Jan 31, 2013

Booking Through Thursday: On Lending Books

Do you lend your books? Are any out on loan right now? Do you have any that have been loaned to you? Do you put a time limit on these? Do you think people should make an effort to read the loaned book quickly?
We have such a good library system here that I rarely need to lend out my books. I give away some of my books to friends and relatives, but have never been asked for a book loan. Nor have I asked anyone to lend me a book.

I went to a popular branch library yesterday and saw an interesting sign above two large wooden boxes full of donated books. The sign read: NO DONATIONS (until further notice). That gives you a good idea about readers in my city. The library doesn't have the staff to process the book donations quickly enough. They hope future donations will go to another less read branch.

There are also regular book sales at a special library center close by, with very good prices. Some of the books have been read only once.

I plan to take bundles of guitar magazines my sons no longer want to the sale center. To make way for my books, of course.

What about you? Do you loan to friends or borrow books from friends?

Join in BTT here.

Jan 29, 2013

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers. 

First Chapter,  First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

My teaser this week is from Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman
Published September 22, 2012 by Arrow Books

Genre: contemporary British fiction

Dearest Rose, Our meeting, though brief, has stayed with me and I wanted to write and thank you for your  hospitality when I came to see you a few days ago. You didn't have to be so kind to a stranger turning up, unannounced, but you were and I am so grateful. Although you were not able to help me find the painting, everything you told me about your father was both fascinating and heartbreaking. Why is it, I wonder, that artists are so often capable of creating such beauty whilst doing such harm to themselves and others? I hope that one day you will perhaps be able to reconcile with him and find the answers to all of our questions.
Publisher's description: When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Jan 28, 2013

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

It's Monday: What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Join in with your weekly reads.

Dancing to the Flute, Atria Books, 2013
A Tainted Dawn: The Great War, Fireship Press, 2012
Perfect Hatred, Soho Crime, 2013

What's on your reading shelf this week?

Jan 27, 2013

Sunday Salon: A Book Winner!

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

I have changed my blog URL/address to fit the title of my blog. Book Dilettante's URL is now http://bookdilettante.blogspot.com (and no longer bookbirddog.blogspot.com). I'm happy those of you reading this have found your way here to the new address!

Congrats to Staci of Life in the Thumb for winning The Woman From Paris giveaway contest! It's a great book and I'm sure you will enjoy it.

Today it's 14 degrees outside and so I may stay in though there is some sunlight coming through a thin cloud layer that makes the day pretty bright. Bright! I always love that.

I have several books I'm reading right now: The Blood Gospel: Order of the Sanguines Series by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, a spirited collaboration by two mystery/thriller writers;
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin; Perfect Hatred by Leighton Gage; and a few on Kindle, including A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellman, and several light mystery novels. 

My next book tour is Feb. 1 with the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, reviewing A Tainted Dawn: The Great War by B.N. Peacock. So I'll be reading this very soon!

What have you been reading/doing this past week?

Jan 24, 2013

Book Review: The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas

Title: The Midwife's Tale: A Novel by Sam Thomas
Published January 8, 2013; Minotaur Books
Genre: historical fiction set in the 17th century

An English gentlewoman (well born) in 1644, Bridget Hodgson is a midwife in York, helping pregnant women during delivery and helping to ensure their infants survive.
All the women of York called on me when they were in need. I eased new mothers' fears when they became pregnant, swearing to them that with God's help I would deliver them safely.... As a midwife, I helped the women when I could and comforted them when I could not. (ch. 18, from an advance reading copy; final copy may differ.)  
Bridget, as a conscientious midwife, follows the laws strictly, no matter how harsh.
I ensured that men who fathered bastards had to pay for their children and that the women who bore them were whipped....Without midwives, lust would reign, and order would turn to chaos. (ch. 18)  
Over the course of the novel,  Bridget seems to mellow and become a little less arrogant, thanks in part to her new deputy, Martha, a woman she hires to help her.

In the mystery novel, Bridget and Martha risk their lives many times over to find the person who killed Stephen Cooper, a man involved in politics who was poisoned in his home. His wife Esther, Bridget's friend, has been jailed and charged with his murder. Bridget believes in her friend's innocence and uses all her influence to probe into the case and help free her friend.

Martha has some mysterious secrets of her own, including a soldier from her past who tries to kill both her and the midwife.

The historical setting is the conflict between the Royalists, supporters of the King, and the rebels, members of Parliament whose armies have surrounded the city of York in 1644. The murdered Stephen Cooper, may have been killed for being sympathetic to the rebels, or he could have been killed for much more domestic reasons.

The book seems true to history and as such is a bit heavy and depressing at times. The condition of women and those belonging to the underclass, the violence, poverty, prejudices and superstitions of the time. Women could be burned at the stake for treason or murder instead of hanged.

I think this is another valuable addition to the list of historical novels that illuminate the past and help us to understand it. It has an excellent character in the midwife and a very good mystery plot.

Sam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy and published articles on topics from early modern Britain to colonial Africa.

Connect with Sam Thomas:  WEBSITE | TWITTER | BLOG

For other reviews of the book, visit the Tour schedule hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Thanks to the tour for an ARC review copy of the book.

Jan 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Three Good Things by Wendy Francis

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers.  

A fresh cup of coffee in hand, she went out back to check the kringle and was greeted by the sweet scent of apple mingling with blueberry. She pulled the piping hot pastries from the oven and set them on a cooling rack. 
"Perfect," she announced to no one in particular. (ch. 1) 
Title: Three Good Things: A Novel by Wendy Francis
Published January 1, 2013; Simon & Schuster paperback
Genre: contemporary fiction

Publisher's description: "Ellen McClarety, a recent divorcée, has opened a new bake shop in her small Midwestern town, dedicating herself to the traditional Danish pastry called kringle.

Ellen and her younger sister, Lanie, a successful divorce attorney, both long for the guidance of their deceased mother, who left them with this advice: 'At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.' Ellen and Lanie are close as sisters, until one begins keeping a secret that could change their lives."

What do you think of the teaser? Does it pique your interest in the book? The book description got me curious about what the "secret" is.

Jan 19, 2013

Book Review MERCILESS by Lori Armstrong

Title: Merciless: A Mercy Gunderson Mystery #3 by Lori Armstrong
Published January 8, 2013; Touchstone

Publisher's description:
By Shamus Award-winning author Lori Armstrong, Merciless is the third in the series featuring Mercy Gunderson, a Black Ops army sniper-turned-FBI agent. When two gruesome killings occur on the Eagle River Reservation, Mercy and fellow FBI agent Shay Turnbull can't agree on whether the crimes are connected. Mercy has to make decisions on her own, unable to discuss her cases with her boyfriend, Eagle River County Sheriff Mason Dawson, due to job confidentiality.

With hidden political agendas and old family vendettas causing a rift among the tribal police, the tribal council, and the FBI, Mercy realizes the deranged killer is playing a dangerous game, Mercy targeted as his next victim. Torn between her duty to the FBI and her duties to those she loves, Mercy must unleash the cold, dark, merciless killer inside her and become the predator, rather than the prey.

Comments: This is my first book in the Mercy Gunderson series and I am ready to read the first two that came before it. I was in awe of this tough new protagonist and amazed at the strong yet sympathetic female character the author created. The plot is tense and well crafted. The setting gave a good sense of life on an Indian reservation. I recommend the book for those who like a fast paced mystery.

Thanks to Touchstone for a review copy of this book. 

Jan 18, 2013

Book Review: The Woman from Paris by Santa Montefiore

Title: The Woman From Paris: A Novel by Santa Montefiore
Publication date: February 5, 2013; Simon & Schuster
Genre: contemporary British fiction

About the book: The novel has an interesting plot -  a young woman from Paris shows up at a funeral in England and turns the family upside down by revealing she is the illegitimate daughter of the deceased, Lord George Frampton, the wealthy owner of Fairfield Park. George died in a skiing accident before he could tell his wife and three sons about Phaedra Chancellor, his out-of-wedlock daughter born before his oldest son David was born. The family is shocked to find out that George was in contact with this previously unknown daughter and that he recently changed his will to include her.

There are some interesting characters in the Frampton family- the outwardly tough but vulnerable grandmother, Margaret Frampton; the suspicious sister-in-law Roberta who distrusts Phaedra on sight; and George's lonely and lost widow, Lady Antoinette. When Phaedra appears in their lives, they begin to be transformed by her friendly, helpful manner and personality. Even David, the eldest son, begins to be smitten by the stranger who is his half-sister. The novel shows the transformation of the family and also reveals Phaedra's own surprising secrets.

Comments:  I enjoyed the novel and the plot, even though I felt parts were improbable. Overall, the romance novel was still very entertaining. The writing is elegant and smooth and I liked the elderly women the author creates. The descriptive touches of location and the natural surroundings also give a stately atmosphere to the residents and the setting,  Fairfield Park.

For other reviews, visit the tour schedule for The Woman from Paris. Thanks to Tribute Blog Tours for a review copy of the book.

Santa Montefiore is the internationally bestselling author of  novels including The French Gardener and The Last Voyage of the Valentina. She lives in London with her husband, historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, and their two children.

GIVEAWAY: Tribute Tours is offering a hard copy of the book to a reader, U.S. mailing addresses only, no P.O. boxes, please. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment with an email address..
UPDATE:  Congrats to Staci for winning this contest! .

Jan 15, 2013

Y, A Novel by Marjorie Celona

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers.  First Chapter,  First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Title: Y: A Novel by Marjorie Celona
Published January 8, 2013; Free Press hardcover
Genre: contemporary fiction

Opening sentences: 
My life begins at the Y. I am born and left in front of the glass doors, and even though the sign is flipped "Closed," a man is waiting in the parking lot and he sees it all: my mother, a woman in navy coveralls, emerges from behind Christ Church Cathedral with a bundle wrapped in gray, her body bent in  the cold wet wind of the summer morning. Her mouth is open as if she is screaming, but there is no sound here, just the calls of birds. 
Publisher's description:
Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? . . . My life begins at the Y.” So opens Marjorie Celona’s debut about a wise-beyond-her-years foster child abandoned as a newborn on the doorstep of the local YMCA. Swaddled in a dirty gray sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife tucked between her feet, little Shannon is discovered by a man who catches only a glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. That morning, all three lives are forever changed.

Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures abuse and neglect until she finally finds stability with Miranda, a single mother with a free-spirited daughter of her own. Yet Shannon defines life on her own terms, refusing to settle down, and never stops longing to uncover her roots—especially the stubborn question of why her mother would abandon her on the day she was born.

Would you keep reading, based on the opening sentences of the book? 

Jan 14, 2013

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

It's Monday: What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Here are the recent books on my shelves.

The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs; William Morrow
The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee; Gallery Books
Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens: Gallery Books
Out of Circulation by Miranda James; Berkley

What are you reading this week?

Jan 11, 2013

Book Review/Tour: Rally 'Round the Corpse by Hy Conrad

Title: Rally 'Round the Corpse: An Abel Adventure Mystery
Author: Hy Conrad
Published May 29, 2012; Seven Realms Publishing

Publisher's description: Amy Abel needs to start over and decides to sink all her savings into a travel agency specializing in adventure. Her first project is a mystery road rally through Europe. At the starting line in Monte Carlo, Amy finds herself attracted to Marcus Alvarez, the most mysterious of her two dozen game-loving clients. But the rally gets off to a rocky start when an eccentric writer, Otto, the only person who knows the game's solution, is himself murdered back in New York.

Who would kill a harmless mystery geek, and why are weird accidents beginning to happen along the way? To her horror, Amy discovers that this fictional mystery was based on a real, unsolved case, one that Marcus knows too much about. Now she has no choice but to join forces with Fanny, her domineering mother, and solve this on her own, before the killer strikes again.

Comments: A combination of mystery and romance, the book is in two sections. The first part is on the road with Amy and her clients, with clues to solve a fictional murder mystery while they travel around Europe. The situation becomes real, however, when one of the clients is indeed murdered. The second section of the book is back home in New York, where several from the group decide to continue tracking down clues to find the murderer. The book slowed down a bit in the middle of this section but picked up again at the end, when things rapidly came to a head and suspicion shifts from one person to another.

Overall, a fun mystery novel - a road trip with clients not only sightseeing but also searching for clues that take them toward a final end and a solution. Things don't go as planned because of the real life murder that throws the game from play to reality.

Hy Conrad is also author of the nonfiction humorous book, Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know. He is best known for his work as a writer/producer of the ground-breaking series, Monk. He spends his time between Key West, Vermont, and New York City.  His website: www.hyconrad.com

Thanks to TeddyRose at Premiere Virtual Author Book Tours and the author/publisher for a review copy of this book.

Submitted to Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays.

Jan 10, 2013

Book Review: A Whisper to a Scream by Karen Wojcik Berner

new cover

Title: A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles, Book One) by Karen Wojcik Berner
Published June 14, 2011
Genre: contemporary women's fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

A realistic story of two very different women whose paths cross at a Classics Book Club meeting. They seem to be polar opposites. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom looking after two young sons and a too busy husband, keeping family and home together, frustrated that she has no spare time for herself. Anne is a successful public relations executive who delayed having children to further her career, only to find at around age 40 that she and her husband John are diagnosed with "unexplained infertility," and in vitro, artificial insemination, and other technologies are not working for them to have the children they now so desperately want.

The two women meet at the book club gathering, a break from household duties for Sarah. Anne finds it hard to understand Sarah's exasperation being a busy mother and homemaker, something Anne now dreams about.  How things turn out for them is the crux of the novel. When all is said and done, the Classics Book Club helps get them away from their problems, even for a while, and keeps them connected.

I could easily imagine I was reading non-fiction, so well drawn were the characters in the book. With fluid prose and realistic dialogue, the novel is as much a psychological study as a novel about contemporary marriage - the daily demands of raising a family, career versus children, infertility, infidelity, extended family, and hobbies outside of work and home.

I like the idea of having a series of books built around a Classics Book Club. This is the first of the author's planned six books exploring the lives of various book club members, the Bibliophiles. The second book in the series is Until My Soul Gets It Right, published May 22, 2012.

A Whisper to a Scream is as good and in some cases better than many of the contemporary women's fiction novels I've read recently, and I say this without bias.

Thanks to the author for sending an ebook for review.

Karen Wojcik Berner grew up on the outskirts of Chicago. After graduating from Dominican University with degrees in English with a writing concentration and communications, she worked as a magazine editor, public relations coordinator and freelance writer. A two-time Folio Magazine Ozzie Award for Excellence in Magazine Editorial and Design winner, her work also has appeared in countless newspapers and magazines. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family.

Jan 8, 2013

New Release/Book Teaser: The Blood Gospel by James Rollins

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers. First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Title: The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines)
Published January 8, 2012; William Morrow
Genre: historical mystery

Opening sentences: 
Caesarea, Israel.  Dr. Erin Granger stroked her softest brush across the ancient skull. As the dust cleared, she studied it with the yes of a scientist, noting the tiny seams of bone, the open fontanel. Her gaze evaluated the amount of callusing, judging the skull to be that of a newborn, and from the angle of the pelvic bone, a boy. (ch. 1. From an advanced reader's edition. Final copy may differ.)
Book description: An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity.... The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known as the Sanguines. (publisher)

Another novel in the historial fiction genre of The DaVinci Code. Any takers? Would you continue reading?

Jan 5, 2013

Book Review: The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

Title: The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Published November, 2011; Soho Crime, book and Kindle
Genre: mystery, thriller
Setting: Denmark

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse in Copanhagen, opens a suitcase that she had been asked to fetch from a public locker. In the suitcase is a naked boy, a three year old child barely breathing. Nina sets about finding the child's mother and the story surrounding her surprising discovery.

I almost had nightmares over this book. It was excellent as a thriller, but the story that it tells about the extent that some people will go to get what they or their loved ones want and need is chilling. I can't say more without revealing the story, but let's just say, it's not related to sex or child trafficking related to sex. Well written, with memorable characters and heart breaking situations, I can understand the book's best selling ranking.

I bought this book on Kindle.

Visit Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays for more book reviews. 

Jan 3, 2013

100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2013 Met

I signed up with Book Chick City for the 100 Books in a Year challenge to read 100 or more books from January 1, 2013 to the end of the year. I joined the challenge again as I did the past two years. The ones I don't finish won't get on the list. Click on the titles to see reviews or information about the books I've read.

1. A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson, humorous women's fiction

 2. Merciless by Lori Armstrong, mystery *

 3. The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, mystery *

4. A Whisper to a Scream by Karen Wojcik Berner, contemporary women's fiction *

5. Absolute Liability: Southern Fraud Suspense by J.W. Becton, mystery

6. Rally 'Round the Corpse by Hy Conrad, mystery

7. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley, historical fiction

8. The Woman From Paris by Santa Montefiore, contemporary fiction

9. Birds in Paradise by Dorothy McFalls, Hawaiian mystery novella

10. Shimura Trouble by Sujata Massey, Hawaiian mystery *

11. The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas, historical mystery

12. The Blood Gospel by Rollins and Cantrell, sci-fi/fantasy

13. A Tainted Dawn: The Great War, Book 1 by B.N. Peacock, historical fiction

14. Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, mystery *

15. The Lost Soul by Gabriella Pierce, paranormal, fantasy

16. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin, historical fiction *

17. Perfect Hatred by Leighton Gage, police procedural, mystery *

18. Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards, by Kit Brennan, historical mystery

19. The Doctor of Thessaly by Anne Zouroudi, mystery

20. The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers, contemporary fiction

21. The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs, historical romance

22. The Burning Air by Erin Kelly, psychological suspense

23. A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry, mystery

24. The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg, thriller

25. Seven Locks by Christine Wade, historical fiction

26. The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill, mystery

27. Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black, mystery

28. Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright, memoir

29. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruis Zafon, literary fiction

30. The Missing File by D. A. Mishani, mystery

31. When Maidens Mourn by C. S. Harris, mystery

32. Undercurrents by Pamela Beason, mystery

33. The Boreal Owl Murder by Jan Dunlap, birding mystery

34. Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt, historical fiction

35. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, fiction

36. Have Mother, Will Travel by Claire and Mia Fontaine, memoir

37. Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh, fiction

38. The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks by Gillian Royes, mystery

39. The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, romance

40. Tiger Babies Strike Back by Kim Wong Keltner, memoir

41. Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd, historical fiction

41. The Girl Who Married An Eagle by Tamar Myers, mystery

42. Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans by Joanne DeMaio, women's fiction

43. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein, historical fiction

44. The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott, cozy mystery

45. A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb, fiction

46. Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan, cozy mystery

47. The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau

48. Lethal Outlook: A Psychic Eye Mystery by Victoria Laurie

49. Running With the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse, Vietnam historical novel, suspense

50. The Original 1982 by Lori Carson, fiction

51. Gaijin Cowgirl by Jame DiBiasio, adventure

52. I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert, memoir

53. The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo, memoir

54. Slingshot by Matthew Dunn, thriller

55. Blind Curves by Linda Crill, travel memoir

56. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, fiction

57. The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy, literary fiction

58. The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, historical fiction

59. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, fantasy

60. Snapper by Brian Kimberling, fiction

61. Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg, illustrated picture ebook

62. Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura, thriller

63.  This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila, literary fiction

64. Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg, children's illustrated book

65. The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio, historical mystery

66. The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip, historical novel

67. The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March, women's fiction

68. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw, fiction

69. Bend Not Break by Ping Fu, memoir

70. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, fiction

71. The Third Son by Julie Wu, historical fiction

72. Redemption (A Conspiracy of Faith) by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Scandinavian thriller

73. Mystery Girl by David Gordon, fiction

74. The English Girl by Daniel Silva, thriller

75. Mystery Girl by David Gordon, mystery

76. Going Through the Notions by Cate Pric, cozy mystery

77. The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn, mystery

78. Reese's Leap by Darcy Scott, mystery

79. Moonrise by Cassandra King, mystery

80. Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney, mystery

81. The Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland, historical mystery

82. The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall, mystery

83. I Am Venus by Barbara Mujica, historical fiction

84. A Secondhand Murder by Leslie A. Diehl, mystery

85. An Incurable Insanity by Simi K. Rao, fiction

86. Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois, fiction, suspense

87. A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry, mystery

88. The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris, fiction, historical

89. Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, Scandinavian crime

90. Itsy Bitsy Spider by Willow Rose, thriller/horror

91. The Detachment by Barry Eisler, thriller

92. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, historical fiction

93. Paws for Murder by Annie Knox, cozy mystery

94. Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, women's fiction

95. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, crime fiction

96. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom, literary fiction

97. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, historical fiction, romance

98. Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlicks and illustrator Gregory Burgess Jones, children's book

99. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, women's fiction

100. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, literary fiction

101. The Yoga Face by Annalise Hagen, yoga, health

102. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, women's fiction
103. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, fiction
104. Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose, memoir
105. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem, YA novel
106. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, contemporary romance
107. Tahoe Chase by Todd Borg, thriller, suspense
108. How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman, women's fiction, suspense
109. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Books almost all read, but not quite...

1. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
2. The Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton, mystery

I began to star books I really liked, but then thought I'd have to star just about every one I read in 2013, so...the starring stopped. I don't normally finish books I don't like, unless they are for a book tour, and I don't recall hating any of those. So, you can just assume I loved all these books!

Louise Penny, Amy Tan, Laura Joh Rowland, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Spencer Quinn, Ruth Ozeki, are among the many authors whose books I enjoyed. And there are others I have not listed here - I'd have to list too many! I have to keep adding to this list as I remember, from my goodreads list, other books I didn't include as yet.

Don't ask me to choose....but I do ask you. What were your favorite books in 2013?

I'm sending this list to semicolon's special edition of the Saturday Review of Books, a wrap up of books for 2013 by bloggers. Note that this list is of Books Read, as most, but not all, were reviewed. 

Jan 1, 2013

Book Review: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

- Title: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson
- Release date: January 31, 2012; Penguin U.K.
- Genre: romance, humor
- Setting: Edinburgh, London

The title might lead you to think the book's genre is erotica but it's really humorous romance. There is at most a page or two that might fit into the erotica category, which I don't normally read. The book follows an improbable romance between an online dating director and a man she corresponds with on the web.

Charlotte (Charley) Lambert ghost writes email for her clients who are looking for love online but are too awkward to write their own email. Charley is really a communications officer for a pharmaceutical company in Scotland, but after a horrific accident and surgery, finds herself in a wheelchair for three months. To keep her sanity, she creates her online dating company, First Date Aid, which has her writing email for her clients to set them up with the men and women of their choice.

Then, Charley begins correspondence with a man named William, writing him for her client Shelley, a corporate businesswoman who says she is too busy to do it on her own.  Charley and William really hit it off through their conversations via email and Charley begins to fall in love with this William, who thinks he is writing to Shelley.

Charley's grungy flatmate, Sam, an aspiring actor who hasn't had any luck in his career in years, starts to help Charley with advertising and getting the word out about First Date Aid, which begins to take off as a viable company.  Then there is John, CEO of the pharmaceutical company where Charley works, whose ongoing flirtation with Charley has never led to serious romance.

What happens between Charley and William and Shelley and Sam and John is all the fun in this humorous novel, a modern romance that keeps you guessing as events spin in one direction and then in another. I had to cheer for Charley at one point when she did exactly what I did when a close member of the family died. What? Read it and see...

And who does Charley land up with in the end, if with anyone?

I recommend this as an excellent read for the beginning of the year, 2013.
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

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