Month: November 2014

Nonfiction Review: When Books Went to War

Available December 2nd:  When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II

****4/5 stars

Books can be weapons: The story of the role of literature during World War II, when a a program that brought  books to soldiers– in pocket sized editions reportedly as popular as chocolate, cigarettes, and pin up girls– served to remind us of the power of storytelling in human history.

Recommended readers:

  • Veterans,
  • WWII Buffs,
  • General History Buffs,
  • Lit nerds,
  • and lovers of stories and books EVERYWHERE, this one is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

This may seem an odd choice for a “best books for her” website, but we are here because we love books and stories, and this one is a (hi)story of a moment in which books and stories served a high and worthy purpose in modern history.  Manning tells the story of the Americans who drew together to turn a book drive for soldiers to a revolution in the publishing industry– the portable, paperback Armed Services Edition, a powerful symbol in a war against a hateful Nazi regime which included the burning of books.  From the recounting of one soldier’s experience with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at the outset of the book, I was hooked.  Uplifting and informative nonfiction that read like a story,  When Books Went to War is well worth the time it takes to remind us of the things that are worth fighting for.

Available on Amazon

 

 

Mystery-Suspense Review: Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson

Available Nov. 25: Wicked Ways (The Colony Book 4)

***3/5 stars

Image courtesy of Kensington Books.

Image courtesy of Kensington Books.

In classic Lisa Jackson style, Wicked Ways is a mystery-suspense that will suck you in.

Recommended readers:

  • Lisa Jackson and mystery-paranormal fans
  • If you like a mystery with a teeny touch of romance

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 3/5 overall
  • 0/5 steaminess

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Elizabeth Gaines has seen people around her dying – and now that her cheating husband is dead, she’s the focus of a police investigation. How can she get to the bottom of these coincidences and step out of the police investigation spotlight? In Book 4 of The Wicked Games Series, Lisa Jackson with Nancy Bush co-write an interesting mystery-suspense with a touch of paranormal. You’ll want keep reading wondering if there is any way out of the mess Mrs. Gaines finds herself in. If you like just a tiny bit of romance in your mystery-suspense, you’ll like this Lisa Jackson read.

Order on Amazon: Wicked Ways (The Colony Book 4)

Romance Review: The Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy

Available now: The Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy by Juliana Gray

A Lady Never Lies

A Gentlemen Never Tells

A Duke Never Yields

***3/5 stars

Combine three English ladies with something to hide, three reforming rakes, and one big misunderstanding in a ghostly Italian castle, and what do you have? More fun with Juliana Gray, Love’s Labour’s Lost style.

Recommended readers:

  • If you liked The Princess in Hiding Series (though this one comes first),
  • if you get a kick out of that whole reformed rake witty banter thing,
  • and if you’re a fan of Beatriz Williams (it’s the same chic!), then this series is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

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

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

More fun with Beatriz Williams/Juliana Gray: more delightful characters, more witty banter, and more blush-worthy sex in a ghostly Shakespearean plot spread across three novels.  Each novel can stand alone, but you don’t get the full picture until you read them all– good kitschy fun.

Available on Amazon: 

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Children’s Review: The Neil Flambe Series

Available now:The Neil Flambé Capers Collection: Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders; Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction; Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse; … the Tokyo Treasure (The Neil Flambe Capers)

****3/5 stars

A famous teenage chef  – with a super-sensitive nose – helps police solve murders.Neil Flambe Series

Recommended readers:

  • Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7 (probably best for grades 4+)
  • Did you like plot in Ratatouille, the movie?
  • and have a slight interest in cooking

Here’s my Rankings:

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

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Neil Flambe has his own world-famous restaurant, a slew of people following his demands, and an amazing noise that helps the police solve murders. With his amazing sense of smell, the teenager analyzes crime scenes, people and places to help the authorities get to the bottom of various mysteries. As a character Flambe is arrogant, cocky but with some reason … maybe someone a grade-schooler could identify with.  In parts Flambe tends to go into a little too much detail on his culinary creations, which I’m not sure kids will identify much with. The books are well written and interesting mysteries – and Flambe a distinctive character that I could see becoming a Nickelodeon TV show. The Caper Series by Kevin Sylvester includes four great books: Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders, Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction, Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse, and Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure. Great timing to get into the series before the fifth book comes out in January.

Here’s a fun video: 
Learn how to draw the fiery superchef Neil Flambe with Kevin Sylvester. Neil Flambe is a 14-year-old wunderchef. He can cook anything, and he brags that he can cook it better than anyone else. He’s cocky, but he may also be right. Patrons pay top…

Available on Amazon: The Neil Flambé Capers Collection: Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders; Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction; Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse; … the Tokyo Treasure (The Neil Flambe Capers)

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Best Books for Gifts: Books for Her’s Top Books of 2014

The holidays are approaching and the perfect gift for friends, family and others is a good book. We’ve been reading all year and collected an amazing list of the best 4-star and 5-star books – and its quite a list!

Here’s the top reads from Books for Her reviewers:

Secrets of a Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore: The epitome of a summer read, Secrets of the Lighthouse is a mystery romance with a true depth that makes you breath with the characters. Santa Montefiore is brilliant! Best for someone who likes suspense-romance, likes Ireland or wants a classy book cover.

Anne Stuart Demon Count
The Demon Count Novels by Anne Stuart: Mystery, intrigue and a dark, brooding guardian … plus a second bonus novel too! Best for someone who likes a dark Jane-Eyre Mr. Rochester character, a Venetian-romance setting or good mystery-plot with your romance.

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicklas Butler: An truly original, poetic book, Shotgun Lovesongs is delivered perfectly in this audio book – just make sure you’re not in a hurry. Best for someone who likes literature with original, unique writing.

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Boy meets girl and they get married.  Fairytale ends and 5 years later, girl disappears.  Was it boy?  Hold on to your hats, this dual-perspective whodunit will have you guessing and re-guessing until the end. Best for someone who’s looking for a unique, fast-paced murder-mystery-thriller.

20510869The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes:  Put 600 wartime brides and a bunch of soldiers on their way home from World War II on one ship and what have you got? What do you expect? Disaster!  But seriously.  Some things you don’t expect as well. Best for someone who enjoys historical fiction rooted in fact.

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Neverhome by Laird Hunt:  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? Best for someone who likes a first rate, first person historical account that throws you right down in a place and time.

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The Secret Life of Violet Grant:  I picked up Beatriz Williams’ latest because I was in the mood to just love a book.  The good news:  it was terrific.  The bad news:  now I am all out of Beatriz Williamses. Best for someone who likes a smart historical romance, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure.

Mary Balogh The Escape

The Escape by Mary Balogh:  The Escape lived up to my Mary-Balogh-romance expectations and delivered a romance with depth, character and twist up to the end. Best for someone who likes historical romance, but may want a little more depth to the story.

Sandra Brown Mean Streak

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown:  There’s no stopping point in Sandra Brown’s latest mystery-suspense – so be ready for an all-nighter. Best for someone who likes books they just can’t put down, a good modern-day mystery-suspense and fans of Sandra Brown.

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The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin:  The Empress of Austria, an uncommon heiress, and a deeply flawed hero struggling with great big life choices…If it’s true as they say that when it comes down to it there are very few plots in all of literature, this one hearkens a very famous classic with a nice twist.  Challenge: Read it yourself and see what comes to mind.

Looking for something else?  Here’s some more books to browse:

 

Cookbook Review: Part-Time Paleo

Part-Time Paleo: How to Go Paleo Without Going Crazy by Leanne Ely is Available Now

****4/5 stars

Part-Time Paleo provides a practical approach to eating healthier, being healthier, and feeling healthier without starving yourself or losing your mind.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re interested in eating better but don’t do fads and diets and fad diets,
  • and if you appreciate a practical approach that accounts for modern living, this one is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

By the book, the Paleo diet is a very stringent meat and vegetable heavy diet that eliminates grains and sugars (even fruit, shoot me now.)  But in Part-Time Paleo, Ely takes a more practical approach suited to success.  Ely’s point is that you should eat better in order to feel better, not just drop weight.  The book outlines the benefits of the paleo lifestyle, which is not merely a fad diet,  providing background information and a personal success story, along with shopping lists and numerous different recipes to try.  Recommended for a foray into healthier eating!

Available on Amazon:

 

 

Review: The Girl You Left Behind

Available now:  The Girl You Left Behind

****3.5/5 stars

In 1916, one  woman struggles to survive in her German-occupied town. When her portrait, painted by her husband before he left to fight for France, draws the obsessive eye of the German kommandant, she must put everything on the line.

And in the present, another woman struggles to hold on to the portrait that means everything to her.

Recommended readers:

  • If you enjoy World War I fiction,
  • If you like a bit of intrigue in your historical fiction, with just a bit of romance for good measure,
  • and if you’re interested in this Jojo Moyes but are more of the historical fiction type, this book is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3.5/5 for characters
  • 3.5/5 for plot
  • 3.5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

My first experience with Jojo Moyes led me to snatch this one up recently at a bookshop, and while I wasn’t quite as wowed, I wasn’t disappointed.  The Girl You Left Behind is an engaging work about the links between the past and present, and having the will to overcome the struggles in life, and move on.  Moyes’ deft handling of the dual storyline and the object that ties them together make this novel a worthwhile read.

Available on Amazon:

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Children’s Review: Dork Diaries 8

Available now: Dork Diaries Book 8: Tales from a Note-So-Happily Ever After

****4/5 stars

Dork Diaries

Image courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

There’s nothing like jumping into the mind of teenager Nikki Maxwell – and taking a ride through her dorky, accident-prone life. With a dose of entertaining teenage melodramatics, it’s the the girl-version of Diary of a Wimpy  Kid.

Recommended readers:

  • Girls Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
  • Did you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid but want a girl-version?
  • If you like diary-style reading plus cutesy emoticons and scribbles

Here’s my Rankings:

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

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Who doesn’t love, love, love an accident prone and totally dramatic teenager girl? Well it’s a perfect book for a grade-schooler to giggle out loud to and dive into … much like adults laugh at Dumb and Dumber. I can like totally see preteens enjoying this book … from the annoying little sister who causes accidents to a  hunky guy, Nikki Maxwell may be a dork, but she’s totally likable and funny to read (as long as you’re like up with some pre-teen lingo).  With age-appropriate content and silly plots and stories, I would definitely recommend Dork Diaries if you’re looking for a gift for a pre-teen, grade-school girl. And an impressive note: The Dork Diaries are written and illustrated by author Rachel Renee Russell.

Here’s a fun video trailer: 

Available on Amazon: Dork Diaries

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Review: A New York Christmas

Available today:  A New York Christmas: A Novel

****3.5/5 stars

Photo courtesy of Ballantine Books.

Photo courtesy of Ballantine Books.

While accompanying a wealthy acquaintance from London to New York, Jemima Pitt finds more than a nice experience when she arrives into a high society New York home.

Recommended readers:

  • If you enjoy reading turn-of-the-century history and society
  • If you like a bit of intrigue in your historical fiction and a teeny tiny bit of romance
  • and if you’re an Anne Stuart fan looking for a new setting outside London

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3.5/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 3.5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Definitely mostly in the literature/fiction and history genres, A New York Christmas should not be confused with a romance. Anne Perry crafts a interesting story as she steps away from her usual series focus Thomas Pitt, and begins to tell the story of his daughter Jemima.  In another move by setting the book outside of London, the caring Jemima is traveling as a companion to a wealthy heiress to meet her equally wealthy fiance in New York. A good historical read, A New York Christmas isn’t the book you want for a happy-go-lucky holiday story, but is still a great plot-driven mystery.

Here’s other Books for Her reviews by Anne Perry.

Available on Amazon: A New York Christmas: A Novel

 

Great New Children’s Books

Some of our most precious time spent with our preschool aged kids can be reading, and here’s a list of some great new picture books out from Simon and Schuster that will fit the bill for kids 5 and under. From a wordless book that sparks the imagination to a sing-along Dooby Dooby Moo book, there’s different options for our little dudes and princesses.

Baby Bedtime: An adorable story of a momma elephant and the step by step to get her sweet baby to bed.

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Dooby Dooby Moo (Classic Board Books)A book and CD package, enjoy Old MacDonald’s farm singing to win the talent show.

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Draw!: A wordless book – and I LOVE IT. For young children this book is a joy – allowing them (or mom and dad) to make up the story as they go.  It gets even more fun the more you ‘read’ it and create your own stories.

 

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Bear Sees Colors (The Bear Books): A colorful hardcover, this book follows a fun loving bear through the world of colors. Part of The Bear Book Series, it’s a great early learning creation.

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A Bean, a Stalk and a Boy Named Jack: A fun play on the classic Jack and the Beanstalk, this beautiful illustrated story portrays an adorable, curious Jack.

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Shop for the best new books on Amazon:Editor’s Picks: Books for Children