Aug 9, 2012

Book Review: Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready

Timeless Desire
Title: Timeless Desire: An Outlander Love Story by Gwyn Cready
Paperback; Kindle; July 18, 2012
Genre: time travel, paranormal romance
About the book: Panna Kennedy, a  young widow and librarian, enters an obscure, pad-locked door in the Pittsburgh library where she works, and finds herself in 18th century England, in the rooms of handsome Colonel John Bridgewater. Bridgewater is not the English war hero Panna expects him to be, however. He’s under house arrest in his castle for betraying England, and sees Panna's sudden appearance as proof she has been sent to spy on him.

Bridgewater nonetheless warms to Panna, and pulls her into his plans to escape. Panna is thrown into a whirlwind of intrigue, sweeping her from Hadrian’s Wall to a forbidding stone castle in Scotland. Panna has to decide whether to remain loyal to her dead husband, or to side with this attractive man from the past whose life now depends on her. (based on the book description)

My comments: I have read most of Cready's time travel romances and liked them all, including Seducing Mr. Darcy, which I described as a combination of Jane Austen and Shakespeare's  Comedy of Errors and as an intriguing time travel fantasy and an erotic romantic comedy.

 The librarian Panna is a more subdued, more mature version of the main characters in Cready's earlier travel romances and her new heroine is less risque.  There is less of the wit in Timeless Desire though it is surprisingly still very "sexy" in parts. Timeless Desire is a very entertaining read for those who like fantasy, intrigue, and romance.

Gwyn Cready is a RITA Award Winner (Best Paranormal Romance 2009) and the author of several romances including Tumbling Through Time and Seducing Mr. Darcy. Gwyn has been called, "the master of time travel romance," and her writing described as “sexy,” “delightfully original” and “wickedly witty.” Timeless Desire is her latest foray into the time travel genre and men in kilts. She still finds both eminently satisfying. Gwyn lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of this novel.

Aug 8, 2012

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

Opening sentences in a book can help the reader get a feeling for the story and setting, and the author's writing style.

The Sweetness of Forgetting
Title: The Sweetness of Forgetting: A Novel by Kristin Harmel
Paperback; Gallery Books; August 7, 2012
Genre: fiction, women's fiction
Source: publisher
Opening sentences: The street outside the bakery window is silent and still, and in the half hour just before sunrise, as dawn's narrow fingers are just reaching over the horizon, I can almost believe I'm the only person on earth. It's September, a week and a half after Labor Day, which in the little towns up and down Cape Cod means that the tourists have gone home, the Bostonians have boarded up their summer houses for the season, and the streets have taken on the deserted air of a restless dream.

The leaves outside have begun to change, and in a few weeks, I know they'll mirror the muted hues of sunset, although most people don't think to look here for fall foliage.
About the book: Hope McKenna-Smith's ailing grandmother Mamie, a baker, sends her to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery and to find out about the family history. Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and memories of Mamie's pastries at home. (from the book description)

What do you think?

Aug 7, 2012

Book Teaser: Vengeance by Benjamin Black

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

Title: Vengeance by Benjamin Black
Hardcover published August 7, 2012; Henry Holt
Audio CD: August 7, 2012, Macmillan Audio
Genre: crime novel
Source: publisher

Your father died of a gunshot wound," Hackett said. "It seems he fired the shot himself."
Jonas pulled a dismissive face. "I don't believe it," he said. (ch. 3)

About the book: A bizarre suicide leads to a scandal and then still more blood, as crime novelist Benjamin Black reveals a world where money and sex trump everything. The mysterious death of a successful Irish businessman engages the attention of Detective Inspector Hackett, who calls upon the services of his sometime partner Quirke, consultant pathologist at the Hospital of the Holy Family.

To listen to an audio clip of the Audiobook Vengeance, click HERE.

Aug 4, 2012

Sunday Salon: Four Books

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

I had been wishing for certain books and my wish partly came true when these arrived last week.

Broken Harbor

Some Remarks

The Next Best Thing
I've just finished Timeless Desire, a time travel romance by Gwyn Cready (review and a prize giveaway this week) and A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn (review later this month) and will be reading And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman for a book tour next week. Check back again!
What have you been reading recently?

Istanbul Passage

Opening Sentences: The Language of Sisters by Amy Hatvany

Opening sentences of a novel can give the reader an idea of the writer's style and the feel of a story. Here are the beginning sentences of The Language of Sisters: A Novel. paperback published July 31, 2012, Washington Square Press.

The Language of Sisters

Prologue: "I was at work when it happened. I had just finished folding pungent wild blueberries into the creamy muffin batter, thinking how the brilliant purple streaks that trailed each berry stood out like a bruise against white skin. I was about to fill the greased-and-readied pan when something stopped me. Something tangible, like the thump of a fist against my chest - I felt it. I felt my sister's voice for the first time in years, the way I used to feel it when we were children, coursing through me like my own blood, hearing her thoughts the way no one else could. Can you hear a whisper in your heart?"

Book description:Ten years ago, Nicole Hunter left home, unable to cope with  life with her disabled sister, Jenny. Then suddenly, she is back in her hometown, caring for her pregnant sister and trying to heal her relationship with her mother. Nicole  rediscovers the beauty of sisterhood--and receives a special gift that will change her life forever.

Received as a complimentary copy for review.

Aug 2, 2012

Book Review: The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair

The Thing About Thugs
Title: The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair
Published July 24, 2012; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Victorian suspense, literary fiction

Book description: A novel of a young Indian man’s misadventures in Victorian London as the city is racked by a series of murders.

In a small Bihari village in India, Captain William Meadows finds Amir Ali, just the man to further his research and study of the shape of skulls. Ali is a  reformed member of the infamous Thugee cult, which gave the name to the English word "thug." After Ali travels to England to work for Meadows, a killer begins serial attacks in London, and suspicion naturally falls on Ali, the former “thug.” With help from other immigrants and a shrewd Punjabi woman, Ali attempts to save himself and end the gruesome murders.

 The Thing about Thugs was short-listed for the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize.

My thoughts: Khair's writing at the beginning of the book reminds me of that of Charles Dickens. This is praise, as I love Dickens!  Amir Ali's unearthing of graveyard bodies for their skulls took me back to Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities and a similar graveyard scene. As this book is set in the same time period, Victorian England and the 19th century, the style of writing is well suited to the story.

There are three different narrators and story lines in the book, but I had to work harder than I normally like to keep them straight and to connect the stories. There is the first person narrator of the novel in the present time; there is the voice of William Meadow in his notes and interviews with Amir Ali during his research in India, and there are the personal letters of Amir Ali baring his soul about the murder of his family in India and other events.

What I came away with from the book is the contrast and similarities between the "thugs" of 19th century India and the underworld of Victorian England. The Thugee cult existed to perform ritual murder; in Victorian England murder was committed but for more personal reasons, for profit or through extreme perversity. The fact that suspicion fell right away on Amir Ali the "thug" when people were being killed and beheaded in London by a serial killer or killers was perhaps meant to show some blindness on the part of the Londoners about what could go on in their own society.

Amir Ali, the central character in the novel, is well developed. We know about him and his background through his letters and through Meadows' interviews with him in India and also through the omniscient narrator of the book.

I recommend The Thing about Thugs for those interested in Indian history, the Thugee cult, and for those who want to read a good Victorian novel of suspense.

Tabish Khair is an award-winning poet, journalist, critic, educator and novelist. A citizen of India, he lives in Denmark and teaches literature at Aarhus University. His website is

For more reviews of  The Thing About Thugs,
visit the TLC blog tour. I received a complimentary ARC of this book for review.

Aug 1, 2012

Book Review: Skios by Michael Frayn

Skios: A Novel
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting," said Dr. Wilfred. "Someone took my bag."
"No problem," said Skios Taxi. "Fox Oliver?"


"Fox Oliver?"

Phoksoliva? Dr. Wilfred was too tired to start struggling with a strange language at this time of night. Surely they could have found someone to meet him who spoke English! (ch. 9)

Title: Skios: A Novel by Michael Frayn
Published June 19; Metropolitan Books
Genre: fiction, comedy

Setting: At a lavish party on the private Greek island of Skios, wealthy guests of a cultural foundation wait to meet this year's guest speaker, Dr. Norman Wilfred, an expert on the organization of science. Things start to fall apart when a social dilettante, Oliver Fox, takes over Dr. Wilfred's identity and his place at the function. With the mix up of suitcases, guests, taxi drivers, friends, lovers, and love nests, this farce took off in full gear, very much to my delight!

Comments: Laugh out loud comedy/farce set on a beautiful Greek island. Witty and clever. The plot reminds me of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, involving hilarious situations caused by mistaken identities. If you like satire, you will love this spoof on academics, pretentious scientists, and those who idolize them.

I found out that Michael Frayn wrote Noises Off, a successful play turned into a movie. I must get a hold of this one and Frayn's other books written in the same satirical/farcical style.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart" Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of suc...