book series for boys – and The Crowd Goes Wild! is right up there with all the others.

Recommended readers:

  • 8-10 year olds 0r grades 2-4
  • Boys usually who like to read Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and other boy stuff

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM RYDER:

Ryder is 8 years old and starting 3rd grade. He loves to read lots of boy stories. Here is his unedited review:

I like Big Nate because it is really funny and it has lots of action.From a scale of   0-10 I would  rate it at  a 9 because Big  Nate is a  cool comic.

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

I’m a fan of any book that my child loves and since my son has read every book in the Big Nate series, it’s easily an automatic 3 star. With Ryder’s top rating, we’ll give it a 4. To get a perfect rating for a children’s book, it would need to be rereadable, somewhat educational and include life lessons. In reading Big Nate myself, it’s definitely for short attention spans … the book is a series of comics combined (for my generation think Calvin and Hobbes) into one book. So there’s really hundreds of short stories in this book and anything to get our kids into a book is good in my eyes!

Available on Amazon: 

Review: Christmas Brides Collection

Available September 30: Christmas Brides

****4/5 starschistmasbrides

Christmas Brides is a perfect collection of short historical romances ideal for getting us ready for our favorite time of year.

Recommended readers:

  • If you don’t want to commit to a novel, this collection has the perfect collection of 1-hour reads
  • If you enjoy Christmas Hallmark movies
  • If you’re a fan of historical romances or any of these authors: Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Elizabeth Essex, Valerie Bowman

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall
  • 3/5 steaminess

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Four great novellas just in time for Christmas! I loved this collection of quick reads – each about 100 pages and taking less than an hour to read. Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Elizabeth Essex, Valerie Bowman each tell a unique story. From the Scottish highlands to the London mansions, any historical romance lover or sucker for Hallmark holiday movies will want to get ahold of this collection.

Available on Amazon:

Review: The Prince Who Loved Me

Available this week: The Prince Who Loved Me (The Oxenburg Princes)

****4/5 starsTheprincewholovedme

Pride and Prejudice meets CinderellaThe Prince Who Loved Me is a fun and touching historical romance.

Recommended readers:

  • If you enjoy a book-reading heroine
  • If you enjoy historical romances

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall
  • 2/5 steaminess

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Is there anything better than an under-appreciated, misunderstood and selfless heroine? How about one that loves reading books? Bronwyn is loveable – so its easy to see how the story progresses.  With Pride and Prejudice characters and a Cinderella plot, this novel is perfectly enjoyable. A recommended read!

Available on Amazon: 

Top 10 Books That Influenced Me

I was challenged to list the top 10 books that I felt like had an impact on my life. Apologies in advance to those expecting to see a list of classics and literature. I’m an unabashed escapist reader – and most of my books reflect that.gonewiththewind

Here’s my list:

  1. Gone with the Wind. An unhappy ending? Those didn’t exist until I read this. Not to mention the amazing historical characters and detail.
  2. Pride and Prejudice. I love the misunderstandings, the pride and the strong characters.
  3. Little Red Hen. The book I remember most from early childhood showed me how helping out pays off in the end.
  4. Where the Sidewalk Ends. I reread this collection so many times I could resight it by heart and did.
  5. Though a Glass Darkly. So many unlikeable characters and shocking circumstances.
  6. The Help. One of many good examples of great storytelling
  7. Outlander. Such a variety of genres in one book (series).
  8. Sweet Savage Love. My first historical romance.
  9. Love You Forever. Now that I have kids, this books makes me cry every time.
  10. What to Expect When Expecting. For my first pregnancy, I read this book every. single. day. It’s an amazing reference for a new motherlittleredhen

Now I challenge Books for Her/Erin to list her top 10 (and I know she’ll cheat and add a few … but I’m not one to force her to narrow it down).

Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart

Review: Never Marry a Viscount

Available September 23: Never Marry a Viscount (Scandal at the House of Russell Book 3)

****4/5 stars

One of my favorite storylines in historical romance is nicely written in this Anne Stuart Regency Romance.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like a saucy, independent heroine…
  • if you like a Regency historical romance, with a good plot and great dialogue…

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall
  • 3/5 steaminess – Pretty steamy with lots of plot centered around lust

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

I may not ever tire of the English employer-servant plot line, and Never Marry a Viscount uses it perfectly.  With some hilarious misunderstandings and a saucy, independent woman, The third book in Anne Stuart’s Scandal at the House of Russell is a 4-star read. It’s a great escape for any bookie and especially the historical romance lover.

PS. I love this cover for a historical romance.  I mean, I wouldn’t even feel guilty for reading this on an airplane.

Available on Amazon: 

Blood on the River by Anne Perry

Review: Blood on the Water by Anne Perry

Available now: Blood on the Water: A William Monk Novel

****3/5 stars

Blood on the Water is another good historical mystery a from bestselling author Anne Perry.

Recommended readers:

  • If you liked any of the previous William Monk-Anne Perry novels.
  • if you like a good, clean mystery with a look into historical British politics and power

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 3/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Anne Perry is known for her British historical mysteries – and this William Monk novel is set on London’s famous Thames River. Blood on the Water starts fast and ends fast – but he middle is on the slow side. So if you’re looking for a non-stop page-turner this may not be for you.  If you don’t mind a slow, steady read for the majority of the book, Blood on the Water is for you. And if you’re a fan of any of the William Monk books – this is a must-read. It’s a good, clean mystery set in Victorian England, exposing the time for it’s class, politics and power struggles.

Available on Amazon: 

Coming September 9th: Neverhome

Available today: Neverhome: A Novel

****4/5 stars

Suppose it’s 1861 and you’re the kind of girl that’s better suited to soldiering than your own husband. What would you do?

Recommended readers:

  • If you like a first rate, first person historical account that throws you right down in a place and time…
  • If you’re a Civil War buff….
  • and if you would like to experience something entirely unique, this book is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Neverhome traces the experience of Ash Thompson, a woman who disguises herself as a man to fight for the Union, leaving her ill-suited husband at home to protect and tend their farm.  Beyond the mastery of exploring the complexities and strains such such a situation might place on a relationship, Hunt’s work is utterly engaging and original.  You can be made aware of the historical fact that some 400 women disguised themselves to fight in the American Civil War, but nothing can drive that home like a historical novel of this caliber.  Laird Hunt is blessed with a gift for language and imparting an overall tone that makes you ache with fear and longing right along with her. It is wonderful and awful, and I’ve never read a thing like it.

Available on Amazon: